Among the best reasons to travel is indulging in all sorts of traditional, cultural and exotic foods available around the world.
Let us take you on this food journey—we guarantee you’ll want to book your next flight!
Home to many Michelin starred restaurants and “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, you will find that food in Japan is an art form. Authentic handmade udon and ramen will change your perspective on noodle soup forever, and carefully crafted Japanese sushi is an experience unto itself. Even shopping at the grocery store is fun in Japan, with unique packaging and creatively designed food making each trip a novelty. Tokyo is the eating capital of Japan, with over 160,000 restaurants to choose from—but since restaurants don’t open until 11am, it’s better to space your meals out during the day. Don’t forget to check out the fish markets early in the morning for a new food experience.
For cheap and quick meals, Thailand is a backpacker’s heaven. Everywhere you go, you can find delicious street food to awaken your taste buds. You must visit the floating markets, where entire rivers are packed with vendors selling from boats stacked high with fresh foods. Your food adventure in Thailand won’t be complete without their famous Pad Thai: A large dish of these savory spiced noodles with chicken or shrimp, bean sprouts and egg will cost you under $5. Thailand’s iconic Tom Yum soup is a must-have as well, with bold aromatic flavors of lemongrass and lime, a spicy chilli kick, and delicious fresh prawns and mushrooms. The most popular dessert here is mango and sticky rice with sweet coconut cream, which also makes a great sweet snack. For the brave and those into special delicacies, you can sample roasted scorpions, centipedes and more!
The fresh herbs and spices forming the base of Indonesian food pack this cuisine with intense flavor! Nothing compares to Indonesian satay: marinated skewers of goat or chicken meat cooked over a charcoal fire for a juicy, smoky treat. Grilled chicken in Indonesia is flavorful and spicy—and the chickens here are small, which means you can eat more of them. Pro tip: When buying Nasi Padang (rice served with various side dishes), ask for the takeaway option to double your rice portion. To find cheap food, go to the basement food court in malls, where restaurants frequented by mall employees are very affordable. If you’re eating at a Padang restaurant, order the local tea (Teh Hanget)—it’s almost always free.
Filipino food may not be presented as artistically as Japanese or Korean cuisine, but the flavor in this food more than makes up for any aesthetic shortcoming. Chicken adobo, from the Spanish word for “marinade”, is the most famous food in the Philippines, so definitely try it out. For a different kind of street food, try balut: a developing duck embryo boiled and eaten in the shell with a splash of vinegar. If you like sweets, halo halo (meaning “mixed together”) is made of ice shavings, evaporated milk and various sweet foods like fruits, sweet potato, tapioca, coconut gel, and guava paste. The Philippines are second only to Indonesia in the world for coconut production, so experience drinking straight from a fresh coconut. Or try the local rum, available for cheaper than bottled water! And with their vast amount of mango farms, the Philippines is also famous for their dried mangoes. You’ll definitely want to buy a bag—or three.
Hong Kong is famous for dim sum, which includes small dishes of meat, seafood, vegetables, and desserts, eaten at social gatherings called “yum cha” (literally “drink tea”) where the Chinese share food and converse for hours. Hong Kong is also known for a must-eat roast goose, marinated in secret spices and cooked over charcoal until golden and crispy. Count how many different kinds of BBQ pork, roast pork, duck, and sausages you can find hanging in restaurant windows! They’re all marinated and cooked to perfection, paired with rice or noodle soup and veggies with a delicious marinade sauce. Don’t forget the night markets at Temple Street, an unforgettable street food experience—and a disappearing one. The government is no longer renewing these vendors’ licenses, so be sure to try these rare eateries before they’re gone!
There is a huge assortment of food in India, but don’t hang your hopes on eating beef, as the cow is considered sacred in the Hindu religion. Instead, sample the dizzying array of vegetarian cuisine on offer, including curried vegetables, flat breads, rice, lentils, cheese, fruits, and a wide variety of sweets. Food varies widely across this large country, influenced heavily by regional geography, climate, and culture. Bread is an Indian staple and there are several types to choose from, including naan, bhatura, kulcha, roti, chapatti and many more. From simple dishes like keema (minced meat cooked with vegetables and ginger), to kebabs served hot off the grill, to paneer (delicious fresh cheese cooked in various ways) and curries, India’s tasty cuisine will not disappoint. Note! Be careful buying food in India: you don’t want to get sick, so avoid street vendors, only eat cooked foods, and only visit restaurants that look busy and clean.
From regional specialties to seasonal delicacies, there are too many dishes to try in Italy even if you were to spend a lifetime doing so! You can’t visit Italy without trying their pizza, so choose between Roman-style (paper-thin, crunchy crust) or Neapolitan-style pizza (thick and fluffy crust) and chow down on this global favorite. Truffle, one of the most expensive foods of the world, can be found in abundance in Italy with its aromatic flavor added to pasta, pizza, risotto, and sauces. The world famous ossobucco alla Milanese is a bone-in-veal shank cooked low and slow until the meat melts off the bone in its own special broth. Try a refreshing and delicious dessert of gelato made on-site the old-fashioned way. Take a wine-and-cheese or food tour in the countryside to get the full experience of fine Italian foods. Stick with the primo (first course) if you’re a vegetarian, as the secondo (second course) is usually meat—both are very filling. To experience the best foods in Italy, visit Rome, Sicily, and Bologna.
Fine dining, smaller portions, and a high appreciation of fine food may be the secret to what keeps the French fitting in to their high fashion clothes. Fresh fruits, vegetables and fish are healthy options, and of course try the wine—some of the best in the world. Take a food tour or a cooking class to learn the ins and outs of the best cheeses, breads, chocolates, pastries, and other local foods available to you. Try as much cheese as possible, as it is half the price of what you can get in North America. Fresh bread straight out of the boulangerie oven is irresistible so make sure you’re prepared to take some home! Cloud-like, melt-in-your-mouth macarons are a French specialty, available in every flavor imaginable. Check out Laduree and Peter Herme for some of the best macarons in Paris. If you like street food, crepes are delicious and portable, and you can choose between sweet or savory options. To warm up, try real French onion soup and say bonjour to a world of flavor.
Indulging in fresh fruits and seafood while you bask on the beach—what more can you ask for? Here, do what the locals do at restaurants, lunch wagons, and at home, and get a plate of Hawaiian food: Rice with kalua pig, pork or chicken laulau (wrapped in leaves), dried beef or salmon on the side with taro and coconut pudding for dessert. Hawaii’s iconic shaved ice with fresh, locally-sourced fruit will help you cool down in the heat. One of Hawaii’s most traditional local foods is saimin, a cultural dish with history: First influenced by egg noodle soup brought over by the Chinese in the plantation era, this dish has as many variations as there are immigrant groups who have come to the islands. Hawaii’s famous poke has made its way all over North America: chunky raw fish mixed with rice and various veggie toppings, poke is similar to ceviche without the acidity, savory, and very filling. Poi mochi is influenced by the Japanese rice dessert, but in Hawaii it comes fried with a crispy outside and a soft, sticky fruit-filled inside. Enjoy food with cultural roots across the globe and see how the locals have evolved it into something truly and uniquely Hawaiian.