Southeast Asia is one of the most diverse and incredible regions in the world. Not only is it home to some of the most stunning beaches and jungles, but it’s also a foodie paradise.
From street stalls selling delicious curries to high-end restaurants, there’s something for everyone.
I have collaborated with avid travel bloggers to bring you our favorite foodie destinations to visit in Southeast Asia so you’ll never go hungry when you’re visiting any of these countries!
Best Foodie Destinations in Southeast Asia
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- Recommended by Pafoua at Her Wanderful World
Cambodia is a foodie destination in Southeast Asia that’s often overlooked, but it has so much to offer! The food here is a mix of Khmer food (the traditional cuisine of Cambodia) and Vietnamese food.
One of the most popular dishes in Cambodia is fish amok. It’s a steamed fish curry that’s usually made with freshwater fish, such as trout or catfish. The fish is cooked in a coconut milk curry sauce and served with rice.
Another popular dish is nom banh chok, a soup made with bamboo shoots, pork, and vegetables. This soup is usually served with rice noodles.
For dessert, you have to try num ansom chek, sticky rice balls filled with palm sugar. Sometimes you’ll find some filled with bananas or red beans. They’re so good!
- Recommended by Pafoua at Her Wanderful World
Hong Kong is a foodie’s paradise! This city is known for its amazing food and its food markets.
One of the best food markets in Hong Kong is the Temple Street Night Market. It’s open every night and has a wide variety of food stalls to choose from.
The food here is cheap, delicious, and authentic. You can find food from all over China here, as well as food from neighboring countries like Taiwan and Vietnam.
Some of the most popular Hong Kong dishes are sweet and sour pork, Sichuan-styled wontons which are cooked with salted fish instead of peppers, and roasted goose. Roasted goose is generally made with secret ingredients and finally cut into thin slices with crispy skin on top and a plum sauce.
If you are looking for adventurous dishes to try, check out stinky tofu (fermented tofu that’s deep-fried), chicken feet, and egg tarts which are actually a delicious dessert. They’re a popular dessert in Hong Kong and they’re so good!
Make sure to also get a glass of milk tea – it’ll be one of the best decisions you make!
Fort Kochi, Kerala, India
- Recommended by Soujanya at The Spicy Journey
Kerala, a state in India known commonly as ” God’s Own Country ” is a haven for both travelers and foodies who want to try lip-smacking but surprisingly healthy food.
Firstly, there are many cities to visit in Kerala such as Fort Kochi for the Chinese fishing nets and art cafes, Munnar for tea plantations, Alleppey for backwaters, Varkala for pristine beaches, and many more unique places.
Coming to the food scene, if you want to try authentic local dishes, some fusion food, and have the option of eating regular dishes too then Fort Kochi is the place to be. There are many beautiful art cafes in Fort Kochi to try the local Kerala food.
When in Kerala, you can’t miss out on eating idli and dosa – both of which are served with sambar (hearty veggie stew), and various types of chutneys. While idli is a small rice cake, dosa is a crispy savory pancake.
Both of them are made out of rice and lentils so you know you can eat an unlimited number of them! Kerala is also known for heavy, spicy meat-based curries. Try one of those with appam – a thin soft pancake made with coconut milk.
There are one too many dishes to try in Kerala, each with its own unique flavor profile so there’s something for everyone here. Just pop into any local restaurant and eat to your heart’s content.
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
- Recommended by Michelle at The Scrapbook Of Life
For Indonesian cuisine, one of the best foodie destinations in Southeast Asia is Ubud. Located on the dreamy island of Bali, Ubud is a serene town nestled amongst rice paddies and waterfalls, where you can find some truly scrumptious dishes.
One of the most notable dishes that is a must-try is Nasi Goreng. Nasi Goreng is a traditional Indonesian fried rice dish that includes vegetables and meat and is usually topped with a freshly fried egg.
It is a flavorsome bowl with a sweet taste and subtle spiciness and is perfect for any main meal.
One of the best places to sample Nasi Goreng in Ubud is at the Fair Warung Bale. The Fair Warung Bale is one of the best things to do in Ubud because it is a budget-friendly restaurant located in central Ubud that serves quality Balinese food.
Since the restaurant supports and funds local healthcare programs, you can have a real feel-good feast!
If you’re looking for other recommendations to try on the Fair Warung Bale’s menu, then Mie Goreng (Indonesian stir-fried noodles) and Opor Ayam (chicken cooked in coconut milk) are pretty tasty too!
- Recommended by Victoria at Guide Your Travel
Yogyakarta is a beautiful city located in Java, Indonesia. There are plenty of things to do in Yogyakarta including visiting the magnificent Borobudur temple which sits outside of the city.
This is also a somewhat unknown foodie destination in Southeast Asia with some of the best street food in the area at incredibly affordable prices.
One of the must-try dishes is Gudeg, cooked young Jackfruit served with rice and different sauces. The best place to try Gudeg is with Mbah Lindu, a local street food vendor in Yogyakarta known for having the best food in the area.
She was made famous by the Netflix show Street Food and regularly sells out within only a few hours.
Another great choice is the local spring rolls which you can buy on the street all around town. They’re served with a fresh garlic paste and chilies – they taste absolutely delicious. You can even order them in a vegetarian version although they typically include chicken.
- Recommended by Giulia at Jules Trails
It might not seem like it, but Laos tops one of the foodie destinations in Southeast Asia. One of the most loved dishes in Laos, Khao Piak Sen is the ultimate comfort food and boasts a harmony of flavors.
While you can find endless variations of this typical comfort food in every corner of the country, my personal favorite was this version that I took a photo of from a small local restaurant in the Lao capital, Vientiane.
This place doesn’t have a name, it’s not on the map and it’s set up in a family’s backyard – all signs that they serve the best traditional and authentic cuisine.
You can find it behind the small temple of Vat Tai Yai, right on the shores of the Mekong river (Quai Fa Ngum road) which makes for a wonderful al fresco meal.
We wandered in, pulled out our English-Lao survival phrasebook, and asked for the chef’s recommendation. We were not disappointed.
This aromatic, rich, chewy noodle soup can be made with chicken, pork (pictured above), or both which are cooked in the broth to infuse it with fat and flavor. The hand-made rice noodles are also boiled directly in the broth where they release their starch which gives the soup its wonderful signature viscosity.
As for toppings, the juicy and crispy meat is accompanied by seasonal leafy vegetables, bean sprouts, chopped shallots, and spring onions, fragrant fried garlic, lemongrass, fresh cilantro. Khao Piak Sen is finished off with a squeeze of lime to add freshness.
Every slurp will combine sour, spicy, salty, sweet, and umami tastes to leave you with a light and refreshing aftertaste.
It’s definitely a dish that you will want to try again and again in its many variations whether as a filling breakfast (as it’s traditionally consumed), light lunch, or comfort dinner.
- Recommended by Emily at Wander-Lush
The city of Ipoh in peninsular Malaysia’s Perak State often plays second fiddle to Penang. But you shouldn’t overlook this hidden gem.
Not only does Ipoh have some of the finest colonial architecture and best street art in Malaysia, but it’s also one of the top foodie destinations in Southeast Asia.
Ipoh is associated with several culinary specialties, including white coffee, egg tarts, and dim sum. But its most famous dish is undisputedly beansprout chicken.
Similar to Hainanese chicken rice, it also comprises poached chicken on the bone served over white rice with a light soy-based sauce.
The thing that makes this dish special is the addition of crunchy bean sprouts – it’s said that the sprouts in Ipoh are the best in the country because of the hard limestone-rich water that feeds the fields around the city!
Whether you’re planning a quick trip to Ipoh or an extended stay, be sure to eat your way around the city’s hawker markets and try a few different variations of the dish.
Beansprout chicken is traditionally street food but restaurants Lou Wong, Onn Kee, and Yoon Kee are all renowned for their beansprout chicken, too.
Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
- Recommended by Iris at Mind of a Hitchhiker
Malaysia’s Penang state is a foodie’s favorite for both locals and visitors in Southeast Asia. Inside the historic core of George Town, you’ll find the best of Malaysia’s three main cuisines: Malay, Chinese, and Indian—alongside fusions between these three and additions from other parts of the world.
The best part of it? All Malaysian specialties have a vegetarian or vegan version as well, which means you or your veggie friends will never feel left out.
There are three foods I’d like to highlight for their prevalence and flavor: roti canai, nasi kandar, and loh bak. You can find these foods in local restaurants, but they’re the best at the many hawker centers all over Penang.
Roti canai is a dish between bread and a pancake with a filling to your liking – cheese, eggs, meat, banana – that comes with a curry on the side. It’s very cheap, works great as delivery food, and is peak comfort food.
Nasi kandar is an elaborate rice dish that comes with many curries, meat, and hopefully a papadum. If you want to experience a vegan version, visit Pinxin Vegan.
And lastly, try to get your hands on some loh bak, which is a sausage-like snack that’s wrapped in a beancurd (i.e. tofu) skin and deep-fried with a chili sauce dip. The Buddhist vegetarian restaurant Yun Shan Ge has a vegetarian version that also hits the spot.
This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of the food diversity in Penang, so make sure you’re staying long enough to fill your tummy many times over.
- Recommended by Erika at Erika’s Travelventures
Yangon, Myanmar is an under-the-radar foodie destination in Southeast Asia. Burmese food combines a unique blend of flavors with local ingredients and incorporates influences from neighboring countries like Thailand, China, and Bangladesh.
Popular food in Myanmar includes rice noodles, curries with rice, and stir-fry salads.
One of the most popular destinations in Yangon for both tourists and locals is 19th Street, which is in the heart of Yangon’s Chinatown district.
19th Street is a must-visit foodie destination in SE Asia. It is famous for the barbecue skewers offered by almost every restaurant lining both sides of the street.
Visitors each take a basket and fill it to the brim with different skewers on offer. The restaurateurs will then barbeque it all in front of your eyes.
Skewer options include different types of meats, seafood, vegetables, tofu, or a combination, and they are served with various specialty dipping sauces.
Another must-visit foodie destination in Yangon is 999 Shan Noodles, a popular restaurant with two locations in Yangon. Their claim to fame is of course their Shan Noodles.
Shan Noodles are sticky rice noodles that come with a chicken and tomato-based broth, with various add-ons like peanuts, garlic, chili, and cilantro on top.
It originates from the Shan State, which is in northeastern Myanmar and borders China, Laos, and Thailand. If it isn’t already, Shan noodles should definitely be a national dish of Myanmar!
- Recommended by Denise at Chef Denise
Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is undoubtedly one of the best foodie destinations in Southeast Asia. While many think of exotic dishes like Balut (duck embryo) or Isaw (skewered pigs intestines) when they think of Filipino food, most of the traditional dishes in Manila are absolutely delicious.
In fact, some of the most popular dishes are quite simple, like Lechon, tender roast pork with a crispy skin. If a local invites you to their home and they serve this Lechon, they must be celebrating something special. You will find it in restaurants and sometimes even as street food.
In Manila, Filipino street food is very popular and is the best cheap eats in the city. Enjoy everything from cheese sticks to eggs dipped in batter and fried (Kwek-Kwek), to fish balls and Lumpia, the Filipino version of an egg roll.
Lumpia can be vegetarian like a Chinese spring roll, however, most often it will contain some type of meat.
Every vendor, restaurant, and home cook prepares it differently. Pretty much any type of vegetable can be combined with any type of meat and they all are divine!
- Recommended by Mariza at Hoponworld
Singapore might be famous for its incredible photo spots, but there’s yet another reason to add the Lion City to your travel bucket list. And that’s food!
Influenced by several different cultures, Singaporean food is a fantastic fusion of Malay, Indian, Chinese and Indonesian cuisines. And as a result, it’s one of the best foodie destinations in Southeast Asia.
For the ultimate Singaporean breakfast, (and if you have a sweet tooth) try Kaya Toast with Soft-Boiled Eggs. This relatively simple dish consists of buttery toast with coconut jam (kaya) served with soft-boiled eggs topped with a light soy sauce.
Head on over to Ya Kun KayaToast – a famous franchise with dozens of stores across the city.
Another must-eat food is Hainanese Chicken Rice. It is one of Singapore’s staple dishes, and you can practically find it everywhere, from cafes to hawker stands. The dish consists of tender chicken pieces served on a bed of fragrant rice, which has been cooked in chicken broth, ginger, and garlic.
Chicken rice is lip-smacking good as is, but for an added kick, make sure to get some chili sauce on the side. Liao Fan Hawker Chan (a former Michelin star holder) in Chinatown or Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice in the Maxwell Food Centre has some of the best Hainanese Chicken Rice!
Lastly, you can’t visit Singapore without eating Katong Laksa. The spicy soup features creamy coconut milk, shrimp, fish cakes, and clams.
But what really sets Katong Laksa apart from other Laksa dishes is that the rice vermicelli is cut into small pieces allowing you to gobble up the whole bowl with a spoon instead of bothering with chopsticks!
Check out the original 328 Katong Laksa restaurant on East Coast Road.
Ella, Sri Lanka
- Recommended by Bailey at Destinationless Travel
Sri Lanka is a country that should be on every foodie’s bucket list. And the city in the center of it all? None other than the small touristic town of Ella, Sri Lanka. This town is the perfect place to eat Sri Lankan cuisine as there are plenty of tourist-orientated fancy restaurants, as well as small local places too.
Ella is the perfect place to eat some of the best food on offer. First and foremost, you must try the many different vegetable curries. In Sri Lanka, most curries are vegetarian and you can get everything from beetroot curry to mango to lentil.
Typically, when you order vegetable curry you will get several different types of curry all served to you in little dishes – this way you can try everything! They are so flavorful and colorful too.
The most popular vegetable curry is called Dahl. It is a lentil curry that is full of spices and made with coconut milk. Be sure to get a side of fresh papadums, and of course, wash it all down with Sri Lankan black tea.
- Recommended by Disha at Disha Discovers
Another great foodie destination in Southeast Asia is Bangkok, Thailand. Thai food is known for its robust flavors, colorful presentation, and a wide variety of dishes.
Curry is a must-try when visiting Bangkok, and there are many different varieties of it. This flavorful dish can be made with chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, or seafood and is served with rice.
There are many different types of Thai curries, and each one is packed with its own unique flavor. The most popular are red curry, green curry, yellow curry, Massaman curry, and Penang curry.
The differing factor between red curry, green curry, and yellow curry is the type of curry paste that is used. Massaman curry is milder and has an Indian flair to it, whereas Penang curry has a peanutty and mellow flavor to it. The best restaurant to satisfy any curry craving is Baan Tha Thien.
Pad Thai is another popular foodie dish in Bangkok, and it can be found at street stalls and high-end restaurants alike. This dish is made with rice noodles, shrimp, tofu, eggs, and peanuts, and is tossed in a sweet and savory sauce.
Last but not least, Tom Yum Soup, a spicy and sour soup, is Bangkok’s most popular soup. The soup is made with shrimp, lemongrass, galangal, lime juice, and fish sauce. It’s the perfect dish to warm you up on a chilly day in Bangkok.
Click here to book your Bangkok cooking class!
Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Recommended by Pafoua at Her Wanderful World
One of the best foodie destinations in Southeast Asia is Chiang Mai! This city is located in the north of Thailand and is known for its food markets.
One of the best food markets in Chiang Mai is the Night Bazaar. It’s open every night and has a wide variety of food stalls to choose from. The food here is cheap, delicious, and authentic. You can find food from all over Thailand here, as well as food from neighboring countries like Laos and Myanmar.
Some favorite dishes to try at the Night Bazaar are khao soi (a curry noodle soup with chicken or beef), green papaya salad, and pad thai.
If you’re looking for a delicious dessert, then you have to try mango with sticky rice. It’s a popular dessert in Thailand and it’s so good! Make sure to also get a glass of Thai tea – it’ll be the best decision you’ve ever made!
For a more high-end foodie experience, take a cooking class so you can make these delicious meals at home! You’ll learn how to cook traditional Thai dishes and get to go on a food market tour, where you’ll learn about the different ingredients used in Thai cuisine.
- Recommended by Isabelle at Move To Vietnam
Dalat is located in the highlands, six hours northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. Due to its amazing cool climate, it’s filled with farms for vegetables, fruits, and even coffee – the perfect location for a foodie destination in Southeast Asia.
There are two popular Vietnamese snacks from Dalat; Banh Trang Nuong and Kem Bo.
Banh Trang Nuong is also known as Dalat Pizza. A piece of crispy rice paper is heated on top of hot coal. An egg, cheese, meat, and vegetables will be added on top, mixed, and spread around evenly. This allows the rice paper to be softer.
If you are a vegetarian, you may ask for no meat and simply add vegetables and cheese. If you are eating it at the restaurant, you will be given a scissor and cut it up like a pizza. If it’s a takeaway, it will be rolled like a burrito.
I recommend the restaurant called Banh Trang Nuong 112 located at 112 Nguyễn Văn Trỗi, Phường 2, or head to the steps of the night market where you will find dozens of locals selling it.
Dalat is home to the best avocado in Vietnam. Kem Bo translates to avocado ice cream. Creamy blended avocado is served in a plastic cup with vanilla ice cream.
It can be found at the steps of the night market or the popular place called Bem Bo Thanh Thao, located at 76 Nguyễn Văn Trỗi, Phường 2.
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
- Recommended by Linda at Muy Linda Travels
A highlight of a trip to Vietnam is the fresh, delicious food, and if you’re in Ho Chi Minh City, you must try a Banh Mi. It’s a favorite traditional dish that has its origins in French colonial times.
Banh Mi is street food and it’s a tasty local variation on the French baguette made from a crispy white bread roll stuffed with delicious fillings-the stuff of foodie dreams.
When the French left Vietnam in the 1950s, the Vietnamese took the baguette and added savory fillings of pate, meat, veggies, cilantro, and pickles. They created a very tasty sandwich and gave it a Vietnamese name.
Banh Mi is great for breakfast or lunch and easy to eat on the go. Banh Mi is popular all around Vietnam, but in Ho Chi Minh City, the fillings are thickly layered and extra tasty.
You can join the locals enjoying a Banh Mi and Vietnamese coffee near the Notre Dame Cathedral in central Ho Chi Minh City.
- Recommended by Pafoua at Her Wanderful World
Hanoi is located in northern Vietnam and is known for its rich history and culture. With so much to see and do in Hanoi, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from!
But one thing you can’t skip out on is the food. We had a local guide take us through a food tour–which was so helpful since he showed us the local hubs with the best foods and ordered for us!
One of the most popular dishes is pho, a noodle soup made with beef or chicken broth, rice noodles, and fresh herbs. You know this noodle soup is good by its broth – it’s savory and has flavors of star anise and other herbs that have been simmering for hours!
Before you add any garnishes, take a sip of the broth and you should be able to taste all the flavors in the broth. I personally like adding chili sauce to make it spicier! You can find this soup in most restaurants.
Another great foodie dish in Hanoi is spring rolls. They are usually made with pork, shrimp, and vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, and cilantro.
Spring rolls are usually served with a dipping sauce. The spring rolls here are different than the ones you find in Chinese restaurants – the wrappers are made of rice paper and you can eat them fried or fresh.
One of the best restaurants in Hanoi particularly is a breakfast spot called King Roti where they serve large, soft buns filled with a sweet coffee filling. Check out a review of this restaurant here.
Look no further than Hanoi for an amazing foodie destination in Southeast Asia!
Check out this Hanoi food tour!
Map of Foodie Destinations in Southeast Asia
FAQs about Foodie Destinations in Southeast Asia
What is a foodie experience?
A foodie experience is a meal or food-related activity that is considered to be enjoyable, especially because it involves good food and drink.
In Southeast Asia, you’ll find no shortage of foodie experiences to enjoy! There are so many delicious and authentic dishes to try, as well as food markets where you can explore the different flavors of the region.
If you’re looking for a foodie destination to visit, then I recommend Southeast Asia – you won’t be disappointed!
What are the major foods in Southeast Asia?
Southeast Asia is a region that is home to many different cultures and cuisines. The food here is a mix of Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Indonesian food.
There are so many delicious dishes to try in Southeast Asia, but some of the most popular and well-known dishes are pad thai from Thailand, pho from Vietnam, and curry from Malaysia. Other popular dishes include spring rolls, fish amok, and sticky rice balls as mentioned throughout this blog post.
If you’re looking for an authentic foodie experience, then Southeast Asia is the place to be! Be sure to book a cooking class while you’re here as you can easily learn to make these dishes when you return home!
What are some foodie tips for traveling to Southeast Asia?
Some foodie tips for traveling to Southeast Asia include trying new things, exploring different food markets, and learning how to cook traditional dishes.
Since the climate is mostly tropical, you won’t find any more delicious fruits such as dragon fruit, durian, mangosteen, and more! Southeast Asia is a foodie paradise, so make sure to take advantage of all it has to offer!
When is the best time to visit Southeast Asia?
The best time to visit Southeast Asia depends on what you’re looking for. The weather is generally hot and humid throughout the year, so if you’re looking to escape the cold winters of home, then Southeast Asia is a great destination.
The rainy season is from May to October, so if you’re looking to avoid the rain, then plan your visit during the dry season from November to April.
You could also plan your visits during festivals that occur throughout the year as well so you get the most out of Southeast Asian cultures. These festivals are a great way to try new food and experience the culture of Southeast Asia.
No matter what time of year you visit, there’s always something to enjoy in Southeast Asia! The food is amazing, and the culture is fascinating.
Final Thoughts on the Top Foodie Destinations in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is a melting pot of culture and cuisine. From the bustling streets of Bangkok to the rice paddies of Bali, there’s no shortage of delicious food to try in this corner of the world.
What’s your favorite dish? Share with us in the comments below – we’d love to hear about it!
Other posts you might be interested in:
- Best Restaurants in Maui
- 6 Best Korean Dramas to Watch
- 14 All-Time Best Thai Dramas to Watch
- 15 Fun Things to do in Hanoi at Night
- 5 Gems to Visit in China
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My Favorite Travel Tips + Resources
Here is a quick glance at all my go-to travel tips and resources that I use to plan every trip! For more information, check out my travel resources page.
- Booking flights: I use Google Flights to check all routes and find the best flights. Then I compare them with Expedia (for reward points) and Skyscanner (for the lowest prices) before I book.
- Accommodations: I love budget-friendly rentals or booking at a hotel where I can earn points. For hotels, I go through Booking.com or book directly with Marriott (for points + rewards). When I travel internationally, I’ll book through Hostelworld for very budget-friendly stays. For vacation rentals, I usually look through Airbnb, but you could also use Vrbo. Expedia also has some great bundles for hotels, flights, and car rentals altogether.
- Transportation: For travel in the United States, I love renting through Expedia with Enterprise or Thrifty. They have been consistent and provide the best customer service. For international travel, I’ll book through Rome2Rio or Eurail for trains or bus fares.
- Travel Credit Card: I book all my travel (flights, hotels, car rentals) through my favorite travel credit card. I also use this card for everything on my trip including dining, excursions, and souvenirs. Apart from earning 5x more points towards free travel, there are amazing benefits: no foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement (so I can book worry-free), fraud protection, emergency assistance – it’s really a great deal! Check it out here!
- Vaccines and Medications: Check the CDC website for updates on necessary vaccines to enter a country, including updates on Covid-19 and recommended places to visit. I recommend getting all the vaccines you need before you go!
- Tours + Experiences: I absolutely love my tours! Everything from eerie walking ghost tours to food tours, I’ll usually book something every trip either through Viator or GetYourGuide. I also love LastMinute.com for very affordable tickets to theaters and other experiences in Europe.
- What to Pack: I almost always travel by backpack. For products I like, check out my packing guide page for all the things I take with me on different trips.