If you’re a foodie and love to travel, leading travel search engine, KAYAK has some awesome recommendations.
Food-lovers in Singapore comb the island looking for the best biryani and bak kut teh but how many have made pilgrimages to the birthplaces of some of their favourite dishes? The travel experts at KAYAK.sg have identified the most delicious destinations in the region. Get your passport and your stomach ready: these five cities should be at the top of any Singaporean foodie’s list.
UNESCO declared Chengdu a ‘city of gastronomy’ in 2011 but the capital of Sichuan province in southwestern China has been a foodie favourite for thousands of years. One ancient Chinese traveller declared that the “people of Sichuan uphold good flavour and are fond of hot and spicy taste.” Visitors to Chengdu will have no trouble finding the local version of hotpot (or steamboat), which is punched up with the region’s most famous culinary attribute, Sichuan pepper, an intensely fragrant and tongue-numbing wonder that packs a powerful punch. Fiery red dandan mian, a noodle dish traditionally flavoured with red chilli-oil, pork and scallions, is another must-try.
How to get there: We found flights to Chengdu from S$487.
Where to stay: Nightly prices for a double room at M Hotel Chengdu starts at S$73.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia
In George Town, casual hawker centre fare and humble street food carts are what set foodie hearts on fire. This is one of the few places in the world that authentic Nyonya cuisine, dishes born out of the intermarriage of Chinese traders and the local Malay population, can be found. Sure, you can find this style of cooking in Singapore as well, but even so, it’s well worth exploring the quaint streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site for the local versions. Penang laksa, a fish-based soup that brings sour tamarind, fiery chilli and chewy noodles together in one perfect bowl, is worth the airfare alone. Nasi Kandar, an Indian Muslim dish, usually of beef or prawn curry served over rice, is another Penang speciality. The dish is so named for the hawkers who used to sell this dish on the street, out of two containers hanging from a pole (or kandar) balanced on their shoulders.
How to get there: We found flights to Penang from S$142.
Where to stay: Nightly prices for a double room at Hotel Royal Penang starts at S$148.
Like K-Pop and Korean dramas, Korean cuisine is taking Asia by storm. Now is a great time to visit the delicious city of Seoul, as the winter frost melts into spring and white cherry blossoms, yellow forsythias and dogwood trees burst into bloom. From bibimbap – a hot bowl of rice, toppings and spicy pepper paste that is mixed just before eating – and bulgogi – grilled marinated beef – to the nation’s signature fermented cabbage condiment, kimchi, there’s something to suit everyone’s taste. For the truly brave, pigs feet and chicken feet are beloved local snacks, the former sliced and braised in rice wine and the latter slathered in spicy sauce.
How to get there: We found flights to Seoul from S$477.
Where to stay: Nightly prices for a double room at Hotel Artnouveau starts at S$148.
The Thai capital is the place to be for street food-lovers. If you can stand the tropical heat, you can spend your entire visit to Bangkok eating well, without stepping foot inside a restaurant. Check out the food stalls at Chatuchak Weekend Market and the floating market, accessible via longboat on the Chao Phraya River, for an abundance of tasty options. A good food-safety rule of thumb is to eat at popular stalls where the food is more likely to be fresh and to eat dishes that have just been cooked as opposed to raw, unpeeled fruits and vegetables or dishes that have been sitting around for a while. Test your taste buds by trying the Thai version of green papaya salad to see if you can identify each of the sour, savoury, sweet, salty and spicy flavours for which this cuisine is famous. The perfectly balanced dish tosses shredded unripe papaya in lime juice, palm sugar, peanuts and chilli.
How to get there: We found flights to Bangkok from S$202.
Where to stay: Nightly prices for a double room at Dream Bangkok starts at S$88.
Follow your nose through the streets of Hanoi or sign up for one of the city’s many excellent walking food tours to experience the best the city’s cooks have to offer. Visit the French Quarter to taste the lasting influence of French colonialism on the city and wash everything down with a strong, sweet Vietnamese iced coffee or, a Hanoi specialty, Bia Hoi – a fresh, low-alcohol, unpasteurised beer served al fresco. As the birthplace of many beloved Vietnamese dishes like Pho – a comforting noodle soup – and Bun Cha – grilled pork patties served over white rice noodles, Hanoi is a foodie mecca. Travellers will also find some dishes in this northern city that are not common in other parts of the country like Cha Ca, which consists of marinated fish fillets sauteed with copious amounts of dill.
How to get there: We found flights to Hanoi from S$251.
Where to stay: Nightly prices for a double room at Hanoi Daewoo Hotel starts at S$148.
*Top tip: for more inspiration, KAYAK’s online Explore tool helps you discover the best flight deals within your set budget.
*Images are illustrative only and may not be used, shared, or made available for download. Data provided by KAYAK.sg is based on flight and hotel searches on 11 March 2016 for travel between 1 and 3 April 2016. Flight prices quoted are per person and accommodation prices are based on double occupancy. Prices are quoted in Singapore Dollars and are subject to change; availability may be limited and offers may no longer be available.