Food tourism: Where are the top food destinations in Asia?

Posted by - June 20, 2018

DO YOU LIVE TO EAT or eat to live? In Asia, it’s likely the former.
Asia is a melting pot of cultures and that translates well into the plethora of cuisines and tastes that can be found in the region. In fact, Asian countries are beginning to come out on top of well-known culinary destinations such as France and Italy.
Don’t make these cultural Pho-pas when eating in Asia Any visitor to Asia will find that “Where to eat?” and “What to eat?” are important everyday questions.
For the Malays, Chinese, and Indians, “Have you eaten?” is probably the first thing that people you meet will ask you.
Good food is the very thing that keeps their stomachs and hearts full, so much so that it’s a major deciding factor for the vacations that they take.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that their desire to sample food and drinks motivates their travels.
A post shared by T(bar) (@tbar_teabar) on Jun 18, 2018 at 10:32pm PDT
According to a survey conducted with over 50,000 global travelers, 82 percent of Hong Kong travelers are planning to take a dedicated food tourism trip sometime this year and 70 percent of them say they pick a destination for its great food or drink.
The survey also said that gastronomy tourism or food tourism is particularly popular among Asian travelers from China (65 percent), India (57 percent), Thailand (53 percent), Indonesia (50 percent), and Hong Kong (48 percent).
A post shared by bings_sydney (@bings_sydney) on Jun 19, 2018 at 1:31am PDT
Asian travelers are particularly attracted to just about anything Instagrammable, including food. Beautiful flat lays or close-ups of food and an explosion of colors are bound to get their attention.
The top four food destinations in Asia, according to millions of’s traveler reviews, are:
Ipoh, Malaysia Located nearly 180km north of Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh is a city in Perak that first got its claim to fame for being the world’s largest producer of tin way back in the 1900s.
Aerial view of Ipoh at sunrise. Source: Shutterstock.
In the 1980s, after the collapse of tin prices, Ipoh took a seat back and simply became the ideal retirement place, thanks to its beautiful limestone karst mountains and serene ambiance.
These days, Ipoh has become a main “pit stop” for travelers heading to Cameron Highlands or Penang.
And truly, when it comes to its food, it can get pretty hard to decide what to eat.
A post shared by Shelby (@shelbybisou) on Mar 17, 2015 at 4:31am PDT
Our picks: Ming Court dimsum, Concubine Lane tau fu fah (bean-curd pudding), Thean Chun kai si hor fun (flat rice noodles with shredded chicken in broth), Thean Chun caramel pudding, Lou Wong bean sprout chicken rice, and Sin Yin Loong Ipoh white coffee.
Kaohsiung, Taiwan What first started out as a small trading village in the 17th century is now Taiwan’s must-visit destination.
Tips: Go to Kaohsiung with an empty stomach. Source: Shutterstock.
Located in southern-western Taiwan, the bustling Kaohsiung is a massive port city with impressive skyscrapers, gorgeous sprawling parks, and lively night markets.
Natural, historical, and industrial attractions aside, the city also boasts culinary delights and mouthwatering hidden eats that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.
The food here is also relatively cheaper than Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.
A post shared by xinkai09 (@xinkai09) on Dec 29, 2017 at 10:56pm PST
Our picks: Gang Yuan beef noodles, Gao Xiong Po Po shaved ice dessert, Hongmaogang Restaurant (for seafood), Liuhe night market, Wu Pao Chun Bakery, Duck Zhen braised duck, Royal Beef Cubes’ hand-torched wagyu beef cubes, and Ban Jiushi pan-fried milkfish.
Nagoya, Japan With a population of over two million people, Nagoya is the fourth-most populous city in Japan.
Nagoya has more than just its Edo period castle to be proud of. Source: Shutterstock.
It’s also an agricultural and economic center with automotive as its main industry due to its strategic location near the fertile Nobi Plain and the Pacific coast on central Honshu.
What really sets Nagoya apart from other Japanese cities, however, is its distinctive cuisine, referred to in Japanese as “Nagoya meshi”, which means Nagoya’s local food.
“A study conducted by the city of Nagoya related to domestic tourism found that more people visited the area to enjoy the food (50.9 percent) than to see the famed Nagoya Castle (49.9 percent),” CNN wrote.
A post shared by OG (@oga_yuki) on Jul 25, 2017 at 1:04am PDT
Our picks: Nonkiya doteni (pork or beef and vegetables simmered with miso), Atsuta Horaiken hitsumabushi (grilled freshwater eel with rice), Yabaton misokatsu (deep fried pork cutlets served with miso sauce and rice), Yamamoto Honten misonikomi (udon noodles simmered in miso), and Nadai Kishimen Sumiyoshi (flat udon noodles in broth).
Johor Bahru, Malaysia Just a short causeway ride away from Singapore and at the tip of peninsula Malaysia is the capital of Johor, Johor Bahru.
Johor Bahru is one of the biggest cities in Malaysia. Source: Shutterstock.
Regarded as one of the fastest-growing cities in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru (or JB, as locals would call it) is the main commercial center for the state and is located in the Indonesia–Malaysia–Singapore Growth Triangle.
However, the city flies under the radar when it comes to Malaysia’s food havens as it’s often overshadowed by Penang, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, and Ipoh.
This just means there are more surprising culinary gems for travelers to discover, from restaurants to the simplest hawker fare.
A post shared by irene (@riinns) on Aug 23, 2017 at 7:25am PDT
Our picks: Hwa Mui Kopitiam chicken chop (Hainanese-styled), Bukit Chagar roti canai (Indian-styled flatbread), Kerala Curry House banana leaf rice, Hiap Joo Bakery banana cake, Restoran Ya Wang herb roasted duck, Restoran Tua Thow kway teow soup (flat rice noodles in broth), Ong Shun Seafood Restaurant, Restoran Ah Piaw wantan mee (wonton noodles), Kam Long Restaurant fish head curry, and Toddy’s Coconut Wine Shop.
The post Food tourism: Where are the top food destinations in Asia? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Dragon Boat Festival: Where to go for a roaring wet fun day

Posted by - May 1, 2018

CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, the Duanwu festival, otherwise known as the Dragon Boat Festival, has nothing to do with dragons. But it has got to do with boats.
The festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a poet and ministry who died in 278 B.C. Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Milou river after he was slandered by the members of the Han Dynasty and exiled from his home. After which, the local people who admired him raced out in their boats in an attempt to save him or retrieve his body.
When his body could not be found, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan’s body.
‘Venice of the East’: Charming water villages in China Thousands of years later, revelers across Asia still come out in droves for one day in the early summertime to eat sticky dumplings and race ornate boats shaped like dragons to honor Qu Yuan.
This year, the Dragon Boat Festival will take place on June 18, 2018, a public holiday in some Asian countries including Hong Kong and Taiwan. In celebration of the holiday of Duanwu, rowers will take to the rivers to show off their months of preparation for the festive dragon boat races.
A dragon boat is a brightly decorated human-powered boat or paddle boat that is traditionally made of teak wood to various designs and sizes that range anywhere from 40 to 100 feet in length.
It has a front end shaped like an open-mouth dragon and a back end with a scaly tail.
This year, the Dragon Boat Festival will take place on June 18, 2018, a public holiday in some Asian countries. Source: Shutterstock. Source: Shutterstock.
Usually, a sacred ceremony is performed before any race in order to “bring the boat to life” by painting the eyes. The first team to grab a flag at the end of the course wins the race.
Some of these races and festivities kick off way before the actual celebration.
For example, Jakarta’s Dragon Boat Festival will be held on May 5 to May 6, 2018, on the waterfront of Baywalk Mall in Pluit. Spectators can expect more than 40 teams comprising over 800 paddlers competing over two days, vying for 18 trophies, 340 medals, and cash prizes.
The race, which encompasses 250 meters, includes mixed, men, women and student invitational categories.
Dragon boat racing is a team sport in its purest form that encompasses the elements of power, speed, synchronization, and endurance. Source: Shutterstock.
Apart from the dragon boat race, attendees will also be able to engage in social events and enjoy the festivities around food and merchandise stalls.
Other Asian countries that will be a part of the Duanwu celebrations include:
China Observed dates: June 16 to June 18, 2018. Venue: Xixi National Wetland Park, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China. Details: Website | Facebook. Taiwan Observed dates: June 16 to June 18, 2018. Venue: Taipei’s Dajia Riverside Park, Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City Taiwan. Details: Website | Facebook. Hong Kong Observed dates: June 16 to June 18, 2018. Venue: Victoria Harbor, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Details: Website | Facebook. Macao Observed dates: June 16 to June 18, 2018. Venue: Nam Van Lake Nautical Center, Macao. Details: Website. Malaysia Observed dates: May 12 to May 13, 2018. Venue: Likas Bay, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Details: Website | Facebook. The post Dragon Boat Festival: Where to go for a roaring wet fun day appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Trendy Taiwan: China’s cool neighbor

Posted by - February 28, 2018

TAIWAN has seen a significant increase in tourists over the past few years, and for very good, tasty, awe-inspiring reasons.
You may associate Taiwan with the long-winded, dramatic soap dramas, but it is so much more than that. Let us take you on a journey of discovery to showcase some of the most enticing treasures found in Taiwan.
From melt-in-your-mouth bao (a type of steamed, filled bun) to unrivaled stunning scenery, this is why you should visit Taiwan.
Unfiltered travel: The stories Instagram won’t tell you Friendly locals A post shared by 【燕子陶 – 南庄溪山裡的陶花園】 (@yanzitao1995) on Feb 24, 2018 at 7:14am PST
Taiwan has some of the friendliest locals in the whole of Asia. Don’t be surprised if strangers spark up conversations with you in the street.
Their intrigue will make you feel at home and this is a brilliant way to involve yourself in the local culture.
We guarantee you’ll return home having made at least one local friend in Taiwan.
Bao crazy A post shared by Cùng Tao Ăn Cả Thế Giới (@homnaytaoangi) on Nov 26, 2017 at 10:39am PST
Taiwan is the home of the famous bao. This delightful concoction consists of a fluffy white bun stuffed with fantastic stewed meat, sauce, herbs, spices, and seeds.
The buns are only a few mouthfuls big, so you’ll probably want to order a few… or twenty.
The night markets A post shared by SweetandYummie apprentice (@scrumptious_munchies) on Jan 13, 2018 at 2:52pm PST
Arguably the best nightlife in Taiwan is found at vibrant, bustling street markets. The capital of Taipei is full of these incredible markets where visitors can find an array of satays or food-on-a-stick as it’s also known.
From vegetables bursting with rainbow colors and familiar chicken and beef to the rather obscure creatures that may take you by surprise, such as whole squid and whole frogs.
These night markets are a social spectacle where you can see groups of friends having fun or snacking among work colleagues.
India: Beyond the gaze of the media Hot springs A post shared by Vie (@tranviee) on Feb 24, 2018 at 7:42am PST
Taiwan is home to some of the world’s most incredible and abundant hot springs. One of the most easily accessible from Taipei is Beitou.
The hot spring is just a 30-minute MRT (train) ride away from the city center costing only US$1. With plenty of hotels, campsites, museums, gardens, and restaurants, and of course the natural hot springs, you’ll be spoilt for choice on what to do.
Mountains A post shared by Marj (@mamarj_02) on Feb 23, 2018 at 2:45am PST
Anyone who hasn’t already been to Taiwan will be awestruck but its natural beauty.
The subtropical volcanic island is more than 70 percent sky-scraping, jagged mountains. The golden beaches are met with rows of towering stone pillars which have formed as the sea and winds whipped around them, eroding the rock that once formed part of the land.
A post shared by Marj (@mamarj_02) on Feb 23, 2018 at 2:45am PST
You must also visit the burning rocks which haven’t be doused in over 300 years and Black Dwarf Cave, steeped in tragic history – a tour down here isn’t for the fainthearted.
The post Trendy Taiwan: China’s cool neighbor appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Taiwan turns up the ‘halal’ charm to entice Muslim tourists

Posted by - February 22, 2018

AS MAINLAND CHINESE ARRIVALS to Taiwan continue to dwindle, the island nation is looking to draw numbers from Muslim tourists instead.
Located merely 180km east of mainland China, Taiwan sees itself as a self-ruling, separate nation but China sees Taiwan as part of its territory. Due to Taiwan’s refusal to acknowledge that it is part of China, the Chinese government has been pulling back Taiwan tourism promotions.
Taiwan sees fewer Chinese tourists amid cross-straits tension Chinese visitor numbers dipped since Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 2016 and it doesn’t seem to be recovering anytime soon. In fact, Chinese numbers dropped by a fifth last year.
As such, Taiwan is pushing their promotional efforts south.
Under its “southbound policy”, Taiwan will zone in on 16 south and Southeast Asian countries including Australia and New Zealand. Particularly, the country is hoping to seek more visitors from Muslim-majority countries such as Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
The charming island already has a wealth of attractions and experiences to offer, such as its bustling night markets, a plethora of mouth-watering food and treats, thriving shopping hot spots, sprawling lush nature, hot springs resorts, as well as modern and traditional architecture.
Source: Shutterstock.
But a couple of measures are being taken to ensure that Taiwan is Muslim-friendly enough:
Halal-approved: The Taiwan Tourism Bureau has worked with Taiwan’s Chinese Muslim Association (CMA) to issue certifications for restaurants, hotels and central kitchens that provide halal food. More than 100 hotels and restaurants on the island have since received the certification.
Visa waiver: Taiwan has also launched a visa waiver program, extending visa-free travel privileges to Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and a number of Muslim-majority nations. Visitors from India, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos can apply for a free travel authorization certificate on the official Taipei Economic and Cultural Office website.
Taiwan relaxes visa rules for Indian tourists Mindful tourism: Most Taiwanese aren’t familiar with Muslim practices and culture. As such, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau has been hiring and training staff to better serve Muslim tourists. For the more discerning Muslim travelers, there are even halal tour packages available, complete with Muslim-friendly accommodations, safe meals and English-speaking staff.
Place of worship: The majority of Taiwanese embrace Taoism, but in order to make Muslim travelers feel more at ease, public transportation facilities and Taiwan’s scenic spots are building prayer rooms and wash areas. There are also eight mosques, with the oldest and largest being the Taipei Grand Mosque, on the island.
Speaking to Travel Wire Asia, 27-year-old advertising account executive Nur Syahana said, “I’ve only ever been to Taiwan once, and not on tour, about three years ago but it really surprised me how they’re putting in so much effort to adapt to us Muslim travelers. Halal food is easy to find and Taiwanese are also very warm and welcoming. I didn’t feel alienated at all.”
The Taipei Grand Mosque is the largest and most famous mosque in Taiwan. Source: Shutterstock.
Other than Taiwan, Asian nations such as Thailand, South Korea, and Japan have also been tapping into the Muslim market.
The post Taiwan turns up the ‘halal’ charm to entice Muslim tourists appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Taipei will get its first Michelin Guide in 2018

Posted by - November 21, 2017

IN the age of digital technology, pocket guides seem futile, but one name will live on forever in the travel guide sphere – Michelin.
Being featured in a Michelin guide can increase sales and put your once local restaurant on a global map – which is exactly what is about to happen in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.
Don’t eat meat? No worries – Thailand the friendliest to vegetarians in Asia As of Spring 2018, travelers will be able to navigate around the most delicious street vendors, serving up fresh, vibrant, zingy delicacies, as well as discovering the capital’s best-loved restaurants, admired for the diverse array of scrumptious dishes, with an ambrosial status.
The magnetic allure of Taipei’s gastronomy scene has never been short of tourists and locals swinging by for a quick treat or meandering the narrow lanes for hours, being directed only by their noses.
“You don’t need to be in a wonderful place to have extreme quality of ingredients and to have real personalities of the chef,” Bruno de Feraudy, a Michelin spokesman told South China Morning Post. “Exceptional for us is what’s happening on the plate and purely on the plate.”
Famously beloved by #foodies, #Taipei will get its first #Michelin guide in 2018!
— Global Taiwan Inst. (@globaltaiwan) November 15, 2017
From its beginnings over a century ago, Michelin has been viewed as the guide to posh restaurants, giving diners an insight into what they can expect to get for their dollar. Yet, to keep up with demanding travelers, wishing to experience the depths of a country’s history, traditions, and tastes, Michelin is now recognizing budget eats as well.
This recognition is set to have a momentous positive impact on smaller eateries. In 2010, Tim Ho Wan, a hole-in-the-wall Dim Sum vendor in Hong Kong gained a Michelin Star, which saw the small-time street stall, transform into a successful chain of restaurants across much of Southeast Asia.
Thanks @jozegal for sharing your favourites with us! TGIF, our Aperia branch will be open till 3am today and tomorrow. See you there for supper
A post shared by Tim Ho Wan, Singapore (@thwsingapore) on Nov 9, 2017 at 6:49pm PST
However, not all restaurateurs are besotted with the potential of being featured in Taipei’s Michelin Guide. Shop manager at Wu Su-yan, a small vendor that is best known for its low priced bowls of rice, topped with braised pork, claims she doesn’t need a write up to assure customers that the food is excellent.
“Having customers is confirmation enough. We don’t need it to be written on a piece of paper to know our lu rou fan is good,” the manager of the restaurant told South China Morning Post.
Through the Michelin inspectors exploration of the colorful cuisine scene in Taipei, street vendors, alley-way snack shacks, and fancier restaurants will all be featured. This first-of-its-kind guide to Taipei hopes to rediscover the regions forgotten delicacies, that are currently considered passé by the younger Taiwanese generation, and allow locals, travelers and business people to feast on the finest flavors the country has to offer.
Malaysians most influenced by food when making travel decisions “The diversity and quality of the city’s culinary scene, combined with its strong potential for development in the years to come, convinced us in our choice to set up in Taipei as from next year. Our inspectors have already started working on-site and are delighted to be getting acquainted with the local cuisine, rich in so many influences from all around Asia,” Claire Dorland-Clauzel, member of the Group Executive Committee, and director of Sustainable Development at Michelin said in a press release.
We’ve got our guide, have you got yours?
The post Taipei will get its first Michelin Guide in 2018 appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.