9 Tips for Savoring a Local Cuisine

Salat pao street vendor Chiang Mai

by the Access Trips team

1. Do your (food) research

Don’t just research the tourist attractions. Research the cuisine. Find out about the local specialties. Check out the best places to dine. See what food and wine tours are available in the area. Ask friends for recommendations. Browse the web. There’s a plethora of culinary travel recommendations online. You’ve just got to research, research and research!

Rice at Local Market in Hanoi, Vietnam

2. Ask the locals for recommendations

Who better to ask for restaurant recommendations than the locals? Their intimate knowledge of the city means they usually know the best local digs and dives. Chances are, they’re also more than happy to share their secrets with you. Ask taxi drivers, hotel concierge and shop staff where they like to eat, then follow their advice. 

3. Time your culinary trip with a local celebration

Alton Brown says “I’m just here for the food,” but the smart food tripper says, “I’m just here for the celebration food.” Come party time, a culture tends to show off its very best. You’ll find an array of good food, good times and good company. Best bets include Banh Chung during Vietnam’s Lunar New Year, Lechon Asado in Cuba, and Bisteeya during Morocco’s Eid-al-Fitr.

4.  Always try new things

Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Order something you’ve never heard of, or even better, can’t pronounce. A word of caution: Ordering like this usually turns out one of two ways. Either the food is really good or it’s really bad. Either way, you’ll have a killer travel story to tell your family and friends when you get back home.


5.  Take in your surroundings

You are, after all, on holiday. Really take in your surroundings as you eat. Enjoy the rolling grasslands of serene Sonoma, the perfect white sand beaches of timeless Thailand, and the rugged deserts of majestic Morocco – all while devouring their amazing local cuisine.

6. Pay attention to what you’re eating

How many of us have scoffed down a meal in just a matter of minutes, before rushing off to the next must-see attraction? Too many, that’s for sure. There are plenty of reasons why we eat fast – hunger, lack of time, busy schedules – but whenever possible, take your time and enjoy every bite. Engage your senses. Smell the tantalizing aromas. Appreciate the delectable textures. Savor the flavors. You’re creating food memories to last a lifetime.

7. Take part in cooking lessons

And by take part, we mean, really take part. Ask questions. Volunteer to help. Speak up. Culinary vacations should be fun, engaging and educational.  Fully immerse yourself in the experience. Discover what it takes for locals to make a certain cuisine day in and day out. There’s certainly nothing more enriching than an authentic culinary travel experience.

Salat pao street vendor Chiang Mai

8. Eat like the locals do

Go to the market. Try the street food and enjoy! It doesn’t get more genuine than this. Try Banh Xeo in Vietnam, Makouda in Morocco, Green Curry in Thailand and Papa Rellena in Cuba.

9. Ask the food tour experts

Ask any one of the Access Trips experts before, during or after your tour for tried, tested and beloved food recommendations. We’ve sampled some of the best local cuisine around and are more than happy to divulge our favorites.

More tips to help you eat like a local.

Did we miss anything? How do you find the best local cuisine? We look forward to your comments below.


4 thoughts on “9 Tips for Savoring a Local Cuisine

  1. Dina says:

    Laura, thank you for another informative, useful and fun post. If I can add something: go to eat with foodies or people that appreciate food. It’s more fun that way…

  2. Murissa says:

    Love this post Laura! I went to Cancun once and found myself stuck in a resort. I felt like I didn’t even go to Mexico because the food wasn’t authentic nor very delicious. If I don’t get to experience the local cuisine the trip can feel like a let down.

    • The Culinary Travel Guide says:

      Thanks for the feedback Murissa. So glad you enjoyed it. I tried #4 in Cabo last week, ordering something I’d never heard of before just to be adventurous. It turned out to be a little pork sandwich with mashed black beans and avocado. It wasn’t amazing or awful but it was definitely authentic.

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