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Global cuisine

Navigating Asia’s food stalls

Feb 12, 2015 by Laura Barber

Experiencing a country’s traditional cuisine is one of our favorite parts about traveling. If you’re anything like us, no trip is complete without trying (or attempting to try) one of everything.

Some of the most delicious and affordable Asian food comes from its countries’ markets and street stalls. Here are our top tips for successfully navigating these bustling arenas on your trip to Asia.



Look for long lines

There’s probably a good reason why some stalls have a longer wait for food than others. At busier places, the turnover rate is higher and so are the chances that your meal will be freshly cooked.


Learn the lingo

Before you leave for your trip, learn a few food-related words and phrases like “no meat, please” or “not too spicy.” This way, you won’t only impress the locals, you’ll also be able to order exactly what you want.


Go early

Try to arrive at the food stalls or markets early in the day or right before meal times. The earlier in the day you go, the fresher the food will be. The same is true around meal times, when vendors begin to gear up for the lunch and dinner rushes.


Look for the peels

If fresh fruit or vegetables are more to your taste, always err on the side of caution and avoid pre-sliced selections in favor of the varieties you have to peel before you eat. Bananas, cucumbers, papayas and the like are your safest bets.


Keep your hands clean Get into the habit of sanitizing or scrubbing (with bottled water) thoroughly and often, especially if you’ve been using public transportation or handling wares in the market.

Have you ever eaten anything at a food stall in Asia? What are your tips for navigating these culinary markets? Tell us on Facebook!

Dining tips
About the author | Laura Barber
It all began on a school trip to London in 7th grade. Since that first jaunt across the pond, Laura has been hooked on all things travel (and British for that matter). When she's not at work using her words to help people find their own adventures, she can be found running 5ks, refining her cribbage game, or rewatching The Office for the 100th time.

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