Rice is the foundation of Southeast Asian cooking, whether fragrant or sticky, molded into noodles or steamed into wraps for spring rolls. Add onto this base rich herbs and spices – lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal and the like – and exotic cooking techniques such as steaming in banana, pandanus and bamboo leaves, and you have the makings of half a dozen of the world's greatest cuisines, all waiting to be sampled as you travel around the region.

The Basics

Southeast Asia offers up a panoply of cuisines and some of the world's favourite dishes, from pàt tai and Vietnamese pho to strange delights from Brunei and Timor-Leste.

  • Street Food Hawkers gather day and night, serving inexpensive, delicious meals from mobile food carts and food-court stands.
  • Night Markets As dusk falls, locals flock to night markets for the hawker experience underneath the stars.
  • Cafes Southeast Asian cafes run the range, from Western-style franchises to rustic teahouses serving local specialties.
  • Restaurants Sit-down dining covers everything from rural roadhouses to lavish banquet restaurants and Michelin stars.