5 Street Food Markets in Asia for Affordable Eats and Local Flavor

Do as the locals do and explore the best affordable eats that Manila, Taipei, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, and Bangkok have to offer.

Street food Taipei
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There’s nothing quite like traveling and sampling delicacies and culinary standbys — and much in the same manner that the locals do. Sampling local flavors this way also makes your itinerary a bit more budget-friendly, as well as a tad more culturally immersive. (And if you think you need a hardier stomach for this, read our guide to eating street food safely.) Here are some street food centers around the Cebu Pacific network you’ve got to check out.

 

Bangkok

Moo ping Bangkok
Moo ping is an all-time favourite street snack in Bangkok. / Photo via Shutterstock.com

Bangkok is renowned worldwide for its street food culture. As we noted in our first-timers’ guide to the city: “Thai food, with its delightful blend of sweet, salty and spicy flavors, is in a class of its own. And the best place to find it in Bangkok is right on the street. Leave the cushy confines of the hotel restaurant and head out to the roadside stalls where all the locals eat. You can easily get classic Thai food without the watered-down, tourist-friendly treatment: tasty, chewy phad thai (stir-fried noodles), tangy som tam (papaya salad) and the venerable red curry pork alongside lesser-known delicacies like gai yang (grilled chicken) and its delicious partner, laab neua (minced beef salad). Those wishing to dine in more comfortable surrounds, however, can go for the many shopping center food courts in the area of Sukhumvit Road.”

 

Taipei

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Raohe Night Market, an alternative to the very popular Shilin Night Market, is one of the oldest markets in Taipei’s Songshan District. It’s where you’ll find a dizzying array of food stalls, offering everything from the legendary stinky tofu to fried dumplings.

Traveler Paulo Navarra (IG: @paulonavarra) shares: “Unless you’ve explored one of the city’s night markets, you can’t say you’ve seen the place. Between Raohe and Shilin, I like Raohe more. It’s easier to navigate and is less touristy. A true feast for the senses, there’s a lot to take in, including biting into delectable delights like the pepper pork bun, blow-torched steak, fried chicken fillet (from Hot Star specifically) and fried, stuffed sweet potato balls. And of course, if you can withstand the pungency (present from five feet away), the stinky tofu is worth a try.”

 

Ho Chi Minh City

Ben Thanh Market. Photo via Ajnguyen / Shutterstock.com

As we noted in a foodie’s guide to Ho Chi Minh City: “To slowly ease into Vietnamese cooking, head on down to Saigon’s best-known market, Ben Thanh, and make a beeline for the cluster of food hawkers occupying the northern half of the building. Ben Thanh is where you can find a good intro to southern Vietnamese fare, from simple com chien fried-rice dishes to the standard pho noodles and goi cuon spring rolls. From the nearest food stall, order a serving of banh beo – tender rice-flour cakes smothered in tangy nuoc cham sauce, and sprinkled with chopped dried shrimp and scallions. The basic banh beo is tasty enough with its delicate flavor and gelatin-like texture, but try the dac biet (special) version, which has banh bot loc shrimp dumplings and thick slices of cha sausage. Wash it down with syrupy-sweet ca phe sua coffee and your food adventure is off to a fine start.”

 

Manila

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Traveler Mikey del Rosario [IG: @mikeydelrosario] recommends to anyone eager to sample Filipino cuisine: “Stroll along Madre Ignacia Street in Malate and discover a host of dining options. If you begin at around 3pm — merienda time for most Filipinos — you might find vendors offering exotic treats like isaw pig and chicken intestines, fried and battered quail eggs called kwek-kwek, and deepfried calamares. Just be prepared to get in line with office workers who will be out around the same time to get their afternoon snacks.” We’ve made a handy-dandy checklist of the Filipino street food you’ve got to try, (and which you’ll find virtually anywhere, too)!

 

Jakarta

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Seek out Gloria Alley (also known as Gang Gloria) — within Glodok, Indonesia’s largest Chinatown, where you can get your fill of Jakarta’s best street eats. Try the bakmi ayam, yellow wheat noodles topped with diced chicken meat, or ketoprak, a vegetarian dish covered in peanut sauce, before finishing off your meal with traditional iced coffee.

 

 

 

 

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