By Jordan Higgins
No travel experience is complete without delving into the destination’s culinary scene. But with language barriers, dietary requirements, and lack of local knowledge, it can be difficult to indulge in everything a region has to offer. Perhaps, the best way to do this is by hiring a local guide or joining an organised food tour.
Firstly, find the right food tour or local guide on online travel portals or ask for recommendations from the staff at your hotel. Finding a passionate local guide enhances your culinary journey, as you will be treated to insider knowledge of quieter spots not frequented by tourists. However, make sure that your local guide has a good grasp of your first language.
Food tours not only allow you to find the tastiest food, but also help you understand the cuisine, how it was made, and where it comes from. With that in mind, here are the 10 best food tours around the world - from fine dining to street food stalls.
1. Market Street Food Tour – Hoi An, Vietnam
Vietnam is internationally renowned for its street food, and Hoi An is at the forefront of this culinary scene. Many street food tours operating in the city, encourage travellers to eat like the locals. With the aid of local guides, tourists can travel on bike or on foot, sampling all of the banh mi and dau hu they can stomach.
All-inclusive tour prices range from $35 to $65 for up to four hours.
2. Sunset Food Tour – Rome, Italy
Classic pizzas and pasta to truffles, speciality cheeses, and cured meat, accompanied by a glass or two of vino - a sunset tour of Rome is ideal for Italian food lovers. Tours circle around the Prati District, known for its upmarket restaurants and shops, giving you a taste of the Roman high life.
Evening sunset walking tours cost around $90, including the services of a local and well-informed tour guide.
3. Traditional Nonya Cooking – Singapore
Traditional Nonya cooking was developed by the Peranakans, descendants of Chinese migrants who settled in Singapore and Indonesia. This style of cooking blends traditional Chinese spices with Malay cooking techniques. The unique culinary style can be learned during a four-hour Nonya food tour and class.
For a masterclass in Nonya cooking, including samplings of the food, explanations of the ingredients, and a cooking class, the price is about $185. There are few places in the world able to replicate this unique food, so learning to do so is a rare opportunity.
4. Curry Tours – India
India is famous for its curries, and many tours capitalise on this fascinating aspect of the vibrant country. However, rather than spending one day scratching the surface of India’s culinary scene, why not spend 15 days traversing the country and diving deep into their unique food culture, all while embracing the famous sights of India such as the Taj Mahal?
A two-week food tour of India will cost around $2,100, including all food, an experienced guide, transport, accommodation, street food tours, and multiple cooking classes.
5. Wild Atlantic Way Food Tours – Ireland
Unique Irish food tours can be organised in the picturesque region of Connemara, just outside of Galway City. The tour includes stops at a farm to sample locally grown foods, a quaint Irish pub for traditional pub grub, a stunning castle for a meal of locally sourced crab, and an old alcohol distillery to try famous Irish poitin.
This tour through the heart of Irish-speaking Connemara takes around 8 hours and costs about $110. Tour groups are small with fewer than 12 members, with a local guide to answer any questions you may have about the food.
6. Tokyo by Night – Tokyo, Japan
A small-group food tour through the beating heart of Tokyo is the ideal way to sample some of the best food Japan has to offer. Local delights such as wagashi and yakitori are complimented by traditional sake or local beers as you explore Tokyo’s fascinating nightlife.
Your tour group will be accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide. All-inclusive prices start at $110 for a street food tour that lasts around three hours.
7. Culinary Caucasus – Georgia
Georgia does not have a reputation as a foodie’s destination. However, with a tour through the heart of the Caucasus, you can experience the historic winemaking culture and a taste of traditional Georgian cuisine. From matsoni to khachapuri, the comforting Georgian food expertly matches the Caucasus’ warm hospitality.
Twelve-day food tours through the land where Russia meets Asia cost around $5,000, including the services of a local tour guide, accommodation, transport, and cultural activities such as street food tours in Tbilisi.
8. South African Wine Tour – South Africa
Combining delicious wine with stunning scenery, a South African wine tour on wheels is something not to be missed. Starting in Cape Town and finishing in Franschhoek, this low-difficulty cycling tour takes six days.
The tour brings you through wine-producing regions where samples of local food and wine are plentiful. An all-inclusive food tour costs about $3,885.
9. Secret Food Tour – Paris, France
Paris is famed for its food, so it can be overwhelming trying to find the best in the city. With organised food tours through the charming Montmartre neighbourhood, you will find yourself eating like a local.
For three hours and about $110, a local Parisian will take you to patisseries, famous restaurants, and cheese shops to indulge in the celebrated French cuisine. The price includes the tour guide and all food/entrance fees.
10. French Quarter Food Tour – New Orleans, USA
The French Quarter of New Orleans has plenty to offer travelling foodies. A local food tour through this charming district allows you to taste delights such as Seafood Gumbo and Jambalaya. Not only is the food exceptional, but a local guide will be at hand to answer any questions you have.
Tours last around three hours and cost about $65.
No trip to a new destination is complete without a hearty sampling of the local cuisine. Hire a private food guide or sign yourself up for an organised food tour and dig into the delicacies native to the area.
Jordan is a student journalist and avid traveller. He has a strong interest in Asian countries but will never say no to a European excursion. He is particularly fond of (although not very good at) trying new outdoor activities and adventure sports.