14 Food Destinations Perfect for Immersing in a Gastronomic Tour

14 Food Destinations Around the World for a Gastronomic Tour

You’re going to love *all* the things you’re about to eat!

We’ve always associated food and drinks with sustenance, but more than that, these are also symbolic of one’s culture. In fact, you can learn so much about a country’s history and traditions based on the ingredients they use! Over the years, food and drinks have attracted connoisseurs and foodies to different destinations around the globe. Paired together with a good time and a different environment, these travellers would return home with their hearts (and stomachs) full. 

Whether you’re a chef researching places to expand your taste buds or a foodie wanting to indulge in authentic culinary experiences, here are 14 food destinations perfect for immersing yourself on a gastronomic tour!


1. China

best food destinations - china

Image credit (L-R): rabbit75_cav; sidrahsana via Canva Pro

Over the years, China has grown to prominence for being one of the top food destinations in the world. Chinese food has been recognised and well-loved among people, regardless of where you are. It has so many roots in many Asian cuisines, and appears all over food trends. It’s also known to tick all the boxes: spicy, salty, bitter, sweet, and sour. Some of the most popular cities in China for food include Shanghai, Sichuan, Chengdu, and Beijing

Top things to eat in China: 

  • Sweet and sour pork
  • Dim sum
  • Hot pot 
  • Dumplings/Wonton
  • Peking roasted duck
  • Kung Pao chicken
  • Mapo tofu 
  • Scallion pancakes
  • Dandan noodles
  • Mala xiang guo

Top things to drink in China:

  • Tsingtao beer
  • Yunnan coffee
  • Soybean milk 
  • Baijiu 
  • Black tea, Oolong tea, Chrysanthemum tea, and Pu Er tea

2. Japan

top food destinations - japan

Image credit (L-R): MARCELOKRELLING via Canva Pro; Life of Wu via Canva Pro

Like China, Japan’s cuisine is well-loved and easily recognised in many places around the world. It focuses on enhancing natural flavours with minimal seasoning. In fact, it has been said the well-balanced diet in Japanese culture has contributed to good health and longer life expectancy. A traditional meal would consist of rice, a bowl of miso soup, and pickled vegetables (tsukemono). Seafood and noodles (soba or udon) are also key components in the cuisine. Altogether, you get a comforting and healthy meal rich in umami flavours. 

When you’re ready to go on a gastronomic tour in Japan, these are some of the best cities: Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya. 

Top things to eat in Japan:

  • Omurice
  • Shoyu/miso/tonkotsu ramen
  • Sushi/Sashimi
  • Unagi 
  • Vegetable/seafood tempura 
  • Yakitori
  • Sukiyaki 
  • Natto 
  • Gyoza
  • Takoyaki
  • Japanese curry rice 
  • Gyudon

Top things to drink in Japan:

  • Amazake 
  • Genmaicha 
  • Matcha
  • Mugicha 
  • Sake 
  • Ramune 

3. South Korea

top food destinations - south korea

Image credit (L-R): trusjom via Canva Pro; Lorryn Smit Photography via Canva Pro

After a K-drama binge, you’d most likely be craving Korean food. You might notice that both South Korea and Japan share similarities in their main ingredients: rice or noodles, meat, seafood, and vegetables. Each meal is served with a range of side dishes (banchan), including the famous kimchi (fermented spicy cabbage). 

With Jeonju being considered South Korea’s food capital, it’s best to start there. Afterwards, you can explore Busan for seafood, and Seoul for cafes, Korean BBQ, and even fine dining. 

Top things to eat in South Korea:

  • Japchae
  • Jajangmyeon
  • Bibimbap 
  • Hae-mul/kimchi pajeon
  • Korean fried chicken
  • Tteokbokki 
  • Gimbap 
  • Bulgogi 
  • Sundubu/doenjang/budae jjigae
  • Samgyeopsal 

Top things to drink in South Korea:

  • Soju
  • Makgeolli 
  • Banana milk 
  • Citron/corn/barley tea
  • Sikhye
  • Baekseju

4. Indonesia

top food destinations - indonesia

Image credit (L-R): Space_Cat via Canva Pro; Aron Visuals via Canva Pro

There’s a reason why Indonesia is known for having one of the top cuisines in the world. As the world’s largest archipelago, the country is known for its geographically and ethnically diverse regions and delicacies. Historically, Indonesian cuisine is a mix of influences from everywhere — Indonesian tribes (e.g., Java, Sunda, Batak), China, the Middle East, Europe, and India. The flavours range from hot and spicy to sweet and savoury. Expect a lot of depth from unique spice blends (bumbu) you’ll never find anywhere. 

When you want to eat your way through the archipelago, here are several cities that are worth stopping by: Medan, Yogyakarta, Jakarta, and Bali.  

Top things to eat in Indonesia:

  • Nasi goreng
  • Gado-gado
  • Satay 
  • Bakso 
  • Martabak manis 
  • Mie pangsit 
  • Es campur 
  • Pempek 
  • Nasi kuning 
  • Ayam penyet 
  • Ayam geprek 

Top things to drink to in Indonesia:

  • Sekoteng 
  • Jus alpukat 
  • Wedang jahe 
  • Kopi luwak 
  • Kopi tubruk 

Also read: 10 Restaurants in KL & Selangor to Fix Your Indonesian Food Cravings

5. India

Image credit (L-R): LUCKOHNEN via Canva Pro; Elena Yeryomenko / 500px via Canva Pro

Likewise, India has a diverse cuisine that is rich in spices and flavours, making it one of the best countries for food. You’ll find that the dishes vary depending on two factors — religion and region. For example, Hindus mainly eat vegetarian, while Muslims cannot take pork in meat-based dishes. On the other hand, while the Southern region may prefer rice and coconut, the North may gravitate towards flatbreads. Regardless, India does share a similarity with Indonesia by incorporating spice blends (masala) that also vary depending on the dish. 

Travel to these cities to sample the best Indian cuisine: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Jaipur.  

Top things to eat in India:

  • Pani puri
  • Mutton/chicken biryani
  • Tandoori chicken
  • Naan/rotis
  • Kulfi
  • Gulab jamun
  • Pav bhaji 
  • Butter chicken
  • Palak paneer 

Top things to drink in India:

  • Masala chai
  • Jaljeera
  • Lassi
  • Paneer soda 
  • Nimbu pani

6. Malaysia

Image credit (L-R): nazar_ab via Canva Pro; terimakasih0 via Canva Pro

Malaysia is home to some of the best food cultures you’ll ever come across. With influences from Indian, Chinese, and Malay cuisines, expect a harmony of flavours you’ll never forget! Aside from the colourful dishes, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a lot of food to try while you’re here. Eating your way through Kuala Lumpur simply won’t suffice — to fully immerse yourself in Malaysia’s gastronomy, you also have to visit Ipoh, Penang, and Melaka.

Top things to eat in Malaysia:

  • Penang char kuey teow 
  • Nasi lemak 
  • Kuih nyonya 
  • Roti canai 
  • Curry/assam laksa 
  • Dry chilli pan mee
  • Yong tau foo
  • Hainanese chicken rice
  • Cendol 
  • Apam balik 

Top things to drink in Malaysia:

  • Ipoh White Coffee
  • Teh Tarik
  • Air Bandung
  • Air Mata Kucing
  • Limau Asam Boi

7. Thailand

top food destinations - thailand

Image credit (L-R): dariolopresti via Canva Pro; leelakajonkij via Canva Pro

To keep it simple, there are essentially four types of dishes in Thai cuisine: tom (boiled dishes), yam (spicy salads), tam (pounded foods), and gaeng (curries). When you’ve tried all of these four things, you’ll understand why Thailand is one of the best countries for food. Eating Thai food is the best kind of sensory experience, especially with all of the flavours infused into one dish. You’ll find that there’s a constant juxtaposition of spicy and sour, with refreshing notes of herbs like basil and coriander. 

Bangkok and Chiang Mai are the top spots for gastronomy in Thailand. That said, you can experience the best of both worlds with gourmet Thai restaurants and international cuisines. 

Top things to eat in Thailand:

  • Pad thai 
  • Thai green curry
  • Tom yam goong
  • Khao niew mamuang 
  • Pad kra pao moo 
  • Pad see ew 
  • Som tam 
  • Pla kapung nueng manao 
  • Tod mun pla 
  • Kuay teow reua 
  • Khao man gai

Top things to drink in Thailand:

  • Cha manao 
  • Nam oy 
  • Nam thabathim 
  • Coco yen 
  • Nam matoom 
  • Nam bai toey 
  • Cha yen

Europe and Middle East

8. Italy

top food destinations - italy

Image credit (L-R): FC Stock via Canva Pro; Lais Schulz via Canva Pro

For the first stop of your European gastronomic tour, let’s go to the birthplace of pasta and pizza. As one of the top food destinations in the world, Italy is largely defined by its Mediterranean roots that comprise fish, whole grains, and vegetables. In addition, coffee, wines, and cold cuts are also central to Italian cuisine, while desserts often mix regional fruits with sweet cheeses. Naples, Bologna, Rome, Sicily, and Tuscany are arguably some of the most famous cities for food and travel, so get ready to collapse into a food coma for a week!

Top things to eat in Italy:

  • Arancini 
  • Risotto
  • Pizza
  • Gelato
  • Tiramisu 
  • Polenta 
  • Focaccia 
  • Gnocchi
  • Tortellini/ravioli
  • Lasagne 
  • Fiorentina
  • Minestroni 

Top things to drink in Italy:

  • Liquers: Limoncello, Mirto
  • Americano
  • Cappuccino
  • Negroni/Bellini cocktails 
  • Wine: Prosecco, Barolo, Chianti 

Also read: 8 Hidden Beaches in Italy That Only Locals Know About

9. Greece

Image credit (L-R): carmengabriela via Canva Pro; oleksandranaumenko via Canva Pro

Like Italy, the foundations of Greek cuisine are synonymous with Mediterranean cuisine in the presence of olive oil, wheat, and wine. Much of Greece’s food influences can be traced back to Ancient Greek and Byzantine traditions, as well as influences from the Balkan region. A variety of meats are eaten and fish remains a key part of the country’s gastronomy. Cheese, lemon juice, herbs, and yoghurt feature as common ingredients. When you’re ready to explore the best of Greek food, hop between the islands of Crete, Santorini, Sifnos, and Lemnos for regional delicacies you’ll never forget. 

Top things to eat in Greece:

  • Moussaká
  • Saganáki
  • Gemistá
  • Spanakopita 
  • Souvláki
  • Baklava 
  • Saganaki 
  • Loukoumádes
  • Dolmades 
  • Ntomatokeftedes
  • Fassolatha

Top things to drink in Greece:

  • Wine: Retsina, Vinsanto
  • Spirits: Metaxa, Ouzo, Tsikoudia
  • Kitron 
  • Greek frappe 
  • Greek mountain tea
  • Visináda

Also read: Beyond Santorini and Mykonos: 8 Fairytale Islands in Greece You Need to Visit

10. Spain

top food destinations - spain

Image credit (L-R): DalaiFood via Canva Pro; nicomenijes via Canva Pro

Spanish cuisine is largely influenced by regional and historical factors. Most of its influences came from the people that settled here, including the Greeks, Romans, and Moors. On top of that, Spain’s location in the Iberian Peninsula contributes to the popularity of fish and shellfish in many dishes. Today, you get one of the best food cultures packed with rich and intense flavours. Olive oil, saffron, anchovies, peppers, herbs, and olives are some of the most common ingredients used in Spanish cooking. 

Barcelona, Seville, Valencia, Santiago de Compostela, and Bilbao are some of the cities in Spain that are great for indulging in gastronomy. Get drunk (pun intended) off the gorgeous surroundings and eat to your heart’s content. ¡Buen provecho! 

Top things to eat in Spain:

  • Cured meat: chorizo, jamón 
  • Seafood paella/paella Valenciana 
  • Churros
  • Tapas 
  • Tortilla española
  • Croquetas
  • Gazpacho
  • Fabada 
  • Fideuà
  • Albondigas
  • Bacalao

Top things to drink in Spain:

  • Sangria wine 
  • Horchata 
  • Cuba libre
  • Agua fresca
  • Tepache de piña
  • Spanish sherry
  • Mojito
  • Cava

11. France

top food destinations - france

Image credit (L-R): Viviana Ceballos via Canva Pro; Polina Kovaleva via Canva Pro

France is renowned for its masterful techniques and sophistication. The cuisine has been influenced by many cultures, namely Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and Belgium. Cheese and wine are two important ingredients in French cooking, but that’s not all this culinary destination is known for. As one of the top food destinations, the country has earned a prestigious reputation in culinary education and gastronomy. That is, perfecting these flavours requires a lot of time and practice. 

Some of the best cities in France for food include Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon, Lille, and Strasbourg (known for Franco-German cuisine). 

Top things to eat in France:

  • French pastries: éclairs, croissants, pain au chocolat, macarons etc. 
  • Foie gras
  • Soupe à l’oignon
  • Coq au vin
  • Bœuf bourguignon
  • Ratatouille
  • Tarte tatin
  • Confit de canard
  • Soufflé
  • Cassoulet
  • Chicken cordon bleu
  • Croque madame/monsieur 

Top things to drink in France:

  • Hot chocolate 
  • Cognac
  • Picon bière
  • Pastis
  • Kir 
  • Pineau des charentes
  • Panaché

12. Turkey

Image credit (L-R): oleksandranaumenko via Canva Pro; Aliaksei Skreidzeleu via Canva Pro

The gastronomy scene in Turkey comes with many layers of historic influences. Although the cuisine is a byproduct of Ottoman culture, there are also pieces of Middle Eastern, Balkan, Central Asian, and Eastern European traditions. Meat and vegetables often go hand-in-hand in dishes like Karnıyarık, and yoghurt is used in many dishes. 

Istanbul and Gaziantep are great food cities, followed by Bodrum, Akyaka, Kalkan, and Alacati

Top things to eat in Turkey:

  • Şiş kebab
  • Kumpir
  • Tulumba
  • Döner kebab
  • Tarhana çorbası
  • Künefe
  • Menemen
  • Şakşuka
  • İçli köfte
  • Kısır
  • Maraş dondurması
  • Turkish delight

Top things to drink in Turkey:

  • Türk kahvesi
  • Turkish tea
  • Ayran 
  • Boza
  • Şalgam suyu
  • Nane limon
  • Pomegranate juice

North and South America

13. Mexico

top food destinations - mexico

Image credit (L-R): AlbertoLoyo via Canva Pro; Lunamarina via Canva Pro

Did you know one of the best countries for food is the amalgamation of two different cultures? In fact, Mexican food is a mix of Indigenous Mexican and Spanish diets. In pre-colonial times, corn, cacao, chiles, avocado, beans, and tomatoes were crucial ingredients in native recipes; but, it was the Spanish that introduced cereals, spices, and oils. Altogether, these ingredients form the foundations of Mexico’s world-renowned gastronomy. 

For the foodies in Mexico, go to these cities to satisfy your cravings and curiosities: Mexico City, Oaxaca City, Monterrey, San Miguel de Allende, and Valle de Guadalupe

Top things to eat in Mexico:

  • Chilaquiles
  • Pozole
  • Tacos al pastor 
  • Tostadas
  • Chiles en nogada
  • Elotes/esquites 
  • Enchilada
  • Mole 
  • Tamales 
  • Mangonada
  • Quesadillas
  • Burritos 

Top things to drink in Mexico:

  • Tequila
  • Mezcal
  • Margaritas
  • Michelada
  • Horchata
  • Mexican hot chocolate 
  • Champurrado
  • Carajillo
  • Atole
  • Cafe de olla
  • Agua de Jamaica

14. Brazil

Image credit (L-R): gustavomellossa via Canva Pro; Kaique Rocha via Canva Pro

The influences of the unique cuisine of Brazil can be traced back to European (mainly Portuguese), Asian (mainly Japanese), African, and Native American roots. Root crops like cassava and yams and fruits like açai were a huge part of native Brazilian cuisine. When European immigrants arrived, wines, leafy vegetables, and dairy were added to the diet. As a result, the regional delicacies and traditions have turned the country into one of many top food destinations. As such, you have to travel to these cities for the best Brazilian food: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Minas Gerais.

Top things to eat in Brazil:

  • Moqueca de camarão
  • Feijoada
  • Coxinhas
  • Vatapá
  • Acarajé
  • Pastel
  • Bolinho de bacalhau
  • Pão de queijo
  • Brigadeiro
  • Picanha
  • Canjica

Top things to drink in Brazil:

  • Cachaça
  • Aluá
  • Cajuína 
  • Caipirinha
  • Rabo-de-galo
  • Leite de onça 
  • Limonada suíça

Also read: This Brazilian Surf Town Is Opening the First Digital Nomad Village in South America

There are so many ways to explore the food and drink scene in a country. With restaurants, bars, and roadside food stalls virtually everywhere, you’ll just have to know which ones are worth stopping by. On a more reliable note, you can go on a guided gastronomic tour, which will take you to the best spots in the city. 

Image credit: Alex Berger

But if you truly want to spice up your experience (pun intended), we highly recommend signing up for a private cooking class on your travels. They’re more intimate, and you can make friends with people overseas. Plus, you’ll come out of your class even further immersed in the culture of your destination.

Featured image credit: jakubgojda via Canva Pro

Facebook image credit (left): Mlenny via Canva Pro

About Author

Natasha Effendy
Natasha Effendy

Natasha is a wordsmith and digital content creator who's been trying to write her way into the adventure of a lifetime. If she's not writing, you'd definitely catch her nursing her addiction to romance and fantasy novels with a cup of tea.