Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam (Source: Greatvietnamtour.org)
Hola Meal Sharers and fellow travel foodies! We’ve missed you!
If you are excited about planning an upcoming trip but have no idea where to go, if you are bored of going to culturally-void resorts and need inspiration, or if you simply need that little push to ask your boss for that paid vacation (you know you deserve it!), fret not little globetrotter. This list will guide you through wonderful places around the world, where you can enjoy local meals and soak up an array of marvelous cultures. You can totally blame us if you decide to never come home.
Are you ready to bathe in ancient traditions, reconnect with nature, get lost in new cities and (maybe) even improve your Spanish? Let’s GO!
1- Kong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Headed to Asia on your next trip? You probably already considered some of the more popular destinations such as India or Thailand, but what if you are in the mood for something a little different? Perhaps you dream of climbing the steps of iconic temples without having to explain to your friends over and over that you did not hook-up with a ladyboy… well, if so, Siem Reap might be just the place to do so. You won’t escape the hot and humid climate, but you will be immersed in such an exciting and ancient culture that you won’t notice how much you are sweating. Plus, this up and coming city is quickly modernizing, so you will have access to all types of accommodations depending on your comfort needs (No need to bunk in an unconditioned dormitory if that’s not your thing. Besides, your friends don’t need to know that you slept in a 5* hotel, you snob! )
Ancient Ruins in Cambodia (Source: GapYear.com)
It’s virtually (or literally) impossible to get bored in Siem Reap.
Start the day by riding a tuk tuk to the Old Market where you can purchase produce, local products and artisanal items, before it gets too muggy. After, spend the afternoon getting lost in the majestic Angkor National Park. Alternatively you can head to Khompong Khleang to wander through this neighboring floating (Yes Floating!) village. It’s only about 30miles outside the city, so you can be back in time to hit Pub Street in the evening (the name is pretty self explanatory, so we are going to assume you know what to expect there).
You now know how to explore the Siem Reap region via land and water, so why not via air? Well, you’re in luck…because the absolutely coolest activity you can do in Siem Reap is Hot Air Ballooning. Mind Blown. Come on, when else are you going to fulfill your fantasy of going around the world in 80 days? Ok, fair enough, it’s more like 1 city in 30 minutes, but you’re in a freakin’ HOT AIR BALLOON so who cares?!
After a long day of hiking through ruins, exploring historic gems and perhaps attending a local Phare circus performance, you’ll be hungry. Well, we have just the meal for you:
An Authentic Khmer Meal with friendly and hospitable host, James.
At this dinner, you can expect the freshest food (James & his mother grow their own vegetables!), a dance performance and the honor of trying spider wine (you won’t know if you like it unless you try it). Experience all this goodness while laughing with other travelers, conversing with locals and learning about this fascinating (and often overlooked) civilization. A previous guest noted that attending this meal share “made [her] feel part of a new family around the world”.
Still not convinced? The proceeds will fund the education of 12 local disadvantaged children. Eating AND making the world a better place? Enough said. You can request the meal through this link:
Thank us later.
2- Hanoi, Vietnam
Now that you’ve soaked up all the Angkor history, it’s time to head north to the wonderful city of Hanoi. It’s just a 2 hour plane ride! However, if your wallet is tight (and you don’t mind spending more than 12 hours on a bus), you may opt for a ride on the Mekong Express to Ho Chi Minh city before making your way to the capital. Besides, if time permits you could plan a detour by taking a journey along the vietnamese coast.
Much like Siem Reap, Hanoi breathes an air of wisdom, much like a sage who has earned his place of honor. This aura is reflected in all the sacred temples that lead you to unbelievably breathtaking views. If you are interested in learning more about Vietnam’s rich culture and complex colonial past, we urge you to visit museums such as the Women’s Museum. During your promenade in the Old Quarter, pay your respects to the white horse at the Bach Ma buddhist temple. The next (very early) morning, join locals as they practice the art of Tai Chi by the iconic Hoàn Kiếm Lake if you’re up for it. (No snoozing!)
Hanoi, (Source: Vietnam-guide.com)
At this point, you’ve journeyed your way into beautiful traditional villages along the Red River, you’ve learned all about the french influence in vietnamese culture and you’ve fallen in love with the rich flavors of street food. Still, you simply cannot get over the lemongrass notes of the Bun Tom Nuong Xa you devoured last night. How do you pronounce it anyway? And what makes Pho so damn flavorful? These culinary mysteries keep you up at night, and you are determined to solve them!
Well, let’s put your torment to rest. Find out everything you want to know about this fragrant cuisine from the very best: a true Vietnamese native. Hosted by food enthusiast Ngoc Minh, this legit meal sharing experience presents itself as a hands-on cooking class. Don’t be nervous, she will guide you every step of the way. Before you know it, you’ll be a vietnamese cuisine master chef!
Ngoc Minh will pick you up and drop you off at your desired location, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. Before learning how to make three mouthwatering dishes, you will ride a cyclo to a nearby market where you will see how she chooses the finest ingredients. (Maybe you can get a tip or two on how to bargain). After the class, “Sit back, relax and enjoy the fruit of your labor” as she likes to put it. Ngoc Minh and her spouse have travelled to many places, so you’ll have many interesting topics to talk about!
Request here: https://www.mealsharing.com/mealshares/come-cook-with-us
3- Western Australia
Since you are already on this side of the planet, why not take a trip down south to the land of under? (If we can’t convince you, hopefully this song will.)
Indigenous culture. Amazing beaches. Dynamic cities. Exotic fauna (Who doesn’t dream of cuddling with Koalas?). Australia has something for everyone.
If you are struggling to choose which of the many beautiful regions to visit, we suggest you venture to Western Australia. This region is the home of many national parks, beautiful ports and the lively city of Perth.
Cape Le Grand National Park (Source: Westernaustrialia.com)
During your visit to Cervantes, witness the jaw dropping Pinnacles at the Nambung National Park. Then, once you are done exploring the north, come down for a surf lesson at Mandurah Beach. On the other hand, if you’re not very athletic (cough cough, scared of the sharks, cough), spend a nice day by the water at Cottesloe Beach instead. Frankly you are in dire need of a tan and some vitamin D anyway.
Your time in Western Australia has been amazing, you’ve learned a few slang words from the Aussies and even picked up a decent accent for your impersonation skit (well that’s what they let you believe anyway). It’s been so fun that you’re still suffering from last night’s bar hop with hostel mates in downtown Perth. However, Australia is not cheap, and those vegemite sandwiches are not hitting the spot.
Hop on a Transperth train, take a local bus (Please, do not attempt to drive on the wrong side of the road for your first time when you are hungry!) and perhaps make a pit stop to the coastal town of Fremantle, as you make your way to Hamilton Hill, where a FREE, yes FREE meal awaits.
Join Robyn’s co-housing community, Pinakarri, as it welcomes you with open arms for a fire-pit dinner. This delightful evening is a great opportunity to share your travel stories with about 30 locals and gain more knowledge of the OZ culture. Plus you get to ask all those burning questions about what cooperative living is really like. The dishes are not set in stone, but be sure to ask what “hippy slop” really is (We are very curious).
Request Here: https://www.mealsharing.com/mealshares/open-house-community-dinner-around-the-fire-pit
4- Santiago, Chile
Let’s switch gears a little bit and see what’s poppin’ in Latin America. Apparently you’ve decided that your Spanish is rusty (ok, you never really paid attention in your high school Spanish class), but you’ve been to Mexico a million times! You can only go to Cabo and blackout the entire trip so many times… Well, how about taking a trip to Santiago? While Chile is often overshadowed by its considerably larger neighbor, Argentina, its capital is far from insignificant.
Downtown Santiago (Source: Fong and Carolyn’s Blog)
There are so many exciting activities to do in this growing ciudad (you need to start practicing). Por ejemplo, you could admire the spectacular views of the city from Terraza Bellavista or spend an afternoon strolling through the picturesque Parque Metropolitano. Furthermore, Santiago has a vibrant artistic scene, so be sure to check out some museums. Go on, appreciate the phenomenal street art scene by cycling through the city when the weather is nice.
This place never really crossed your mind, but now you’re stoked!
Parque Metropolitano (Source: YourHolidayHomes.com)
Because Latin culture is often associated with people’s warmth, outdoor activities and year-round-festive spirits, foreigners often forget that the weather is not always as caliente as one expects. In fact, it snows in Chile (Yes, they have winter too). And if you go at the right time, you may be able to hit the slopes at Valle Nevado. Just remember that this country is located at the bottom of the southern hemisphere, so the seasons are typically reversed.
Before heading out to Vitacura or Barrio Sucia to get a taste of the nightlife, we suggest you get some food in you belly. Keep in mind that Chileans function on mañana time, so expect everything to start much later than you are used to. That gives you plenty of time to attend a meal share!
Chilean Food (Source: Daniel Norero, Ethnic Foods R Us)
Paulina is the host you need. She loves cooking staple chilean dishes and is quite excited to have you over. Choose between three meal options: Cazuela de ave, Charquican or Pastel de Choclo and let her wow you. Don’t be fooled by the mediocre photos, we are confident that Paulina and her family will deliver fine dishes and a memorable evening. “You must definitely check them out while in Santiago” states a recent guest. Get ready to whip out your Spanish skills, come hungry and bring your camera!
Pssst… Don’t forget… At the end of the hearty dinner, you can thank your host by letting her know “Estuvo para chuparse sus bigotes” (Literally “It was to lick ones mustache”, an expression to say the food was muy delicioso).
Request here: https://www.mealsharing.com/mealshares/typical-chilean-food/
Santiago (Source: Thetelegraph.co.uk)
5- Crete, Greece
Sometimes, we want to escape our daily lives and retreat to our own private island. Well, most of us don’t have millions lying around (Are you paying for that helicopter?) . Then again, surviving on an abandoned piece of land in the middle of the sea just to save money is probably not the best option (considering we are the type of people who want a private island…). What if we could disappear to a different world than our own, one that floats on water, away from the mainland and still have access to food, water and a toilet?
Say hello to Crete, Greece’s largest island. Crete may be sizable compared to its fellow cousins, and you may think “oh no! That’s not what I meant by island!”….BUT, that means there is plenty of space for you to do your own thing.
Rethymno Harbor (Source: Lykno.gr)
A great way to forget all your troubles and woes is to hike up the Samaria Gorge. Sure, your legs will hurt (Consider it your workout for the month, you’ve been wanting to tone your legs anyway). Surprisingly, you will find that the more you walk, the less you worry. Absorb the beauty, don’t worry, be happy.
Greek civilization has tremendously influenced many of the political and social ideologies of the western world. Therefore, it would be a shame to miss out on all the history that’s at your fingertips. Luckily, Greece has done a good job at preserving a multitude of archeological sites and artifacts dating back to antiquity. For instance you could take a trip to Moni Arkadiou, a monastery with a very gruesome history that may spark your interest.
Matala Beach, Crete (Source: Garret McCormack, Pinterest)
Ok, ok, so you came to relax. Lucky for you, Crete proudly boasts those clear-water and white sand beaches you’ve been dreaming of. Kedrodasos is the perfect haven for anyone who prefers to tan in a more secluded and calm environment. Here you can enjoy the peace and quiet you’ve been desperately looking for, but be prepared to experience a rough walk to the beach. Oh and uh…don’t hesitate to take it all off, no judgement there.
If you’re in the mood to socialize, make your way over to the northern city of Chania (also known as Hania). There you can sunbathe at Nea Chora beach, grab a snack at a charming tavern or tour the Old Venetian Harbor.
Now that you’re relaxed and probably hungry, it’s time to learn a thing or two about Greek food, and we are not talking about your basic greek salad. Join experimental historian, Mariana, as she takes you back to ancient Greece with a cooking lesson that will make you wish you took history in college. Taught in an old olive grove, you will have the opportunity to put together a truly authentic ancient meal by using an ancient-style oven. As you sip your wine (served in Hellenistic clay cups of course) and digest Thrymatis cake, you’ll not only feel fuller, but smarter. Feel free to show off your newly acquired knowledge when you get home!
Boom! And just like that, you can have your cake and eat it too.
Request here: https://www.mealsharing.com/mealshares/cooking-in-ancient-greece
PS: If you are not into ancient cooking, try some of her other food adventures such as an unforgettable walking food tour she likes the call “Food Odyssey”.
Enjoyed this post? Please be sure to spread the love and share it with you travel buddies!
Interested in cooking and hosting people from all over the world at your table? Become a host!