They say the best way to find food while you’re traveling is to just follow your nose. There’s no better way to eat like a local in a foreign country than by hitting the street food stalls. Not only are they often cheap and filling, they’ll give your taste buds an experience you won’t find anywhere else on the globe.
Some people like to plan their vacations around sightseeing. Others like to plan theirs around food. Here are the 10 best cities to eat like a king (of the streets, that is). Click through to find out if your favorite spot made the cut.
10. Seoul, South Korea
Are you crazy for kimchi? Bonkers for bulgogi? Korean street food is all those things and more. Don’t miss the kimbap, a sushi-style rice roll with ham, egg, and pickled veggies that the locals love. Adventurous eaters can also try the beondegi — seasoned silk worm pupae — but we think we’ll pass.
9. Honolulu, Hawaii
It’s easy to eat outside when you live in paradise. Honolulu has a bustling food truck scene offering every kind of cuisine imaginable, from raw seafood poke (pronounced poh-kay) to rainbow shaved ice. To get the full Aloha experience, you must try the spam. You’ll never look at canned meat the same way again.
8. Penang, Malaysia
For full-fusion flavors, there’s no place better than Penang. Along with traditional Malaysian cuisine, you’ll find street foods influenced by the cultures of nearby China, Thailand, and Singapore (but don’t skip traveling there yourself — wait until you see our top-ranked city). Do try the popiah, a sweet-and-savory cross between a spring roll and a crepe.
7. Paris, France
You’ve never really had a crepe until you’ve had an authentic Parisian crepe, with those giant jars of Nutella beckoning you at every turn. Leave it to the French to make something as simple as ham and cheese taste like an elevated art form that should be on display at the Louvre.
6. Hong Kong, China
Locals in Hong Kong like to spend their weekends completing a sou gaai — scouring a new neighborhood for the best street food vendors. So the competition is fierce! Live a little and get some stinky tofu, fishballs, tea eggs, or fried chestnuts. You’ll never go hungry in this city.
5. Istanbul, Turkey
The Grand Bazaar is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world — and for good reason. Anyone who’s visited Turkey will tell you about the simit, a bready creation dipped in molasses and sesame seeds that tastes like a warm, carb-y heaven. Just like in our #3 pick city, you’ll find spits of meat cooking on practically ever corner, just begging to be eaten.
4. Mumbai, India
If you want to know where to eat in Mumbai, just follow the crowds and say “I’ll have what she’s having.” You really can’t go wrong with vada pav, mango lassi, or biryani. A surprise to many Western visitors, Mumbai is also famous for its sandwich selections.
3. Mexico City, Mexico
Luckily, you already know all the Spanish you need in order to eat well in Mexico City: taco. Wash it down with an agua fresca before or after a big night out. Don’t forget to venture beyond the taco stands, too, for exceptional tamales, burritos, and elotes you won’t find north of the border.
2. Tokyo, Japan
There’s so much more to Japan than just sushi and ramen. Get the okonomiyaki pancakes with your choice of filling for a quick and satisfying snack, and don’t forget some mochi for dessert! Tokyo has everything from world-class restaurants to cheap street food stalls — but when it comes to variety, you can’t beat our #1 choice on the next slide.
1. Bangkok, Thailand
You may think you know Thai food, but once you hit the streets of Bangkok you’ll realize you had no idea. Morning, noon, and night, there’s always new yarowat to try: from pork to papaya, from tom yum soup to sweet bean curd. The only problem is trying to save room for the next meal.
Eating is often one of the best parts of traveling, and we could’ve made this list go on forever. Who could forget the kofta of Cairo, the ceviche of Lima, or the barbecue of Austin? One thing’s for sure: no matter how many cities you visit, or how many times you visit the same city, there will always be something new to eat. Now someone just needs to invent a bottomless stomach to fit it all.
Which city makes your mouth water most? What did we miss? Leave your comments below, share with your friends, and let us know what you thought!