One thing I love about being in Southeast Asia is the tasty tropical fruits. The bananas taste completely different to those you purchase in Australia. They are sweeter. More yellow on the inside. And smaller. In Southeast Asia, you can also find a whole host of fruits that are not readily available in Australia (some are often imported into the larger supermarkets although the prices are ridiculously high).
Here’s a great list of the fruits I found in Southeast Asia. I found Thailand and Vietnam the best for the biggest range of fruits readily available at markets and street stalls for very inexpensive prices.
In Cambodia, I noticed that the fruits weren’t everywhere I looked (like in Vietnam and Thailand) and the range was not as varied. There were mainly bananas and pineapples.
In Laos, the variety was certainly available but the large fruit markets and street stalls were not as easily found and as common. Malaysia and Singapore also had great variety but the fresh fruit markets and street stalls were not very common in the build-up city areas.
1. Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit has a bright pink skin with green dragon-like scales and is either white or dark purple/pink on the inside with black edible seeds. They look exotic, sweet and colourful, although the taste is on the bland side of what you expect it to taste.
Durian is also known as the “King of Fruit”. On the outside, it is hard with large spikes, with soft pale yellow flesh inside. In some hotels, hostels, and on some forms of transport, you will notice signs that say ‘No Durian allowed in rooms/within a hotel’ for example. This is because the fruit itself has a strange and unpleasant smell. It is not uncommon to walk past a street stall in Singapore and see people at tables eating durian with plastic gloves on.
Mangosteen is extremely popular in Thailand, with almost every single roadside stall, street stall and market selling the fruit. A dark purple colour on the outside, once the soft and thick outer shell is broken you can find white sections on flesh. Mangosteen is quite a sweet fruit and one of my favourites.
With a dark reddish/pink hairy spiky exterior the rambutan certainly does not look like a traditional fruit. The skin is easy to peel off, and you can find a clear/white very sweet flesh inside. The very middle of the fruit has a large wooden seed. The Rambutan is very easily found in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Myanmar.
The Jackfruit is big, and heavy, and covered in soft yet thorn-like skin. The flesh is a dark yellow and it is commonly fried (although can be eaten raw too). Found in most areas of Asia, and often seen piled up in the back of trucks (utes) along the side of the road (Durian can also be found piled up in the back of trucks along the sides of roads).
6. Wood Apple
I found the Wood Apple fruit in India and Sri Lanka and did not see it in any other countries in Asia. It was as it sounds, an apple that was light brown and looked wooden. The peel was really hard, more like a shell. I was told by the vendor that this fruit was considered a herbal type medicinal fruit.
7. Snake Fruit / Salak
This fruit is covered in dark reddish/brown scaly skin that looks much like snakeskin. The flesh has a sweet taste and is pale yellow. Not my favourite but worth a test taste if you see it somewhere along your travels in Asia.
Small round light brown soft casing with a clear sweet flesh on the inside. You can find this fruit in most parts of Asia, and can be as little as $1AUD per kilo in some countries. Super easy to eat, and pack some extra in your backpack for later. The Longan is another one of my favourite fruits.
This fruit is yellow and both sweet and sour. The seed inside is actually edible too. It is often called cotton fruit or sour apple.
10. Bread Fruit
This fruit reminds me of a green brain. Not joking. The breadfruit is a starchy fruit similar to a potato and is more often than not cooked.
The Pomelo is the largest citrus fruit. It has green skin and can grow up to 8kg.
Although Papaya is readily available in Australian supermarkets, the papayas found at fruit stalls around Southeast Asia are much larger in size and sweeter in taste. They are most commonly found in Thailand and Vietnam.
Mangos are inexpensive, and plentiful in almost all parts of Southeast Asia. They are large and much sweeter than those grown in Australia (this is due to the humid climate and moist soil that they grow in).
What are your favourite tasty tropical fruits you have found in Asia? Mine would have to be Longans, Mangosteen, Rambutan and Papaya.