It has been more than a month since summer holiday has started. How are you all doing?
Maybe you’re feeling a bit down because your trip abroad got canceled or maybe you’re wondering if you’ll be able to visit anywhere outside Japan later this year.
This article is a food-focused itinerary to Southeast Asia (Vietnam and Singapore) that I’ve simulated based on my experience to make you feel like you’re actually on a trip there.
I hope that you’ll take a “delicious” and “chaotic” trip to Southeast Asia yourself once this challenging situation comes to an end, using this article as a reference!
Day 1 in Vietnam
You arrive at Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam late in the afternoon. Your stomach may be growling, craving for delicious local food. Chi Hua is one of the local restaurants, renowned for its cheap and tasty Vietnamese cuisine. I was going to pick up some dishes that I thought are especially good, but honestly, everything is affordable and worth eating in this restaurant.
After having lunch there, how about visiting Tan Dinh church? The outer wall is painted salmon pink (doesn’t sound like a typical church, right?) which creates a more welcoming atmosphere. I would recommend going to the trendy cafe at the front to take some pictures of the church from the window. You’ll be able to take some Instagrammable pictures from there while taking some time to relax after a long flight. The cafe is also the best place to plan exactly what you want to do during your five day visit in Southeast Asia.
At night, I would recommend going to the Food Street Market, facing the main street of Ho Chi Minh city, and ordering some cheap and tasty cocktails with snacks.
When I visited with my family, we all got so excited about the reasonable pricing!
Day 2 in Vietnam:
Let’s go visit a local restaurant called Pho Tien at a local district in Ho Chi Minh city and enjoy different types of pho. I liked a chicken pho called Pho Tai Bap. The taste of the soup is different depending on the types of the pho; some are lightly seasoned while others are a bit thick.
Anyhow, either type is worth trying and I would love to visit this restaurant again to see the friendly servers and have one of the best bowls of pho in my life!
For lunch, why not try something a bit heavier? How about a huge banh xeo with some shrimps inside from Banh Xeo 46A?
The banh xeo they serve has so many ingredients inside. The outside is very crispy, matching well with the texture of the springy shrimps and the crunchy vegetables. You will be able to enjoy the feeling of different textures in your mouth at once!
Then, it would be time for you to learn the history of Vietnam at the War Remnants Museum. There, you can see precious and tangible evidence of the First Indochina War and the Vietnam War. The photographs and videos on display can be shocking to see, so I would recommend checking what kinds of things are on exhibit in advance. However, I will guarantee that the exhibits that you will see at the museum will definitely deepen your understanding of the past wars and will create an opportunity to think about what we can do to avoid repeating these mistakes.
At night, you may want to eat something light. Spring rolls at Wrap & Roll would be the best fit for this. Unlike other restaurants, they focus specifically on serving different types of spring rolls. Of course the basic meal, the pork and shrimp spring roll, is worth trying but you should also try one that has rice and grilled chicken inside. The pork and shrimp dumplings are so delicious that I wanted to eat them eternally. The chewy texture matches perfectly with the salty-sweet sauce!
Day 3: Singapore
We head to Singapore early in the morning. After a safe and bumpy flight, we immediately visited Din Tai Fung, a restaurant founded in Taiwan that is famous for serving different kinds of dumplings.
In addition to ordering ten pieces of pork xiaolongbao for each person, I would recommend ordering noodles and soups—zhajiangmian (ジャージャー麺 in Japanese) in particular. The chewy noodles and the appropriately seasoned spicy miso mixed with ground meat go together perfectly!
Din Tai Fung has locations all over Singapore, but for the first day here it would be best to visit the one at Jewel—a beautifully designed retail complex next to the Changi Airport where you’ll be able to enjoy shopping after lunch. There is also a giant waterfall in the middle of the building which, if you’re lucky, you will be able to see colorfully illuminated with projection mapping!
At night, how about visiting Clarke Quay, a famous touristic destination, to enjoy nightlife in Singapore.
Clarke Quay isn’t just a tourist spot, but it’s also where local people visit there to release their stress from work and school. Visiting restaurants, bars, and clubs at Clarke Quay wouldn’t be too costly, but you will be able to enjoy some “chill vibes,” while feeling the breeze from Singapore River. You’ll also see many local youths sitting on the benches alongside the river and chit chatting until midnight.
Day 4: Singapore
This is your last full day to enjoy Singapore. Be sure to make the most of it!
Visiting Song fa, a local restaurant that serves juicy Bak Kut Teh, is one of the wisest decisions you can make. Bak Kut Teh is pork rib cooked with broth and is known as a popular dish in Singapore.
The tender and juicy pork rib in the strongly-seasoned soup is so tasty that it would blow your mind. After eating the pork to your heart’s content, pour the soup into the bowl of rice. In Japan, your parents would advise you not to do this, but no one will find it ill-mannered in this country! This is a dish that everyone should try least once in their life.
After that, I would recommend going to the fashion retailers at Orchard Road to see the latest Singaporean fashion trends. Also you will be able to enjoy streets in Orchard filled with youths who are pursuing their dreams as singers. Their beautiful voices and songs would definitely brighten your day!
Then, let’s head over to Dong Bei Ren Jia, a well-known restaurant in Chinatown. Everything on the menu is worth ordering, but my recommendation would have to be the thickly greased fried eggplant with pork ankake sauce.
As you can tell from my word choices, it’s a very oily dish. Be careful because it will be very heavy on your stomach. But, as soon as you scarf down the rice with the heavily seasoned eggplant, you will feel like you are in heaven.
Let’s finish up the trip by enjoying hotpot at HaiDiLao.
There, you will be able to enjoy a meal like Chinese-style shabu shabu. The reason why HaiDiLao is very popular is because they make fresh noodles in front of the customers by literally “swinging (ぶん回す)” the dough. Sometimes the noodles that the server is swinging will accidentally hit the customers or floor, but it is important to recognize it as part of the entertainment.
I hope you enjoyed this food-focused 4 day trip in Singapore and Vietnam!
The trips that we will be able go on after this challenging time would be so much more fun than the trip that we will go normally. Hang in there, we will get through this!
Here we were mainly focused on how to enjoy a trip overseas but I wonder what kind of vacation tips there are for traveling in Japan. What kind of conveniences do we have that we don’t notice because we take them for granted?
Let’s see what Lisa thinks about this topic tomorrow!