Top 10 dishes to eat in Southeast Asia on a budget

When travelling in Southeast Asia, one of the best things about exploring the region
is undeniably the food you’ll end up eating. With that being said, here are ten of the
very best Southeast Asian dishes to eat if you’re travelling on a budget.

Pad thai

One of, if not the most popular dish in Thailand, pad thai is easily affordable despite
its deliciousness and portion size. Pick some up from a street stall in Bangkok and
expect to eat a filling and fragrant dish with noodles, vegetables and spices that’ll
certainly, satisfy you.

Street food is often extremely affordable and a great choice for travellers on a budget
– and in Thailand, there’s certainly no shortage of pad thai. 1Cover calls pad thai “spicy, sweet, sour and delicious”.


Mango sticky rice

This is one of the most popular dishes between tourists visiting Southeast Asia.
Usually eaten as a sweet treat anytime in the day, mango sticky rice is a cheap yet
absolutely divine dish you’ll find throughout the region.

Made with fresh mango, glutinous rice and coconut milk, the result is a simple yet
the delicious choice to treat yourself with during your travels.

Banh mi

Often said to be the very best sandwich in the entire world, banh mi is just one of the
many reasons to visit Vietnam. It’s filling, it’s tasty and, best of all, it’s extremely

In fact, the price may surprise you when you buy a banh mi due to just how big it is.
Expect it to be filled with pork, pate, spices, crunchy vegetables and even gravy – it
truly is enough to be a meal, and will likely keep you going throughout the day.


Satay chicken is a popular dish around the entire world, but try some in Southeast
Asia and you’ll be blown away. It’s overwhelmingly tasty, whether as a quick bite or

as an accompaniment to a bigger dish – but the peanut sauce the chicken is coated
in is rich and succulent.

Have some satay chicken as a quick pick-me-up throughout the day. It’s a cheap yet
a hearty dish that’ll cure a sudden bout of hunger.

Nasi goreng

Head to Indonesia and you can expect to eat a whole lot of nasi goreng – it’s one of
the country’s most popular dishes by far. The rice-based dish is usually cooked with
chicken or pork, a variety of vegetables and then finished off with various spices and
sweet soy sauce as a garnish.

Its heartiness makes it hard to believe, but nasi goreng is one of the most affordable
dishes in Southeast Asia. Have it for dinner and you’ll be very surprised at how
simple yet delicious it is.


This Vietnamese staple is a broth with rice noodles, meat, herbs and various
vegetables – often served up as street food, you’ll find pho wherever you are in the

Its extreme popularity means finding affordable dishes is easy, and more
often than not you’ll be surprised at just how substantial this warm, tasty dish truly is.

Fried tarantula

Perhaps one of the weirdest dishes (and one of the hardest to stomach) in Southeast
Asia, Cambodians love themselves a skewer or two of fried tarantula. With the
spiders being so common in the country, there’s a massive turnaround of the
delicacy – and tourists visiting Cambodia often take on the challenge.

How does it taste? The legs are apparently delicious, resembling chicken – but it’s
the gooey abdomen that proves to be difficult. If you’re up for it, it’s definitely a cheap
(and very different) type of snack.


You’ll quickly realize that noodles are an incredibly popular choice for food in
Southeast Asia – and laksa is just one shining example of how they can be used.

A spicy noodle soup often served in Indonesia and Malaysia, laksa consists of rice
noodles with either chicken, prawns or fish, with coconut milk and various spices. It’s
warming and hearty, and makes for a tasty yet affordable dinnertime meal.


Despite the undeniable popularity of sushi around the world, you won’t find any
better than where it originated from. Head to Japan – Tokyo in particular – to
discover some affordable sushi restaurants that don’t compromise on taste for the

Best of all, with Japan being the birthplace of the fish-based delicacy, there’s an
unmatched variety of sushi types here to try. Some are typical choices, and others
are considerably weird – don’t hold back when trying it.


Another potentially difficult dish to consume, Balut is a traditional Filipino staple – but
for some, it’s simply too much to try. The dish is essentially a fertilized duck egg, and
it’s boiled before being consumed whole, feathers and all.

Although eating duck isn’t exactly a novel thing, the way in which balut is served
turns many people away. Try it, however, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how
delicious it is. Even if you don’t enjoy it, eating balut will certainly make for an
interesting story once you’re home.

A story Teller. An adventurer. An explorer. This and much more.
Traveling is not my passion, it is my life. And when I am not traveling reading and writing about different places keeps me alive.

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