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Thailand’s Famous Fresh Markets

Photo by Courtney Ridgel

By Courtney Ridgel

Thai food is famous around the world, and there is no better way to experience the real deal than to head to a local food market.  Here you’ll find just about everything under the sun and you’ll have the chance to dine out the way the locals do and enjoy the people-watching.  Thailand boasts dishes that are unique to each region so it is worth visiting multiple markets with a local guide who can help describe what you are seeing, smelling and sampling, and who can also translate and make suggestions for you (and let you know when to steer clear of things that may be too spicy or not properly cooked).

Photo by Courtney Ridgel
Photo by Courtney Ridgel
Photo by Courtney Ridgel

In Chiang Mai, Tien, explained the local specially encompasses a certain egg noodle soup (which was delicious) , but she also had me sample the local coffee, the best fried chicken that I have ever eaten in my life, fried pork rinds, fried water buffalo skin, a variety of fruit, a different noodle soup and as I was feeling bold, blood sausage soup, which I decided was not to my taste.  Pork dishes seem to be a particular favorite to the Thais.

Photo by Courtney Ridgel
Photo by Courtney Ridgel
Photo by Courtney Ridgel

In Bangkok, Well led me to a local market (hidden down a maze of back alleys between the tall buildings) where fresh vegetables and spices are brought in daily from the countryside.  Here we sampled tamarind, fresh ginger, turmeric, a variety of candies made from sesame seeds, peanuts and honey, and admired the fresh flowers used in decorations, wedding ceremonies and as offerings at temples.  (I confess that I steered clear of the very large fried cockroaches- I’ve tried crickets before and so far that has been the extent of my bravery on eating bugs.)  The space for this market was donated by the Royal Family so there was also a shrine set up in their honor.

Photo by Courtney Ridgel
Photo by Courtney Ridgel
Photo by Courtney Ridgel

If you find yourself drawn to food, we’d recommend our Bangkok’s Culinary Delights tour to sample more of Bangkok’s legendary street food.  I personally can’t wait to go back and try more of the savory soups and delicious grilled meats and fried fish I spotted.  If you want to learn to prepare these dishes yourself, we recommend taking a cooking class with Pantawan Cooking School in Chiang Mai, and Amita Thai Cooking School in Bangkok.

Photo by Courtney Ridgel
Photo by Courtney Ridgel
Photo by Courtney Ridgel

From the Ground: New Hotel – Fusion Suites Saigon

By Jay Austin

The new boutique Fusion Suites Saigon is now open!  We are excited to offer this new Saigon hotel option to our guests, as we also book their sister property, the Fusion Maia in Danang.  This property includes a unique ‘all-inclusive’ and restorative philosophy, so all of the rooms are suites, daily spa treatments are included with each stay, and the Fresh Restaurant and Zen Rooftop Restaurant offer healthy, fresh and delicious food and beverage options with great service.  (We love their breakfast menu!) In keeping with the relaxing and restorative concept, calming music plays down each hallway.

This is a great mid-range hotel option for young couples and families on a budget.  Although the property doesn’t have a swimming pool, they have a Family Suite which has a bedroom just off the parents’ room with bunk beds for younger children – a very unique feature in Southeast Asia! The suites also include a kitchenette with spacious and bright rooms.  This property overlooks Tao Dan Park and the Bitexco Financial Tower, and the property offers good views of the fireworks shows from their rooftop.