5 Iconic Drinks You Need to Try When Traveling Around Southeast Asia
For those with a sweet tooth, Southeast Asia is a heaven full of heavily sweetened beverages that pair perfectly with the strong and often spicy flavored cuisine. If you're traveling through the region, there are a number of delicious sweet drinks you can't miss out on trying. Here are the five most famous thirst-quenching refreshments you'll find around Southeast Asia.
table of contents
Almost every country in Southeast Asia serves up a variant of this sweet iced beverage or dessert, perfect for fighting the stifling heat the region is notorious for. Cendol is made with coconut milk and palm sugar to which green rice flour jelly, often called 'green worms' is added. Vendors will often add in local fruits and sweet red beans to the mix too. It's unclear where exactly it originated from, but it's most common in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese Coffee)
Vietnam is a coffee-lover's paradise, you'll find delicious fresh coffee all over the city streets and usually for less than a dollar. The Vietnamese love their coffee and one of the most popular pass-times is to get together with friends and drink away the time at a coffee shop, often for hours at a time. The drink of choice here is strong, drip coffee brewed with a special local tool called a phin, which slowly drips onto a base of condensed milk giving it a kick of sweetness.
Cha Yen (Thai Iced Tea)
Roaming the streets of Bangkok, or any Thai city for that matter, you'll be hard-pressed not to come across a stall selling this delightfully sweet spiced tea. The unique flavor of this tea blend is what makes tourists come back for more and more, which comes through strongly even with the heavy helping of condensed milk. Of course you'll find it at Thai restaurants around the world, but often they'll just use sachets, plus it just tastes better sipped on the streets of Thailand.
The drink you can't miss out on when visiting the Philippines, halo-halo is a delightful mix of various colorful ingredients on crushed ice and evaporated milk. This concoction usually includes a variety of fruit such as jackfruit and kaong along with jelly, tapioca pearls and sweet potato but each vendor will often give it their own spin.
Often remarked as the king of iced teas, teh tarik hails from Malaysia made with strong black tea and condensed milk. The name literally translates to 'pulled tea' due to its unique preparation of 'pulling' the tea between two cups at a fair distance, giving the beverage a delightful frothy top. The spectacle is often entertaining to watch as vendors pour the tea between distances of increasing length.
These drinks are a must-try for anyone traveling through Southeast Asia along with being the perfect way to combat the sticky heat that lasts almost all year round. While each of these beverages have their places of origin, you'll usually find them in almost every city in the region.