Unless you’re unbelievably lucky, pretty much every family has to deal with a fussy eater or two at some point in their lives. It can make travelling to more exotic destinations daunting, but there’s no need to be put off travel to Asia just because one or more of your kids are the margherita-pizza-and-chips kind. With a bit of forward planning, you can still enjoy the full range of local fare while making sure your little ones get fed.
Some countries (like Thailand) are more fussy-friendly than others, and some (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) have great bread and pastries as a legacy of French colonisation. But even in less Westernised destinations, all you need to get you through is a few tricks up your sleeve. Here are ours.
Make the most of street-food markets
Street-food and night markets exist all over Asia and can be a great place for picky eaters to see before they try. There are often some more familiar snacks like grilled chicken skewers, spring rolls or stir-fried noodles — and if they don’t like it, you haven’t forked out on a whole meal.
Stock up on fruit & snacks
Supermarkets, convenience stores and fresh food markets are a godsend when travelling with a fussy eater. There are always plenty of approachable snacks on offer, including fruit, biscuits, crisps, chocolate and cereal bars. You’ll also be able to pick up the makings of sandwiches for picnics, and instant noodles you can prepare in your hotel room in a pinch.
Stocking up on all this kind of thing is a particularly good idea if you’re planning on visiting rural areas, where Western-style options are less available than in more popular spots.
The breakfast buffet is your friend
Many hotels offer Western-style breakfast buffet options, especially larger international chains. Toast, cereal, yoghurt, fruit, croissants, full English — it might not be exactly like home, but there should be something there to satisfy most fussy eaters. And you can fill your day bag with snacks for later.
Get involved in food experiences
One of the best ways to get picky kids interested in trying more unusual foods is to get them involved in prep. Even just seeing omelettes and pancakes being made-to-order at a hotel buffet can be enough to inspire them, but even better are the cooking classes all over Asia where you can have a go at making local dishes. It might not work for everyone, but it’s definitely worth a try!
Western options abound
Western food is popular across Asia, and all but the most remote destinations will have options like pizza, burgers and chips readily available. Even when you can’t find a Western-style restaurant, plain rice is always a backup option and it’s available absolutely everywhere.
Consider a self-catered apartment
Having your own space to prepare lunches and dinners can be a lifesaver if your child is particularly fussy. Self-catered apartments aren’t as common in Asia as they are in some parts of the world, but they do exist and are definitely worth considering.
If you travel with InsideAsia Tours, we’ll make sure you never have to worry about finding food for your picky eaters — we’ll make your hotels aware of any dietary requirements ahead of time and provide restaurant recommendations in all your destinations. If you’re thinking of travelling to Asia with kids, take a look at some of our favourite family-friendly itineraries on our website, such as Vietnam Young Family Explorer or Thailand Family Adventure.