Most Southeast Asian countries have the ideal climate to grow fruit, and many of the exotic varieties you might be used to, such as pineapple, watermelon and mango are especially delicious. But Asia is also home to many fruits that you might not recognize – and might even be scared by, like these bizarre looking beauties!
Possibly the fruit with the coolest name in the world, ‘Dragon Fruit’ was given its name as it resembles a ball of fire that has been shot from a dragon. It certainly doesn’t taste like dragon though; its texture is similar to Kiwi Fruit and has a similar mild-sweet taste to melon. Saying that, we’ve never tasted dragon so we can’t be 100% sure!
Rambutan is another ‘fierce’ looking fruit that grows well in warm countries all around Southeast Asia and originates from Indonesia and Malaysia. Underneath the soft spiky shell lies a white fleshy fruit similar to lychee with a hard stone center. The word rambutan is a Malay word that translates to ‘hairy’, while in Vietnam they call the fruit chom chom, which translated to ‘messy hair’.
The Carambola or Starfruit is a tropical fruit with two main types, one is large sweet and the other small and sour. A multi-purpose fruit, its juices make not only a delicious drink, they can also be utilized to polish metal. We’re not sure how the Starfruit got its nickname. They didn’t fall from the sky and they certainly don’t perform on stage or TV…could be something to do with their shape perhaps…
This confusing fruit native to the Malay Peninsula is the holder of more nicknames than a high-school football team. Take your pick from any one of the following: Cloud Apple, Rose Apple, Water Apple, Wax Apple, Love Apple, Royal Apple, Jamaican Apple, Mountain Apple and, steering away from the apple theme, Bell Fruit. You’d think from the names that the fruit would bear close similarity in taste to apples, but in fact they are more comparable in flavor to watermelon.
It seems the age in which the English language discovered fruits was a very uncreative time, and anything that vaguely resembled an apple was prefixed thus, such as Annona Squamosa, otherwise known as ‘Sugar Apple’. To be fair, the shape does resemble that of apples, though its outer layer is far more ‘scaly’ than smooth and the flesh is much more dry than apples, with a creamy sweet twang.
Perhaps the strangest looking fruit of all is Durian, nicknamed the ‘King of Fruit’. The husk of the fruit is bizarrely large, usually bigger than a football and with extra pointy protrusions that give it a sinister look. The spiky shape is so iconic that there’s even a building in Singapore nicknamed ‘The Durian’ because of its resemblance to the fruit.
While Durian is famous for its appearance, it’s also infamous for its aroma – the pungent smell is a severe turn off for many, and is comparable to that of sewage or vomit! The odor is so strong that eating of the fruit in public areas is prohibited public areas in Thailand, and it’s even banned on planes! While the smell might be a bit offensive to some, the unique taste of the spiky fruit overcomes the aroma for many, and is incomparable to almost every other fruit in the world with a creamy, sweet texture that has to be tasted to be believed. It’s very much a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ fruit, with few people falling in-between, so be sure to give it a try.
Salak is a fruit native to Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia and is often nicknamed ‘Snake Fruit’ due to its reddish-brown scaly skin. The taste of Salak can vary, similar to how apple varieties differ. Salak Bali (from Bali!) for example, has a crunchy, moist consistency whereas Salak Pondoh (from Yogyakarta) is dry and crumbly.
Our Travel Specialists and local Tour Guides know the best times of year and areas of Asia to try these exotic fruits, so if you’re taking one of our tailor-made tours be sure to let them know you’d like to try them!