Culinary tours allow travelers to go beyond the tourist hotspots and experience the colorful history, unique culture, and distinct tastes of a destination, just like locals.
According to an annual survey of United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA) active members, more than half of respondents (53%) planned to offer new "experiential" travel programs this year, naming culinary themed tours at the top of the list.
“Travelers tend to be more adventurous when exploring the world and this includes their taste buds. Many would rather take part in native culinary traditions than eat the same food they can get at home,” said Terry Dale, president of USTOA. “Luckily for travelers, USTOA members recognize the importance of food in travel and celebrate authentic culinary experiences around the globe.”
From Eastern Canada to Vietnam, here is a sampling of unusual and authentic culinary vacations offered by USTOA members:
Europe • During Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s 13-day “Splendors of Italy 2013” cruise from Venice to Rome, travelers will have the opportunity to experience a pasta-making workshop in Bologna, a winetasting lunch at Castello Verrazzano, an Italian dessert-making demonstration and tasting, an olive oil and wine tasting, and a special wine and food pairing dinner.
Asia • From bun cha and pho in the north to bun bo, banh khoai, and other Nguyen Dynasty delicacies in the center, to the spicy, French infused flavors of the south, travelers on Travel Indochina’s “Vietnam Culinary Discovery” will learn about the people and traditions of Vietnam from the vantage point of the kitchen. In addition to three cooking classes, one of which is a full day experience at the Red Bridge Cooking School in Hoi An, guests will visit Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Saigon, and the Mekong Delta.
North America • No epicurean tour of Eastern Canada would be complete without maple taffy in the snow and travelers on Collette Vacations “Collette Classic Touring: The Best of Eastern Canada” will get the opportunity to try this favorite regional treat. While experiencing two night stays in Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, and Toronto, as well as a Maid of the Mist cruise to see Niagara Falls up close, v
Africa • Lion World Tours’ “Culinary Safari,” offered on several departure dates in 2012 and 2013, provides travelers the opportunity to explore the stunning views, local culture, and exquisite cuisine of South Africa. Foodies will enjoy cooking with game in the kitchens of the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa in Cape Town, using uniquely South African ingredients at Le Quartier Francais in the heart of the Cape Winelands, and preparing Potjiekos, a stew prepared outdoors over an open fire.
Australia • Swain Tours’ “There is Nothing Like Australia” tour offers guests the opportunity to eat breakfast with kangaroos, participate in a hands-on tutorial on the art and science of blending grape varietals in a winemaker’s laboratory, and cruise like a local on Sydney Harbour before eating an Australian barbecue lunch served with regional wines and beers.