Culinary tours catch on

Singaporeans' habit of travelling to eat has caught the attention of local travel agencies, which now cater increasingly to that growing appetite.

Chan Brothers Travel spokesman Jane Chang says the agency has seen a consistent 20 to 30 per cent increase in bookings of food tours every year over the past 10 years.

The agency, which introduced culinary tours more than a decade ago, now has a range of food-related offerings, from celebrity chef-led tours to tours focused on street food to farm-to-fork fresh produce experiences to behind-the-scenes sessions at food factories and hands-on cooking workshops. Its culinary tours go to China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Turkey.

A recent well-received culinary trip was a seven-day trip to Perth and Margaret River to participate in the three-day Margaret River Gourmet Escape, a fine food and wine festival attended by world-class chefs, says Ms Chang. It cost about $2,200 and the group size was about 35.

Ms Alicia Seah, director of marketing communications at Dynasty Travel, says the agency saw a 25 per cent increase in interest in food-related tours last year, compared to the year before. The agency organises culinary journeys to China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Prices range from $508 to $1,908 a person.

Mr Nicholas Lim, president of the Travel Corporation, agrees there has been "an increase in requests for food-specific holidays" in recent years. His firm owns guided tour company Trafalgar Tours, which organises food and wine trips to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, the Alsace wine trails of France, the country roads of southern Italy and the Napa Valley in California.

Mr Jerry Ng, 69, chose to go on a Chan Brothers Travel trip to Jiangnan, China, led by celebrity chef Eric Teo last year. "The trip did not disappoint in terms of quality and quantity," says the retired businessman of his first such food voyage.

So impressed was he with all the restaurants the tour took him to, he has signed up for another led by the same chef in May, to Guangzhou. "I love to eat, so this sort of tour really appeals to me," he says.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.