What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you think about food in Southeast Asia? For me, at Ultimate Thailand HQ, it’s Pad Thai! I love Pad Thai!

For all you foodies out there, even you non-foodies, Southeast Asia is a culinary treat for all who pass through. With all the different combinations of flavours that are cooked up along the way, there really is something for everyone … even the fussiest of eaters!

Don’t leave Southeast Asia without having taken a cooking class! Trust me, you’ll want to taste this food again and again, long after you’ve left, and the only way is to learn how to recreate these amazing dishes from those who know best.

The great thing is, Southeast Asia is not short of a few cooking schools, ran by those who are only too happy to share their cooking skills with you! You can do a full day course or, if you prefer, a half day course and many include a trip to the local markets, where you learn your first lesson – which fresh ingredients are used to create that favourite meal that keeps your mouth watering for hours after you’ve finished.

If it’s Thai that intrigues you …

Learn what makes your favourite Thai dishes so distinct and original when you take a Thai cooking lesson with a school such as Pum Cooking School. They have a range of lessons available and you get to take a book filled with recipes away for future Thai inspired cooking sessions. They hold lessons in Chiang Mai, Patong and Koh Phi Phi.

If you’re in Bangkok and fancy rustling up a creative dish, you can try Baipai Thai Cooking School, who offers a 4 hour course that teaches you traditional Thai cooking techniques and what you can use from your supermarket as a substitute to local Thai ingredients.

If Vietnamese tickles your tastes buds …

Vietnamese cooking uses a combination of fresh herbs that often leads to exciting flavours and unfamiliar tastes. The food is fresh and healthy and full of variety, so there’s no way you’ll ever get bored of trying all that’s on offer!

If you want to learn how to make a great Cari ga (chicken curry) or a delicious Bo Luc Lac (shaking beef), why not catch a class on your way through Hanoi? Try a class at Hanoi Cooking Centre … they teach classes that celebrate food from different parts of Vietnam: the coast, the Northern Highlands etc.

If you want unlock the secrets of Cambodian food …

The food in Cambodia will change as you travel through the country. Each new region brings a new contrasting flavours and textures for you to try. The main ingredient of most Cambodian dishes is rice … you’ve never known so many different types of rice!

To master the art of flavour, Cambodian style, you could take a class at Tigre de Papier. Visit the local market to pick up your ingredients and then cook a delicious 3 course feast, Cambodian style. Try a bai sach chrouk (pork and rice) or if you’re feeling adventurous, try kdam chaa (fried crab).

If it’s Laos food you’re looking forward to most …

The people of Laos sometimes refer to themselves as ‘Luk Khao Niaow’ which translates as ‘children/descendents of sticky rice’ … guess what the main ingredient for Laos food is?? Because of the history of Laos, there are some very unusually interesting combinations of influences found in the food – for example, if you head towards the capital you’ll find a French influence still hanging around from when Laos was part of French Indochina.

Head towards Tamarind Laos cooking school and learn about the traditions and customs that are involved in Laos cookery … or, if you’re in Vientiane, get in touch with these guys who teach you to cook some of the most popular Laos dishes in a garden on the Mekong River. Where ever you learn, whatever you cook – mikhuaamsuk dan ahankhong than (enjoy your meal!)