06 June 2016

Not Just for Kids: 4 Awesome Workshops to Try in Asia (For Grown Ups!)

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Learning during your travels isn’t just for kids! Check out our roundup of unique, inspiring and culturally-focused workshops to try for your next trip to Asia.

Let’s be honest – few of us would consider putting a workshop or class on our list of things to do during a holiday in Asia. When we think of a “workshop”, we can’t help but imagine a dim, flickering light in a dreary board room, listening to a presenter drone on as we battle the urge to fall sleep.

Thankfully, workshops and classes in Asia are hardly yawn-inducing! Whether we realize it or not, travel is an exercise in life learning – and we can’t help but learn a few new things on the road no matter our age. The cherry-on-top with workshops and classes as part of your travel itinerary, though, is the fact that during a workshop, you’re learning from the real experts: the locals!

We love workshops in more ways than one, but perhaps our favourite thing about workshops and classes is how they provide an unmatched opportunity to learn from the locals. Plus, most workshops and classes run by locals support the communities in which they live – so you’re walking away with a new skill and the knowledge that you’re helping a community in Asia grow.

With the help of our experts, we pulled together some of our favourite workshops – and explored why each is unique and worthwhile during your next trip. Who knows – you might go back to your home country with a few new party tricks up your sleeve!

vietnam cooking class buffalo tours

Cooking Classes in Vietnam

What’s better than chowing down on all things Vietnamese food during a visit to the country? Learning how to make it yourself! For all of the best souvenirs you can bring back from Vietnam, the skill to whip up a classic bowl of Pho or dish of spring rolls is certainly at the top of that list.

You can find cooking classes in Vietnam around just about every corner, but there are a few that stand out among the rest. One of our favourites is with NGO Know One Teach One (KOTO), which provides vocational training to its restaurant staff and cooks. So here, your instructor is not only a cooking expert, but also a graduate from a programme that’s helping build futures for disadvantaged youth! The proceeds from your visit, too, go to support KOTO’s programs.

Try your hand at cooking traditional Vietnamese food on our Gourmet Vietnam journey!

batik workshop sapa vietnam

Batik Painting Workshop in Sapa

Nearly everyone whose made the trip to Sapa will recognise the ubiquitous deep-blue designs of traditional Hmong batiks. These beautiful textiles are an important element of Hmong culture, and while originally they were intended solely as clothing for a village, they’re now one of the most popular souvenirs to take home from the frontier town.

But getting the insider scoop on how textiles are made – while also getting to know the locals that create them – is better than any souvenir. In the small Black Hmong village of Ta Van, local women can walk you through the process of making batik, show you their own expert skills and then help you try your own hand at dying. While your creation might not be the same quality of the locals, this souvenir comes with a story – which is what travel is all about!

Check out our Batik Painting Workshop as part of our Muong Hoa Valley of the Hmong overnight tour!

jamu workshop

Jamu Workshop in Bali

No one would accuse Jamu of being a delicious must-try beverage in Indonesia. But, for its borderline unpalatable taste, drinkers are bestowed better health and a cure for ailments – or at least that’s what the locals will tell you. Jamu is a careful blend of herbs, spices and vegetables that’s believed to have significant health benefits, and nearly every Balinese will count Jamu as one of the vital ingredients in their everyday life. But for the uninitiated, Jamu can seem a bizarre cultural phenomenon – which is where the Jamu workshop comes in!

The trick behind understanding Jamu is getting a look at how its made. With the help of a local Jamu expert, a workshop walks you through the ways that herbs and vegetables are mixed and blended – and how particular ingredients are added to cure anything from headaches to insomnia. The best thing about a Jamu workshop is heading home with a new traditional remedy in your healthcare arsenal, and a great story to match!

Check out our Jamu Workshop as part of our Best of Bali tour!

chiang mai coffee workshop love and road

Photo courtesy of Love & Road – click here to read their full story!

Coffee Making Workshop in Chiang Mai

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in Thailand who didn’t enjoy a good cup of coffee, and nowhere is this more true than in its northern cultural hub of Chiang Mai. Just outside of the city is one of the prime coffee-growing and producing regions in all of Southeast Asia – and many of the villages here survive on the sales of coffee. Consequently, what really makes a trekking journey into this scenic region unique is paying a visit to these villages, and learning firsthand how they produce the finest coffee in Thailand.

The process in making this coffee is more involved than other forms, and some serious elbow grease is required for grinding, winnowing and roasting. That said, you’re rewarded for your hard work with a tasting session, not to mention some serious coffee-making chops to take back home with you. Last but not least, you’re even able to take home some of these tasty coffee beans as a souvenir!

Check out our Chiang Mai Trekking and Coffee workshop as part of a Classic Thailand Tour!

Create the perfect combination of highlights and illuminating workshops with our travel experts! Ask our team about including some of these experiences in your customised tour.