17 Southeast Asian Fruits

17 Southeast Asian fruits.

1. Dragonfruit
2. Coconut
3. Banana
4. Rambutan
5. Pomelo
6. Mango
7. Mangosteen
8. Lotusflower
9. Jackfruit
10. Guava
11. Longan
12. Orange-Limes
13. Papaya
14. Pineapple
15. Watermelon
16. Sapodilla
17. Durian

South East Asia is full of exotic fruits. When bought in season they an be ridiculosly cheap. For the always thirsty cyclists they make a great snack. When I spot a new fruit I usually have no idea how to eat it. This is a small guide to South East Asian fruits and how to eat them.


The dragonfruit is pink and green. It grows on cactus-like trees.To eat it you just cut it in quarters and softly pull off the pink skin. You can eat the inside with a spoon or just with the hands – but better have a tissue nearby. The fruit is juicy and full of small pips.

This is en entire dragonfruit. It grows on cactus-like trees.

Harvested dragonfruits

To eat it you just cut it in quarters and softly pull off the pink skin. The fruit is juicy and full of small pips.

The inside of a dragonfruit


Coconuts grow on palm trees. If you ever hear something up in the trees – run! Coconuts are heavy and hard and may hurt when they fall on your head. Roumor has it that falling coconuts kill more people than sharks. The fresh coconut is green and much bigger than the one sold in the supermarkets in non-palmtree-countries. Inside the thick green fibrous shell, there is another shell. When the coconut ripens, it turns hard and brown, but the green thick shell stays.  For export the outer shell is taken off because it weights a lot. That is why many people in Europe think that coconuts are brown and small. In South-East Asia, the coconut is often harvested when it is younger than six months. There is less flesh but more juice. The flesh of one year old coconuts is thick and the juice is sweeter. Usually a young coconut is served with a small hole in the top.  You can drink the water with a straw (if you have too much at once, you might get diarrhoea though). After that you can cut the rest of the coconut in halves and eat the flesh with a spoon.

Coconut palm tree

Coconut palm tree

For me a young coconut is a perfect drink for a break

For me a young coconut is a perfect drink for a break


Bananas grow on small palm-like trees. The banana clusters grow down from the banana heart. But they strech uo towards the sun, that is why their form is crooked. In South-East Asia there are plenty of different types of banana. There are some types of big and sweet ones and small ones with a thinner skin. Some are used for cooking only, others can be eaten raw as well. The small bananas are peeled easier from the bottom up, because the skin is thinner there.

Banana_18 122

Bananas on a tree


The rambutan is also called “hairy fruit” in Malaysia. It grows on large trees and the color of its skin is pink with green hairs. Some people softly bite a scratch in the skin, others cut the skin (but not the flesh) in two pieces. The inside is milky-transparent with a white pit. Around the pit, there is another soft brown membrane. The brown membrane should stick to the pit when the rambutan is fresh and of good quality. But most membranes will stick to the flesh and get stuck between the teeth while chewing. The Rambutan is rather small you you won’t need any cuttlerly.

Hairy Rambutan

Hairy Rambutan

Rambutan on a tree

Rambutan on a tree


The inside of a Rambutan

The inside of a Rambutan

Sometimes there lives a small person inside the rambutan shell.

Sometimes there lives a small happy person inside the rambutan shell.


The pomelo grows on trees. It is rather heavy and tastes like a sweet and dry version of a grapefruit. The skin is cut with a knife and the flesh can be eaten pure or with sweet chili powder.



Pomelo flesh

Pomelo flesh

Pomelo saleswoman

Pomelo saleswoman


The mango grows on large trees. The young green version is bitter and sour and used for salads, while the mature mango is yellow and can be eaten raw. A mango is ripe when it is slightly soft. Just press your thumb in it. There is a big flat pit in the middle of the mango. The easiest way to cut it is, to cut off the sides of the mango. Try to get as close to the put as you can. Then take the thin middle part, peel off the skin and cut close to the pit again. Now you have a piece of mango that is formed like a big O. Now take the other two parts and cut lines into the flesh without hurting the skin. Turn it one quarter around and cut lines again so the flesh will like like small cubes. Now you press the skin inside out and the cubes will pop out and the fruit will look like a hedgehog.

Green Mangos on the tree

Green Mangos on the tree

You can also cut the mango in slices and put some chili powder on it. That is how the Mexicans like their mango.

Mango with lime juice and some chili powder on it. Just press the skin inside out and enjoy the little cubes. That is how the Mexicans like their mango.


The mangosteen is one of my very favorites. It grows on huge trees and its skin is purple. In order to peel it off, squeeze it with both your palms and it will crack open. Then you can take the top off. In the inside you will find 2-8 pieces of white fruit. They look very similar to garlic but taste sweet and sour. Some pieces have a pit, others don’t. Be careful when you open the skin. The purple juice is used as ink and will stick to fingers, nails and clothes for a long time if you do not wash it off quickly.

Tipp: If you want to know how many pieces of fruit are inside a mangosteen just turn it around and count the small leaves on the bottom.





The lotus grows on small plants in the water. It is not a fruit but a vegetable. In Buddhism the lotus is a sacred plant and the flowers can get big. The seeds are sold as snacks. They are inside a skin that looks a bit like a watering can or a shower head. The big seeds fill the entire hole. Those ones are edible. The smaller seeds that leave an empty hole in the skin are not good for eating anymore. The roots, cut in slices – make a good soup.


Seeds of a Lotus flower are white inside a thin green shell that sticks inside another green shell.

Seeds of a Lotus flower are white inside a thin green shell that sticks inside another green shell.Jackfruit


Jackfruit grows on the trunk of their trees. The fruits are very big and heavy. It can look giant compared to the thin trunk. Wild jackfruit usually grows many middle big fruits, but the farmers rather cut some fruits off the trunk so the others have more space to grow even bigger. The skin is green and hard. Usually the jackfruit is cut in half and the 5 centimeter long yellow and soft pieces can be taken out. Inside the yellow fruit there is a brown rather soft pit. The pit can be sundried and eaten, but the flesh is even tastier. It tastes as if a lot of tropical fruits were mixed together in it and remids me of multi-fruit ice cream. Jackfruit can be eaten raw or in a dish. My favorite is the fried Jackfruit.

Jackfruit cut in half

Jackfruit cut in half

A saleswoman on the market in Laos

A saleswoman on the market in Laos


There are plenty of different types of Guavas, some have seeds, others don’t some are red, ohers green, some smaller, some larger. Guava can be a rinkly green fruit, it tastes a little sour. You can cut or peel the outer shell off and eat the soft inner part. If the Guava is well rinsed, you can even eat the outer part. You may want to use it for salads too.

Singaporean Guava (Wikimedia Commons/Ronggy)


The longan is a fruit very similar to the lychee. The shell is soft and can be squeezed until it cracks. The rest can be peeled off like a mandarine. As the Longan is small, you can eat it without biting. There is a big black seed, that should not be eaten. When the seed shows, the longan looks a lot like an eye-ball. In fact, “Longan” means “Dragon’s eyes” in Chinese.

Longan fruit

The Longan is a very poular small fruit


Orange-Limes are used to make juice, ice-cream, jam and lemonades from. They are very popular in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore and the juice tastes like a light version of a mandarine.  Orange-Limes have different names in different countries, but we were told the English translation was Orange-Lime.




Papayas are extremely healthy and of various uses. Just like the mangoes, there are young and ripe papayas and both are eaten a lot in South East Asia. The young ones are used for salads or curries while the ripe ones can be cut in half. The flesh is yellow to orange, soft and there are many small round and black seeds inside. You can scoop these out and eat the flesh with a spoon or you can cut smaller pieces. The skin is edible but the flesh tastes much better.





Pineapples grow on the ground. When they are small, they are hardly visible in the field. The plant has sharp and long leaves and the fruits grow in the middle on a small stem. When they are big enough, they are cut off. The shell is hard and needs to be cut off. The cone in the middle is harder than the flesh. Some cones are soft enough to be eaten, but most must be cut off. I found an explanation how to cut a pineapple online. Pineapples are used in plenty of hot and cold dishes as well as eaten raw, on a stick, in rings, pieces or stripes.

That's how pineapples grow

That’s how pineapples grow


Watermelons are wonderful. They are full of water and sugar, that’s just what a cyclist needs. Unfortunately they are too heavy to carry them very far on a bicycle. I usually eat the seeds as well as the soft parts of the shell, but the red flesh is the tastiest. In Central Asia people tend to let the melon fall on the floor and then crack it into smaller pieces with the hands, but it is also common to cut it and bite from it.

Watermelons in Laos

Watermelon stand in Laos. They make a wonderful breakfast, because they are sweet, very juicy and give me power.


Sapodillas look a bit like a mix of kiwifruits and potatoes and taste similar to pear. They grow on tall trees and are usually eaten raw. Easiest is to cut them in halves, take the seeds out and eat the flesh with a spoon.




Durians are special. You’ll love them or you’ll hate them. But you’ll most probably hate the smell. It is so horrible, that it is forbidden to bring Durians into most hotels, taxis and public buildings. But the worst smell appears once the Durian is cut open. Durians are very big and can weigh up to three kilos. In the inside of the spikey shell, there are many yellow fibrous and fleshy segments, dry on the outside and a bit more  juicy on the inside. Often we were offered to grab a handful of fruit out of a segment, but it is a bit difficult to divide a pice with the hand. Especially in Malaysia we have encountered a lot of durian-dishes, varying from shakes, through cakes to any kind of dodol and ice cream.

My friend Gerd made friends with big, big Durian-fans back in Malaysia.

My friend Gerd made friends with big, big Durian-fans back in Malaysia.




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  1. Hey Guys,

    Greetings from summerly Greece, How is everything going? We are sure that you experience some of the most amazing stories!


    John & Athina

    • admin says:

      He you two!
      Greetings back to summerly Greece from cold cold New Zealand 🙂 We are doing fine, making a lot of friends. We wish you a long-lasting summer and hope to meet you soon again. A big hug from Christchurch,

  2. Pingback: DURIAN FRUIT CHALLENGE | Carl & Jinger

  3. Jeff Edmonds says:

    Hello I’ve been watching YouTube about Cambodia monkeys. The people are feeding these monkeys a red fruit at least I think it’s a fruit in the girls and big bundles they are oval shaved and about the size of the palm of your hand. I can’t figure out what they are they are not shown here on this page can anyone help me?

    • Hi Jeff,
      unfortunately that could be a lot of things. size and shape sounds a lot like a Mango though. Hope you’ll find out soon, cheers,

      • Kushal Bdk says:

        Hi Annika and Roberto I don’t know both of you but I wanna meet you.I am from Myanmar and when u visit here I am sure I will take both of you along with me to the Hillyside of this town and wanna go for hiking.
        ,Kushal Bdk is my FB account.

        • Hello Kushal,
          it is great to hear from you, we’d really like to meet you too! hopefully some day we can come to visit Myanmar, or you can come to visit us here.
          Cheers from Germany,

          Annika & Roberto

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  5. Pingback: Durian Orange – My Blog

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  8. eireann says:

    The dragon fruit originates in the Americas. Its not an Asian fruit

    • Hey Eireann,

      thanks a lot for that comment! See I hadn’t even known that, but yeah, now that you mention it, I’ve seen them in the Americas as well, just not quite as many. They seem to be much more popular in Asia than they are at least in the northern parts of the Americas. I’m a big fan of dragon fruit 🙂


  9. Hana says:

    Hi 🙂 Nice article, thank you. Only one thing if you do not mind, as for your picture of guava, I am pretty sure you have a picture of a wild mangosteen. Maybe you would like to double check…

  10. Kasmuri Hambali says:

    Hi Hana,
    great write up. I’m into collection of all tropical fruit trees that I turn into bonsai.

    I just want to make a little correction to your list above. The guava is showing the wrong fruit. I believe it is buah tampoi.

    Also, the sapodilla is locally known as chiku.


    happy travelling,

  11. robin says:

    hi! please check the picture you used for guava. that is a picture of a cotton fruit.

  12. Hi Hana, Kasmuri and Robin, thanks for the heads up! I’ve changed the picture now. Whatever that other one was, I remember it was tasty 🙂
    Have a great one everybody, cheers,

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