Most of us don’t have the time (and funds) to travel constantly. But that doesn’t mean we would stop exploring and learning about other countries and cultures. Thanks to streaming networks like Netflix, we can easily feel like the world is at our fingertips through travel and food shows.
Can’t travel right now because of the quarantine? Here are five shows on Netflix that will let you travel vicariously around the world from the comforts of your couch.
It’s no secret that many people travel just for food. Street Food is a documentary series from the creators of Chef’s Table that will inspire those watching to plan their next backpacking trip to seek out every city’s best street food, or at least try to recreate iconic dishes in their own kitchens.
This series highlights street food vendors in different cities across East Asia. The series consists of nine episodes set in Bangkok in Thailand, Osaka in Japan, Delhi in India, Yogyakarta in Indonesia, Chayi in Taiwan, Seoul in South Korea, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Singapore, and our very own Cebu in the Philippines.
Aside from focusing on how iconic street food is prepared with face-to-face interviews of vendors and chefs, the show also features archival footage of snippets of everyday life. The cinematic storytelling and human stories paint a bigger picture of the culture of diverse and vibrant culture of the different countries. This is a surprisingly emotional show that will leave viewers craving more.
Do you often stay in Airbnbs when you travel? Or perhaps you’re a homeowner who wants to turn an unused space into a short-term vacation rental home in the future. Stay Here is a show that will give you all the basics on what makes a property unique and how bring a local flair and experience to your lodging homes.
This home improvement show features designer Genevieve Gorder and real estate expert Peter Lorimer renovating vacation homes to help different struggling homeowners. With just 8 episodes, this is a fun and breezy travel show that may just give viewers inspiration to redesign their own space at home. It will definitely give travelers a whole new appreciation for those small vacation houses and lodging houses they’ve stayed in.
Restaurants on the Edge
Like Stay Here, Restaurants on the Edge is another “fixer-upper” reality TV show that manages to highlight travel and culture. In the show, restaurateur Nick Liberato, chef Dennis Prescott, and designer Karin Bohn travel the world in search of restaurants with amazing views that are on the edge of shutting down and give them much-needed makeovers.
Throughout the 13 episodes, the trio teams up with the restaurant’s chefs and owners to redesign the failing restaurant space and hopefully bring in new customers. What’s interesting about this show is how the hosts immerse themselves in local culture in order to bring that experience into the establishments through redesigning.
They also hunt down the local ingredients, produce, and spirits of choice which they highlight in the revamped menu and curated cocktails. It is a very light and easy-to-watch series that will encourage viewers to seek out these small homegrown restaurants when they travel.
On a more serious side of the spectrum is Dark Tourist, a documentary series that delves into the phenomenon of dark tourism or traveling to places historically associated with death and tragedy.
Hosted by journalist David Farrier, the show takes an experiential and nuanced approach to these lesser-known cultures. Part-investigative journalism, part-reality TV, the show shines in its ability to hook viewers in from the visuals, storytelling, and personal accounts of the host.
The series features eight episodes where the host visits areas hit by a nuclear disaster and a suicide forest in Japan, takes part in voodoo ritual rites in Africa, and tries out a horror house in the USA that’s reputed to be the scariest in the world, to name a few.
With its sensitive (and sometimes controversial) content, this show is not for the faint of heart. But it will appeal to anyone fascinated by the macabre or those interested in off-beat destinations, bizarre rituals, and lesser-known cultures.
Want something more inspiring and timely? Our Planet is a British nature documentary series that addresses issues of conservation while featuring disparate animals in their respective home regions. Narrated by BBC broadcaster and natural historian Sir David Attenborough, this visually breathtaking series featuring stunning cinematography will stoke your wanderlust and make viewers appreciate what nature has to offer.
This eight-part nature documentary series took four years to produce and was filmed in 50 countries. Each episode tackles different themes, highlighting the diversity of habitats around the world, including the Arctic wilderness, the deep sea, the vast landscapes of Africa, and the diverse jungles of South America
A one-hour long bonus episode “Our Planet – Behind The Scenes” about the project can be viewed under “Additional Videos” on Netflix.