Snake Fruit – Delicious Taste, Terrifying Nightmare

Snake Fruit in Thailand

Snake Fruit in Thailand

I just polished off a fresh cluster of snake fruit.

It was excellent.

Snake fruit, along with durian and a host of other fruit, is a natural growing gem of southeast Asia.

The outside of the fruit is scaly like a snake and prickly like a cactus, but the inside is sweeter than honey, sour like a pineapple and incredibly juicy. Its flesh is slightly acidic, giving your tongue a citrus like tingle.

The complex flavor wrapped into a lethal grenade looking package has a spectacular flavor.

What is snake fruit?

What is snake fruit?

What is Snake Fruit (Salak)?

Snake fruit, more technically known as salak or salacca zalacca, is native to Indonesia but is now grown and produced around southeast Asia. The fruit grows on the salak palm tree, sprouting off the base of the palm in little clusters.

In Thailand, snake fruit is widespread, popular as a to-go snack on the streets of Bangkok (during season). Venders will often handle the dirty work, peeling the spiky exterior and packing the peeled fruit into convenient baggies for sale. Thais enjoy snakefruit dipped in a mixture of sugar and salt.

Peeled snake fruit, this particular one was a double, butt shaped flesh

Peeled snake fruit, this particular one was a double, butt shaped flesh

My First Taste (The Story)

It was 2009 when I had my first taste of snake fruit.

I was hanging out in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, cruising around and excited to be exploring. A local friend of mine happened to have a few snake fruit trees on her compound in Yogyakarta and brought a sack of them for us all to enjoy.

After peeling away the pokey skin, I sunk my teeth into my very first snake fruit.

Just like wood apple, I developed an instantaneous addiction.

In the next 5 minutes I proceeded to down at least 25 pieces of snakefruit, finding it nearly impossible to stop when there was a free (and giant) sack right before me.

Snake Fruit

Juicy bite of Snake Fruit

“Don’t eat too many snakefruit, it will make you not use the toilet,” my Indonesian friend nonchalantly mentioned, being pre-occupied and oblivious to the solo devouring session I had just completed.

After my heart sank a few inches I managed a “Oh ooookkk,” terrified of the doom I could face as I gingerly set aside my 26th fruit.

That night I could barely sleep, stressing about my worst nightmare that seemed surly inevitable: constipation.

I woke up, ate some breakfast, drank a coffee, and apart from being a few hours later than the norm, I proceeded on with my chronic morning ritual.

Fortunately my food blogger digestive system overcame the alleged blocking powers of large quantities of snake fruit, constipation did NOT stand a chance!

If the legend is true of not, I still don’t know.

But one thing I do know, every time I eat snake fruit, even at a fruit buffet, I proceed with caution, knowing there could be consequences of eating too much of such a delicious thing.

Have you ever had snake fruit? Be careful…

Do you love food and travel too?

If so, I'd love to give you my FREE street food guide, "41 Irresistible Meals You'll Travel to Eat," plus you'll receive exclusive street food updates (it's free)!


  1. says

    Wow! So concise but informative and entertaining!
    I have so much to learn from you.

    May I also say that I particularly enjoyed that the shape of the fruit that you just so happened to take and posted was completely relevant to the proceeding story. 😉

  2. says

    It looks delicious! I want to try it, but I bet the odds of finding it in Canada are slim to none. Guess I’d better get myself over to Indonesia! On a related note, I don’t have Indonesia on my Bucket List – if I added it, what are some “must-see” or “must-do” experiences you recommend?

    • says

      Thanks for the comment. I haven’t actually traveled to very many places in Indonesia, I visited the island of Sumatra (Medan), Java (Jakarta, Yogyakarta), and finally Bali. I would love to still visit many more islands and places in the vast country. I can recommend Yogyakarta and Mt. Bromo on Java. I’ve heard really good things about Gili Islands, Sulawesi (for diving especially), Lombok, and Borneo. Hope this helps!

  3. says

    Hi! I live in Jakarta, Indonesia since I was born. I also love snake fruit 😀 It’s very delicious! I’m so glad that people from other country like this fruit. Thank you for visiting our country 😀

  4. says

    Hey, was just googling snakefruit and came across this site. I discovered these in Thailand last year and can’t get enough of them. Probably tied with mangosteen for my favorite. I like the way you described the flavor – when asked, I’ve said ‘something like a really sweet, intense, acidic strawberry’. I’m on a business trip to Burma now and found some (much more expensive) in the Chinatown market in Yangon. I think they’re imported from Thailand, because they’re not as fresh. Doesn’t matter, I’m still chowing down on ’em. Wish we could get them in the states, wonder why no one is importing them…

    • says

      Hey Ari, glad you also love snake fruit and found some in Burma. I know, it would be great if them sold it in the US, but I’ve never seen it there. Have you visit Indonesia or Malaysia? It’s more plentiful in parts of Indonesia and Malaysia than Thailand!

  5. Sharon says

    I believe I had the same experience when I tried the snake fruit! So sad, they are not in Kenya… :(, hope you did try rambutan… :)

  6. says

    We were introduced to snake fruit on Lombok in Indonesia. It became a go to portable snack in SE Asia along with longans and rambutans. All these lovely fruits with a great portable packaging!

  7. says

    i stumbled upon your blog while I was searching for ‘salak’ on the net after i saw one at T&T (a very popular Asian store in Canada) only this morning. I read in wikipedia it’s also called “rattan fruit” but the “rattan fruit” i remember eating in the Philippines was so acidic, colored brown and smaller round fruit, compared to the red and spiky “salak”. Maybe it’s the different species that I ate, but belonging to similar family. thanks to your blog, for the very good description of eating salak, I will surely buy a bag on my next visit to T&T. cheers :-)

  8. Tyara says

    feel ashamed, as an Indonesian I never know salak is “snake fruit” in English.. I just say salak if someone ask me the name.. salak pondoh might be the most famous and delicious “varieties” of snake fruit in Indonesia. Well, it is really true if you’re eat salak too much, you’ll get constipation.. be careful.. hohoho

  9. syd says

    We have this in Ecuador. I forgot what they call it here, but I really like it too. I have only been able to find it at small farmer’s markets during season.

  10. kay says

    constipation is a myth :) wanna hear more interesting myth about it?

    if you eat the salak WITHOUT the “membrane” ( idk how to say it, the transparent membrane between the “scale” and the fruit) by peeling it, you will get constipation, but if you eat the fruit with the “membrane” you’ll be fine

  11. says

    Mark, if you go to Yogyakarta once again, you can taste a sweet (not even bitter or sour taste) Salak. The variant is Salak Pondoh and mostly grow in Sleman, Yogyakarta. Thai Salak may be different variant (or species), so you’d better try :)

  12. Jimmy says

    I have a stomach allergies, it was very bad that i had 3 months of diarrhea. I ate salak so i don’t have to sit in the toilet for hours.


  1. […] We also tasted local fruits and sweets. In the next picture you will see grapes, little bananas, little citrics (“mandarinas”), and the brown ones are called the “snake fruits” (“salak” in Indonesian). They are a natural growing gem in Southeast Asia. The outside of the fruit is scaly like a snake and prickly like a cactus, but the inside is sweeter than honey, sour like a pineapple and incredible juicy. You can read more about this fruit here. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *