Rambutan – Thailand’s Tastiest Fruit!

What Makes Rambutan – Thailand’s Most Tasty Fruit?

It is June, and one of my favorite times of the year is happening right now in Thailand.

It’s time for the RAMBUTANS to become RIPE! I’m a rambutan lush, I have to admit. I eat more of these things than a man has a right to!

What in the world are rambutans? You might be asking yourself.

Rambutans are probably the most exotic fruit you’ve ever seen in your life. Maybe you’ve never seen them. They are grown the best in the south of Thailand. In fact, the best place I’ve ever had them from is from an area called, Ban Na San… a very small village along a river south of Surat Thani town about 30 km.

Every year they have a huge week-long RAMBUTAN FESTIVAL there to celebrate since most of the residents make their living growing rambutans on their farms.

Rambutans when they’re best, are just bigger than golf balls and a lot more oblong (oval) than a round golf ball. They are bursting with flavor though there is nothing I could compare the taste of a rambutan to unless you are familiar with another exotic fruit called the “longan” or “lumyai”.

The texture too is something quite unlike fruits I’ve had in America. Amost like a hard, fleshy grape. There is not a lot of juice in rambutans – loose juice that is, because the juice is locked up in the almost clear fruity flesh.

Ripe Thai rambutan fruit half-peeled and ready to eat.
These were some perfect rambutan fruit we picked up in Surat Thani at the Rambutan Festival one year! 3 kg (6.6 lb) for just 90 THB ($3!)

A rambutan is best had in mid-season – somewhere around June-August as they seem to be most sweet, and large by then. The color ranges from yellowish to an intense pink or red color. The color doesn’t matter much with regards to taste, as long ast the fruit is bigger than a golf ball you can almost be assured it is more sweet than sour.

When it’s ripe the flesh separates easily from the seed. When not quite ripe the flesh sticks to the rambutan seed and the taste is a little sour overall, still not a bad taste though!

There are over 100 (I stopped counting at 100) green grass-like hairs a half-inch to 3/4 inches long with slightly curled ends protruding from every rambutan. This is normal, do not be afraid.

Upon first inspection, you might think it is inedible, or, that it resembles poisonous caterpillars that even when touched bring great burning pain through your skin. Nothing could be further from the truth, though you may find some black ants in the batch you purchase. There is one crawling on my rambutan I brought out of the bag!

How To Eat a Rambutan?

Peeled, ripe rambutan from Thailand.
A peeled rambutan showing the seed in the center. Β©JoysThaiFood.com

There are a couple of theories on this but I take the quickest route which doesn’t require a knife. Taking the rambutan in front of me in both hands I grip it like I’m wringing washed wet socks dry and twist the skin of the fruit in opposite directions with each hand.

Invariably the skin tears and an incredibly bulbous clear fleshy rambutan is waiting for me to suck it out with suction or bite and pull it from the other half of the skin.

When chewing a rambutan you’ll eventually come up with a good system to let you avoid biting directly into the seed in the middle that is about the same size, shape, and color as a big almond nut.

I usually put the whole rambutan in the side of my mouth and chew almost halfway through it longways and maneuver it around using my tongue until I’ve pulled off 95% of the flesh. Then I either spit out the seed or pull the seed out with my fingers and polish off the remaining fruit.

There is an exo-seed type peel that is loose and surrounds the hard seed – it’s fine to eat but may take some getting used to. I didn’t like it at all for the first few months I ate the fruit, but gradually it made no difference to me to eat it along with the rest of the flesh.

Be careful if you eat a lot of rambutan at one time not to handle the fleshy part with your fingers before you eat it as pesticides are usually used on the outside of the fruit to keep it safe from pests eating it. It’s delicious to them too.

Rambutans here in Thailand are at the usual rate of 15-25 baht per kilogram (2.2 lbs). 25 baht is roughly equivalent to 80 cents USD.

Rambutan taste is something you’ll quickly become accustomed to and addicted to. I am completely addicted and when each season comes I eat kilogram after kilogram of fruit!

More Thai food videos at Joy’s Thai Food YouTube Channel >

There are two kinds of rambutans in Thailand: Rong Rien (grade school) like those seen here, and one with pink hair instead of green & yellow called the “Si Chompoo” (pink).

πŸ™‚ Vern (Hubby)

35 thoughts on “Rambutan – Thailand’s Tastiest Fruit!”

  1. The very first fruit I tried in Thailand was the Rambutan and they are absolutely delicious.

    Mangosteens are my second favorite. Hard to get in the states but I heard the U.S will be relaxing some import rules wich will allow a lot of Thailand’s fruit to be shipped here. Hopefully thats the case because Americans will love rambutans.

  2. I was fortunate enough to be in Thailand twice when the rambutans were in season. They are just so delicious! I wish they could be imported into the U.S.

  3. I just saw these fruits the other day in the grocery store! You make them sound delicious. I will have to try them. Thanks for the instructions! I have a good grocery store that sometimes sells an exotic fruit or vegetable that I have not seen before, but usually without directions. The rambutans in the store here (on the East coast of the US) are a dark ruby red, and I think they are charging 4 US dollars for .5lbs. This is the cost for discovering new foods from the other side of the world. =)

    • Wow, that is expensive. We can get a kilogram (2.2 lbs) for 25 baht in Surat Thani. It’s safe to say that Joy and I eat a whole tree of rambutan each season. I know I eat 15 kilograms by myself easy. πŸ™‚ (Vern) Joy really likes durian, pineapple, rambutan, mango, and tamarind. I’m more of a rambutan, lumyai, mango lover. But, there are so many cool fruits to try. Try them all – despite the price. If you can’t eat the best foods in the world – what is life worth? lol. That’s my philosophy anyway! Thanks for writing!

  4. Just came back from Ao Luk where my wifes family have 10 rai of 40 year old rambutan trees. We come every harvest to help pick them with durian and mangosteen. We love them.

    Nice site.

    • West coast of Thailand, Australia, England, or where? In the USA I know you can usually find them in China town. If you have a Chinese vegetable market you can sometimes find them there. In season is usually about June-Sept I think. Anyone know how much money you’d pay in the states for a pound of rambutan?

  5. I have seen in Southern California on a few occasions at asian markets (ranch 99), traders joes, and at vons. They are available for only a very short timeframe – perhaps 2 weeks a year, and when I have purchased they were on their way out in terms of freshness. The price is about $5 for a small container (perhaps 10-15 fruits). All and all the quality is much better other places where I have eaten such as in Singapore – the rambutan I have purchased stateside has not done the fruit justice.

    You can buy online but I have not tried doing so.

    • Hi Nalin,

      Thank you so much for the information about California and rambutan availability. Wow, $5 for 10-15 fruits is expensive… but, when you taste them – assuming they’re ripe. I’d pay it. This morning I just bought 2 kg – about 4.4 lbs for 20 baht – which is about 60 cents USD. When they’re in season they’re plentiful, fresh, and so cheap. I saw a sign across the street for 4kg for 20 baht. I was leery about it – but shouldn’t have been, some have the trees in their yards and will try to outsell everyone else’s prices. Good to stay Thailand… Thanks again for your information… Vern

  6. I had Rambutans for the first time about three weeks ago in Phuket. Very delicious, if the seed skin didn’t come away with the flesh it would easily be the best fruit imo.
    I actually like them when they were still a little bit tart, found the Thai mangos to be a bit too sweet for my liking(adding a lime to a glass of fresh mango juice was decent though).

  7. rambutan is became one of my best fruit in my life. i ever taste it untill i visited singapore.They are just so delicious! I eat more of these things than a man has a right to!I wish they could be imported into the visakhapatnam which is the place of Andhra Pradesh india.

    • Hi Soujanya! During the rambutan season, we ate it almost everyday.. 1Kg for each time. I remember one time I ate until my mouth hurt (I think it causes irritation inside your mount from its sweetness like many other sweet fruit. However, we still enjoy eating them so much. πŸ™‚

  8. Dear Sir,

    I am Arun Rozario , from India .

    I am interested to take dealership for Mangoosteen , Rambuttan and Durian fruits from Thailand to India , regarding this now I am looking for suppliers in Thailand . If you are interested to cooperate with us please let us know .

    Thanks & Regards

    Arun Rozario
    085 810 66 77 57 .

  9. These are delicious…I am looking for more recipes with them.

    What is even more delicious are Santol fruits. I recently purchased some frozen from a Thai store in Berkeley, CA, and it was the most incredible fruit I have ever eaten.

  10. Good afternoon Joy

    I live in Phuket and write about a number of things and I would like to have more information about Na San Rambutans Festival but I am unable to find anything specific – please can you help me…

    thank you

    • It’s in June in Ban Na San south of Surat Thani, near Tai Rom Yen National Park. That’s as much as we know… good luck.

  11. This is very interesting, You are an excessively skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look ahead to in the hunt for more of your wonderful post. Also, I’ve shared your website in my social networks

    • Thank you very much. πŸ™‚ Your positive comment makes me float into the air. (That’s how Thai people say it when they get really proud of themselves). If you have a facebook, you can also find me on the page Joy’s Thai Food.

  12. This is a nice feature of Rambutan. Can you also do one on Langsat? I love eating Thai’s exotic fruits however the time I want to Thailad this year for the first time, I wasn’t lucky enough as they were already off season. I realized now that the best time to come if I want to eat these fruits are June, July and August. But the problem is, how hot is the weather like as I am coming from a cold country.

    • June, July and August are in rainy season here. πŸ™‚ Starting to get cooler by October. πŸ™‚ It’s not too hot. Langsat is also good, but I’m a bit tired of the seed and the milk it came out when you peel the skin. Lamyai is better! πŸ™‚

  13. I love Rambutan! (And I love Thailand). I eat a lot of Rambutan every time I’m in Thailand. I would compare the taste to a very ripe pear, but tastier and more delicious. But I never see Thai people eating them at road side stands. I know that they do eat them because many, many delicious fruits are sold in the open markets. Maybe they eat them at home in between meals. I think Rambutan make an excellent and healthy desert after a meal. I’ve never tried mangosteens. I’ll try them the next time I’m in the Land of Smiles.

  14. I love rambutan too! and love your blog, but can’t help ignoring how you make it seem like it’s original thai exotic fruit, it’s unknown where it’s from but the name itself is Malay or Indonesian which rambut means hair and rambutan means hairy. but yes, In Thailand, rambutan trees were first planted in Surat Thani in 1926 in Ban Na San so that’s why there are plenty of them there πŸ™‚

  15. WOW! I fell in love with rambutin in Thailand back in 1972. Never could remember the name or find it anywhere until I came across this article. Where can I buy some in the US????

  16. I have to say, Rambutan! Thailand’s BEST Fruit! is a seriously superb thoughts. I would like to offer you my personal hi and thanks. Best regards, absolutely love

  17. I want to try one of these mysterious fruits…. their are rumors that these fruits make you beautiful.

  18. hi.. I am a Malaysian. I would like to know, is there any rambutan in your location right now? i really need the fruit because here the season already end…i need the rambutan for my research.

    • We get rambutan in southern Thailand from about May through July or August. None at the moment, and none back in March when you asked. Sorry so late to reply!

  19. Not to be rude , all i know Rambutan is from Sumatra ( indonesia ) or Malaysia. They call it Rambutan because rambut means hair in Indonesia/malay. But regardless that is my favorite fruit!! And if you on diet , that will help!

  20. Hi,

    I am looking to import Rambutan, mangosteen, and other fruits from Thailand to India.
    Please let me know if you are interested in supplying.


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