Rambutan vs Lychee: What’s the Difference?

Rambutan and Lychee comparison

Rambutan and lychee are two fruits that share some similar properties and look. Many people that do not have experience with these types of exotic fruits often need clarification. In this article, we are going to shed some light on this subject and talk about rambutan vs lychee and the similarities and differences between them.

These two are some of the most common Asian tropical fruits and are highly popular among travelers and tourists. Both are very delicious and have specific and unique looks that will stay in your memory for sure. However, there are some interesting differences and similarities between them we are about to discuss. There is a lot to cover, so let us start without further delay.


Origin of Rambutan and Lychee

Rambutan and Lychee are both Asian tropical fruits. Lychee first appeared in the southern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian in China, but one of the first-ever records of this fruit’s appearance dates back to the Tang Dynasty.

On the other hand, we have rambutan that originates from Southeast Asia, specifically the Malay Peninsula. Both fruits are members of the same soapberry family – Sapindaceae, which explains why people so often confuse them.

They are both cultivated in a similar way, as they both require warm tropical climates. However, there is a difference since lychees require summer heat, humidity, and slightly acidic soils, while rambutan grows best on hilly terrain with deep soil, solid drainage, clay foam, or sandy loam.



In order to explain the differences between these two fruits, we need to break down each one’s specific attributes, and we are going to start with Lychee. It is a beautiful-looking and tasty fruit, but there is much more to it, so let us start.


When you take a first look at this fruit, you will notice a shell that ranges from bright red to muted pink that, of course, is not edible. Lychee fruits have soft and leathery skin and a type of scaly appearance that almost looks like a lizard. However, once you peel this rough exterior, you will find a sweet, pale-colored fruit.


Lychees have a specific sweet and fragrant flavor. To paint you a better picture – it has a mild sweetness and a highly floral taste. Some people claim that it tastes almost like a grape with a trace of rose, while others swear they taste similar to watermelon.

Although this fruit is mildly sweet, its luscious and succulent texture makes it a real treat during warm summer days. Moreover, lychee is a fantastic addition to drinks like gin and mojito, and the lychee-infused tea is an absolute delight.

Where Can I Buy Lychee?

This is a very popular fruit, and it is likely that you will find it in Asian markets. However, these fruits sometimes make an appearance in other, more common grocery stores and produce vendors too.



Now, we are going to turn to rambutan, which has tons of similarities with lychee as well as some key differences. It is a fruit that grows from the rambutan tree, Nephelium Lappaceum, on which it grows in bunches. So, let us break down this fruit and find out its features.


Rambutan is a specific fruit that looks like it fell straight from some sci-fi movie. Each rambutan is roughly a size of a golf ball, featuring a dark red outer shell, which is covered in stubby strands that are similar to coarse hairs. Appearance might fool you, but the hairs are not at all spiny, in fact, they are very soft and pleasant to touch.

After you read this description, it is easy to conclude that this outer shell is not edible. However, once you peel it off, you will find a pale fruit, and its central part is known as an aril, a term that you might recognize from a more famous fruit, the pomegranate.


This fruit offers a creamy texture and sweet taste with a bit of tartness. Some people that had a chance to taste rambutan claim that the flavor is similar to another exotic fruit, the dragon fruit, and it is safe to say that they have similar textures as well.

Where Can I Buy Rambutan?

Rambutan is not difficult to find, as it is available in most Asian grocery stores or specialty markets in the produce department. If you have difficulties finding fresh rambutan, look for canned goods since many companies sell rambutans in a can that are often preserved in syrup, similar to canned peaches or pears.

Rambutan vs Lychee: Differences

Rambutan vs Lychee Differences

Although they share the same color, the texture of the outer shells of these fruits is quite different. Rambutans are covered in a shell of soft spines, which gives them the appearance of messy hair. On the other side, you have lychees that are generally smoother but have a scaly appearance.

Rambutan and lychee also differ in size, as rambutans are larger, about the size of a golf ball, while lychees are smaller in size, and they resemble cherries or larger grapes species that you can usually find in Greece.

When you peel off the shell, you will find that these fruits have a very similar appearance, but they actually have a different texture. Rambutans have a creamier texture, while lychees are crisper and juicier.

These two are also different in terms of flavor. Rambutans are sweet with a bit of tartness in them and also give that creamier flavor. Lychees are less sweet and are much more fragrant, with a floral scent that you can always recognize.

How Are Rambutans and Lychees Similar?

The first similarity that these fruits share is the fact that they come from the same botanical family, Sapindaceae, which is commonly known as the soapberry family. Although there are some textural differences, both fruits have similarly colored outer skin.

Once you peel them, rambutans and lychees have almost the same characteristics. They both have white flesh, which turns pink depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Another important similarity is that both of them have a large seed in the center of their bodies.

When it comes to health benefits, both fruits are quite similar too. They both offer similar nutritional content, with high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants, making them an excellent food for building a healthy immune system.

Final Words

Exotic, tasty, and creamy, both rambutans and lychees are delicious fruits that are great fresh but can be added to a wide variety of foods to spice up the flavor. Moreover, they are very healthy and are a great addition to any healthy diet.

However, they come with some minor differences that make them unique in their own ways. We hope you found our article informative and that now, you have a better picture of what each of these fruits bears with it. If you love exotic fruits, we recommend you try both, and you will certainly fall in love with the flavors.

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