Globe Trekker: Great Excursions To Soak In Culture

vietnam kayaking cave

It’s an old travel cliché: Americans go to Paris and eat at McDonald’s. While this is an unfair stereotype, it’s not unheard of for visitors in a foreign country to spend so much time with other like-minded vacationers at top tourist destinations that they never uncover the more underground, local attractions.It’s hardly a traveler’s fault—how can a culturally curious tourist find genuine local experiences in a world of sanitized tourist traps? Look no further Here are some exclusive cultural experiences that offer the opportunity to interact with locals and learn firsthand about their country and customs

Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile

The capital of Chile is a bustling modern metropolis framed by the towering Andes. With its 19th century neoclassical architecture, elegant parks and colonial plazas, it’s a dream destination for anyone headed to South America.To really dig into local Santiguan culture, enjoy the three Ds (dinner, dining and drinks) Start your night with tapas and pisco sours, followed by stops at two traditional “picadas” (bars) where you can chat with locals and soak up the sounds of bolero and tango music.

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

 

Marrakech’s ancient red walls and bustling souks offer a totally immersive cultural experience in and of themselves. But sometimes, to really get to know a country, you need to get a little messy. In this case, we’re talking about a kitchen mess. A half-day cooking lesson with a local Moroccan chef means six hours’ worth of culinary adventure – such as learning to use local herbs, spices, oils and traditional conical cooking pots to make spicy tagines. Add in a little wine, and you have the makings of a perfect cultural culinary experience.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam is a wonderful place to visit if you’re in the mood to really dig into a country. From its warm and welcoming population to its unspoiled natural beauty, you can hike the mountains of Sa Pa or sand-surf in the resort town of Mui Ne. Just three hours outside of Hanoi, Mai Chau is a mountainous region dotted with traditional stilt houses. Two tribes, the White Thai and Black Thai make up the majority of the population.The best way to immerse yourself in the region is through a homestay with locals. Spend two days cycling across mountain trails and through rice fields, visit local villages and watch a cultural performance by White Thai villagers.

Trani, Italy

Trani, Italy

 

Typical Italian vacations include a lot of pasta, wine, Roman architecture and all the Renaissance paintings you can handle. From the cosmopolitan streets of Milan to the vineyards of Tuscany, it’s easy to get caught up in the flashier sides of Italian life. Why not slow it down, hit the water and embrace Italy’s seafaring tradition (where do you think Columbus learned to sail, anyway?) In Italy’s Adriatic Coast (near the heel of Italy’s boot), you can hop aboard a traditional fishing boat and head to sea for a fishing excursion with a local Apulian fisherman. Try your casting skills and learn about Adriatic marine life, while soaking up the warmth of the Mediterranean sun.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

 

For those in-the-know, Budapest is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Sitting along the Danube River, the city is home to an imposing 13th century castle, breathtaking medieval churches and boulevards lined with Neo-Renaissance mansions. The Romans colonized the area in the 1st century for the express use of Budapest’s thermal spas. Since then bathing houses have remained ever popular, hitting their heyday in the 1920s and 30s. Pay a visit to the Art-Nouveau Gellert Spa, where you can relax for 12 hours in its glass roofed thermal pools overlooking the Danube.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is at its most beautiful at night, when the city’s hills and bridges light up and revelers take to its winding, cobblestone streets. An evening in Lisbon is incomplete without mojitos and the melancholy strains of Fado. Jump on Tram28, one of Lisbon’s famous vintage yellow trams, that transports you up to the medieval streets of the Alfama. Lisbon is dotted with miradores, plazas designed to offer the best views of the city and the Tagus River. Soak in the sunset at Senhora do Monte and Graca, before setting off to explore the local taverns and music venues.

Old Delhi, India

Old Delhi, India

It can be hard to know where to start on a journey to India. Do you pay homage at ancient temples? Take in a dance performance straight from a Bollywood movie?  Or relax on Goa’s beaches?

To get to the heart of India, spend some time in Old Delhi, where you can tour the bustling Bizaar and visit one of the last standing haveli (old private mansions). Climb to the top of the haveli to take in sweeping views of the city and the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. Or try your hand at the favorite local pastime of Old Delhi children – kite flying!

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