Make your trip a memorable one by doing something different and experiencing first-hand what truly makes the local culture and its residents tick.
The world’s biggest and busiest cities are thriving cultural hubs, yet often there’s simply so much going on, it can be hard for visitors to get an authentic experience. To break through the noise, and immerse yourself fully in a destination, you’ve got to dig a little deeper – and step outside of your comfort zone. Here are 10 ways to do just that.
The Samurai sword is a fundamental part of Japanese history and culture. In the Middle Ages, warriors wore them as status symbols when they weren’t being used in combat. Now you can learn all about the ancient Samurai culture and have the chance to test out your swordsmanship skills in a lesson with a trained expert. You’ll also try your hand at throwing a shuriken, a concealed, star-shaped weapon used by ninjas, and get to spar with a partner. The setting for your immersive Samurai workshop will be a traditional dojo, a building designed exclusively for martial arts training.
Over the years, Harlem has made an important contribution to the evolution of hip-hop. Take a guided walking tour around the neighbourhood where this musical genre exploded, visit iconic venues and learn about the history of the area that shaped hip-hop as we know it today. During the tour, you’ll visit the Apollo Theater, where the likes of The Notorious BIG, James Brown and Lauryn Hill, among others, have performed, and which played a vital part for African-Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. Discover how hip-hop originated and hear stories from your local guide, himself an influential hip-hop pioneer. He’ll then take you to most renowned record stores in the city and explain how Harlem contributed to the culture and evolution of hip-hop.
Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and an essential aspect of the country’s culture. Head to a live show at a specially built Muay Thai theatre in central Bangkok to witness this ancient martial art first-hand. Once you’re in your seat, watch on as the pros manoeuvre around the ring and perform each carefully crafted move. There are two live fights on the night, giving you plenty of time to see how the competing boxers use ancient Siamese techniques and inner strength to emerge victorious.
This private tour lets you see the French capital from the inside of a vintage Citroën 2CV. Relax in the passenger seat as your guide whisks you round the top attractions, from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe. Take in the sights and learn all about the local history of each spot. You’ll see dainty side streets that tour buses wouldn’t reach and get an insider’s scoop on the quartier. Prepare for plenty of stares and waves from onlookers – this iconic convertible is the nation’s favourite car. So what better way to enjoy a customised tour of the City of Lights?
Peru is renowned for its prehistoric ruins and mysterious sites, but some sights get overlooked that deserve more attention. Take the Marcahuasi ‘stone forest’: scattered along a plateau in the central Andes mountains, these granite rocks are thought to resemble human faces, animals and religious symbols. According to local legend, they were created by an ancient civilisation, but scientists have other ideas. With round-trip transportation from Lima, this guided tour, which includes off-road driving and hiking, gives you the chance to make up your own mind.
Beautiful as it is, Florence can sometimes feel overcrowded, what with all that alluring architecture. Escaping the crowds is a lot easier and more rewarding than you might think. With this tour, simply hop on a vintage Vespa and make for the rolling Tuscan hills. A local guide will lead you and your 10-strong convoy out of the city, past panoramic viewpoints such as the Piazzale Michelangelo and the Church of San Miniato al Monte. Kitted out with an old-school helmet, you’ll feel like the real deal as you cruise around the unspoilt landscape, before heading back to the city for an authentic Italian meal after the crowds have thinned out. Bellissimo.
To get to know the real Beijing, why not venture off the beaten path and down the narrow alleys known as ‘hutong’. Dotted throughout the city, these passageways – lined with small houses, or ‘siheyuan’ – offer a glimpse into Beijing’s rich and complex history. During this three-hour bike ride, you’ll witness time-honoured traditions while your expert guide recounts captivating stories. This is the chance to get an intimate view of the old city, reaching tucked-away areas that a tour bus will never get to.
Don a sparkly Bollywood costume and get your groove on. Follow the moves of your expert instructor and shimmy your way through each choreographed dance. Learn to master belly-dancing moves, a Punjabi-style dance (Bhangra) and Gujarati folk dances (Garbha and Dandy), as well as hip-hop shapes – all while learning about the history and cultural origins of each of the classic Indian dance styles. After class, stop by an Indian restaurant to refuel with a traditional lunch. You’ll be sent an edited clip of your dancing experience so that you can look back on your Bollywood experience in years to come.
Want to learn to surf at one of Sydney’s hottest surfing spots? Take a lesson and practise your technique on the sand before hitting the famous Bondi Beach waves. Learn how to catch a wave and ride it to the shore with your experienced instructor by your side. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced rider, Bondi Beach caters to every ability. While out on the waves, remember to keep your eyes peeled for the pod of dolphins that frequently visit the waters.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.