Asian Odyssey: The Best Group Tours Departing in 2022

Bali is renowned for its temples, and now you can visit Lempuyang on a TRIPS by Culture Trip small-group tour
Bali is renowned for its temples, and now you can visit Lempuyang on a TRIPS by Culture Trip small-group tour | © Tetiana Vitsenko / Alamy
Photo of Mark Nayler
28 July 2021

Shake off post-lockdown lethargy, and dive headfirst into one of these unforgettable group trips, encompassing the very best of Asia – from swimming under tropical waterfalls in Thailand to wildlife spotting in Sri Lanka.

Asia is the largest continent on earth, covering 30 percent of the world’s land area. A myriad of different landscapes await travellers – including the Turkish desert, Indonesian islands and bamboo forests of Japan. It’s time to dust off that passport, dig out your suitcase and hop aboard a group tour with Culture Trip to experience the authentic heart of these Asian nations.

Visit an elephant sanctuary, and climb the tallest peak in Thailand

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Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang mai, Thailand
© Noppasin Wongchum / Alamy Stock Photo
Nature takes centre stage on this 10-day excursion through the valleys and jungles of northern Thailand. Swim under waterfalls, paddle through one of the biggest caves in the country, and watch the sunrise over the 2,565m (8,415ft) Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand. You’ll also spot rare birds, feed rescued elephants and sample local delicacies such as khao soi (coconut curry noodle soup).

Tour the pristine beaches and jungle islands in southern Thailand

Natural Feature
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Floating Bungalows at Khao Sok National Park with Cheow Lan lake and mountains at sunrise, Thailand.
© Justin Black / Alamy
This 10-day adventure takes you to the off-beat islands and beaches in southern Thailand. Sleep in a floating raft house on Khao Sok Lake, kayak through the tangled Bor Thor Mangrove Forest – home to sun bears and 3,000-year-old cave drawings – and relax on the white-sand beaches of Koh Yao Yai and Chicken Islands. There will also be ample time to lounge poolside, unwind with Thai massages and explore Ao Yon Bay, one of the most peaceful corners in Phuket.

Delve deep into Vietnamese culture on this epic journey

Architectural Landmark
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Lac Village, Mai Chau Valley, Vietnam - October 18, 2016. Local woman diligently working at a loom, weaving colourful brocade fabric.
© studiolaska / Alamy
Immerse yourself in the Vietnamese way of life on this 12-day exploration of Vietnam, starting in the capital of Hanoi and finishing 800km (500mi) south in Hoi An. Highlights include bamboo basket weaving in the Mai Chau valley, sailing through Lan Ha Bay on a luxury cruise (on-deck tai chi class included) and sampling street food in Hue, the former capital. You’ll also snorkel among multicoloured coral by the Chàm Islands, 15km (9mi) off the coast of Hoi An.

Spot wildlife, and go river rafting in Sri Lanka

Architectural Landmark
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White water rafting on the Kelani River, Kitugala, Sri Lanka
© Ariadne Van Zandbergen / Alamy
Ancient temples, exotic wildlife and adrenaline-pumping activities make up this 12-day trip through Sri Lanka, starting in the capital of Colombo. Visit the best-preserved cave temples on the island and the finest carved Buddha statues, tackle white-water rapids on the Kelani River, hike to the top of the 350m-high (1,150ft) Sigiriya rock fortress, and abseil down a 90m (295ft) waterfall. Trips to the Minneriya and Yala National Parks offer opportunities to spot elephants, leopards, monkeys and crocodiles.

Hike, snorkel, and surf during this Balinese adventure

Hindu Temple
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Indonesia, Bali, Amlapura, Pura Lempuyang temple - R8RAPG
© Hemis / Alamy
This 12-day trip to Bali kicks off with a tour of the Unesco-protected rice terraces of Jatiluwih, and finish it 10 days later in the surf town of Canggu. On the way, take an aerial yoga class in Ubud, attend an Indonesian cooking class, climb the highest mountain in Bali, and visit its most iconic landmark, the Lempuyang Temple. The penultimate jaunt takes you to the Gili Islands – watch out for green turtles while snorkelling in the clear waters.

Spot Mount Fuji, and visit Hiroshima while exploring Japan

Park, Architectural Landmark
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HIROSHIMA, JAPAN, 2019 - Tourists visit the peace park memorial at hiroshima city, japan
© Daniel Ferreira Leites / Alamy
This 12-day immersion into Japanese culture starts in Osaka, with an outing to the neon-lit culinary playground of Dotonbori Street. Next, you’ll visit the Hiroshima Peace Park, hike through bamboo forests near Kyoto (where a geisha-spotting tour is optional), tour a sake brewery high in the Japanese Alps and enjoy views of Mount Fuji from Lake Ashi. The finale plays out in Tokyo, where you’ll watch sumo wrestlers train, learn how to make sushi and attend a taiko drumming class.

Explore the bazaars, beaches and ancient ruins in Turkey

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark, Ruins
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Balloons in the morning. Cappadocia, the neighborhood of Goreme, is an amazing place. View from above.
© Alla Ovchinnikova / Alamy Stock Photo
Starting in the colourful chaos of Istanbul, this 12-day tour of Turkey winds up on the paradisiacal beaches of Antalya 10 days later, offering plenty of unforgettable experiences in between. Explore the traditional capital city of Ankara as well as the 5,000-year-old remains of the ancient Kingdom of Hattusas. On top of this, you’ll hike through the Underground City of Kaymakli – dug seven stories deep into volcanic rock in 7 BCE – and drift over Cappadocia in a hot-air balloon.
These recommendations were updated on July 28, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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