Whether journeying down the Nile to Luxor's ancient sites, smashing plates at a riotous Greek wedding or dining farm-to-fork in Crete, cultural experiences not only widen our perspective but also bring us closer to other people while celebrating our differences. And there are some pretty enthralling experiences to be had around the world. Here are 4 cultural activities to enjoy on your travels.
Japan, with its death-defying high-speed bullet trains, springtime cherry blossoms and trails of temples and shrines, is high up on the bucket list of unforgettable holidays. Five times a year, Kyoto plays host to the most famous of all Geisha dances and it’s an unmissable experience.
These work-of-art dances are a reenactment of Japanese life accompanied by a traditional live orchestra and a much-prized symbol of the country. At the end of these lavish events, the Geisha performs a customary tea ceremony, and a ticket to one of these dances is one of the very few ways to witness this exclusive, time-honoured ritual.
Did you know that the island of Cyprus is home to the sweet dessert wine Commandaria, which claim to be the oldest wine in the world still on the production line? Dating back to the Middle Ages, the wine is named after the place where Richard the Lionheart settled back in 1191. And to this day Cyprus remains a destination steeped in a love of wine, especially in its tranquil pure air mountain villages.
Touring the vineyards high up in the mountains takes you en route through castles and ancient churches, to charming painted towns surrounded by almond trees and into the wineries where oak barrels store the piece de resistance giving you a chance to sample all their delights. It’s a fantastic way to discover the culture and traditions of the people of Cyprus and immerse yourself in a relaxed and carefree island life.
From scuba diving with sharks to whitewater rafting down a thundering river, there are plenty of high octane adventures to be had in Thailand, which is no doubt why travel insurance is mandatory. But how about if you’re looking for something steeped in tradition that results in an exceptionally rewarding experience? Head to Chiang Mai and you can participate in what is known as Monk Chat, a sacred talk with young and novice monks offered at a selection of temples. Clothed in their orange robes, Buddhist monks line up on a bench waiting for those that want to talk to them.
It’s a captivating way to find out more about Buddhism, a monk's daily life, and their practices, rituals and beliefs. This authentic experience is perfect for curious minds and those that want to delve a little deeper into the spiritual essence of Thai culture. It also helps younger monks practice their English skills.
At the beginning of November, Mexico’s streets are flooded with vibrant colours, skeleton costumes and pulsating music as cemeteries are lit with candles and lavishly decorated boats travel across the waters. Día de Muertos is a huge celebration of relatives that have passed away and is a poignant tradition unique to central and southern Mexico.
The mood is uplifting rather than sombre and it's a day of spellbinding festivities that honour the dead. The belief is that the spirits of adult and children come down from heaven for 24 hours to celebrate with their loved ones. Homes are decorated with a multitude of flowers and candles, sugar skulls are painted onto faces and placed at altars and toys are laid out in remembrance of children.