Awesome Cultural Adventures That Will Enrich Your Life

Discover hidden insights on a bike trip of the American South, a walking tour of central Italy, and a cruise through Japan and South Korea.

Posted by: Xanterra on October 4, 2017

Delve deeply into the heritage, lifestyle, and identity of three very different places around the world.

Do you prefer a vacation filled with culturally enriching experiences? Do you crave a trip that reveals essential insights into a place and its people? Do you welcome travel that lets you see the world in a new way?

Then here are three culture-focused trips that fit the bill. They delve deeply into the heritage, lifestyle, and identity of three very different places around the world. They won’t leave you unchanged.

Charleston

Southern Charm

Steep yourself in the relaxed charm and unique Southern heritage on a six-day biking trip of South Carolina and Georgia with VBT, “Charleston to Savannah: A Southern Reel.” With a focus on two of the great cultural heritage cities of the Old South, this small-group tour unveils the unique essence of the region. You’ll visit historic mansions and forts, tea plantations, and country socials; you’ll cycle past neat farms and gardens, golden beaches, and towering oaks draped with Spanish moss. The cultural touchstones of the area — from Victorian architecture and Gullah culture to Southern plantations and African-American heritage — come alive along the route.

There’s plenty of time to visit special highlights: On Johns Island, marvel at the famous 1,500-year-old Angel Oak, one of the oldest oak trees in the country. In Beaufort, S.C., dance the traditional Virginia reel, a folk dance dating to colonial times, at a country social. Stop at the Penn Center, founded in 1862 to educate freed slaves, and now a cultural center for African-American residents of the Sea Islands, known as Gullahs. It once hosted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s annual retreat for his Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Walk the charming streets of Beaufort and find out why it was the perfect setting for such films as Forrest Gump, The Prince of Tides, and The Great Santini. And savor the distinctive Low Country cuisine (think: she-crab soup, Frogmore stew, and hoppin’ John) of this unique coastal region. The flavors will linger long after you’ve returned home.

Umbria

Italian Interlude

Gorgeous hilltop towns. Ancient Roman temples. Lively cobblestoned piazzas. And historic medieval cathedrals and convents. All these and more are part of Country Walkers’ eight-day self-guided tour, “Italy: Umbria & Assisi.” On this exploration of the geographical heart of the country — through postcard-worthy towns like Orvieto, Spoleto, and Assisi — you’ll glean an understanding of its remarkable history and culture.

Along the way you’ll stay in traditional country estates replete with terracotta floors, large wooden beams, and rustic stone walls — and overflowing with Italian hospitality. You’ll walk through the region’s world-famous olive groves and vineyards, the source of incomparable oils and vintages. You’ll follow the Franciscan Trail through an oak forest and pastures, past old stone farmhouses and parish churches, as it ascends to the spectacular hilltop town of Assisi, made famous by St. Francis. There, you can visit the Basilica of Assisi, one of Italy’s great pilgrimage destinations and a UNESCO World Heritage site. And you’ll savor world-famous Italian cuisine and award-winning regional wines so essential to experiencing the authentic way of life in rural Italy. Ah, la dolce vita!

Philippines

 

 

Authentic Asia

This is your chance to accompany Windstar Cruises’ President John Delaney on a 14-day insider’s tour, “Best of Philippines & Borneo,” cruising from Singapore to Hong Kong. It’s a taster’s choice of many less-visited Asian destinations.

Start your journey in flower-laden Singapore, where eye-popping skyscrapers sit cheek-by-jowl with historic shop houses. Sip a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar inside the legendary Raffles Hotel and indulge in world-class shopping on Orchard Road. Then it’s on to Borneo, the third largest island in the world and the largest in Asia, which is divided politically among Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. Experience the tiny sultanate of Brunei — one of the wealthiest countries in the world — by visiting the golden-domed Sultan Omar Saifuddin Mosque, considered the most beautiful in Southeast Asia, and by wandering the lively night market. In Malaysian Borneo, naturalists will thrill to an orangutan rehabilitation center and to Kinabalu Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to 1,200 species of orchids and more than half of Borneo’s plants, birds, mammals, and amphibians.

Once you arrive in the Philippines, you can unwind on postcard-perfect beaches; cruise the crystalline waters of Hundred Islands National Park in an outrigger; take a boat trip down the longest navigable underground river in the world on Palawan Island; snorkel or SCUBA dive among well-preserved WWII Japanese wrecks; and in the capital, Manila, explore Spanish colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and the oldest Chinatown in the world. End the cruise in dazzling sophisticated Hong Kong for a dining and shopping experience like no other.

How to Explore by Bike

In addition to the cycling trip from Charleston to Savannah, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations offers more than 55 deluxe, small-group bicycling, walking, and barge & sail vacations in 29 different countries and 10 U.S. states. It is the value leader in active biking vacations and has been rated among the “World’s Best Tour Operators” by the readers of Travel + Leisure for six years. Unlike other companies, VBT also includes round-trip international airfare from more than 30 U.S. cities and select Canadian cities for all overseas vacations. Visit vbt.com or call 800-245-3868 for more information.

How to Explore on Foot

For more than 38 years, Country Walkers has provided active, immersive, and unforgettable travel experiences on five continents. They offer two distinct ways to explore: scheduled, small-group Guided Walking Adventures and independent Self-Guided Walking Adventures. On tour, guests enjoy superb local cuisine, first-class guides, fine accommodations, and authentic cultural and natural encounters. Visit countrywalkers.com or call 800-234-6900 for more information.

How to Explore by Cruise

Recognized by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler on the 2016 Gold List of Favorite Cruise Lines and by USA TODAY readers for Best Boutique Cruise Line, Windstar’s fleet of small luxury sailing ships and all-suite power yachts with 148 to 310 guests bring you closer to smaller ports and exclusive local experiences around the world. Visit windstarcruises.com or call 888-460-5098 for more information.

For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.



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Written by: Veronica Stoddart

Award-winning travel editor and writer Veronica Stoddart was the former editor in chief of the Travel Media Group at USA TODAY. She has written for nearly two dozen publications and websites.