Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran (Shutterstock: see credit below)
List 25 March

6 of the best trips for culture lovers

Get under the skin of the most vibrant – and little-visited – peoples on the planet with these life-changing trips

1. Hike to an alternative Lost City, Colombia

Colombia’s Caribbean Coast & Lost City, G Adventures
When? 21 Jun, 4 & 19 Jul, 1 & 23 Aug, 5 & 20 Sept, 3 Oct 2015
How long? 14 days

The Lost City, or Ciudad Perdida (Shutterstock)
The Lost City, or Ciudad Perdida (Shutterstock)

If Machu Picchu has always appealed, check out Colombia’s Ciudad Perdida – an even older set of ruins hidden in the jungle. G Adventures’ Colombia’s Caribbean Coast & Lost City trip makes a beeline for the ruins, including a five-day hike with indigenous guides. There’s also time to tour Cartagena, stay at eco-huts within Tayrona NP, visit coffee plantations and soak up Colombia’s infectious vibe.

The Wanderlust guide to the best of Colombia | Andean foothills and Amazon jungle

The regeneration of Medellin, Colombia | Colombia's biggest success story?

Whale watching in Colombia | One of South America's best whale-watching spots

2. Mix icons and unknowns, Laos & Cambodia

A Journey to Forever Mountain, Undiscovered Destinations
When? 22 Aug, 14 Nov 2015
How long? 16 days

Luang Prabang, Laos (Shutterstock)
Luang Prabang, Laos (Shutterstock)

Undiscovered Destinations’ A Journey to Forever Mountain trip links Laos’ bustling capital of Vientiane with the must-see temples of Angkor via an array of fascinating sites. Ponder the bizarre Plain of Jars, tour Luang Prabang’s temples and help teach English in a local school. The highlight is exploring little-known Phoi Louey National Protected Area, interesting wildlife (look for otters and porcupines) and villagers practising animist traditions.

3 unmissable regions of Laos | Start your trip-planning here

Viengxay: the secret underground city of northern Laos
| Discovering the Plain of Jars

The Wanderlust Guide to the Best of Cambodia | Travel advice for an incredible trip

3. Meet the water tribe, Burma

The Sea Gypsies of Burma, Wild Frontiers
When? 25 Oct 2015
How long? 10 days

Buddha image at a temple in Myeik, southern Myanmar (Shutterstock)
Buddha image at a temple in Myeik, southern Myanmar (Shutterstock)

For more than four millennia, the Moken have inhabited the Myeik Archipelago of southern Burma. These so-called ‘sea gypsies’ have spent their whole lives at sea – until 2004 that is, when the Burmese government encouraged many to move onto land. However, they still maintain their way of life, their daily routines revolving around fishing, diving and foraging. Wild Frontiers’ The Sea Gypsies of Burma trip is an intriguing introduction to their watery world.

In search of Burma's hidden treasure | Meeting the 'sea gypsies' of the Myeik Archipelago

Short break: Bagan, Burma
| A minibreak that packs punch

Burma's top 3 bike rides
| How to get off the beaten track on two wheels 

4. Unlock ancient secrets, Iran

Glories of Persia, Travel the Unknown
When? 10 Apr, 12 Sept 2015
How long? 13 nights

Nasir al-Mulk mosque, Shiraz (Shutterstock)
Nasir al-Mulk mosque, Shiraz (Shutterstock)

Delve into Iran’s tumultuous past on Travel the Unknown’s Glories of Persia (Archaeology Tour). Hear the stories of good, evil, heroes and villains that are woven into the historic sites, and which help to build a picture of the nation as we know it now. Travel from Tehran to the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis, to mud-brick Yazd, to the rock-carvings at Tagh e Bostan, to poetic Shiraz, and to venerable Hamadan and Susa, two of the oldest cities in the world.

A tour of Iran | The country that continues to surprise and beguile

How to cook an Iranian feast | Authentic recipes to try at home

Iran travel guide | Stuffed with inspiration for your trip

5. Stay with the locals, Cuba

Mi Casa, Tu Casa, Rickshaw Travel
When? Flexible
How long? 13 nights

Traditional musicians playing in the streets of Trinidad (Shutterstock)
Traditional musicians playing in the streets of Trinidad (Shutterstock)

Experience the real Cuba on Rickshaw Travel’s Mi Casa, Tu Casa trip. By day, spot classic cars in Havana, ramble the rolling tobacco hills of Viñales, hike through the emerald coffee fields of Las Terrazas and soak up the lively atmosphere of UNESCO-listed Trinidad. By night, bed down in casas particulares, small B&Bs run by Cuban families where you can learn all about local life. Then, toast your trip with a rainbow-infused cocktail on a lazy Varadero beach.

Cuba: 8 trips to take before it's too late | See a slice of original Cuba

Baracoa: Cuba's best-kept secret? | Don't miss this quirky city

First 24 hours in Havana, Cuba | Tips for a fabulous first day

6. Mix cities, sea and jungle, Brazil

Spirit of Brazil, Llama Travel
When? 3 Aug, 7 Sept, 12 Oct, 2 & 30 Nov 2015
How long? 13 days

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Shutterstock)
Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Shutterstock)

From its iconic hotspots to its hidden secrets, Llama Travel’s Spirit of Brazil trip combines the very best of this vast, varied, vibrant country. Ride up to Christ the Redeemer to look out over Rio de Janeiro; marvel at Iguaçu Falls and its jungle; wander the comely colonial streets of Salvador; and enjoy some Bahian beach R&R at the lesser-known spot of Prais de Forte.

Discover Brazil's dune coast | Venturing off-road in Brazil

Going off-grid in southern Bahia | Brazil's really wild side

Brazil's Pantanal: jaguar central | In search of big cats...

7. Have a Latin adventure, Nicaragua

Off-the-Beaten Track Nicaragua, Journey Latin America
When? 4 May 2015
How long? 17 days

Granada cathedral and Lake Nicaragua (Shutterstock)
Granada cathedral and Lake Nicaragua (Shutterstock)

Decades of turmoil meant that tourism didn’t really get of the ground in Nicaragua until the early 21st century. As such, travel here is a real adventure, a spirit embraced on Journey Latin America’s Off-the-Beaten Track Nicaragua trip. Using buses and boats, you’ll tour coffee plantations, Spanish colonial towns, a Caribbean island, wildlife-rich forests and gurgling volcanoes. The highlight, perhaps, is a stay on Ometepe, a wild isle formed by two volcanoes rising from the depths of Lake Nicaragua.

Revolutionary trails in Nicaragua
| Discovering the country's dark past

Road trip through Central America | Driving the legendary Carretera Panamericana 

Central America's top 5 beaches | Glorious spots to unwind...

Main image: Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran (Shutterstock)

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