The towering limestone rock formations of Halong Bay (Shutterstock)
List Words : Team Wanderlust | 16 January 2019

2019's best trips for culture seekers

The best way to really understand a destination? Absorb its unique colour, customs and cuisines. Cruise Halong Bay in Vietnam, beat the crowds to classic China and see another side of Peru...

1: Russia

The grand 'Russian Versailles' of Peterhof Palace (Dreamstime)

The grand 'Russian Versailles' of Peterhof Palace (Dreamstime)

Join St Petersburg’s culture clubbers

Russia’s delta-bound city of St Petersburg is a world away from the Soviet bludgeon of Moscow. After all, this was once the imperial capital and it still wears its grandeur like it has a point to prove. Andante TravelsSt Petersburg: Palaces & Art tour unravels the city’s fascinating past and present through its architecture and culture, with trips to royal residences and historic islands, as well as a matryoshka doll-making workshop. From the ‘Russian Versailles’ of Peterhof Palace to a piano recital and champagne reception at the Brodsky Museum, history and art collide as you explore a city more than glad to put on its pearls once in a while.       

Who: Andante Travels (01722 569439)

When: 1 Sept 2019

How long: 7 days 

How much: £3,495 (incl int’l flights)

2: China

A giant panda eating bamboo in Chengdu (Shutterstock)

A giant panda eating bamboo in Chengdu (Shutterstock)

Beat the crowds to classic China

A recent report suggested that China would be the most-visited destination on Earth by 2030, so get there before the masses descend. Plot a classic route with CosmosFlavours of China and the Yangtze trip, starting in Beijing – all imperial history, winding hutongs (alleys) and Great Wall hiking – before visiting the Terracotta Army at Xi’an and the giant pandas of Chengdu. From there, a bullet train ride puts the enormity of this sprawling nation on show as you hurtle towards Chongqing, gateway for cruises into the Three Gorges Dam, and then on to Shanghai – the posterchild for modern China. As you slip between glassy skyscrapers, European relics and Ming dynasty gardens, the country’s eclectic majesty slowly comes into focus.

Who: Cosmos (0330 058 8237)

When: Selected dates, May–Oct 2019

How long: 16 days

How much: From £3,200 (incl int’l flight)

3: Vietnam

The towering limestone rock formations of Vietnam's Halong Bay (Shutterstock)

The towering limestone rock formations of Vietnam's Halong Bay (Shutterstock)

Highlights and homestays

Wanderlust subscribers can use their £50 voucher for this trip!

It’s hard to know where to start in Vietnam. North or south? Cuisine or culture? Frenetic cities or laid-back countryside? But on Vietnam Adventure, a new tour from Exodus Travel, you can leave the logistics to the experts and concentrate on packing maximum adventure into two short weeks. All the big hits are included: you’ll cruise around Halong Bay, explore the imperial cities and visit the haunting Cu Chi Tunnels (a remnant of the Vietnam War). But there are lesser-known experiences, too, such as a homestay in the Mekong Delta, a traditional sampan boat trip and a cycling journey through the countryside to savour.

Who: Exodus Travel 020 3131 8320)

When: Year round

How long: 16 days

How much: From £1,729 (incl int’l flights)

4: Peru

Chan Chan is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas (Dreamstime)

Chan Chan is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas (Dreamstime)

Explore the ancient Andes

Peru has some seriously iconic sites – think Cuzco, Lake Titicaca and, of course, Machu Picchu. But there’s also a rich trove of lesser-visited and equally spectacular wonders for those keen to explore a bit deeper. New infrastructure developments have made the north of the country far more accessible, and Peru Revealed’s Ancient Cultures of Northern Peru starts in the capital Lima before touring the northern triangle of Trujillo, Chiclayo and Chachapoyas. Expect temples, fishing coves, royal tombs, ancient pyramids, cloud-forest wildlife, the much-vaunted new cable-car ride to the sixth-century Kuélap ruins and the chance to trek or horse-ride to the beautiful Gocta Waterfall.

Who: Peru Revealed (01932 424252)

When: Flexible dates

How long: 12 nights

How much: From £2,498 (incl intl flights)

5: Argentina

Gawking at the glaciers in Patagonia (Grand American Adventures)

Gawking at the glaciers in Patagonia (Grand American Adventures)

Witness a solar eclipse

Wanderlust subscribers can use their £50 voucher for this trip!

It doesn’t depart until 2020, but Grand American Adventures’ Solar Eclipse Argentina & Iguazú Falls trip is already selling out. So, if you want to see the sun’s blazing corona create a remarkable ‘hole’ in the midnight-black sky, you’ll need to book now. The rare celestial event promises to be an emotive experience, and in Pilolil, Argentina, you’ll be in the best spot to see it. But it’s not the only highlight of this one-off itinerary: you’ll explore Iguazú Falls, tour Buenos Aires, visit Los Glaciares National Park, catch a tango show and much more. Better yet, there are no enforced single supplements, so solo travellers can twin-share at no additional cost.

Who: Grand American Adventures (0333 060 1941)

When: 7 Dec 2020

How long: 12 days

How much: From £3,849 (excl int’l flights)

6: The Caucasus

Philarmonic Garden in Azerbaijani capital Baku (Shutterstock)

Philarmonic Garden in Azerbaijani capital Baku (Shutterstock)

Explore a mountainous trio

The three countries of the Caucasus – Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia – make up one of the most varied travel regions on the world map. This new Across the Southern Caucasus trip from Cox & Kings showcases why. Commencing in Azerbaijan on the minaret-dotted shores of the Caspian Sea, the programme leads through the monasteries, vineyards and excellent restaurants of Georgia before arriving in fascinating Armenia, the world’s oldest Christian country. Travellers can look forward to palace visits, brandy tastings, musical performances and cooking masterclasses, as well as some generous doses of the hospitality the region has become famous for.

Who: Cox & Kings (020 3642 0861) 

When: Flexible dates, 4 May–25 Oct 2019

How long: 13 nights

How much: From £1,995 (incl int’l flights)

7: Lebanon

Lebanon's ochre Beiteddine Palace (Shutterstock)

Lebanon's ochre Beiteddine Palace (Shutterstock)

Uncover the Levant at a leisurely pace

Lebanon has plenty to reward the slow traveller: you’ll want to linger over Roman temples, Crusader castles and decadent 18th-century palaces where you can literally touch the Levant’s fascinating past. But the country has more to offer than history lessons, which is where Corinthian Travel’s immersive Lebanon: Off the Beaten Track experience comes in. As well as visiting all of Lebanon’s main draws, this privately guided trip includes a culinary tour of Beirut, plenty of time to explore the Roman ruins of Tyre, and hiking in the lush Qadisha Valley. Expect plenty of homely, authentic accommodation, including a night in a homestay renowned for its traditional cuisine.

Who: Corinthian Travel (020 3583 6089)

When: Year round

How long: 9 days

How much: From £2,380 (excl int’l flights)

8: Nepal

Little nooks of calm (Amideva Buddha Park in Kathmandu (G Adventures)

Little nooks of calm (Amideva Buddha Park in Kathmandu (G Adventures)

Find your inner calm

A mindfulness-themed trip might not sound like your typical Wanderlust adventure, but if you need some headspace, the home of the Buddha is probably the place to find it. Wellness Nepal, a new trip by G Adventures, features a two-night stay in a Buddhist monastery, meditation sessions with practising monks, and plenty of yoga classes. You’ll also explore Kathmandu, visit Buddha’s birthplace in Lumbini, and take a 4WD safari in search of rhinos, deer and crocodiles in Chitwan National Park.

Who: G Adventures (0344 272 2230)

When: Selected dates, Aug 2019–Dec 2020

How long: 13 days

How much: From £2,499 (excl int’l flights)

9: Papua New Guinea

A tribe in Papua New Guinea (Dreamstime)

A tribe in Papua New Guinea (Dreamstime)

Immerse yourself in local legend and culture


Wanderlust subscribers can use their £50 voucher for this trip!

Meet and live with some of the most isolated communities on the planet on Bamboo Travel’s The Tribes & Festivals of Papua New Guinea tour. Diving deep into a nation that has over 800 languages, it kicks off in Eastern Highlands Province at the annual Goroka Show, a dance and music spectacle started in the 1950s by Australian patrol officers (kiaps ) to foster peace between rival groups. From there, the journey takes a scenic route, unearthing mountains, tropical rainforests and snaking in and out of traditional villages, where private homestays immerse you in local culture. Finish with a dugout canoe trip along the mighty Sepik River, learning how the sacred spirit houses are built and fishing with villagers.

Who: Bamboo Travel (020 7720 9285)

When: Flexible dates, Sept 2019

How long: 18 days

How much: From £7,995 (incl int’l flights)

Your Wanderlust £50 voucher

Wanderlust subscribers now receive a free £50 voucher valid on trips from a great selection of top tour operators.

And the best bit is, this isn't a one-off offer, you get one every time you renew as well!

The £50 discount can be redeemed against one trip booking with one of our tour operator partners, by the expiry date printed on the voucher. The £50 can even be redeemed on top of any discounts our partners are already offering, ensuring Wanderlust subscribers get the best deal possible. 

Simply quote your unique voucher code when booking to claim the discount.

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