(Dreamstime)
List 12 August

8 trips to take for cultural adventures

How to journey beyond the tourist facade and feel the magic of local life

1. Mongolia

Travel wild landscapes

Journey across the forgotten lands of Genghis Khan on Intrepid Travel’s Wild Mongolia trip. On this 15-day tour you’ll stay in traditional ger tents, watch monks conducting their daily ceremonies, experience nomadic life at a homestay, and enjoy traditional dance and throat singing.

The tour kicks off in the diverse city of Ulaanbaatar, a fusion of traditional and modern day life. Here, explore palaces and monasteries before heading to Mongolia’s largest river, the Selenge. Next, soak up the beauty of Khovsgol Lake, often described as Mongolia’s most scenic destination, and soothe any sore muscles in the renowned hot springs of Tsenkher. Visit the ancient capital of Karakoram, home to Mongolia’s first Buddhist centre, before heading back to Ulaanbaatar with its contrasting mix of Soviet buildings and ger districts.

Who: Intrepid Travel
When: Selected dates May-August 2014
How long: 15 days
How much: from £1,795 (excl flights)

2. Burma

Get off the beaten track

Duck Burma’s ‘traveller gold-rush’ on Mountain Kingdoms’ Undiscovered Burma tour. Travel south via Golden Rock (a precariously balanced boulder), visit rural villages, fascinating markets and get up close and personal with a 170-metre reclining Buddha. In central Burma visit the 2,478 stupa-filled ‘forest of temples’, relax at Inle Lake and get an insight into the Shan people of Mandalay.

Who: Mountain Kingdoms
When: 31 Oct 2013, 6 Feb 2014
How long: 18 days
How much: From £3,575 (incl flights)

3. Ghana and Togo

Walking west Africa

Immerse yourself in local life on Explore’s Ghana and Togo on Foot walking tour. In Ghana you’ll visit cocoa farming villages and primeval rainforests, and trek on the world’s highest canopy bridge. In Togo wander from village to village discovering the remote Atakora Mountains where people live in fortifi ed mud dwellings reminiscent of medieval castles. While there, browse the colourful markets and enjoy a fire dance.

Who: Explore
When: Various departures: Nov-Dec 2013, Feb 14, Apr 14
How long: 14 days
How much: from £2,475 (incl flights)

4. South Sudan

Explore a new frontier

Score bragging points by being among the first to experience the world’s newest country on Undiscovered Destination’s South Sudan Explorer trip. As you visit this raw country, you can watch the Mundari people test themselves in a wrestling ceremony and visit the cattle-herding Toposa in Boya.

Who: Undiscovered Destinations
When: 12 January 2014
How long: 9 days
How much: from £2,675 (excl flights)

5. Guatemala

Give something back

Have a South American adventure while helping out the local community on Rainbow Tour’s Responsible Travel in Guatemala. See Maya ruins at Tikal, join coffee farmers at work in Antigua and hike to the Pascual Abaj ritual site for the chance to see a Shaman perform.

Who: Rainbow Tours
When: Year round
How long: 8 days
How much: from £2,775 (incl flights)

6. India

Get on the spice trail

Get an authentic taste of Southern India’s relaxed vibe and unique cuisine on Village Way’s Spirit of the South. Cook in spice gardens, explore Mothakkara’s plantations and Kerala’s backwaters, and learn from the locals you’ll meet on the way.

Who: Village Ways
When: Flexible departures from Dec 2013
How long: 15 nights
How much: from £1,157 (excl flights)

7. Japan

Follow a sacred path

Fall back in time and walk the ancient Kumano Kodo route on Inside Japan’s Pilgrim’s Paths. See spiritual Japan at its most atmospheric as you discover hidden shrines and temples, stay in lodgings on sacred Mount Koya and go on a twilight wander through Okunoin Cemetery.

Who: Inside Japan
When: Year round
How long: 14 nights
How much: from £2,120 (excl flights)

8. Vietnam and China

Discover tribal lands

Tribal insights await on Wild Frontiers’ Across The Tribal Heartland’s. First visit  Vietnam’s northern and southern tribes, before moving into China to see the rice terraces of the Hani and Yi people as well as Asia’s largest cave.

Who: Wild Frontiers
When: 13 Oct 2013, 12 Oct 2014
How long: 15 days
How much:
from £2,195 (excl flights)