Cultural travel

Cultural travel is all about experiencing the local culture of the country you are in while you are away. It’s about doing more than just skiing down majestic Alpine slopes or scuba diving through the deep blue sea – it’s about really connecting with the region and its people.

Here are a few great spots for South Africans to immerse themselves in a different culture.

Thailand

Eat your way through Thai capital Bangkok where you can eat like a local and enjoy authentic Thai cuisine. While in Bangkok check out Wat Phra Kaew – known as the temple of Emerald Buddha, in English. The temple is located on the grounds of the Grand Palace and it is home to the most sacred statue of Buddha in all of Thailand. Only the King of Thailand is allowed near the statue; the King performs the changing of the robes ceremony every season to bring good luck and fortune to the country. Learning about and understanding local customs is a great way to connect with the local culture.

Of course, to get a taste of local culture you should also experience what locals do. As such, a Muay Thai fight is not to be missed. It is the national sport, after all.

While in Thailand you should also make time to visit Erawan Falls where locals and visitors alike cool down in the beautiful waters here. There’s nothing like seeing and listening to local wildlife to remind you that you are in an interesting new country.

Enjoying some quiet time at Club Med Phuket in Thailand

Indonesia

Known for places like Bali and Jakarta, jungles, beaches, Komodo dragons, and spiritual reconnection, Indonesia boasts a range of activities and attractions. One of the best ways to immerse yourself in local culture is to actually seek out cultural experiences.

Take a fitness class, experience a spiritual treatment, and try a yoga retreat, to name a few of many experiences. Many spa and wellness treatments have made their way into the mainstream – in Indonesia you can experience a spa or wellness treatment in the place it originated. There is a treatment called the Bakera treatment of the Minahasa people. It is a traditional treatment handed down from generation to generation to help women who have just given birth to stay healthy and fit. In Indonesia you can learn about the Oukup treatment of the Batak people (it is a traditional sauna experience employing natural herbs). Take a yoga retreat, be more mindful, work on meditation, and so much more. Get your Eat, Pray, Love on and challenge yourself to learn a new way to gain inner peace.

France

While Paris has the hearts of many, there are other parts of France to explore. With globalisation, Paris has become more and more cosmopolitan, like most major cities, so after getting your fill of Paris venture further into France to experience the culture of each of France’s regions. Head to the French Riviera where you can experience Nice and Cannes, see the grandeur of the Dukes of Burgundy and the lives they led in the Dijon town-centre (and pick up some of the popular mustard while you’re here), eat typical French food like fondue and crêpes, sample some of the best wine you’ll ever taste, and have real champagne in Champagne.

As you venture into the various regions of France you will discover just how different the French are and you will be able to enjoy regional food and delicacies, as the locals do.

Italy

The Romans, the Venetians, the Florentines… all people we read about in history books who have, in some way, shaped western civilization. Head to Italy to experience Italian culture at the source. Eat like an Italian by enjoying delicious multi-course meals served with fine Italian wine, live like a Venetian as you walk across hundreds of bridges and take water taxis, marvel at Roman architecture and innovation as you see the old Roman aqueducts still at work in the Trevi Fountain, take Italian cooking classes and even learn to make real cannolis in Sicily, and visit the lost city of Pompeii where you can see a unique snapshot of ancient Roman life.

There are many ways visit a country and immerse yourself in local culture: you can couch surf with a friend, live with a local family, or take a holiday with Club Med. You may wonder how world-renown leaders in all-inclusive holidays can help you do this. Well, they can. Choose to take a guided excursion exploring and discovering more of the country, meet and get to know the GO (staff) team which comprises people from all over the world, and sample freshly-made local cuisine in the main restaurant at meal times.

Enjoying a delicious meal and good conversation at Club Med Val Thorens Sensations in France

Each Club Med village (or resort) is inspired by its environment and that is why when you are staying with Club Med in any region you will see regional influences in the dress codes, the food, and the architecture of the resort. You can also be sure that you will have a great holiday without unexpected costs.

Speak to a sun or snow specialist and book your all-inclusive cultural holiday today!