Here are some interesting destinations where you and your kids can connect with the natives and their unique heritage
Visiting and even staying on authentic heritage lands is possibly the best way to experience and appreciate other cultures and countries – something you might not experience if you stick with urban comforts.
Choosing locally-owned accommodation gives back to the community you’re staying with. However, it’s also important to choose the right tours to travel with! Here are four picks from around the world that offer the best of cultural exchanges.
Visit Hill Tribe Villages in Vietnam
The village of Sapa might be 350km from Hanoi, but it’s very easily accessible by train via Lao Cai railway station. The village, located in Lao Cai province, rests near Vietnam’s highest peak, Fansipan.
Sapa is home to five main ethnic minority groups: the H’mong, Tao, Tay, Zay and Xa Pho. Most of them inhabit the hamlets scattered throughout the networks of valleys here.
Trek through the terraced rice fields and visit the villages Cat Cat and Sin Chai, where you can learn about local traditions and daily life against the stunning backdrop of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range of the eastern Himalayas.
Also read: Stay in a bubble under the stars
For more information on Sapa and recommended tours, visit www.sapa-vietnam.com.
Stay in a Farm in Taiwan
Min su, or homestays, are all the rage in Taiwan – and it’s easy to see why. In village and farm homestays, you get to ride horses beside the beautiful mountain-scape, harvest sweet-smelling fruit from sprawls of orchards, tea leaves from tea bushes, frolic with sheep and even go grass skiing.
Try visiting the Old Village Chief’s Guest House in the Alishan National Scenic Area, built by a former Chashan village chief of the Bunun tribe. Be immersed in the modern Tsou and Bunun life, play in the mini-zoo and help out in the vegetable garden behind the guest house. Staying at these lodgings helps to boost the revenue of rural farms and villages of Taiwan too.
Also read: Frolic among deers in Japan
For more information on min su, visit www.go2taiwan.net.
Kayak through the Aboriginal Lands of Australia
The aborigines are an integral part of Australian history but they’re not always accurately portrayed in the media. What better way to learn about authentic native cultures of Oz than to get up close and personal to them?
Many exciting types of tours can bring you to the diverse tribes in Australia. You can kayak with professionals down Bulgan Creek and connect with the history of Jirrbal ancestors, or even access a highly-restricted area of Aboriginal-owned Arnhem Land in a four-day tour. The wonders of rural Australia and its native cultures await to be unravelled.
Also read: Search for sunken treasure in Australia
For more information on Aboriginal tourism, visit www.aboriginalaustralia.com.au.
Make Jewellery with the Tribes of Africa
Africa is perhaps one of the most coveted destinations for cultural tourism. The pastoral Himba tribe of Namibia is especially popular for the women’s dramatic beauty and red ochre-dyed skin. Visit one of their villages for a humbling look at their architecture and survival lifestyle, and learn to create intricate accessories from iron and shell beads.
However, it’s important to choose a tour that not only shows you true tribal cultures but that also looks out for the villagers’ welfare. You can arrange a tour to Opuwo in northern Namibia, which is fully owned by the Himba, ensuring that the tribe receives all the money that you pay.
Also read: Get up close to polar bears
Essential Tips for Cultural Travelling
- Ensure that the community you’re visiting is happy to have tourists in their home – if not on tour, check with a local.
- Visit with an open mind, and remember that this is a mutual learning experience
- Ask for permission before snapping photos of people or sacred sites.
- Research on taboos of that particular culture before you go, and be respectful.
- If you’re arranging your own tour, pay the driver separately and give your money directly to the village chief.
By Pamela Chow