Temple of Literature in Hanoi

Culture & History holidays

As the home of the world’s oldest continuous civilisation, Asia’s culture and history is deep, rich, and infinitely interconnected.

So, where to begin? It all depends on how you like your history. You could do it Indiana Jones-style, weaving through vine-strangled temple complexes in Cambodia’s ancient Angkor Wat temple complex at dawn – or if you’re interested in more modern history, you could learn about the darker moments in Southeast Asia’s recent past with a visit to the Bridge on the River Kwai. Looking for a more multisensory cultural experience? Then why not see how Vietnam really says “good morning” with a coffee tour of Saigon?

In a nutshell: if you're looking for an Asian holiday rich in culture, look no further. Here are our best Asian culture and history itineraries, top cultural destinations and the best cultural tours and excursions, all tried and tested by our country experts.

Our top itineraries for culture & history lovers

A selection of itineraries that offer a deeper insight into the country's heritage and traditions

A$3,500
Classic
Architecture
Culture
Culture & History
History

How did Thailand become Thailand? Follow the threads of history back to the kingdoms and cultures that shaped Thailand today.

A$4,200
Classic
Active
Adventure
Cruising
Culture & History
Scenery

Experience two unique but intertwined cultures as you cruise along the Mekong from northern Thailand to Laos.

A$4,100
Classic
Activity
Culture & History
Food & Drink
Hands on

This action-packed itinerary is all about full immersion: getting to grips with Malaysian culture by experiencing it first-hand.

A$4,700
Classic
Culture & History

Compare and contrast Vietnam’s great cities with the temples of Angkor and spiritual Luang Prabang on a whistle-stop journey around Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

A$4,100
Classic
Culture & History
Food & Drink

Pho noodles and amok curry, merchant houses and temples, villages and karst islands. Discover the highlights of Vietnam and Cambodia.

A$4,700
Classic
Culture & History
Food & Drink
Performance
Scenery

Take your time to soak up the culture and scenery, travelling slow from Luang Prabang to Phnom Penh.

Top destinations for culture & history lovers

Our favourite culture rich places in Asia

Malaysia

With a history stretching back through colonial rule and the Age of Exploration, Malacca’s Portuguese fortress and lantern-strung Chinese temples make it one of the best places to get a sense of Malaysia’s long and turbulent past.

Malaysia

World Heritage architecture, 130-million-year-old rainforest, world-class street art and a countryside peppered with spice gardens and durian groves: the island of Penang is an intoxicating medley of natural and cultural treasures.

Borneo

A wide variety of indigenous and immigrant cultures combine to form Kuching’s unmistakable cultural mélange, expressed not only in its historic architecture and ethnic diversity, but in its legendary laksa, multicoloured cakes and freshly blended gourmet coffee.

Cambodia

The laid-back, low-rise town of Siem Reap is the gateway to one of the most spectacular man-made sights on the planet: the sprawling, root-strangled ruins of Angkor.

Southern Vietnam

The yin to Hanoi’s yang, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon to its friends) offers a more internationally minded counterpoint to that northern bastion of tradition — not to mention an exciting base from which to explore Vietnam’s most interesting war sites.

Cambodia

Phnom Penh may no longer be the “Pearl of the Orient”, but don’t judge a book by its cover: beneath this chaotic exterior is a city alive with energy, art, and youthful verve.

Northern Vietnam

Combining canary-yellow French palaces with colourful and chaotic market streets dating back to the imperial dynasties, Hanoi is the place to soak up the atmosphere of old Vietnam.

Laos

Luang Prabang is Laos’s Shangri-La: sweeping golden roofs and colonial shophouses against a lush backdrop of jungle-covered mountains, and a laid-back atmosphere of peace and serenity.

Chiang Mai

In contrast to the mile-a-minute chaos of Bangkok, Chiang Mai is a breath of fresh air. Here, leafy boulevards and European architecture survive alongside temples dating back to the twelfth century.

Thailand

Bangkok is an assault on the senses. Clouds of aromatic steam battle with exhaust fumes, neon signs blink jarringly alongside confection-like temples, and 30-degree heat and humidity heightens the sensation that you’re simmering in a heady, spice-laden stew.

Cultural and historical guided tours and excursions

Our best cultural tours and excursions

Luang Prabang
Architecture
Culture & History

Luang Prabang has seen numerous cultures come and go in its 1,500 years, but what makes it so special is the way it has fused those traditions together to create something completely new.

Hue
Culture & History
History

Hue is best-known for its Citadel, but for us the imperial tombs offer an even more compelling insight into the lives and histories of Vietnam’s royal emperors.

Kanchanaburi
Culture & History

Learn about one of the darkest periods in Thai history: the construction of the “Death Railway” and the Bridge on the River Kwai.

Phnom Penh
Culture
Culture & History
Insider

It's easy to beeline from landmark to landmark, but the tours we really love dive into the life that goes on in between.

Ho Chi Minh City
Culture
Culture & History
Food & Drink
Insider

Sipping a sweet iced coffee at a street-side café is an unmissable Vietnamese experience — but there’s more to it than just a few ground beans and some condensed milk: these days, Vietnam is a bona fide, world-class, bean-brewing pro.

Phnom Penh
Architecture
Culture & History
History

It’s often bemoaned that Phnom Penh is no longer the “pearl” it was in the 1920s — but since when did beautiful equate to interesting anyway?

Batang Ai
Culture
Culture & History

Borneo’s Iban people may have abandoned their former practice of headhunting, but thankfully their traditional culture survives in many other forms.

A woman lights incense at a shrine

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