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

$2,400
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.

$2,900
Classic
Active
Adventure
Cruising
Culture & History
Scenery

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

$2,800
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.

$3,300
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.

$2,800
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.

$3,200
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

Phnom Penh
Culture & History

Between 1975 and 1979, as many as two million Cambodians — a quarter of the country’s population — were persecuted and killed by the Khmer Rouge.

Siem Reap
Culture
Culture & History
Performance

When it comes to Phare, “circus” barely begins to cover it. This is world-class performance art — telling the stories of Cambodian legend and history through ambitious choreography, spine-tingling live music, and almost terrifying acrobatics that’ll have you gripping the edge of your seat.

Ayutthaya
Culture & History

Discover Thailand’s cosmopolitan roots on a tour of the Ayutthaya ruins, accompanied by art history expert Professor Chedha Tingsanchali.

Ho Chi Minh City
Culture
Culture & History
Insider

To really understand what makes Saigon tick, you need to go beyond the gleaming skyscrapers and international hotels of District One — and that’s exactly what this tour is all about.

Singapore
Culture & History

Raffles, Victoria, Cavenagh, Fullerton: Singapore is peppered with British names and opulent buildings, but how does the city square all this grandeur with the legacy of colonialism today?

Penang
Architecture
Culture & History
History

Begin learning about George Town’s 200-year history over a breakfast of freshly baked Bengali bread, then delve into its Chinese roots with a visit to the former HQ of one of the city’s Five Great Clans.

Hanoi
Culture
Culture & History
Insider

Hanoi is a maze of streets, a hotch-potch of eras, a tangle of stories.

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.

Siem Reap
Culture & History

Magnificent in both scale and artistry, half-supported and half-consumed by buttress-rooted silk-cotton trees, the temples of Angkor are among the most fantastic man-made sights on the planet.

A woman lights incense at a shrine

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