If you're fascinated by the opportunity to explore different histories and cultures first-hand, why not use a round the world trip as an opportunity to build in all the historic sights you've dreamed of visiting? This month's route offers you an insight into 8 completely different cultures and historical legacies.
From America’s revolutionary history to Mexico's Mayan ruins; sunrise over the Inca City of Machu Picchu and sunset over the Moai statues of Easter Island. The opportunity to acquaint yourself with New Zealand's Maori traditions and to discover the significance of Uluru to Aboriginal tribes in Australia. In Beijing, you could walk the Great Wall of China and visit the Terracotta Warriors before speeding through Japan on a bullet train, seeing the changing landscape that contrast Imperial cities with the modern high rises of Tokyo. Here's how...
When it comes unearthing the settling of America, New England (the name itself is a giveaway) is where you need to begin. One of the oldest cities in America and the setting for the Boston Tea Party, nowhere feels its founding father roots like Boston. Most of the historical sights you’ll be looking for are located between Boston harbour and Charles River and if you follow the Freedom Trail, you’ll wind your way through the highlights including the home of Paul Revere - a key figure in the American Revolution. Don’t forget to snap a photo of Acorn Street in Beacon Hill district – one of the most photographed streets in America.
It’s very easy to make your way between these cities either by air, train or by road. Your route could take you through Cape Cod, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore - with plenty of historic sites in these cities, including the Liberty Bell which tolled as the Declaration of Independence was being signed in Philadelphia. For a laidback road trip we suggest our 7-day self-drive between Boston and New York which can be done in either direction:
As America’s political capital, Washington D.C offers plenty including the White House, Capitol Hill and the Pentagon. Currently (March 2017) foreign nationals aren’t allowed on the White House tour, but you can get some memorable snaps from the outside.
Making the most of its Caribbean situation, Cancun, on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is a destination that welcomes backpackers through to 5* luxury visitors. The dreamy beaches offer world-class dive sites and snorkelling and some remnants of the area’s Mayan roots. Cozumel, Tulum and Xcaret are dotted with ruins dating from before 900AD but the best-known is the intact pyramid-like structure, Chichen Itza – a few hours’ drive from Cancun.
Chichen-Itza’s design was carefully calculated so that at the spring and autumn equinoxes a shadow will appear to show the plumed serpent God Kukulkan descending the pyramid’s 365 stairs.
Peru’s capital is an easy hop from Cusco, the main centre of the Inca civilization. Machu Picchu is the most well-known Inca site but others are growing in popularity, including the equally striking (but only accessible by foot), Choquequirao. There are several ways to reach Machu Picchu, ranging from the train to a trek. The Inca Trail trek requires a permit, so book ahead and book on to a guided trek to avoid disappointment.
Chris says: after exploring Machu Picchu, I’d recommend climbing the steep Huayna Picchu mountain for views over Machu Picchu. You’ll see how it was built in the shape of a condor
From Mayan Peru, head to Chile’s capital – a destination in its own right but for the purpose of this trip - your jumping off point for Easter Island. If you have time, we can arrange a Santiago stopover or a drive into the wine valleys to sample the local Chilean Cabinet Sauvignon or Merlot.
Seemingly unreachable – Easter Island’s teasingly remote, mid-Pacific location is easier to visit than you might imagine, on route to Australasia. In 4 days here you’ll discover a curious blend of Polynesian and South American culture. Visit an extinct volcano, learn about the ‘Bird Man’ and find out about the cared heads or Moai statues, the subject of much speculation as Chris found out on his journey there.
Polynesian influence extends into New Zealand, since the Maori people originally migrated from eastern Polynesia. Maori culture is evident throughout the country so if you plan the right guided trips, you’ll be able to see traditional Maori arts like weaving and carving as well as moko (tattoo) that originated centuries ago but are still practiced.
Uluru in Australia is key to the identity of the Aborigines. The best way to visit is with a local guide who will offer first-hand insights and interpretation of the petroglyphs that cover the rock. We suggest you join a tour for a couple of days so you can also visit Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon which are close by.
Aboriginal stories tell of how Uluru was created during ‘Dreamtime’; when local people, their ancestors and the gods all came together.
Prepare for an abrupt change as you switch from the tranquillity of Uluru to China’s noisy capital city. In just a few days you can soak up some Chinese history by wandering through the Forbidden City or Tiananmen Square, seeing the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium or popping into a traditional hutong for food. A visit to the Great Wall is a bus ride away and if you’re feeling brave, you can walk up the wall and slide back down!
It’s a myth that the Great Wall is visible from space. Looking at the wall from the moon is equivalent to seeing a human hair 2 miles away; no astronaut ever claimed to have seen it from the moon.
Travelling long distances in China is easy by high speed train. A popular route is to travel overland via Xi’an, which gives you the opportunity to see the 80,000 Terracotta Warriors as we discovered on this group tour. If you are planning to travel by train, it's essential to have something pre-booked as trains can get very busy during the 'Golden Weeks' around Chinese New Year and the beginning of October.
As China's showcase city, Shanghai is the jewel in the crown of modernity. Set on the banks of the Yangtze River, if you take a stroll along the Bund (the water font), you'll see a classic snapshot of this modern city, with the Oriental Pearl Tower punctuating the skyline. But just a couple of hours by train brings you to the city of Hangzhou, with an old town set up on the scenic West Lake that remembers traditional Chinese life with pagodas and wooden houses from a bygone era.
Arriving in Osaka, your first excellent impression of Japan is likely to be the efficient bullet train service to Kyoto and we suggest you book a Japan Railpass, so you can use the train as much as possible.
In Kyoto’s old town you can wander through streets of wooden houses (used as the film setting for ‘Memoires of a Geisha’), before switching it up and visiting the Manga Museum to appreciate this more recent, but culturally significant art form. In another twist; visit the local craft shop and you’ll find high-quality textiles, art and calligraphy, based on traditional designs have been handed down through ages.
In Tokyo, you can find yourself amongst the prayerful, inside a temple decorated by red and white paper lanterns, and just a few minutes later find yourself in a cutting edge electronics store with a vending machine that sells everything as Adam discovered during his stay – the contrast itself is stimulating!
If you're interested in booking round the world flights, a round the world holiday or any other kind of trip, we're here to help. Our team can find you the most exciting, best value flights, accommodation and tours to build your dream trip - all designed to suit your style and budget. To book your trip, call us on +44 1273320580 or request a quote by email.