Why look far away when there are so many good things so close? This thought was comforting during the peak Covid period when long-distance travel wasn’t possible and vacationing close to home became the go-to. Although the pandemic isn’t over yet, travel restrictions have been lifted almost everywhere (at least for now) and boundless traveling has come back! That’s why we want to seize the chance to take you to our 5 favorite remote cultural destinations that will take your breath away. So what are you waiting for? Book your next flight and start exploring!
Mexico: El Castillo, Chichen Itza
Let’s start our journey to our favorite remote cultural destinations in Mexico, the country that is famous for its Mayan culture and its many ruins and temples. When talking about Mexico’s Mayan ruins, it is almost impossible to leave out Chichen Itza. It belongs to the New Seven Wonders of the World and is one of Mexico’s most recognized sites.
You’ll find Chichen Itza in the state of Yucatan. Its history actually dates back to the 5th century, when it was one of the thriving cities in the Mayan world and was spread over approximately two square miles. Back then it served as a hub of commerce, featured residences, religious monuments, and much more.
One of the highlights of Chichen Itza is undoubtedly El Castillo, a fascinating step pyramid that functioned as the manifestation of the Mayans’ understanding of astronomy. It has 365 steps (apparently one step for each day of the year) and twice a year, exactly on the spring and autumn equinoxes, a shadow appears on the pyramid that takes the shape of a serpent – a tribute to the most important Mayan god, Kukulcan, a feathered serpent.
USA: Charleston, South Carolina
The next place we want to introduce to you is Charleston, located in the state of South Carolina. It’s definitely off the beaten tracks away from the USA’s more popular travel destinations, but it’s really worth a visit.
One of America’s oldest cities, Charleston bridges history and culture like no other American town. Founded in 1670, the city is not only instagrammable af with its cobblestone streets and southern-coastal vibe, history also runs deep. In Charleston, the backdrop of the Revolutionary War and America’s Civil War was laid, which ended here with the Union’s capture of Charleston.
Today the city is best known for its vibrant arts scene, endless galleries (we recommend checking out the Gibbes Museum of Art) as well as diverse food and drinks offerings. Due to its relatively small size, it’s easy to discover on foot. Take notes! Charleston’s coolest galleries can be found on Broad Street, its top restaurants are on East Bay Street, the shopping mecca is on King Street, and if you want to marvel at historic buildings, you’ll find a lot of them around Chalmers Street and Church Street. Another tip is to visit the Middleton Place National Historic Landmark, home to America’s most important landscape gardens. Here, you’ll get to know everything about its history and its founders, and the “Beyond the Fields’’ tour gives an in-depth look at the role Middleton Place played in the dark chapter of American slavery.
Soak in the vibe of Charleston with its historic, coastal American town feel.
Indonesia: Borobudur Temple
Up next we’re off to Indonesia to our next cultural destination, where we will take a closer look at the famous Borobudur temple located in the Borobudur region, one of Indonesia’s most important centers for Buddhism. It tells the story of the Śailendra Dynasty that built the Temple of Borobudur around 800 A.D. as a monument to Buddha. Strikingly, the temple fell into disuse approximately a hundred years after its completion, when the rulers of Java suddenly decided for reasons unknown to relocate the governing center to another part of the island.
Only in 1814 did the British Lieutenant Governor of Java, Sir Thomas Stamford, rediscover the site after he heard reports from islanders about an incredible sanctuary on the island. Much later, in the 1970s, the Indonesian Government and UNESCO worked together to restore Borobudur to its former majesty. This entire process took 8 years, but it was more than successful. Today, Borobudur is one of Indonesia’s most valuable treasures and a place that shows the true history of this country.
Borobudur Temple was established on a modified hill, 265 meters above sea level, built on square-shaped andesite stones. The construction is similar to a stepped terrace, and it features four staircases located in each wind direction (north, east, south, and west). A curious fact, you’ll find a total of 504 buddha statues at this amazing site. The temple is also huge: it measures 121.66 meters in length, 121.38 meters in width, and 35.30 meters in height.
The Borobodur Temple in Indonesia is truly mesmerizing!
Japan: Sensoji Temple Tokyo
Speaking of cultural destinations and Buddhist temples, let’s also take a look at the Sensoji Temple in Tokyo, Japan, one of the city’s most colorful and popular temples and also its oldest (it was completed in 645). The legend says that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River. Even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. Visitors approach the temple through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the outer gate of Sesonji Temple, which is also the symbol of the district Asakusa and the entire city of Tokyo.
The Sensoji Temple is the symbol of the city of Tokyo.
Strikingly, in order to come to the temple’s second gate, the Hozmon, you have to pass a shopping street of over 200 meters called Nakamise, which also has a several century-long history. There you will find traditional Japanese souvenirs such as yukata and, of course, various traditional local snacks in case temple watching gets you hungry.
The Namakise is a shopping street within the temple.
Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls
Last but not least, we want to give you a travel tip for Africa too. Have you heard of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe? If not, it is definitely time, as they are not only one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Victoria Falls is known as the “smoke that thunders” in the local Tonga language and is the largest sheet of falling water in the world with a width of 1708m. You actually get the best views of the waterfall right from the Zimbabwean rainforest surrounding it. The rainforest has a unique ecosystem with species that don’t occur anywhere else, so our recommendation is to also be attentive to your surroundings beyond the pathways and viewpoints. Another plus is that the area still has not become over-commercialized, so your view will most likely not be much different from that of David Livingstone, the first European to visit the Falls in 1855. So there is nothing much left to say from our side besides enjoying this gorgeous view!
Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is the largest sheet of falling water in the world.
We hope we could give you some inspiration for inspirational cultural destinations on your next long-distance trip! For more cultural sights, check out our lists of more than 60 attractions on Cultural Places!