Passport to Culture: 20 Affordable Destinations for Authentic Cultural Journeys

Soaking up the culture in a foreign country is one aspect that makes traveling fun. You get to indulge in another culture’s food, performances, architecture, lifestyle, and more. As such, going to more varied countries to understand them better and gain various experiences is a great goal.

#1. Cuba

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A country with a vibrant mix of Europeans, Africans, and a small Chinese population makes it an interesting cultural mix for you to experience. Indulge in the various salsa clubs, catch some classic cars roaming the streets, and have multiple beach days while you’re there. There are numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites and mountains to hike if you enjoy nature.

#2. Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia
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Home of the thriving Khmer culture, younger generations are attempting to revive and preserve the culture. It is a great country to visit to learn more about Buddhism, with its numerous famous temples and cultural sites. You can watch Apsara performances – a traditional dance, and buy Khmer handicrafts as souvenirs.

#3. Greece

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The world is no stranger to Greek myths, so why not explore them further by heading to the country they originated from? Greece is a unique and beautiful country filled with ancient history and home to ancient myths. You can take gastronomic tours to steep yourself in their food culture and countless tours of archaeological sites and museums.

#4. Morocco

The Courtyard of Ben Yussuf, Marrakech
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This is one of the most popular destinations in North Africa for a reason. Morocco combines various cultures, such as Jewish, Phoenician, Roman, Arabic, Berber, French, and Spanish. Hence, its cuisine is filled with spices and mixes various flavors. Try out their tradition of sipping mint tea or shopping for unique handicrafts when spending time at their souks while haggling with merchants.

#5. Thailand

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There’s a reason Thailand is a fan favorite for travelers worldwide. It’s cheap, and it has a vibrant culture at its heart. Thailand has it all – from flavorful food to white sandy beaches and tea plantations to a festive nightlife to enjoy yourself. You can’t leave the country without trying Thai tea or famous foods like papaya salad and Pad Thai.

#6. New Orleans, U.S.A

French Quarter New Orleans
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New Orleans is steeped in culture and history as it mixes Cajun, Creole, French, and Spanish cultures. It’s the city that birthed jazz, so of course, you should visit its many jazz bars and perhaps join a Mardi Gras parade when you can. There’s a lot of historical architecture, which is also enjoyable.

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#7. Oaxaca, Mexico

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Mexico is a great budget option for traveling if you’re looking for more cultural experiences, but Oaxaca is a must-visit. It doesn’t offer the fancy buildings or hotels that are common in the major tourist areas but is filled with varying landscapes, from lush hills to deserts and beaches. This is also known as the food capital of Mexico, so your tastebuds are in for a treat. You can also experience the Day of The Dead celebrations or visit an indigenous Zapotec village.

#8. Egypt

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Similar to that of Greece, Egypt is well known for its ancient history and architecture. The most notable are the pyramids, the Valley of the Kings, and some museums exploring civilization’s deep history. Trying out Egyptian food is also a treat that will tingle your tastebuds.

#9. Guatemala

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Explore the culture of the ancient Mayans in Guatemala while brushing up on your Spanish. This is an excellent destination if you’re on a budget and one of the most beautiful places to visit. They have numerous volcanoes to hike and little towns to soak in the Mayan culture and food.

#10. Andalusia, Spain

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A location in Spain that is heavily inspired by Moorish culture due to being ruled by the Moors for centuries, Andalusia offers a different view of Spain. It is a laid-back area where you can go tapas hopping through its many tapas bars, watch exhilarating Flamenco performances, and soak in the Moorish architecture.

#11. Istanbul, Turkey

Image Credit: İhsan Deniz Kılıçoğlu, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Best described as having a foot in Asia and Europe, Istanbul is undeniably an exciting amalgamation of cultures throughout history. Especially since it was ruled over by various empires, which left lasting influences and infrastructure. You can visit the Roman Hippodrome, Egyptian obelisks, and even an iconic Byzantine 6th-century dome with mosaics.

#12. Timor-Leste

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As Asia’s youngest country, Timor-Leste doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. They have a lot of heritage performances, and there are interesting ethnic groups to explore in remote villages. You can shop for Tai weavings and visit sacred cultural houses as well as a historical church overlooking the capital of the city that is a hallmark of its beliefs.

#13. Sarawak, Malaysia

Hong San Si Temple, Malaysia
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A similar option to Timor-Leste that is more accessible. Sarawak is filled with over 20 ethnic groups that share their culture. You can visit iconic cultural longhouses and remote villages or spend time in the city with its historical museums and delicious food.

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#14. Kerala, India

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Going anywhere in India will be a great cultural experience, but Kerala is dubbed “God’s Own Country” for a reason. It is a region filled with a beautiful mix of languages and religions, home to houseboats and tea. You can also visit their bi-annual contemporary art exhibition to expose yourself to the country’s younger generations’ culture.

#15. Uzbekistan

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It is partially known for being a part of the historical Silk Road that connected various countries and regions. It has a melting pot of cultures from the Turks, Greeks, Russians, Mongols, and Persians. This country has ikat and ceramic traditions and dance performances to entertain you.

#16. South Africa

Drakensberg, the eastern and highest portion of the Great Escarpment which surrounds the east, south and western borders of the central plateau.
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It is no secret that South Africa is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes and exciting safari experiences. You can visit their museums, zoos, caves, and countless cultural villages to experience the full extent of their culture. There are even cultural evenings hosted by these villages and museums for you to join.

#17. Ethiopia

A Walia Ibex in Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia
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Located in North East Africa, Ethiopia is where lowlands and highlands collide. Depending on your location, you can experience the heat and the cold. It is also the only African country never to be colonized, which makes it rich in culture and tradition. If South Africa underwhelms you, head to Ethiopia for a better cultural experience.

#18. Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Bosnia and Herzegovina are excellent options for those interested in visiting a cultural place in the Balkans. The central city of Sarajevo is even divided into the Ottomans and Europeans, which features an old bazaar on one side and the Austro-Hungarian-influenced culture on the other. These are two parts that you should visit when in the area.

#19. Ecuador

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It is a great, culturally diverse country with strong Spanish influences and Andean indigenous groups in some regions. There are also African cultures around the coastal areas and various Amazonian indigenous groups in the forest-dominated east. So, there’s a lot to explore and learn about, with varying festivals and traditions all year round.

#20. Colombia

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Filled with a mix of indigenous and colonial influences, Colombia has some colorful small towns and great coffee to delight your tastebuds. It is also home to the Paisas, a self-defined cultural group that passes their rich traditions through music and folklore. Be sure to visit Antioqua for the whole vibrant cultural experience.

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The post Passport to Culture: 20 Affordable Destinations for Authentic Cultural Journeys first appeared on Hello Positive Mindset.

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For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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