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10 Culturally Rich Cities That You Need To Visit

10 Culturally Rich Cities That You Need To Visit

Whether it’s the culinary joy of a steaming pot of Moroccan tagine, a walk through history in Nepal’s old town of Bhaktapur or learning the art of meditation in a Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai, the world has much to offer to the culture loving traveller. Here is a list of culturally rich cities in no particular order that offer rich, meaningful and diverse cultural experiences.

1.Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand has many gems to offer to the tourist, whether it’s the vibrant nightlife of Bangkok or an escape to paradise on one of its many islands like Koh Tao or Koh Samui. The culture loving traveller needs to head to Chiang Mai, often called the ‘Rose of the North’. Chiang Mai is a treat for all the right reasons; many Buddhist temples (Wats) line the streets, the food is simply delectable and the markets are buzzing with crowds even at night. The city is incredibly friendly to tourists. A few temples in the city hold ‘monk chat’ sessions where you can ask a Buddhist monk questions about the religion and culture. Yoga, meditation and therapeutic massage sessions are commonly held at various Wats and other venues. Getting to witness festivals such as Yi Peng when a million tiny lamps light up the night sky is an added bonus.

Wat Doi Suthep Chiang Mai

    2.Kathmandu, Nepal

    Nepal is most famous for Everest and the base camp treks that are the stuff of most mountaineers’ and hikers’ dreams. But the Kathmandu valley has much to offer to the culture lover. Head to Kathmandu’s Durbar Square to walk through the royal palace grounds, the courtyard of Kumari Bahal, the home of Nepal’s Living Goddess or sit down at one of the many viewpoints on the multi roofed temples. The nearby village of Boudhanath is home to the Boudha Stupa, an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. All around the Stupa, tiny lanes lead to monasteries which are a great place to learn about the culture or simply meditate. Take a day trip from Kathmandu to the old town of Bhaktapur to be truly transported to a different time and amazed by the red brick style Newari architecture. End the day listening to the sound of devotional chants in Taumadhi Tole (Square).

    Bhaktapur

      3.Udaipur, India

      Much loved by the brave tourist who musters up the courage to venture into India, Udaipur is a pleasant respite from the crazy pace of cities like Delhi and Mumbai. In Udaipur, you could be forgiven for mistaking that you’ve travelled back in time into an Indian fairytale. Set beside the glittering Lake Pichola, Udaipur charms you with its palaces, courtyards and temples. Settle down on one of the viewpoints and watch people as they buzz about in the tiny narrow lanes and alleys. Whether it’s the old crumbling havelis that hold your interest or the picture perfect Lake Palace, Udaipur does not fail to impress with its cultural grandeur.

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      Taj Lake Palace

        photo credit: FullofTravel via photopin cc

        4.Berlin, Germany

        Berlin is undoubtedly the cultural champion of Germany, known for its fashion, art galleries, museums, music and edgy street art. Trendy and experimental are words often used to describe Berlin today however landmarks such as the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate and the remnants of the Berlin Wall are constant reminders of the significant role played by the city in the history of the world. The East Side gallery is a must for art lovers for its politically motivated graffiti art and murals. Explore Museum Island, a complex of five museums for its architectural grandeur, the Schloss Charlottenburg palace in all its opulence or visit the Holocaust Memorial for a taste of history that is all around in Berlin.

        Berlin street art

          photo credit: Steys via photopin cc

          5.Prague, Czech Republic

          This European city ranks highly among lovers of art, craftsmanship, gothic architecture and history. Quirky sculptures adorn public spaces and there’s plenty of wandering to be done in the maze like lanes of the Old Town. Architecture here is a grand smorgasbord of Roman, Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque and neoclassical styles as a result of cultural development spanning centuries. Prague was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th century and is home to the gothic St Vitus Cathedral, baroque St. Nicholas Church and the fairytale like Prague Castle complex of museums and galleries among many other beautiful historical structures. The city is also known for its contribution to the world of classical music and opera.

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          Dancing House, Prague

            photo credit: szeke via photopin cc

            6.Florence, Italy

            The city of Florence is regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Since centuries, art and culture have flourished here and the city has been home to some of world’s greatest artists such as Michelangelo. The city is full of Renaissance architecture; palaces, cathedrals and chapels with their frescoed ceilings, art galleries and museums. Marble sculptures and works of art beckon to you at street corners and you can’t help but be amazed by it all. It seems like this mastery of the arts is undeniably the essence of this city. To begin your cultural tour, visit the Duomo, a neo Gothic style cathedral that is the city’s most famous landmark and climb all the way up inside the inner dome to get a rewarding viewpoint over the city.

            Florence

              photo credit: Artur Staszewski via photopin cc

              7.Melbourne, Australia

              It’s not for nothing that multicultural Melbourne is famous for its cool, edgy and arty vibe. Ask any Melbourner and they won’t fall short of reasons why Melbourne is the coolest city to live in. They can’t be blamed; Melbourne’s cultural landscape is like an urban work of art. Victorian era architecture coexists side by side with trendy installations on street corners, experimental art spaces and Federation Square, the city’s favorite open entertainment venue. The area comes alive with street artists; magicians, singers and pianists as crowds of people gather to be entertained. Melbourne is home to many art galleries and hosts countless culture and art festivals through the year. The city also has a very bohemian culture with visually striking street art in many laneways. Graffiti art brings an extraordinary personality to Melbourne’s cityscape. The theater and live entertainment scene is especially vibrant with plenty of alternative gigs through the week. Whether it’s the touristy pursuits of Collins Street, the kitschy charms of St. Kilda, the vintage treasures of Chapel Street and Windsor or the cool hipster cafés and pubs in Brunswick, one thing is clear; Melbourne does not like to put culture in a box.

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              Melbourne Street art

                8.Amman, Jordan

                Amman surprises many a first time visitor with its cosmopolitan culture that beautifully blends contemporary and traditional influences. Amman, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world has much to offer to the history lover: the Amman Citadel which provides a fantastic view over the city, the Temple of Hercules and the 8th century Umayyad Palace. Darat Al Funun is an art gallery housed in 1920s mansions and is much loved by the city’s artists and creative types. Head to Rainbow Street and explore the area around to get a sense of what culture means today in Amman. This area is home to cafés, boutiques, galleries and bars and hosts a weekly market for artists and craftsmen. To get a taste of tradition, head to Jabal Amman, also called ‘downtown’ where the air is thick with the smoke of shisha from the many cafés and there are plenty of traditional Arabic eateries for local cuisine.

                Amman mosque

                  photo credit: papalars via photopin cc

                  9.Marrakesh, Morocco

                  Get a little lost in the maze like alleys of Marrakesh and explore the many offerings of souqs in the old city. Rejuvenate your senses in one of the city’s traditional hammams after walking around in Djemaa El-Fna, the central square. The square brings together snake charmers, henna artists, musicians, street artists, potion sellers and food vendors and provides an experience like no other. Satisfy your cultural curiosity by visiting mosques, palaces, shrines, tombs and castles such as Palais el-Badi, Palais de la Bahia, Koubba Ba’adiyn, Saadian Tombs and the many museums and art galleries in the New Town.

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                  Marrakesh

                    photo credit: carlosfpardo via photopin cc

                    10.Hanoi, Vietnam

                    Cultural treats in the friendly capital of Vietnam include the highly popular Dancing Water Puppets Show which depicts ancient fables with an impressive display of lighting, song and dance, shopping for everything from shoes and souvenirs to traditional medicinal oils in the Old Quarter of the city, having suits and dresses tailored for a bargain from one of Hanoi’s world famous tailoring shops, hanging around the glittering Hoan Kiem Lake in the evenings and visiting the Ho Chi Minh Complex. Eating in Hanoi’s street kitchens is a fun and offbeat way to truly experience the culture of communal dining that’s so typical of the locals.

                    Hanoi Hoan Kiem

                      Featured photo credit: Natasha Amar via thebohochica.com

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                      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                      We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

                      We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

                      So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

                      Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

                      What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

                      Boundaries are limits

                      —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

                      Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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                      Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

                      Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

                      Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

                      How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

                      Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

                      1. Self-Awareness Comes First

                      Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

                      You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

                      To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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                      You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

                      • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
                      • When do you feel disrespected?
                      • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
                      • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
                      • When do you want to be alone?
                      • How much space do you need?

                      You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

                      2. Clear Communication Is Essential

                      Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

                      Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

                      3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

                      Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

                      That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

                      Sample language:

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                      • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
                      • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
                      • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
                      • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
                      • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
                      • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
                      • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

                      Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

                      4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

                      Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

                      Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

                      Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

                      We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

                      It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

                      It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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                      Final Thoughts

                      Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

                      Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

                      Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

                      The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

                      Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

                      Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

                      They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

                      Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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