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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 September 20, 2018

                      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                      Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

                      If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

                      1. Breathe

                      The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

                      • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
                      • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
                      • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

                      Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

                      2. Loosen up

                      After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

                      Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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                      3. Chew slowly

                      Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

                      Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

                      Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

                      4. Let go

                      Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

                      The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

                      It’s not. Promise.

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                      Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

                      Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

                      21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

                      5. Enjoy the journey

                      Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

                      Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

                      6. Look at the big picture

                      The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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                      Will this matter to me…

                      • Next week?
                      • Next month?
                      • Next year?
                      • In 10 years?

                      Hint: No, it won’t.

                      I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

                      Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

                      7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

                      You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

                      Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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                      8. Practice patience every day

                      Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

                      • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
                      • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
                      • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

                      Final thoughts

                      Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

                      Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

                      Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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