Riskshaw advises on bucket list destinations China, India, Panama, Peru and Laos

Rickshaw Travel encourages getting beyond the bucket list sites in all the destinations it features and explains how to do this with new and fascinating trips to China, India, Panama, Peru and Laos.

Rickshaw Travel’s specialist travel formula allows holidaymakers to pick and choose their favourite bite-size trip options and build an individual travel plan to suit. They focus on providing small-scale, authentic accommodation full of local flavour and independent trips that bring travellers closer to the local people, but they also ensure travellers can experience the iconic sites of a destination. This means travellers can tick off their must-see wonders and also get a ‘behind the scenes’ view of a destination too. Whether holidaymakers have been to a country before and are looking to explore further or it’s a first visit and they want to take in the sights and get a true taste of local culture, Rickshaw Travel can tailor an itinerary to suit.

Here are some of the most popular and frequently asked-for travel experiences in selected destinations and some Rickshaw recommendations on alternative ways to view and enjoy these well-known wonders.

China – go beyond the Great Wall with a NEW rural escape to the Wumu village

The vast majority of holidaymakers keen to visit China wouldn’t consider doing so without taking in the Great Wall, but if it’s epic scenery and an authentic Chinese experience travellers are after, Rickshaw Travel recommends adding its new trip to the remote village of Wumu to an itinerary. On this three-day ‘ Escape into Rural Yunnan’ travellers will discover another side of China as they head north of Lijiang city into the snow-capped mountains passing by traditional Naxi villages, clear blue lakes and the famous Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. This is truly rural China and the trip includes a traditional homestay in Wumu village, where guests can rest up nestled safely on the side of terraced mountains with idyllic views over the northern reaches of the Yangtze River.

The three-day ‘ Escape into Rural Yunnan’ bite-size trip costs from £198 per person and includes two nights’ accommodation with breakfast, private return transfer and day trek with local village leader. Combine with Rickshaw Travel’s Temples and Hutongs of Beijing four-day bite size trip to experience the Great Wall of China and Beijing from a local’s perspective. This trip costs from £385 per person (based on two sharing) and includes a three night stay in traditional courtyard  accommodation with breakfast, Beijing city tour and excursion to the Great Wall.

India – Marvel at the Taj Mahal and live like a royal in an authentic Indian Palace

It’s difficult to imagine India without the ethereal vision of the Taj Mahal, and as you would expect most holidaymakers will include a visit to the great mausoleum in their itinerary. To enrich the experience further, Rickshaw Travel suggests experiencing life like a royal in an authentic Indian palace. Surrounded by rugged hills, Samode is a romantic fairytale spot, famous for its royal palace in the hills. Dating back over 150 years, it’s a stunning example of Rajput-Mughal architecture with twisting staircases, spacious wings and sprawling frescoes. Guests can spend two nights in this Palace in the Hills: ‘Maharaja Style’, wandering along the terraces, exploring the village and gazing over the hills from the rooftop infinity pool. Alternatively, for something a little more out of the way, travellers can choose the ‘In Style’ option on Rickshaw’s NEWRelaxing in Rural Rajasthan trip to Shahpura where they can stay in a converted palace owned by a maharajan family.

The three-day ‘ Palace in the Hills: Maharaja Style’ bite-size trip costs from £335 per person and includes two nights’ accommodation (based on two sharing) with breakfast and private transport and the new ‘ Relaxing in Rural Rajasthan’ with ‘In Style’ palace stay add-on costs from £355 per person including two nights’ accommodation with breakfast and transport.

Both trips can be combined with Rickshaw Travel’s different ‘ Sunrise at the Taj Mahal’ experience where guests can not only wonder at the sunrise over this stunning site but also experience local life in a characterful friendly homestay, just a few minutes walk from the Taj Mahal. This three-day bite-size trip costs from £148 per person and includes two nights’ accommodation (priced based on two sharing), breakfast, private transport and a guided tour of the Taj Mahal and Agra fort.

Panama – go against the flow of the Canal and stay with a local Kuna community away from other holidaymakers

Everyone has heard of the famous Panama Canal and a trip to the country wouldn’t be complete without seeing this colossal feat of engineering in action, however there’s a lot more to Panama than its status in maritime commerce. Panama City is one of extremes: from jungle to skyscrapers, ancient churches and lively salsa. Rickshaw Travel can arrange a stay and Panama City tour but suggests combining this with a traditional homestay option so travellers can get away from it all and ’ Relax the Kuna way .’ On this three-day bite-size trip holidaymakers can learn about Panama’s indigenous communities and spend a few days on one of the otherwise uninhabited islands of the San Blas Archipelago where they can snorkel the clear coral waters. Everything happens at a relaxed “San Blas” tempo, and creates a perfect balance when combined with a visit to vibrant Panama City.

The three-day ‘ Relax the Kuna way’ bite-size trip costs from £468 per person and includes two nights’ accommodation (based on two sharing), all meals, return domestic flight and Island boat transfer. This trip can be combined with The ‘ Canal and Cobblestones of Panama City’ three-day option which costs from £188 per person and includes two nights’ accommodation with breakfast, transfers and half day excursion to the Panama Canal and Casa Viejo.

Peru – already conquered the Inca Trail or want to tackle an alternative route? Then try the Salkantay

The world famous Inca Trail that reaches a climatic end at Machu Picchu is what draws many travellers to Peru, however Rickshaw Travel suggests those looking to do something a little different could step away from the well-trodden Inca and try the quieter Salkantay route instead. High on beauty, low on crowds – the Salkantay Trek is considered the ‘other’ Inca Trail. It may not be the traditional route to Machu Picchu, but it’s every bit as stunning. Trekking for three days through remote landscapes, ramblers will see the lesser explored Andes and feel almost alone in the mountains. Unlike the classic Inca Trail, hikers camp for just two nights and then make the final journey to Machu Picchu by bus well before the day trippers arrive.

Those looking to experience more than trekking in Peru can also have a go at authentic chocolate-making while in Cusco. ‘Go Loco with Cocoa’ is Rickshaw Travel’s chocolatey Peruvian adventure that will replenish energy levels after a long trek or allow travellers to experience Machu Picchu without the hike. On this recently-added trip, guests can take the train and relax en route to Machu Picchu where they can explore the Inca ruins then attend a chocolate-making workshop. Here travellers will learn about the fascinating properties of the cocoa bean and the art of chocolate production all the way from bean to bar. It’s the ideal adventure for chocoholics, culture lovers and those with an appetite to explore.

The four-day ‘ White Peaks, Green Valleys Salkantay’ bite-size trip is priced from £538 per person  and includes three nights’ accommodation on full board (based on two people sharing), all transport, camping equipment on trek and entrance fee to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. Alternatively travellers can opt for the ‘ Go Loco with Cocoa’ bite-size trip, which is priced from £445 and includes accommodation (based on two people sharing), breakfast, transfer from Cusco to the sacred valley, train to and from Aguas Caliantes, chocolate-making workshop and Machu Picchu entrance fee.

Laos – puzzle over the ‘Plain of Jars’ and meet the spirited students of the Buffalo Foundation

Most people who travel around Laos make time to puzzle over the mystery of the famous ‘Plain of Jars’. The ancient giant stone jars are scattered across hilly plains and nobody knows how, when or why they appeared. Some experts believe that the giant jars were used to store wine or rice, while others believe that the dead were once buried in them. Rickshaw combines a guided tour of the Plain of Jars with a visit to an inspiring community project. On the ‘ Plain of Jars’ bite-size trip travellers will wander across the bizarre and beautiful plains and then meet the spirited students of the Buffalo Foundation, a local project committed to improving opportunities for young people with free English classes, computer courses and promoting sport as a way of encouraging language development. It’s an eye-opening and heart-warming experience. Meeting travellers gives the students a great opportunity to practise speaking English in public. In turn, travellers will learn a great deal about local Lao culture…although be none the wiser about the origin of the Jars!

The three-day ‘ Plain of Jars’ bite-size trip is priced from £345 per person and includes two nights’ accommodation with breakfast (based on two people sharing), transfers, plains tour with English-speaking guide and visit to the Buffalo Foundation.

To make the journey even more authentic, Rickshaw Travel also suggests travelling along the Mekong from Cambodia to Laos. It’s a great way to get a glimpse of local life along the river and a chance to reach some remote spots that many travellers miss. After all it’s about the journey, not just the destination. To find a full selection of Rickshaw Travel’s specialist trips to Cambodia and Laos see the Rickshaw Travel website.

A minimum of three bite-size trips is required to build a personalised itinerary with Rickshaw Travel. Flights are not included but can be arranged. To see the full range of trips and itineraries visit: www.rickshawtravel.co.uk