Contributed by The Extraordinary Feet
Most of us travel to escape from our tedious daily routine. But if you go to similar places every time you travel, your regular escapade becomes monotonous and you go back to your cubicle feeling dissatisfied with the break. To pep up your travel moments, you need to spice it with an adventurous twist.
Here are my top 10 Asian destinations for mild adventures, which you might want to visit this year:
Mandalay is the second largest city and the commercial centre in north Myanmar. It is the last royal capital of Burma and remains to be the centre of Burmese culture. Amidst the growing number of modern establishments and increasing vehicular traffic, there are numerous well-preserved pagodas and old monasteries.
What to do in Mandalay: At ₭10,000, you can go on a private tour in a shared taxi to Saguing, Inn Wa and Amarapura. In Inn Wa, visit as many temples and monasteries as possible without riding a gig. Don’t miss Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan. It is an abandoned monastery with a dark basement and smells like mouldering organism. Compensate later your spooky experience with the spectacular sunset at the worlds longest teak wood bridge across Taungthaman Lake.
The South Korean capital is one of the most admired cities in the world. And it is more than just a modern metropolis; Seoul has five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeok Palace, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine, Namhansanseong and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty.
What to do in Seoul: Spend your entire week exploring the city. Just remember the nearest metro station to your hostel. Lose yourself in the subway, switch from line to line and get off at a random station. There are 9 lines with over 200 stations in the city proper. You will be surprised to see interesting spots in every vicinity.
Baler is the capital of the province of Aurora. This municipality in Central Luzon is located 230 kilometres northeast of Manila, about 5 to 6 hours bus ride away. Its shore faces the Philippine Sea and is one of the top surf spots in the country.
What to do in Baler: Rent a surfboard; riding a wave is a lot of fun. If it is your first time, get an instructor in Sabang Beach to teach you the basics and don’t stop until you learn to glide on water. Surfing is more challenging at Cemento Beach. During peak season from October to February, the waves rise high up to 14 feet.
Vang Vieng is popular among travellers as a party capital of Laos. This river town is so alive with numerous guesthouses, restaurants and bars lined next to each other in a single neighbourhood. Most backpackers come here to join the pub crawl at night and get charmed by the picturesque view of the Nam Song River with the karst mountain in the background during the day.
What to do in Vang Vieng: Go tubing down the rapids. There are some water activities to do in Vang Vieng but floating fast down the river on a tire interior is a lot more exciting specially if it is raining. Have a canned soda while you spin around trying to locate which side of the riverbanks to moor your black lifesaver.
6. Leh, India
Leh is the capital of Ladakh Region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This Indian desert town has a fantastic landscape of brown rocky hills bestrewed with Tibetan traditional brick houses down the slopes and a dale enliven by a myriad of shops, restaurants, guesthouses and other establishments.
What to do in Leh: Do not just go to Leh. Go there from Manali taking a two-day road trip with overnight stay in a tent at a chilly campground midway. You will have several stops along the way to appreciate the captivating valleys and mountains in Himachal Pradesh and some parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Dambulla, a town in the central part of Sri Lanka, is a convenient stopover destination for tourists visiting the famous ancient rock fortress, Sigiriya. It also has its own UNESCO listed World Heritage Site, the Golden Temple of Dambulla, which is the largest cave temple complex in the country.
What to do in Dambulla: Take a a Tuk-Tuk to Pidurangala Cave and Rock Temple located few kilometres north of Sigiriya. Climb up the rock without a guide following only the directional marks painted on the trees and stones. If you’re lucky you’ll meet one or two people going up as well. There are also some friendly stray dogs that might climb with you. At the top, there are many monkeys enjoying the view of the majestic Sigiriya rock on the green plain.
Mondulkiri is the largest province in the country and most of its land area remains uninhabited. It is home to Cambodia’s indigenous people making it the perfect place to visit and see traditional villages and wildlife sanctuaries.
What to do in Mondulkiri: Rent a scooter in Senmonorom then cycle 40 kilometres on unpaved roads and drive through a creek to get to the secluded Bou Sra Waterfalls. During wet season the roads become a dough of red mud and the creek is almost impassable.
Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the state of Sabah, Malaysia located in northwestern Borneo. It is the travellers’ gateway to most parts of East Malaysia and Borneo. It is now blossoming into a sophisticated city but still has its well-preserved natural features to charm visitors.
What to do in Kota Kinabalu: Island hopping is one option but the highlight of your visit would be to climb Gunung Kinabalu, the highest climbable mountain in Southeast Asia. The climb takes a total of two nights and two days: the first night for acclimatisation before the trek to Laban Rata, and the other night for few hours rest before ascend to the summit. Not all climbers are fortunate to complete the climb.
Phokara is the second largest city in Nepal and the mecca of trekkers due to its proximity to the Annapurna Range. It offers variety of attractions, such as: (1) the world peace pagoda on top of Ananda hill, (2) the placid Phewa Lake; and, (3) the Sarangkot viewpoint where the snow caps can be best viewed while they gradually change colour from gray to gold to shiny white as the sun rises.
What to do in Pokhara: Paraglide from Sarangkot hill down the field at the Lake Side. It gets really dangerous sometimes as the weather is unpredictable and it becomes windy. There are gliders who end up landing in the middle of the lake or being lifted so high and blown far away.
Lombok is a less popular Indonesian island off the east coast of Bali. It offers many white sand beaches some of those are still less touristy. There are likewise a number of ignored natural parks, surfing and scuba diving locations.
What to do in Lombok: Join a group to trek up the second highest volcano in Indonesia. Many climbers attempt to reach the summit at an altitude of 3,726 metres. Only few survive a gruelling ascend through the trail layered with volcanic sand and gravels. Those who lack the necessary fitness level just stay at the base camp on the crater rim to enjoy the view of the lake.
How many of these places have you been to already? Do you have moderate or extreme adventures to share?