If you’re an active traveler, you might be wondering about the best adventure holidays in Asia.
The good news is that across Asia you’ll find something for practically every active interest and energy level – from walking tours to backcountry ski trips.
While Southeast Asian waters are famous for their coral reefs and marine life, diving’s not the only adventure sport in the region. You’ll also find rock-climbing in Thailand, world-class caving in Vietnam and Malaysian Borneo, and cycling and trekking in just about every country.
In this post you’ll find an overview of the best adventure holidays in Asia and some of our top picks.
The Best Walking Tours in Asia
Hiking, trekking, nature walking – whatever your level adventure on foot, there’s a trail through Asia that’s perfect for you.
The lush, rolling landscapes of northern Laos offer treks to hill-tribe villages and picnics between the limestone peaks of Oudomxay, while the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail in Japan sets a serene seven-kilometer course through shrines and sacred forests.
Perhaps it’s Shangri-La you seek, in which case a 10-kilometer hike to Lotus Temple in the mountains of Yunnan Province is rewarded with views of the Mingyong Glacier. One of the best adventure holidays in Asia, though, has to be a summit climb of Mount Fuji.
The Best Cycling Tours in Asia
For the best adventure holidays in Asia on two wheels, you’ve got myriad options crisscrossing a diverse array of landscapes.
Cycling, like walking, provides a much closer look at a country, its nature, culture and its local ways of life than any driving tour.
In Myanmar you can explore the UNESCO-listed Bagan by bicycle – something the whole family can enjoy – or cycle through the little villages along the Mekong Delta, another favorite family activity.
Another UNESCO site best seen from a bike is the rice terraces of Jatiluwih in Bali, which you can do between white-water rafting and volcano trekking on an adrenaline-filled Bali tour.
Or take the scenic route in Borneo with a relaxed cycling tour through the Sarawak countryside that gives you an up-close look at local village life.
The Best Off-The-Beaten-Track Tours in Asia
No doubt the best adventure holidays in Asia happen off the beaten track.
In Shirakawago, in the Japanese alps, you can trek through picture-perfect landscapes and stay overnight in a traditional farmhouse.
In Indonesia, outside the arts hub of Yogyakarta you can walk the rim of a volcano and jeep through lunar-link landscapes.
The northern reaches of Laos set the scene for river explorations along the Nam Ou and Patok Cave expeditions.
Meanwhile, North Sumatra invites wildlife safaris through its jungle terrain in a part of Indonesia far off the mass-tourism trail.
The Best Family Adventure Holidays in Asia
Hill-tribe trekking in Luang Prabang, rock climbing and kayaking in Lijiang, zip-lining in Chiang Mai, cycling in Bagan, for families, the best adventure holidays in Asia include activities travelers of all ages can take part in.
An Angkor tour can be customized with a ‘treasure hunt’ to younger travelers engaged on the temple circuit, while a Bangkok city tour can take to the river with a long-tail boat ride through the khlongs.
A Saigon street-food tour on the back of a Vespa is one of the more adventurous things to do in Southeast Asia with kids in tow, and something that every family member will get a thrill from.
If you’ve got smaller kids, Singapore is one of the best cities in Asia for adventurous littlies, with a wide range of things to do across Sentosa’s beaches, theme parks and family-friendly resorts.
The Best Diving Holidays in Asia
Asia has some of the finest diving in the world.
Between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines is the Coral Triangle, a marine area known for its abundant reef life. It’s home to six different species of sea turtles and 76% of the world’s coral reefs.
The Similan Islands off the Thai Andaman coastline offer whale shark and manta ray diving around Richelieu Rock, while Sail Rock features, among other marine life, nudibranchs and seasonal whale shark sightings.
The Philippines boasts several world-class dive sites, including Amos Rock in the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and Apo Reef Natural Park, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Many of the above coastlines offer up deserted islands and idyllic beaches where you can castaway for a few days — one of the best adventure holidays in Asia you could dream of.
The 10 Best Adventure Holidays in Asia
While there are just too many possibilities to make a definitive list for every type of travelers, here we’ve compiled some of the most thrilling and unique adventure experiences in Asia. In no particular order:
1. Summiting Mount Fuji.
A two-day climb to the top has got to be one of the most iconic climbs in the world, and definitely one of the best adventure holidays in Asia.
2. Observing whale sharks at Cenderawasih Bay National Park.
This remote area off the coast of Indonesian Papua features a whale shark population that feeds off small fish that escape local fishermen’s nets.
The WWF is working with local communities to establish floating shelters and ensure tourism there works to protect the species.
3. Ballooning over Bagan.
Thousands of temple spires rising up out of dusty red plains, sun peeling up over the horizon.
Combine a sunrise balloon ride over this UNESCO site with a bicycle tour of the temples for one of the best adventure holidays in Asia.
4. Safari-ing through Borneo.
Orangutans, pygmy elephants, hornbills, proboscis monkeys – a river tour and trek through the spectacular jungles and national parks of Borneo is the ultimate in nature-adventure tours.
5. Climbing volcanoes in Bali.
Away from the beach clubs and luxury resorts Bali is still quite wild. Explore its rugged volcanic terrain with a tour that combines a summit trek of Mount Batur and rafting down the Telaga Waja River.
6. Rock-climbing in Yangshuo.
China offers up some of the best adventure tours in Asia, but in Yangshuo you’ll find activities the whole family can enjoy.
Get the know the otherworldly landscapes of Yangshuo by climbing, kayaking and cycling through it.
7. Caving in Vietnam.
Vietnam is home to some of the largest cave systems in the world.
Not all of them are readily accessible, with permits limited to Hang Son Doong in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can still visit the surrounding parks with a tour of the country’s most iconic sites.
8. Rainforest exploration in Khao Sok, Thailand.
Khao Sok is virtually unheard of outside of Thailand, which makes it such a hidden gem for adventure travelers.
An emerald lake, millennia-old forests, caves and rare wildlife make a safari experience here one of the best adventure holidays in Asia.
9. Summiting Mount Kinabalu.
This sacred peak in Malaysian Borneo is home to one of the world’s most biologically rich ecosystems – get to the summit in two days and see the sun rise through the clouds.
10. Jungle adventures in northern Laos.
Walk with elephants, trek to hill-tribe villages, float down the Nam Nern River spotting wildlife – a trip through this remote area of Laos will take you far off the beaten track into truly spectacular limestone terrain.
For more ideas and information about adventure tours in Asia, get in contact with one of our Travel Specialists.