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Extreme Travel: Adventure Sports in Southeast Asia
Backpacking Southeast Asia? Check out these 5 adventure sports and extreme travel activities for adrenaline junkies in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia and the Philippines.
By: Alex Baackes, executive editor, alexinwanderland.com
If you’re a major adrenaline junkie, Southeast Asia is arguably the ultimate travel destination. In a region that already boasts low prices, warm and welcoming locals and thousands of years of rich cultural history, you’ll also find jaw-dropping topography that make the perfect playground for extreme sports and adventure activities.
What are the peak thrills and the best locations to chase them? Check out five of the best ways to spike your heart rate across Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia and the Philippines.
1. Kitesurfing in Mui Ne, Vietnam
On a clear blue day, when wind conditions are ideal, you will find Mui Ne Bay brimming with colorful sails—kites dancing across the sky and competing for airspace. This special stretch of coastline has become Southeast Asia’s mecca for kitesurfing and windsurfing, as well as regular surfing. Mui Ne’s strong and reliable winds and low rainfall help to provide some of the best conditions on the continent for water sports. Kitesurfing is the most popular item on the menu, and its enthusiasts often spend weeks here perfecting the difficult and sometimes dangerous craft. For those ready to put down the sails, there’s also a stunning stretch of coastline to explore; it swells with tawny sand dunes, boasts a mystical “fairy” spring and is peppered with mountaintop temples.
7-hour Beginner Kitesurfing Class, $350 C2Sky Kite Center
2. Deep Water Soloing in Railey, Thailand
Deep Water Soloing (DWS) is defined simply as gear-free rock climbing practiced on cliffs over a body of water – the sea helps protect climbers against falls from difficult routes. This is the next frontier in rock climbing: Unencumbered by rope and gear, all adventurers need is a pair of shoes and a resolve of steel to take part in this ultimate tropical adventure. In Railey, where DWS has reached a fever pitch, climbers hop straight out of a boat and onto limestone islands, and fearlessly test themselves to the limit. After all, the only consequence of a misstep is an unintended dive into the warm blue water of the Andaman Sea.
Bouldering Day Boat Excursion, $95 flat fee, plus $47 per person Andaman Adventures
3. Skydiving in Lido Lakes, Indonesia
Skydiving, one of the most well established extreme sports, is getting a new life in the Lido Lakes of Indonesia. Located just an hour and a half from Jakarta, the Lido Lakes boast stunning scenery of lush valleys, two dramatic volcanoes and plenty of floating restaurants where travelers can take in the scenery. There are many opportunities for both new students and experienced jumpers in Indonesia, which gets the most “air traffic” from skydivers than any other Southeast Asian country. Once jumpers are back on solid ground, there’s plenty to keep them busy (and let their adrenaline return to relative normal) including canopy tours, horseback riding and the ultimate leisure sport: golf.
Tandem Jump with an Instructor, $150-175 Skydive Asia
4. Technical Diving in Malapascua, Philippines
Technical or Tec diving is a form of scuba diving that goes beyond the recreational limits to take its enthusiasts deeper, longer and to more advanced dive sites. While Tec training can be found in dive hotspots all around Southeast Asia, Malapascua truly stands out with its impressive array of training facilities and dive sites where students can flex their new skills. Tec divers can penetrate sunken World War II shipwrecks, swim on rebreathers (a closed-circuit breathing apparatus) with famous Thresher Sharks and dive on Nitrox (nitrogen enriched gas) at a sea snake sanctuary.
For more info: Evolution Diving (Tec Dive training prices upon request)
5. Mountain Biking in Luang Prabang, Laos
Travelers have long enjoyed exploring Southeast Asia’s mountainous and verdant scenery on the back of a mountain bike. And now that Laos has emerged as new a hotspot within the region, it’s no surprise that its hills, peaks and valleys are rolling—literally—with extreme mountain bikers. Trips range from single day to two-week adventures. Travelers can take in minority villages, stunning waterfalls, untouched countryside, exotic temples and more as they travel through the area by bike. As the topography changes, cyclists might pedal over flat ground alongside the Mekong River or push hard up a hillside over the sloping Laotian mountains.
$65 for a day trip, $1250 for weeklong journey Spice Roads
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