While most people go to Southeast Asia to sunbathe on the beautiful beaches, eat cheap food, and learn about the culture, there are many adventurous opportunities for those who prefer to have their adrenaline pumping while on vacation. Thanks to the climate, Southeast Asia has many landscapes, jungles, waters, and mountains adventure seekers can explore. As for activities, there are plenty you can try. Think rock climbing, caving, hiking, underwater activities, cycling, and many more. All while witnessing spectacular views and natural landscapes. Sound perfect, right? Then hopefully this list of activities you can enjoy in Southeast Asia will help you plan your next vacation. We chose 7 Southeast Asian countries and we talked about some of the most popular adventures you can embark on in each country, however, rest assured there are many more you can try.
Thailand offers many opportunities for adventure seekers. From water and underwater activities to hiking and other land activities, the Land of Smiles is able to give you an adrenaline rush or more laid-back adventures, depending on your preferences. Either way, the smile on your face is guaranteed.
White Water Rafting On Mae Taeng River
Let’s start in the northern region of Thailand and then move South, to the popular beaches. North of Thailand is actually a paradise destination for lovers of outdoor activities and adventures. The most known and loved destination in the north is Chiang Mai. From there, you can easily drive in the region for more adventure opportunities like white water rafting on Mae Taeng River, which is the first Thai adventure we’re going to discuss.
Mae Taeng River has 1 to 3 class rapids and it’s perfect for white water rafting. The jungle areas and scenic landscapes make the experience even better. And, if you want to do more than water rafting, you can also embark on a biking tour and visit the tea plantation in the area.
Cliff Jumping In Chiang Mai
A few miles away from Chiang Mai, there’s a cliff you can jump off. Then you can climb back up and do it again until you’re tired. The views are great and this is a nice activity for busy days. Not to mention, you can easily reach this place if you take a taxi for only a few baht.
Trekking & Camping On Doi Pui
Doi Pui is another popular destination close to Chiang Mai. Here you can relax and enjoy the mountain views or you can embark on a trek to visit the nearby villages. On your way, you’ll be able to admire the untouched natural beauty of the region.
If you want to stay overnight at the camping site, you can rent a tent or sleeping bags from there.
Motorbike The Mae Hong Son Loop
You can rent a motorbike anywhere in Thailand, however, if you do it in Chiang Mai, you’ll have the opportunity to motorbike the Mae Hong Son Loop, which is a wonderful and affordable trip. It takes approximately 5 days to do the complete the 600km journey and you’ll find nice and cheap accommodations along the way. There are rice paddies, temples, massive mountains, and national parks around the loop so you can stop and explore any time you want. There are also tiny villages where you can eat authentic Thai food.
Scuba Diving In Koh Tao
Koh Tao is the perfect place to learn scuba diving since it has easy but nonetheless great dives. The most popular scuba site in Koh Tao is Twins Pinnacles but there are other popular ones such as Japanese Gardens, Green Rock, and White Rock. During your dives, you’ll be able to find Nemo (saddleback anemone fish) and see many other fish species including blue-ringed angelfish, barrel sponge, chevron barracuda, blotched porcupine fish, long-faced emperor fish, and parrotfish.
If you are courageous and sharks don’t scare you, you should try diving at Sail Rock. This diving site is the premier scuba diving site in the Gulf of Thailand and it is situated 2 hours south of Koh Tao. Bull Sharks can be found gliding around this diver’s site. Aside from the gracious Bull Sharks, you’ll be able to see other sea-life and magnificent coral.
Rock Climbing In Krabi
Krabi seems to be everybody’s favorite Thai destination. Some love to visit the popular beach destinations such as Phi Phi Island, others like to admire the sheer limestone cliffs and the dense mangrove forests from a boat. Adventurers love Krabi for the rock climbing opportunities. The prominent rock-climbing spot in Krabi is accessible only by boat and it is one of the top rock climbing spots in the world.
There are many routes and they vary in difficulty so, whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you can experience rock climbing in Krabi.
Snorkeling, Kayaking & Trekking In Koh Tarutao
If rock climbing is too adrenaline-inducing for your liking, maybe Koh Tarutao is a better destination for you. Situated in Southwest Thailand, the island it’s not a touristic destination like other Thai islands so you can relax and enjoy your time here. Koh Tarutao is actually part of the Tarutao National Marine Park and it’s perfect for many experiences. From snorkeling to see the incredible coral life to trekking through the untouched jungle or kayaking through mangrove forests, the island is a great place for both relaxation and adventure.
Malaysia is another country that many don’t consider when they plan their adventures and that’s a shame since there are many outdoor activities people can explore in the country.
Snorkeling In The Perhentian Islands
The Perhentian Islands are some of the most beautiful islands in Southeast Asia. Located near the northeastern coast of Malaysia, the two main islands, Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar, are very popular amongst Malaysians and tourists alike.
These two islands are a popular snorkeling destination with very different experiences. If you are courageous, you can choose to swim with blacktip reef sharks at Shark Point. If you prefer a more relaxing snorkeling experience, you can swim with marine turtles instead. However, we just have to say that blacktip reef sharks are not considered dangerous. They are impressive and they will increase your adrenaline levels but swimming with them is actually safe.
Trekking In Taman Negara
Penang is another popular beach destination for people who just love to sunbathe and relax but if you get bored easily, while in Penang, you have the opportunity to trek Taman Negara, the most prominent national park in Malaysia.
There are a few popular routes in the park but if you want a diverse trekking experience we recommend the most popular one that starts at the ranger station. From there you hike towards the tip of the island, passing through Monkey Beach. Along the way, you have the opportunity to rock climb and explore additional trails.
Kinabatangan River Safari In Borneo
Kinabatangan Rainforest is a once in a lifetime experience you shouldn’t miss if you are in Borneo, Malaysia. Kinabatangan Rainforest is actually one of the last lush rainforests in the world and it is a great place for a river safari. While spending time on the river, you can see primates, orangutans and other wildlife species. You can also hike and explore the rainforest by foot if you prefer. For accommodation, you can sleep at one of the rustic lodges in Sukau, a small village in the area.
Climb Mt Kinabalu in Borneo
And speaking of hiking, if you visit Borneo and you love hiking, climbing Mount Kinabalu is mandatory. Kinabalu is the tallest mountain in Malaysia and the hiking views are phenomenal. Mt Kinabalu stands at 4095 meters but the climbing trails are actually not that difficult if you’re properly equipped for the climb.
Caving in Gua Tempurung
The last Malaysian adventure we’re going to recommend in this post is caving at Gua Tempurung. This is a great adventure if you’re staying in Kuala Lumpur during your visit to Malaysia since the cave is only 90 minutes away from the capital. Once you’re there, you have plenty of tour options to choose from and many cave adventures that wait for you. The cave consists of a series of domes connected by chambers you’ll have to crawl through.
Vietnam offers you a plethora of adventures to choose from including trekking, hiking, cycling, and caving.
Trekking To Hang Son Doong
The first Vietnamese adventure is actually a combination of two – trekking and caving. The adventure starts off with trekking. The destination is the largest cave in the world, Hang Son Doong, also knows as the Mountain River Cave. To reach it, you have to trek through Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The national park is situated in Central Vietnam and it’s a wonderful jungle destination on its own, however, if you want to visit the cave, you have to plan in advanced since expeditions to Mountain River Cave are strictly limited and they sell a year in advance. That’s because the tour company runs responsible and sustainable expeditions in order to preserve the jungles of the national park. The trek towards the cave is a tough one and it involves walking through the dense jungle and camping at Hang En, which is the third largest cave in the world, by the way. Once you arrive at Hang Son Doong, you’ll explore the numerous chambers of the cave. The cave is so big that it actually has its own jungle, cloud system, and underground rivers.
Trekking In Ha Giang
If you’re not lucky enough to go on the route towards Hang Son Doong, you can still enjoy a wonderful trekking adventure in Ha Giang. Nature flourished here and the views are spectacular. There are many trekking opportunities in Ha Giang, in fact, you can spend days exploring different trails here. While you’re exploring, you can also learn about Vietnam’s culture from the families in the area.
Hiking in Sapa
Sapa is a very popular hiking destination in Vietnam. There are many hiking trails to explore here. And along the way, you’ll discover several villages formed by ethnic groups. The rice fields of Sapa Valley are wonderful and the locals friendly and happy to be your guides.
Cycling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City
Cycling between Hanoi (a northern city) and Ho Chi Minh City in the south is how a typical cycling adventure in Vietnam looks like. There are two main roads that connect the cities and both provide wonderful experiences and stunning views. Ho Chi Minh Highway is one of the options. This road cuts through the hills, thus it requires a little bit more effort. The other option is Highway One. This one has plenty of stops along the way and it passes through many popular destinations including Hoi An and Mui Ne.
Myanmar is quite new on the map of explorers but the country offers many trekking opportunities. The most popular destinations are Inle Lake, Bagan, and the surrounding areas.
Hiking Kalaw To Inle Lake
If you stay in Bagan and you want to explore the area, you can take a bus to Kalaw and from there you can trek on the hills of the countryside. This is not a part of the country that western tourists explore but it’s definitely a great way to explore the land of Myanmar with wonderful rice paddies and tea plantations
Hiking Mount Kyaiktiyo
Hiking Mount Kyaiktiyo is challenging but once you reach the top, you arrive at Golden Rock, one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the country. If you want to visit the site but you don’t feel ready for a challenging hike, you can take the lorry from Kinpun. Not all lorries reach the top though so you can opt for a lorry that doesn’t reach the peak if you’re up for one or two hours of hiking. The sunset on the top is spectacular and it’s definitely worth the effort.
Cambodia is more than the country known for the brutal war. It’s also more than the country famous for ancient ruins. It’s actually a great place for adventure lovers who want to explore lesser-known spots.
Trekking Up the Mekong River
If you visit Cambodia, you cannot miss the opportunity to see the famous pink dolphins. So take a trip up the Mekong River, enjoy the road, enjoy the dolphins, then spend some time in the Stung Treng City for other amazing activities such as cycling. If you want, you can catch a long-tail boat towards and enjoy a boat ride on the river or you can trek up the river to see the waterfalls.
Hot Air Balloon Over Angkor Wat
Seeing the sunset over Angkor Wat from a hot air balloon is an unforgettable experience. You’ll be able to see the temples, ancient ruins, and all the wonders of the city and the nearby villages from the air.
When you’re thinking about Indonesia, you’re probably thinking Bali. Or maybe Jakarta if island destinations are not really your thing. However, Indonesia has so much more to offer and it’s actually a great place for memorable adventures.
Climbing Volcanoes in Bali
We will start with Bali but probably not with what you expect from the famous island. In Bali, aside from all the activities you probably know about, you can experience volcano climbing. You’d think this is once in a lifetime opportunity and you should definitely embark on the adventure but the truth is, in Indonesia, there is more than one volcano you can climb. In Bali, you have Mount Batur. But there’s also Kawah Ijen Volcano situated in Java province or Mount Bromo Volcano Crater situated in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park if you don’t want to stay in Bali.
Downhill Cycling in Bali
Another fun adventure in Bali is downhill cycling. After the fun experience of the downhill cycling, which is effortless considering you’re going downhill, you can head towards the beautiful rice terraces. The rice terraces in the Balinese countryside offer wonderful and unique views and you can get off the bike to be able to explore them properly.
From skydiving to scuba diving and from stand up paddleboarding to kayaking, Philippines is a welcoming country for adventurous spirits.
The Philippines might not be the most famous country in the world for skydiving but the views you’ll see while falling from the sky are quite beautiful. Skydiving is actually possible in two locations in the country (both beach locations) – Cebu and Zambales (close to Manilla) and you can opt for solo or tandem skydiving.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding In Bohol
Bohol is a wonderful destination with beautiful beaches, wonderful nature, diving sites, and a great place for stand-up paddleboarding. If you can, opt for the afternoon paddle boarding tour since you’ll be able to paddle on the river in peace and quiet since the lunch boats are no longer on the river. And be ready to paddle for approximately 5 km to see a nearby waterfall. If you’re lucky, you’ll be back when it’s dark outside and you’ll be able to see the fireflies.