Travel of any sort broadens the mind and is one of the best ways to spend your well-earned money and time-off. But once in a while, if you have the urge to go beyond the normal and feel like taking things to the extreme, check out our world-wide list of vacation must-dos for the exceptionally adventurous, and check it off!
Rock-Climbing in Vang Vieng, Laos
Vang Vieng in northern Laos is about 4 hours by bus from Ventiane Province in Laos. This bustling backpacking-tourist town is famous for three things: its mesmerizing verdant beauty, stunning limestone karst landscape, and rock climbing. While sipping a cold one, you can easily take in the bucolic magnificence of Vang Vieng’s natural scenery. But don’t leave Vang Vieng without testing your limits through rock climbing, as that’s also the coolest way to marvel at Vang Vieng’s resplendent limestone behemoths. No sweat if you’ve never tried rock-climbing. You can take a course to learn it while on vacation at VV. Best of all, there are climbing routes for every skill level.
Extreme quotient: 2.5 out of 5
How to get there: Fly from Singapore to Vientiane (4 hours, 15 minutes), take a 28-minute hourly shuttle to AV Hotel in Vientiane, catch a direct bus to Vang Vieng (4 hours, leaves 4 times a day) from a bus stop approximately 500m from the AV hotel.
Parasailing in Boracay, Philippines (open from end November 2018)
Boracay is one of the world’s most unspoilt islands and a favourite holiday spot for beach lovers who can’t get enough of the ocean, both under and over it. Boracay is gorgeous, a great place to have a relaxing time, and offers a wide selection of seafood for the gastronome. But why confine your vacation fun to just dining and diving if you can up the exhilaration ante by parasailing over turquoise waters and white, sandy beaches? For the uninitiated, parasailing is like parachuting, except your ’chute is also strapped to, and dragged by a speedboat, while you are up in the air, and out in the middle of the ocean. The view of Boracay from up there is certainly priceless, and can be captured for posterity, if you dare to chance a bird’s eye view video, and more than a few precious selfies with your mobile phone. Each parasail flight takes about 15 minutes and costs about USD 40, so really, once is not necessarily enough.
Extreme quotient: 1 out of 5
How to get there: Fly from Singapore to Caticlan (5 hours, 30 minutes), walk to a ferry terminal from Caticlan airport (about 823m), and take a 10-minute ferry ride to Boracay. Ferry leaves the terminal every 3 hours.
Spelunking in Son Doong Cave, Vietnam
If you’ve already had your fill of pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) and ca chien xa (Vietnamese fried fish with lemon grass), and are in really good shape fitness wise, consider going on a spelunking or caving expedition in Son Doong Cave (or Mountain River Cave) in Vietnam. Son Doong Cave is located in the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park of Vietnam, a protected area in north-central Vietnam that borders the Hin Namno Reserve in Laos, and distinguished by mountains, tropical forests and underground rivers. It is also known for its ancient limestone karsts and immense and intricate network of caves. The caving expedition is extensive (around 5 days, 3 nights), costly (around USD3,000) and not for the chronically ill, unfit, or claustrophobic, as you will be trekking through cave grounds, climbing, crawling and squeezing your way through tight spaces. You may be required to swim and dive through underground bodies of water too. It’s a strenuous and tiring activity, but the prize is going where most men and women would not have gone (fewer people have caved in Son Doong Cave than stood at the summit of Mount Everest!), and being awed by the sight of giant stalagmites and stalactites, a hidden jungle, an underground river, fossilized rocks, and the other-worldly beauty of Son Doong Cave. There is a maximum number of people allow to visit the Son Doong Cave each year, so if you’re keen, you’re advised to make your bookings well in advance through the only government-approved tour organizer for caving in Son Doong Cave, Oxalis Adventure Tours.
Extreme quotient: 5 out of 5
How to get there: Fly from Singapore to Dong Hoi (4 hours, 30 minutes) and take a taxi from Dong Hoi to Son Doong Cave (1 hour, 32 minutes).
Abseiling/Rappelling in New Zealand
What goes up, must come down, or should I say, he who treks up a mountain, must bravely abseil or rappel down. Abseil and rappel mean the same thing. While the former term is used in the UK, the latter is used in the US. To abseil is to descend cliffs or slopes that are too steep or dangerous to do so without protective gear in the form of a doubled rope coiled round the body and fixed at a higher point. In Queenstown, New Zealand, this is just how they roll. You can enjoy this exhilarating activity at Egmont National Park amid majestic waterfalls, or descend on Queenstown Hill, in the heart of Queenstown that also boasts splendid scenery. Abseiling, a short but challenging activity, is a form of controlled descent, and that lets you enjoy your surroundings and the experience at your own pace. It is also fairly easy to pick up – a few lessons from the skilled instructors and you’ll be descending like you were born to do it. There are also different routes of varying lengths to try, depending on your comfort level, so really, in this case, all you need to overcome is your fear of heights.
Extreme quotient: 3 out of 5
How to get there: Queenstown Hill: Fly from Singapore to Queenstown (13 hours, 25 minutes), and it’s a breezy bus (14 minutes) or car (10 minutes) ride to Queenstown Hill.
Egmont National Park: Fly from Singapore to Auckland (9 hours 25 minutes), and then from Auckland to New Plymouth (50 minutes), and take a taxi from New Plymouth to Egmont National Park (40 minutes).
Land Diving in Vanuatu
Travelling to Vanuatu itself is adventure enough, but if you happen to be there during the Yam Festival, you may want to consider Land Diving. Before bungee jumping, there was the ancient sport of Land Diving. This extreme activity, which originated many years ago, is a ritual performed by the men of the southern part of Pentecost Island, Vanuatu. The originator of bungee jumping, land diving is done without any safety equipment, except for the vines tied around the ankles of diver. What started as a tradition has developed into a tourist attraction. Risky? Definitely. But according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the g-force felt by a diver at the lowest point of the dive provides the greatest adrenalin rush for anyone in human history.
Extreme quotient: 5 out of 5
How to get there: Fly from Singapore to Sara Airport on Northern Pentecost Island in Vanuatu (33 hours, 45 minutes) and take an hour-long car ride to Pentecost Island.
Ice-Diving in the Antarctica
Experienced divers who like the thrill of an ice-capade vacation need to experience this at least once in their lifetime: Plunging into the icy waters of the Antarctica, which is truly an expedition in itself as every plunge into sub-zero temperature waters (about -2 degrees Celsius) is a different experience every time. You need to be a skilled and advanced diver to try this. Certain pre-requisites are needed, such as experience in wreck, deep- and night diving, as well as underwater navigation. If you are not an experienced ice diver, you must at least have completed a dry suit diving course, have a minimum of 50 dives under your belt, 20 of which should have been dry suit dives in the most recent year before undertaking this ice-diving trip in the Antarctica. As much as this is an extreme sport activity, engaging in it with the highest safety standards in mind is paramount. If you can’t follow the dive master’s safety rules at all times, you should stay home. You can check out the Antarctic diving schedule and what you’ll need in terms of equipment for the trip, online. As the Antarctica waters are rich with krill, it attracts a wide variety of marine life. Penguins and seals are also common sights.
Extreme quotient: 5 out of 5
How to get there: Fly from Singapore to Ushuaia (2 days), which is at the southern tip of Argentina, and take a 7-day ferry ride or cruise to the Antarctica.
Snowshoeing and Hiking in Argentinian Patagonia
Lovers of the cold and nature, there’s no better way to enjoy two of your favourite things on a holiday than through snowshoeing and trekking the trails and mountains in the magnificent Argentinian Patagonia region. Argentinian Patagonia is generally defined as the land south of the Rio Negro, which meets the sea near the town of Viedma, and it offers one of the world’s most impressive mountain hikes, thanks to its beautiful landscape and breath-taking mountain, river and glacial views. Snowshoeing and hiking are both relatively easy activities if you are fairly fit and have the right equipment. There’s no better way to indulge in the great outdoors.
Extreme quotient: 4 out of 5
How to get there: Fly to Buenos Aires in Argentina (30 hours), fly from Buenos Aires Jorge Newbery to Trelew, and then taxi to Patagonia Land (7 hours, 42 minutes).
Sandboarding in Swakopmund in Namibia
How spectacular would it be to sand board the world’s largest dunes in the Namib Desert? Yes, literally glide down desert dunes in the coastal Swakopmund, situated in Namibia. It’s exciting and fun, yet not so difficult that thrill-seeking beginners can’t have a go at it. Best of all, it’s a year-round activity and you don’t have to qualify or pass tests to get your hands and feet sandy. It’s also a good way to take in the scenery, chill out in the awesome desert, and take some amazing pictures that will have your family and friends green with a serious case of FOMO. This activity is right up your alley if you have a need for speed, as you could sometimes move at speeds of up to 50 km per hour. You can choose to do it standing up (like snowboarding), or lying down (like tobogganing), but unlike snowboarding, there are no lifts to take you back to the top, which means you’ll have to climb back up the dunes and have a darn good workout doing it.
Extreme quotient: 3 out of 5
How to get there: Fly from Singapore to Walvis Bay, Namibia (14 hours, 20 minutes), and drive from Walvis Bay to Swakopmund (24 minutes).
Sphere-ing in England
Invented by the crazy Brits, it’s also called zorbing or orbing (in New Zealand), during which you are put inside an inflated PVC ball and are rolled over the top of a hill edge and come rolling downhill still in it. It’s been said that the speed downhill can reach up to 62 km per hour, and you can also choose to do it while carrying buckets of water. Routes are perfectly planned for sphere-ing and, best of all, you can do it right in the heart of London.
Extreme quotient: 2.5 over 5
How to get there: Fly from Singapore to London (13 hours, 40 minutes).
Sky-dive in Las Vegas
Do not leave Las Vegas without trying this. Besides the casinos, night life, shopping and seeing the Grand Canyon, there’s also sky-diving, the ultimate rush in Las Vegas. And not just anywhere in Vegas, but on the Strip, well, 15,000 feet above it, that is. And at the climax of this super-adrenaline pumping activity, you’ll be tearing through Las Vegas skies at 140 miles per hour with FAA certified tandem masters who have logged thousands of jumps.
Before you hit the skies though, you’ll be suited up in skydiving gear and your instructor will run through a session of practice skydiving from the exits of a mock aircraft. You’ll then be taught the basics of canopy control and safe landing procedures. Only when you’re confident with this skydiving knowledge, will you be allowed to take a 15-minute flight to an altitude of 15,000 feet, and, after a final check, get to step out of a plan like a stunt pro, and take the fastest way back down to Las Vegas. This open-air thrill has been ironically described as one of the most serene-inducing activities ever, that is, after your parachute has been deployed.
Extreme quotient: 5 out of 5
How to get there: Fly from Singapore to San Francisco (14 hours, 50 minutes) and from San Francisco to Las Vegas (1 hour, 33 minutes).