10 adventure holidays in Asia that will change your life

CC Photo: David W Lloyd Photography / Flickr

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.

Your comfort zone is killing your creativity, frying your productivity and keeping you in a holding pattern: It’s time to break free. It’s time to do something new, daring and different. 

Why? Because breaking through physical barriers allows us to break through mental ones too. Do you remember the last time you did something for the first time? Maybe it was your first 5km charity run. A handstand in yoga class. Your first time in the boxing ring. Remember when it seemed impossible? And then you did it? How good did that feel?

You see, achieving something physically that you previously thought was beyond your capabilities has a huge impact on limiting self-beliefs. Replacing I can’t with I just did helps you to take that conviction into every aspect of your life — from a work project you never had the guts to take on to a life change you know you need to make.

So if restrictive thought patterns are holding you back, it’s time for change; it’s time to book a life-changing adventure holiday. We at MAYYA have gathered our collective experiences and curated 10 of the best adventure holidays that will have you facing your fears and shifting your perspective. And that’s a promise.

1. Learn to surf in Bali

Telling your friends you’re off to Bali for a week to “find yourself” may receive a cynical roll of the eyes but trust us, it will be well worth the “Eat Pray Love” wannabe label. The Surf Goddess Retreat in Bali offered by Goddess Retreats is a week-long “choose your own adventure” style women’s only surfing and yoga retreat that is truly one of a kind.  Start your day with a yoga and meditation practice, learn to surf, indulge in 5 hours of spa treatments, learn the ancient art of batik painting — or not, the choice is yours. Ease into bed each night by the soothing hands of the in-house masseuse after reading your  “daily affirmation.” Eat nourishing meals lovingly prepared by the retreat’s in-house chef and spend quality time with women just like you. Leave feeling pampered, refreshed and empowered. 

www.surfgoddessretreats.com

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2. Cycle from Hanoi to Hong Kong 

Sick of his job as an accountant, Humphrey Wilson decided he wanted to ride his bicycle — all the way from London to Hong Kong. And so he did. So inspired by the life-changing nature of his journey, he established Go Mad Dogs in Hong Kong, offering “do-able” adventures by bike around Asia to enable others to gain similar benefits in just a week.

And you don’t have to be a cycling pro; you don’t even have to own a bicycle to take part (they have bike-sharing programs). You just need to have a thirst for adventure — all 1,204 kilometers of it.

The upcoming adventure leaves from Hong Kong September 26 before arriving in Hanoi nine days later. (And if that adventure doesn’t tickle your fancy, check out many of the other Asian biking adventures Humphrey has in store). 

www.gomaddogs.com

lao roads and mountains

3. Run a marathon in the mountainous Vietnamese countryside 

Training to run a marathon is an epic undertaking. Crossing the finish line of a marathon is transformational. And then there’s crossing the finish line of a marathon in the mountains after having run on trails beaten by buffaloes, passing through rice paddies and exchanging happy smiles with village children from the ethnic minority hill tribes for the best part of a day.

The third annual Vietnam Mountain Marathon in scenic Sapa will be held over the weekend of September 26 and 27. Race organizers do a perfect job of balancing inspiration with luxury, as you stay at the Topas Ecolodge perched on a mountain top in the northern region of Vietnam.

If you dare, take part in the 70 kilometer race which skirts the foothills of Mount Fansipan — the highest mountain in IndoChina at 3,143m — and make mountains move within yourself!

www.vietnammountainmarathon.com

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CC Photo: Jeri Chua / Flickr

4. Climb Mount Fuji

As Edmund Hillary said: “It is not the mountain that we conquer, but ourselves.” What better way is there to overcome those inner demons than climbing a mountain? As far as mountains in Asia go, Mount Fuji is perhaps the most iconic. Rising 3667 meters above sea level, the mountain has a God-like status in Japan, with the Japanese regularly making a pilgrimage to the sacred mountain. 

Gail Nakada’s guide to climbing Mount Fuji for Huffington Post

5. Sleep in the world’s biggest cave in Vietnam

Hang Son Doong is the world’s biggest cave. It’s so big, a 747 airplane could fly through its cavern. Never heard of it? Not surprising. It was only discovered six years ago and has only been available to the public since 2013. In fact, less people have stood inside the cave than have stood on the summit of Mount Everest. (Among them, our Digital Media Manager Katie Kenny – wowzers!)

In a five day adventure, explore enormous stalagmites and stalactites which hang from the ceiling like an alien species, marvel at the cave’s own jungles and the misty cloudscapes caused by the cave’s own weather system, all the while undertaking some pretty hair-raising caving experiences at the same time. It is a space so untouched and so mesmerizing, you’ll be forced to question whether you’re still on this planet at all.  

Tour operators Oxalis also offers shorter trips for adventurers on a time crunch-slash-are new to spelunking.

www.oxalis.com.vn

climbing-tu-lan-cave-vietnam

6. Ride a horse through the Mongolian steppes

To quieten the head and the heart, set off up north for Mongolia to immerse yourself in ancient nomadic life as you make your way through the country’s iconic grasslands. Channel the warrior spirit of Genghis Khan for your own life. Travel the ways of the past — by horseback — and find yourself contemplating the deepest questions of life to the gentle rhythm of horse’s hooves. 

www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com

7. Run in the footsteps of Monks in Luang Prabang 

Every morning the monks of Luang Prabang walk through the tiny UNESCO World Heritage site collecting alms. Clad in their orange robes, they walk silently and gently through the sleepy town, once the royal capital of the Kingdom of Laos.

As if spending a week in this magical place isn’t enough to stir the soul, on October 18 you have the opportunity to run in the monk’s footsteps as part of the “La Procession” half marathon, an intimate journey which takes over the small town and is infused with community spirit. The race is fully sponsored, so all funds raised from race entry go to supporting local charities and you can take part knowing you’re also running for a good cause.

www.luangprabanghalfmarathon.com

8. Learn to kitesurf on a private island in the Philippines

Picture this: your own private island with frothy aquamarine waves lapping onto white sand beaches. Your own slice of paradise, untouched by developments. Waking as the sun rises, enjoying vinyasas on your own private beach and eating the freshest food. And then kitesurfing every single day.

No, it’s not a dream, it’s 250K Private Island Kite Camp on Palawan, a private kite surfing camp you didn’t think existed on the beautiful island province. Spend the week honing your skills and expanding your horizons on the island Condé Nast Traveler readers voted “the no. 1 island in the world.” And if kitesurfing isn’t your thing, you can enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving in glass-transparent waters in the abundant coral reef surrounding the island, a ride on a Paraw (a classic Filipino boat ) to the neighboring islands, a hike around the island itself or feasting on the amazing seafood offered on the Philippines’ “fishing province.”

www.kiteboarding-philippines.com

palawan-coron-philippines-katie

9. Kickbox your way into your best shape in Thailand

There’s no way to break through personal limits than learning what it feels like to be punched in the face. Yes, we’re being serious. Spend a week at Sumalee Boxing Gym in Phuket and transform both your body and mind (but not your face — we promise!)

The rigorous daily schedule starts with a 5km run at 7am, followed by two daily 2 hour sessions of Muay Thai training and yoga three times a week. Immerse yourself in Muay Thai philosophy and the discipline required to undertake the sport. Eat freshly prepared meals at the on site restaurant in between sessions at the gym and by the pool. Emerge from the week feeling invincible.

www.sumaleeboxinggym.com

10. Do a headstand on a Bhutan mountain top

Experience a life-changing week exploring the wilderness and sanctity in the hills of Bhutan while delving deeper into your yoga at the iconic Uma Paro Hotel by COMO hotels. Everyday after your morning yoga practice, enjoy privately guided hiking through the Paro and Thimphu valleys and finish the day with a second practice and meditation. Highlights include an optional hair-raising descent by bike after hiking up to Chele La Pass on day three and taking in the remarkable Taktsang ‘Tiger’s Nest’ Monastery on day five. In between, enjoy the luxury and nourishing comfort of one of COMO’s most sought after experiences, and never, ever, want to leave. 

Enjoy a 15% discount off reservations (minimum 3 night stay) until 31st August 2015, and if you mention MAYYA Movement at the time of reservation you will receive a complimentary airport transfer and 15% discount off Spa treatments.

Himalayan Discovery with Yoga

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Photo: UMA by COMO PARA