Consider these 5 holiday activities in pristine regional settings when your wanderlust has you seeking wilderness.
While cities such as Bangkok, Hong Kong and Seoul routinely top the list of favourite Asian travel destinations, there is a growing number of travellers who look to the trees, mountains, corals and caves instead. Nature-based tourism accounts for about 20 percent of total international travel – and continues to grow, per the latest statistics from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. Here are a handful of earth-friendly ideas:
Where: Hang Son Doong Cave, Vietnam
The cave, which is located in the heart of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in central Vietnam, was discovered by a local man in the 1990s, who promptly lost its location and finally re-discovered it almost 20 years later. Adventurous travellers can see the sun shine through enormous sinkholes, camp in vast caverns and explore the cave’s otherworldly interior, containing clouds, rivers, jungles and stalagmites up to 80 metres high. Book a tour with Oxalis Adventure Tours, the only company that can conduct tours to the cave.
Where: Manado, Indonesia
A diving destination for almost all interests and skill levels, Manado, in the North Sulawesi province, is generally separated into two popular straits. Lembeh is one of the world’s most remarkable destinations for muck diving, in which divers scour the silty seabed to spot weird- looking fish such as hairy frogfish and pygmy seahorses.
Looking for a blue-sea dive? Head to Bunaken, where the water’s visibility reaches 20 to 40 metres, and you can admire abundant soft coral and schools of fish. Dive resorts are aplenty – start by visiting the republic’s Ministry of Tourism.
NEXT: Forest Bathing →
Where: Tohoku and Yakushima, Japan
For centuries, the Japanese have turned to forests for peace and solitude. In 1982, the Japanese forestry ministry introduced the term shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing”, as part of the country’s national preventative healthcare programme. Practitioners take slow walks to relax, observe their surroundings and breathe in fresh air, which has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and stress levels.
Some of Japan’s healthiest forests are found in the region of Tohoku. Towada-Hachimantai National Park has dozens of trails through forests of oak, cedar, cherry, dogwood, beech and maple trees. Farther south, the sub- tropical island of Yakushima is covered by an extensive cedar forest, which contains some of Japan’s oldest living trees. Known as yakusugi, the trees are at least 1,000 years old, with some believed to be more than 7,000 years old.
NEXT: Mountain Trekking →
Visitors need to trek to many of the remote eastern Himalayan kingdom’s main attractions: To see the crystal-clear Jimiling Lake and views of Gangkar Puensum, the highest unscaled mountain in the world, travellers take the popular Druk path trek. Over six days, they climb to 4,200 metres to look at ancient villages and blue pine forests.
Taktsang Lhakhang (The Tiger’s Nest temple), Bhutan’s most iconic landmark, is located on a cliff face 900 metres above the Paro Valley and accessible only by a two-hour hike. Most treks take place from March to June and September to November. Visitors must pay a tourist tariff of at least US$200 ($267) a night and tours must be organised via certified Bhutanese operators like Druk Asia.
NEXT : Bird Watching →
Where: Kapiti Island, New Zealand
The island is considered a birdwatcher’s paradise, as it’s home to a range of re introduced native birds such as the takahe, North Island kokako, stitchbird, North Island saddleback, tomtit, North Island robin (toutouwai) and the little spotted kiwi. Spot them on Kapiti Island Nature Tours’ tour (from $167), which includes a night walk and accommodation in a luxury tent or lodge.
NEXT: Caving →
Additional Reporting by Hazel Vincent De Paul
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