Thrilling travels in South-East Asia

Thrilling travels in South-East Asia
Mount Bromo, East Java
PHOTO: Pixabay

We've got sun, sand, thriving cities and a rich cultural heritage. Some people, however, want a bit more thrill when they travel. Let's see what we have in the ASEAN region.

First up: Volcanoes! If you can't find your thrills on a huge "burning mountain", then there are truly no thrills to be had. And that's why an increasing number of adventure tourists in Indonesia are taking to the "smoking" heights to enjoy the strange pleasures afforded by these towering natural wonders.


Batu Tara Volcano, Komba Island, Indonesia. More and more thrill-seekers are choosing to walk along volcanic mountains.
Photo: GoAsean

Located in the heart of the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is home to over a hundred volcanoes. Some, like the beautiful Kawah Ijen in East Java, reward intrepid hikers with views of a mysterious turquoise sulphur lake, which at night gives off an ethereal blue glow.

Great smouldering craters and eerie volcanic landscapes aren't enough for some people; they want their adventure to be a bit more active. Increasing numbers of tourists are going out of their way to visit active volcanoes, like Mount Merapi, on the border of Central Java and Yogyakarta, drawn by the images of fiery burning cauldrons and twisted lava remains.


The stunning view atop Kawah Ijen, East Java, Indonesia.
Photo: GoAsean

It goes without saying that volcanoes can be dangerous places. Among the more obvious risks, like the burning, red hot magma, they can release colourless and odourless toxic gases. If your feet are the kind that wish to tread upon the blackened, smouldering surface of an active volcano, use a reputable company and closely monitor volcano alert levels.

Enough of the hot stuff. Thrill-seekers looking for a way to cool off can find another kind of adventure right here in Malaysia. Whitewater rafting has become increasingly popular in recent years, pitting man against river in the heart-pounding excitement of navigating great rapids and turbulent waterfalls.


Give it a go: Whitewater rafting on the Selangor River in Kuala Kubu Baru, Malaysia.
Photo: GoAsean

Malaysia is blessed with many great rivers flowing through its beautiful jungles which make up much of the country. You can challenge yourself on Class 2 and 3 waters, going against mild rapids - this is suitable for most experience levels. For something more "dangerous", you can throw yourself into the frothing deep end of Class 4 and 5 rivers, where thrill-seekers can test their mettle against the violent rapids.

Like most adenalin-pumping activities, rafting can be a dangerous affair in rivers with higher grading levels. Thankfully, there are a number of companies that can steer you on your way. This heart-pounding activity can be enjoyed throughout the length and breadth of the country.


Cliff rock-climbing over the Andaman Sea in Krabi, Thailand.
Photo: GoAsean

For some adventure-seekers, deep-water soloing fulfils their craving for thrills. This is a form of rope-free rock-climbing on sea cliffs. It offers an adrenaline-fuelled experience as well as some truly stupendous views. Enjoy life suspended from the limestone cliffs that line the Andaman coast, to the west of Thailand, staring down at the deep blue of the water below as your hands grip the cliff rock tenaciously.

In many cases, you can simply kayak out to the cliffs, limber up with your climbing shoes and perhaps a bit of chalk, and get ready to scale the ragged cliffs that loom above. With the safety of the deep water below, the only barrier to your climb is your own ambition. And if you manage to reach the top? Just dive into the warm blue water … then try another route!

For those who are less inclined towards this risky sport, there's nothing to stop you from just enjoying the pleasure of a kayak trip out to the cliffs, and a bit of a snorkel around while your more daring friends take to the cliffs above.

However, you need to be very careful with deep-water soloing; make sure that the water below is safe, just in case you fall. Thailand's Krabi region has some very established routes and locations that offer trips for various experience levels. Just do your research and make sure you've got knowledgeable guides.

Thankfully, being up in the air doesn't always have to end with a stomach-lurching drop. There is an increasing number of sky parks and treetop adventure tours for thrill-seekers to explore. These treetop adrenaline tours use guide ropes, zip wires and walkways to offer visitors the chance to explore the leafy heights.

Malaysia, too, has several of these sky-high adventures, from Malacca to Langkawi, and there are similar adventures throughout the region. Some of them will see you travelling at speeds of 70kph! There's even a zipline at Balungao, Pangasinan, in the Philippines, that's over 1.5km long! Thanks to the safety wire attached to you on your adventure, you can enjoy the thrill without falling.

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