Best fitness vacations: Surfing in Sri Lanka, the Everest skydive, white water rafting in Brunei and more
Not everyone desires an idyllic respite during a well-earned vacation. For those who like to keep up the adrenaline and remain at an active pace — we got you. Your travel destinations should have all the heart-racing, blood-pumping excitement you crave; and we don't believe in settling for less. Read on for the thrilling activities and where to travel to get the best experiences of them.
Mountain Biking in Vietnam
When to go: November to May
Staying active doesn't always just entail partaking in an activity or sport. Sometimes, you can combine physicality with entrenching yourself in rich cultures and histories — like this bike route along the famed Ho Chi Minh trail in Vietnam. Whether the roads are unpaved or bumpy, make sure to ask them what they've seen; the Viet Cong marched there when delivering supplies from the north to the south during the war. Physically, the route itself can prove to be quite the challenge, with the whole tour spanning over eight days. In actuality, the roads you'll encounter are only half of the entire Ho Chi Minh trail (the other half is already outside of Vietnamese borders), but you'll definitely be well-acquainted with the professional bikes rented to you, because the cycling distance is approximately 860 kilometers in total. What's more is that along the way, you get to visit several scenic Vietnamese landmarks, giving you a well-rounded, authentic experience steeped in demanding biking.
Skydive over the peaks of Mount Everest in Nepal
When to go: October or November
The pricier of the bunch, this activity is nonetheless one of those bucket-list items too special to skive on. Just imagine: a chopper brings you up to face the majesty that is Mount Everest. Then, you jump — and land on some of highest drop zones located within the pristine Himalayan environment. Oh right, we missed out the magical white that envelops you as you fall, and the terrifying altitudes from which you behold various towering peaks and barely manage to take it all in. Nearby, the Sagarmatha National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage area) can act as a warm-up or cool-down detour to round off the exhilaration of your big jump. We think there are more ways to conquer the highest point in the world than mountaineering, and the Everest Skydive might just be it.
Heli-skiing in Tien Shan, Uzbekistan
When to go: second half of January to mid-April
There's something about the dissonance between skiing and the instinct to stay inside when it's -3°C that gives this sport an extra cool factor (pun intended). In Uzbekistan, they do you one better — complete with a helicopter ride that gives you exclusive access to a less-travelled area of the Tien Shan mountains, you get a unique opportunity to take your skis out for a spin on all sorts of snowy terrain. Joyriders can slide to their hearts' content on slopes up to 10 kilometers long, breathing in the cold and taking in the expanse of white possessing that irreplaceable icy allure. And if you're the sort who loves doing tricks, nature has provided: rocks and natural ski jumps abound in these heavenly mountains.
White Water Rafting in Brunei
When to go: all year (subject to daily weather conditions)
DIYers up for a wet adventure should take note of this particular activity. With the option to build your own raft, you get the full experience of making the vehicle that will carry you down the Temburong river, all the while praying that the strong currents of the water don't rip apart any shoddy workmanship. We're joking — the raft parts include sturdy PVC tubing and reliable wooden rigging prepared by the professionals (who will, of course, also be there in case you need any guidance). Building the rafts aside, we assure you that this will not be a serene cruise down a stream; it's you and your paddles against the unyielding, powerful white waters of Brunei, so prepare yourselves for a bumpy ride.
Surfing and yoga in Sri Lanka
When to go: November to May (more crowds, but more sun)
The ocean — peaceful and tumultuous, gentle and willful, deep and everlasting. For those who want a vacation that both relaxes and invigorates, perhaps a surf and yoga retreat with Soul and Surf is what you're looking for. Paddle your way to riding the best Sri Lankan waves with their structured surf school courses that offer a range of beginner to pro levels. Or if you like discovering new spots, join a smaller, intimate guide group that'll bring you to secretive locales away from the crowds, where you can focus on feeling the water without the distractions of the background din that comes with tourists. Back-benders can unwind with the ample yoga sessions offered at Soul and Surf, so both your body and mind are challenged (and pampered!) in accordance with your active travel goals.