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The best active adventures in Asia worth adding to your bucket list

Take a break from the beach and experience all Asia has to offer

By Saskia Morrison-Thiagu for Time Out in association with Ubank

One of the best things about Asia is how truly diverse it is. You have the snowy Himalayas in Nepal, the beautiful cherry blossoms of Japan, the stunning coastlines of Thailand and the busy streets of India. 

While many Aussies love a beachside holiday with plenty of rest and relaxation, you’d be missing out on a whole lot of fun if you overlooked adventure activities in Asia. That’s why we put together this list of some of the best, which you can surf, dive and jump in below. 

To make this trip abroad much easier, ubank offers Spend accounts which come with a Visa debit card and no ATM or international transaction fees charged by ubank, and a Save account to fund your adventures. Plus, ubank have an easy-to-use app. So let’s explore!

Trek through jaw-dropping high altitude views at the foothills of the Himalayas

No list of active adventures is complete without a trek up the blissful and daunting Himalayan mountains in Nepal. While we don’t recommend trying your luck at Mt Everest, we do think it’s worth exploring some of the more beginner friendly climbs. However, it’s important to note that any trek requires a very good fitness baseline, so it’s recommended to train in advance if you plan to take on a multiple day hike. For clear skies and mild temperatures, it’s best to do these hikes in September to November – or March to May for great views and blooming flowers. 

One great climb for those looking for a challenge is the Annapurna Base Camp trek, which can take up to ten days to complete. Prepare to spend eight hours a day walking up steep mountain tops, while basking in the sheer wonder of these culturally rich hiking trails. For those looking for a slightly shorter hike that doesn’t compromise on stunning views, try Poon Hill. The climb will take less than five days, and once you reach the top (depending on the weather) you’ll get clear views of the Annapurna Himalayan range.

Walk a centuries old pilgrimage at the Batu Caves in Malaysia

Planning a trip to Malaysia? Make sure you venture out from Kuala Lumpur to explore some of the country’s rich cultural heritage. Something you may not know about Malaysia is that it has a thriving Tamil Hindu population, who in 1920 built a Hindu temple in the heart of the Batu Caves. For over a century, Hindus from around the world have made the pilgrimage to the 40-metre high golden statue of Hindu God Lord Murugan situated at the cave’s entrance. 

People of all-ages can be seen climbing the cave’s colourful steps, but it’s no easy feat – you’ll be climbing 272 rock stairs. So make sure to pack plenty of water, cover your shoulders and watch out for monkeys.

Dive down to the ocean floor to see shipwrecks at Sangat Island, Philippines

Off the coast of Palawan in the Philippines is a large concentration of shipwrecks due to the bombing of Japanese ships during World War II. From the horrors of war to a diving resort, the Sangat Island Resort now invites guests to scuba dive down the shadowy depths of the ocean floor to marvel at these shipwreck sites in person. Novice divers can also learn the ropes from experienced instructors who offer courses for any level.

Aside from diving, there are also plenty of other activities to partake in at the resort including kayaking, paddle boarding and rock climbing. The best way to get to Sangat Island is via Manila, enjoy a night’s rest there before taking a domestic flight to Busuanga. If you plan to extend your stay in Manila for longer, then check out our list of best things to do here.

Try your luck at Bali’s most epic surf break at Padang Padang beach in Bali

Surfers from around the world make the journey to Bali to ride the powerful swells of Padang Padang beach. And it’s not just the waves that make the beach so attractive to tourists, it’s the laid back atmosphere and heavenly views that really sweeten the deal. For the experienced surfers, the Padang Padang pipeline is a must-try. However, for the less experienced surfers, there’s plenty of opportunities to try surfing at one of the many surf camps. Did we mention that the beach features in Eat, Pray, Love? Well, all the more reason to visit yourself and catch some waves. For more things to do in Bali, check out our list here.

Say goodbye to your fear of heights by jumping off China's Macau Tower

If bungee jumping off cliff tops doesn’t quite tickle your fancy, what about taking a leap of faith off the tallest building in Macau, China. In fact, this jump is the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. At 233 metres tall, you’ll get the best view of the city before diving head-first toward the ground. If that’s a little too scary for you (and we don’t blame you) there’s also the sky jump, which is a controlled 17-second descent down the Macau Tower. You’ll be upright the entire time, and fully-able to take in the wonderful 360 surrounds of the city. For more ground friendly activities in Macau, check out our list of the best things to do in the city.

Lose your mind (and maybe a paddle) white water rafting in the river Ganges

There is truly so much to explore in India, that you might easily forget it’s one of the best destinations for white water rafting thanks to the river Ganges. Rishikesh in Uttarakhand is known as the rafting capital of India due to its epic rapids that range from a gentle grade I to a thrilling grade IV. So it’s perfect for the adrenaline junkies, and also those hoping for a slightly smoother ride. While Rishikesh is a fan fave for white water rapids, it’s also worth exploring other white water rafting spots, like the Kunalika river in Maharahstra or the Kali River in Karnataka. For more of the best places to visit in India, check out our list here.

Swim through awe-inspiring lost worlds at Paradise Cave in Vietnam

Made famous by the movie Godzilla, Paradise Cave is just as spectacular as it sounds. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park beholds a cave system that extends for a whopping 31 kilometres that’s like stepping into a lost world. Picture breathtaking stalagmites and stalactites that look otherworldly, while you descend from a wooden staircase. For a truly active adventure, book in for the Paradise Cave tour: which includes a swim through the underground river and lunch under a light shaft. This 7km journey through the caves will truly take your breath away, plus the swim in between will be a memory you will never forget. For more things to do in Vietnam check out our list of best things to do.

If any one of these has signalled your inner adrenaline-junkie, start saving now with ubank. Use the offer code “TIMEOUT20” when you join and make five eligible card purchases in your first 30 days and score $20*.

*Make 5 eligible card purchases in the first 30 days to unlock sign up bonus. Terms and conditions apply.

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