The rise of adventure tourism (and where to immerse in it)

Adventure tourism and extreme sports are popular among millennial tourists. Pic: Marben/Shutterstock

ADVENTURE tourism is one of the fastest growing travel categories and is reportedly valued at a whopping US$263 billion. It is a trend that will likely remain popular as more people, especially millennials, opt to enrich their lives with experiences rather than possessions.  

But as budding adventurers flock to the most desirable destinations; some experiences could be in danger of losing their unique edge.

With this in mind, here’s a list of the more unusual activities on offer in the Asia-Pacific region to inspire your travel plans and ensure they maintain an element of originality.

Via Ferrata

A narrow Via Ferrata walkway atop Mount Hua Shan in the Shaanxi province near Xi’an, China. Source: flocu/Shutterstock

Hikers keen to take their mountain ascents to the next level will enjoy Via Ferrata.

Using a mixture of techniques, brave walkers can climb to dizzying heights along an “Iron Way” of metal rungs, ladders, tightrope bridges and swinging planks that are permanently secured to a mountain face.

To experience the world’s highest Via Ferrata route, head to Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia. The Low’s Peak Circuit offers breathtaking views and a challenging but achievable summit, 3,776m above sea level.


Flyboarding on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. Source: Suwan Wanawattanawong/Shutterstock

A new addition to extreme water sports, flyboarding allows thrill seekers to soar 10m into the air and perform a number of daring tricks from backflips and spins to dives and barrel rolls.

To gain its flight power, the Flyboard is attached to a personal watercraft which propels water through a long connecting hose, before forcing it out through two jets on the underside of the board.

The activity is now available at several destinations, including Pattaya in Thailand which has a dedicated Flyboard Station a short distance from its Underwater World resort.


A tourist has some fun at OGO Zorbing Rotorua. Source: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock

From the safety of a giant, double-sectioned, transparent orb, Zorb riders negotiate the bends or slopes of a specially designed course.

There are two variations: Zydro, where water is added to the sphere and the rider sits or lies as they travel the Zorb route, and Zorbit, which sees the rider harnessed inside so they can roll with the orb.

Zorbing activity centers can be found around the world, but the original is located in Rotorua, New Zealand. It boasts eight ride variations and fours tracks including “The Drop”, which features a hair-raising 25m descent.

Ice climbing

A tourist dangles off ice at the Yatsugatake Chushin-Kogen Quasi-National Park. Source: kyogan/Shutterstock

For daredevils, ice climbing presents a unique challenge and a chance to use ice axes and crampons alongside traditional rock climbing techniques to ascend frozen waterfalls, angled rivers, gullies and other ice formations.

The area around Mount Akadake on the Yatsugatake mountain range in Japan is one of the best places in Asia to enjoy the activity. It offers a number of easy and hard ice climbs including “Ice Candy”, a vast artificial wall located at the Akadake Kosen.

Freshwater diving

Freshwater dives present interesting marine life. Source: Vladimir Wrangel/Shutterstock

Freshwater diving is ideal for adventurous scuba divers that want to explore lesser-known lakes, rivers, reservoirs, caves systems, and sinkholes.

Although visibility can vary, a good number of locations have relatively clear water. Divers can expect to see any number of things from unique rock formations and a diverse range of marine life, to shipwrecks.

At some dive sites such as Qiandao Lake in Zhejiang, there is even the opportunity to investigate a sunken city, Shi Cheng. Divers are able to see the submerged relics and buildings that lie some 40 meters below the surface.

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