tales of travel

Stories, insights, recipes and more from all over Asia.


While there are endless adventures in Asia and the Pacific, here are our top 4 adventure experiences. If you don’t see something you’re interested in, one of our travel experts can help you find YOUR adventure of a lifetime.

Bhutan: Trekking in the Foothils

In the midst of Asia, yet surrounded by mighty snow-capped mountains, Bhutan has reveled in an unusual sense of seclusion from the rest of the world, allowing it to forge its own singular path into the contemporary world. Anachronistic yet visionary, Bhutan’s unique appeal lives in its ambivalent attitude towards modernity. It is a land that imported television in 1999 and still requires wearing traditional attire. Yet it is awash in contemporary ideas—progress is measured by Gross National Happiness (instead of GDP) and environmental protection is constitutionally- guaranteed. Come experience this fascinating nation firsthand through the eyes of the gracious and friendly local people.

No trip to Bhutan should be without a trekking experience, be it for a few hours or a few days for the the more adventurous. Either way, we can get you there; this is just a short list of possible possibilities.

Bhutan is committed to the preservation of their natural and cultural heritage. All trek routes are carefully planned to avoid detrimental impact on the surrounding environment and its inhabitants.

Bumthang Cultural Trek: This easy trek winds through villages and mountain monasteries, allowing access to traditional Bhutanese rural culture. (Plan 3 days. Easy.)

Druk Path Trek: This wonderfully scenic high-altitude route accesses remote alpine lakes and yak herders’ camps and boasts views of the Bhutanese Himalayas. (Plan 4-6 days. Moderate.)

Merak–Sakteng Trek: This remote, unvisited sector of eastern Bhutan was only opened to travelers in 2011. Wild rhododendron forests, fog- shrouded passes and roaring streams lead to remote, seldom-visited villages. (Plan 6 days. Difficult.)

Samtengang Trek: Just a short distance upstream from the Punakha Dzong. Begin by walking across the long suspension bridge over the Pho Chu, where the trail climbs gently through terraced fields. Soon you’ll leave the cultivated area and enter a pine forest. As you continue gaining elevation, the vegetation changes, with rhododendron, fern, and oak forests draped with Spanish moss.

Looking back into the valley, enjoy wonderful views of Punakha Dzong. Continue on the gradual climb of approximately four hours to the top of the first ridge where, if clear, there are views of Masagang Mountain in the distance. A small chorten and prayer flags mark the pass.

Next follow a level dirt track for about 30 minutes to the village of Limukha, where your car will be waiting with the lunch.

Note: All overnight tyreks utilize tents, guides and porters, with yak and pony support. Lengths are approximate and difficulty ratings are relative. Please speak to your Travel Expert before deciding to include a trek in your itinerary.

Indonesia: Raja Ampat Sailing

Indonesia’s 17,000 islands are scattered across the Pacific, covering an area comparable to that of California to Bermuda. Over 300 distinct cultures comprise Indonesia’s panoply of peoples, arguably the most culturally diverse nation on earth. And the landscape is equally impressive—Indonesia comprises rainforests, sculpted rice fields, ancient monuments, exotic wildlife and idyllic beaches. Immerse yourself in the marvelous array of customs, landscapes, languages and people that has fascinated artists, anthropologists and travelers for centuries.

But, few areas in Indonesia can claim such unsurpassed natural splendor as Raja Ampat’s Wayag islands. Sailing and snorkeling amidst the beauty of these picturesque karst spires is perhaps only equaled by the brilliant colors and vibrancy of the reefs and the marine life that flourishes below. Nature has carved these islands into coves and lagoons, narrow channels and inlets, caves, jagged rocks, and shaded, sandy beaches. Some spectacular but nearly vertical climbs are rewarded with magnificent panoramas for those who dare. You can use the tenders or kayaks to navigate the islands or put your newly acquired fish identification skills to use exploring this vibrant reef.

Thailand: Biking in Bangkok

A magical and gentle land, Thailand offers rich diversity: traditional Buddhist culture, exotic hilltribes, lively arts, exciting nightlife, upscale shopping, deserted islands, lush rainforests and one of the world’s greatest cuisines. From Bangkok’s glittering high rises and dazzling temples to subdued Chiang Mai and the pristine beaches of the South, there are aspects of this beautiful country to suit every taste. Trek between hilltribe villages, watch unusual birdlife or snorkel crystal- clear waters. Cruise along rivers or explore the majestic ruins of ancient civilizations. No matter what side of Thailand you explore, the gentle allure of the people is sure to entice you. Known as the “Land of Smiles,” Thailand really is Asia at its most accessible and welcoming.

Biking and Bangkok are two seemingly opposing words, but we’ve uncovered an urban adventure that is a must if spending any time in this iconic, bustling city. Experience a unique view of Bangkok, traveling by bicycle to see places hardly visited by tourists. Explore very small back streets, alleys, markets, temples and even the small streets and houses below Bangkok’s highways. The tropical landscape and Thai-style homes will shatter all your Western illusions as you discover the “real” Bangkok. This experience gives a true picture of daily life for much of the city’s population.

There are hardly any roads, so you’ll balance on the high concrete paths leading through this picturesque part of Bangkok. These pathways put the crowded roadways of Bangkok far behind you.

Then, load your bikes onto a boat to cross the river. Pack on your bikes, leave the city behind to continue your tour through an oasis of green—the landscape is scattered by fruit plantations and typical Thai-style houses. You’ll likely see only a few cars—no traffic jams, no hassles, no shopping malls, no air-conditioning, no modern-day Bangkok life. It’s surprising to find such a lifestyle just outside of the city’s congestion—it’s as if you are in a remote village.

Please note that this trip is only recommended for those who are comfortable on a bike and are up for some moderate adventure. If you’d prefer a more traditional day of touring instead of a biking adventure, please just speak to your guide—this can be easily arranged.

India: Safari

India’s vast array of cultures and religions has coexisted for millennia, each expressing its traditions through magnificent artistic and architectural achievements. The subcontinent is positively strewn with UNESCO World Heritage sites: preserved palaces, fortresses, temples and even whole cities that have endured the elements and make for wondrous explorations. Urban areas buzz with frenetic energy and a burgeoning middle class, while rural India retains the grace of a slower pace of life. It is only through embracing the contrasts, the vastness and the contradictions, that one truly discovers India.

Nothing says adventure however when you combine a safari, in India, and are in search of the black panther. A black panther, or ‘melanistic leopard’ (any big cat species with excessive black pigment) is a rare sighting. If you are able to get close enough, either in person or with your camera lens, the spots can be seen faintly under their shiny dark coat. Sightings are not only rare, but very serendipitous in India. Therefore, luck is running high in two primary areas that are accessible to our travelers.

Tadoba-Andhari National Park, Maharashtra:  In May a family on safari through the Tadoba-Andhari National Park couldn’t believe what they saw – what they mistook for a civet cat, turned out to be a melanistic leopard. Subsequently, the forest officials were able to capture the leopard through the camera traps. The leopard was spotted in the Kolsa hill range – the word ‘kolsa’ in the local language means coal, a rather appropriate setting for a black panther.

Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka: the melanistic leopard of Nagarhole has been seen quite frequently in the past couple of years – a sighting that draws adventurers from far and wide. This black panther has also earned the epithet, ‘the phantom of the forest’, and has helped to support the funding of the wildlife sanctuary, a necessary endeavor for its own conservation.

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