Many of you reading this article are just like me: seasoned travellers with even years or even decades of experience going all around the globe. There are many ways to do this, some ways better than others. There are so many variations: what to do when, where to stay, how to travel, etc.
Over the years, the savvy traveller finds that his or her tastes start to change slowly, based on past experiences, and often based just as much on what you have not done as what you have done already.
Trekking or cycling vacations for example, would make for the perfect adventure holiday. While definitely gaining in popularity, they are in this author’s humble opinion a very underrated way of getting around and seeing the world. Let’s face it: seeing the world this way offers a lot of very very distinct advantages, especially when you compare it to some of the more traditional ways of seeing the planet.
Off The Beaten Path.
This is the end of the year 2018, as of the writing of this article. Things have changed in the past 20 years or so. In fact, in that time frame, in most of the world, things have changed a whole lot.
But one of the major trends worldwide over the past generation or so is that the world is rapidly shrinking. This has a lot of good sides to it, in fact, but as for someone who wants to travel the world, it means that the experience (while a lot easier) is a lot less rich than it was 20 or even 10 short years ago!
One can find oneself going from airport to airport, from city to city, and basically drinking the same drinks and eating the same food, even on some routes you will wind up speaking English almost the whole time! Once again, the convenience factor is great, especially for people who travel for business or other reasons, but for the intrepid, this means that foreign cities offer much less fun factor than they used to.
If you go on a trekking/cycling vacation, you are all but guaranteed to see the REAL country of your destination. However much of its traditions are still intact in any sense whatsoever, you are all but guaranteed to bump up against all of them. You will eat the different food, see the different sites, you will come in touch with things that will blow your mind. And you will meet much more interesting and friendly people who will have different mindsets, and you WILL come away enriched by the experience.
Healthy Is Happy
Of course, another excellent reason to trek or bike on your next vacation is the obvious one: it’s healthy!
Instead of being stuck in airports and traffic jams most of the time, you will be using your body in the way nature intended it. In fact, the first few days may even be very rough on you, depending on what kind of shape you are in to start, and, of course, your level of activity back home.
But even if there’s a tough initiation period to go through to get your body back into the rhythm of regular exercise again, it will be over fairly quickly with the constant stimulation you are giving it.
Of course, it is very important for you to remember the basics: give your body plenty of time to sleep and also plenty of non-sleep time to recover, pace yourself and don’t try to cover too much ground in too short of a time, and make sure you stay well fueled and well hydrated.Make sure your clothes suit the climate(s) you will be in, for the whole duration of your trip (pro tip: use layers against the cold).
Drop Out And Re-Connect
The third and final point I want to make here is I think in many ways the absolutely most important.
Trekking and cycling in a remote regions forces you off the grid! This may even sound horrible for more than a few of you, but trust me, it’s an incredible benefit.
Almost everybody HAS to stay connected in today’s world; many of us wouldn’t even be able to do our jobs otherwise! But this is also a huge double-edged sword. And just being able to get a reset for a week or two is incredibly good for you psychologically.
Almost like a parallel to what can happen to you physically as you get back into a healthy lifestyle, you may even feel withdrawal from the internet for the first little while. If this happens, just relax and ride it out. It will go away much sooner than you think, just like the physical aches and pains would. And you will be a lot better for it, and come out with a whole new perspective as to the universe and your own place in it. As a matter of fact, the harder it was on you, the more you actually needed it in the first place!
Don’t get me wrong; the world is a better place now than it was before, and it’s getting better and better all the time, but sometimes there are side effects to all this rapid advancement; we are in many ways losing out on having full and active social lives like we used to. Ultimately we are probably going to have to figure out how to obtain a proper balance between being connected with technology and connected with ourselves and with nature and the rest of our environment.
Hopefully this article has encouraged you to think twice about your next vacation, and, if you have never trekked or cycled on vacation before, to take the plunge and go for it. It is an experience almost nobody ever regrets, ever, and we’re sure it would almost certainly be a positive one for all concerned. Seriously, don’t think about it twice; just do it once 🙂
It is fast becoming the go-to vacation for this author and for many other people like him all around the world, and, if you’ve gotten this far in this article, you now have many reasons why.
We hope that you’d leave a comment to us in the comments section below if you also have any experience with this, or if you have any more questions regarding this very special type of vacation.
In closing, we would like to wish everybody reading this admittedly rather longish post the bes of good luck and a happy New Year to all, and hopefully we will see you somewhere on the trails.
Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt
Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:
We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!
Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!
Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!
Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!
Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.
On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:
The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.
Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!
The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.
We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!
Running with the Bulls Video
Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.
We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.
All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.
Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.
Unfortunately, I was standing in their path.
What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.
Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!
Running with the Bulls Video
Would you ever consider running with the bulls?
While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide
Find out how you can explore the streets, canals and local markets within minutes of Bangkok with our Outdoor Activities in Bangkok Adventure City Guide.
Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Why visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is one of the world’s largest metropolises and a gateway for most of the world to access the rest of South East Asia. With numbers surpassing 14 million people in the Greater Bangkok Region, this is no small player in the world’s super-cities. Of course, having such a long history with foreign visitors, the city has become incredibly established in the world’s tourist sector.
This has allowed it to grow many facets of adventurous activities – making access to something for everyone!
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok
Exploring the Klongs
Klongs are canals that used to feed the entire city with life-giving water, branched off from the city’s main artery – the Chao Phraya River. Today, the locals wouldn’t drink the water if you paid them, but there is still a fascinating life along the Klongs’ banks. There is so much to explore, from floating markets to old houses on stilts, and it gives insight into this ancient way of life!
What’s it cost, and how to get to the Klongs?
You can usually arrange the Klongs from the pier “Saphan Taksin” along the Chao Phraya River. This is conveniently a stop on the Skytrain, making it very easy to access. Usually, you will be renting the entire boat for the day (about 1000 THB, or USD 35) and not paying a per-person rate. So if you can find a few people to go with, the price will drop significantly per person.
Rickshaw City Tours
If you’ve never been to Asia before, Rickshaws are one of the most fun ways to get around. Although they can often be a little more expensive than metered taxis, you get an experience (and a view) that is unparalleled, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok.
What’s it cost?
Occasionally, you can even haggle a deal for a city tour for next to nothing (50-100 THB or $1.50-3 USD), as long as you visit a couple of affiliated ‘custom suit tailors’ throughout the day, as they’ll get a kickback from the shops just for bringing you there… No purchase is necessary.
You can often find Tuk Tuk drivers willing to do this standing along the perimeter of the Kings’ Palace. It may take a few attempts of asking for a ‘special city tour,’ but you will be bound to find someone ready for a cut of this business.
Local Secret Spot
Though most people wouldn’t consider going to a market an adventure, they probably have never experienced the likes of Chatuchak (also known as JJs). This is one of SE Asia’s LARGEST outdoor markets. It’s so prominent that you can find maps of the market to help navigate. It’s roughly the size of 4 city blocks and is divided into various sections.
You’ll find everything under the sun here, from clothing to handicrafts, food, mobile phones, and even puppies and other cute critters for sale!! It’s bonkers. If it gets too much for you, you can take a break in one of Bangkok’s most famous parks (Chatuchak park), located next to the market.
How to get there?
You can get here via Skytrain (BTS), subway (MRT), taxi, bus, you name it – it’s very accessible! But it’s only open on weekends, from about dawn until 5 or 6 pm at its peak. Some shops stay open longer, but most will be closed by dusk. It’s free entry and a perfect place to buy ANY souvenirs at the end of your time in Thailand.
Suppose you can coordinate to be here on the weekend. I generally hate shopping for ‘stuff,’ but I love this market and its energy!
Best time of the year to visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is in the tropics and quite close to the Equator. Of course, this means it’s hot on a year-round basis.
It’s considered the rainy season from May to October, though showers can happen at any time of the year. This is generally a less busy time for tourists, though the rains are not quite as bad as expected and often only last 30 mins-1 hour, cooling the city’s heart. Peak season is in December-January when temperatures are at their most astounding ad driest… though it’s still pretty hot!
And if Bangkok isn’t to your taste, the luxury Koh Samui will be. Endless sandy beach, beautiful clear waters, and nightlife that could be lived in forever. The luxury rental properties are stunning, and we recommend Tempston Luxury villa rentals.
Finally, the reason I love Bangkok for adventure is that…
It’s never-ending. This city is SO BIG that you could get lost in a new neighborhood almost every day. Single. Day. And still find new, exciting things to explore. On my list for the upcoming weeks, I’ve got the Scala Cinema, the Thai Air Force Museum, Papaya Vintage Shop, and the Erawan Museum – to name a few. Every time I explore one place, I learn of 3 more!!
From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He’s since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. You can follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and his travel blog Where Sidewalks End.
Have you been to Bangkok? What were your favorite outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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