20 Great Travel Adventures Around The Planet
We’ve scoured the globe for the best trips to suit all tastes!
Hardcore: Beginning in Bangkok, the 13-day Active Thailand hike, bike and raft tour seeks adventure in all corners of the country. Tighten your laces for a trek on foot through dense jungle foliage to hilltribe villages, kayak down the River Kwai and sleep under the stars on exotic jungle rafts.
Softcore: Unwind at the secluded Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in the lush jungle of the Chiang Rai province, where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar converge. Accessible only by riverboat, this exquisite locale houses 15 air-conditioned tented accommodations, complete with handcrafted furnishings, king-size beds and outdoor showers. The resort’s open-air spa offers traditional Thai massage amid serene bamboo jungles.
Hardcore: Want to try cage diving with Australia’s great white sharks? Your adventure begins when you board thePrincess II cruiser for a three- to eight-night trip to the remote Neptune Islands. There, expert guide and shark enthusiast Rodney Fox will guide you through test cage dives, after which participants can enter and exit the cages as they please.
Softcore: Take a three-day snorkelling trip to the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef. On this tour, a 115-foot luxury catamaran will set out for aquatic adventure as the captain leads you to fascinating corals, where you can swim with loggerhead turtles and schools of clownfish.
Hardcore: Soar above New Zealand’s mountain ranges on a wild 14-day hang-gliding tour. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Wakatipu Basin as you fly from one cloud-grazing peak to another. True to its name, the popular peak known as the Remarkables reaches a jaw-dropping, stomach-churning 7,600 feet–just one of the many thrilling jumps on this tour.
Softcore: Hobbits may not require shoes, but you’ll be thankful for yours when you hike from the popular lava and ash fields of the Black Land to the Pillars of the Argonath on this 12-night tour of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Visit the films’ New Zealand studios, see the Powderhorn Chateau–which housed the stars during production–and journey through the Shire, as well as the mossy forests and snow-capped mountains of Middle Earth.
Hardcore: See California’s scenic hot spots from the seat of a motorcycle on this four-day tour. Experience the freedom of the open road along the Pacific Coast Highway and stop for photo ops of the rugged seaside at various coastal bluffs. Whether you hop on your own bike or a rental, it’s all about joyriding across miles of mountainside roads.
Softcore: Follow the wine trail from vine to barrel with a crush camp in the Sonoma valley. You’ll learn by doing as you work alongside cellar hands and winemakers to sort, de-stem and crush grapes, punch down fermentation bins, view wines being pressed to barrel and participate in the sensory analysis of different grape varietals. It’s the real deal!
Hardcore: Wannabe sea captains can combine adventure with education as they learn to navigate gorgeous Caribbean waters–from the Grenadine Islands to the Virgin Islands–and clock hours toward their captain’s licence. The basic five-day tour teaches introductory sailing techniques for beginners or it can be refined to suit more advanced sailors. As part of the crew, you’ll also be expected to help prepare meals. Now that’s teamwork!
Softcore: Steer your way through the unspoiled waters of the Bahamas’ Exumas, exploring Caribbean islands, coral reefs and beaches in the comfort of your own personal houseboat. Spend lazy afternoons partying with fellow houseboaters or relaxing in the area’s remote bays, with all the swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving you can handle.
Hardcore: Canadian mountain biking guru Mike Brcic–founder and president of Sacred Rides Mountain Bike Holidays–hosts this riding and surfing extravaganza. Chile’s mountainous trails offer descents of up to 10,000 vertical feet and the skyscraping Andes mountains as a backdrop. And the Pacific Ocean boasts some of the world’s most spectacular swells. This nine-day trip promises an unprecedented high for even the most hardcore cyclist or surfer.
Softcore: Take a five-day walking tour of Easter Island and journey amid its curious statues, or Moai, originally erected as shrines to ancient deities. While the mysterious origins of the tiny South Pacific island’s once-sacred monuments remain the island’s most popular attraction, visitors from all over the planet also seek out its volcanic quarries and tropical Anakena Beach.
Hardcore: Known as kitesurfing, or kiteboarding, this water sport features a kite for a sail and is quickly becoming a favorite among extreme-sport addicts who execute crazy stunts as their kites gather wind and propel them through the water. This 10-day kitesurfing tour, which is recommended for beginner to intermediate riders, will take you across Brazil’s exotic beaches.
Softcore: Go fly-fishing for pirarucu (which can exceed 200 pounds!) and peacock bass in the Agua Boa River, located deep within the Amazon rainforest. During this seven-night tour, the Agua Boa Lodge provides decked-out accommodations, where guests can relax in outdoor hammocks or hang out at the bar, keeping their eyes peeled for monkeys, parrots, toucans and anteaters.
Hardcore: Cycle up an appetite on this six-day bike tour through the bucolic Tuscan countryside, passing through olive groves, vineyards and small country villages. Riders should expect a hilly ride that typically covers about 22 miles per day.
Softcore: Perfect your Italian culinary skills and immerse yourself in the country’s sensuous culture with the seven-day Tuscan Chef tour. Artichoke risotto, stuffed zucchini and almond biscuits are examples of some of the classic Italian dishes you’ll prepare during your three cooking lessons. Enjoy a stay at a restored 17th-century villa and savor the fruits of your labor as you dine on scrumptious culinary creations. Yum!
Hardcore: During this seven-night whitewater rafting adventure, you’ll navigate the unruly waters of the Austrian Tyrol. More than just rafting, this guided tour also includes wild-water swimming across rapids to spectacular gorges in the Alps. A good night’s sleep–and some Austrian Tyrolean charm–awaits you at one of the area’s chalets.
Softcore: Austria’s golf culture might be green, but its courses are above par. Known as the “golfing center of the Alps,” the small town of Kitzbühel hosts plenty of comfortable accommodations and is a great launching pad for your golfing vacation, with four world-class 18-hole courses nearby. Voted the best course in Austria in Golf Digest, the Eichenheim is a must-play for golf enthusiasts, with more than 6,000 metres of beautiful Alpine scenery.
Hardcore: Experience an up-close-and-personal African safari as you charge through the desert on the back of a four-by-four. Glimpse lion prides napping in the mid-afternoon sun, follow the tracks of buffalo herds and visit the grassy plains of the cheetah. Whether you stay at KwaZulu-Natal’s Phinda Forest Lodge in a rare dry sand forest or in one of the thatched bush cottages of Phinda Zuka Lodge, the abodes offer a luxe respite during this seven-day adventure.
Softcore: Camp Jabulani’s elephant-back safari offers a view-from-above tour that will put you face to face with giraffes. Afternoon safaris end with an elegant outdoor feast that awaits guests at sunset. Later, mosey on over to one of Camp Jabulani’s six luxury suites, where a butler is assigned to meet your heart’s desires.
Image(s): Top to bottom: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts; Cage diving with sharks in Australia (rodneyfox.com.au); The Lord of the Rings tour in New Zealand (Red Carpet Tours); Chilling in California's wine country (Galina Barskaya/iStock); Smooth sailing in the Caribbean (In the Wild Yacht Charters); Easter Island's mysterious statues (Matt Naylor/iStock); Kitesurfing in Brazil (Artmann Witte/iStock); Work up an appetite in Tuscany (Rolf Weschke/iStock); Wild-water swimming in Austria (Minister Travel Service Ltd.); An elephant-back safari in South Africa (Camp Jabulani).