5 travel experiences for workout buffs to try

Welcome to the age of the fitness vacation — when people go on holiday to do things like hike, bike, run, and not much else.

People cycling along a field in Vietnam.
  • Alison Goh
  • November 2019

You might have noticed on your social media feeds that more of your friends are heading abroad for dive trips, trekking expeditions and marathons — and no, we’re not talking about the kind that involves eating and shopping non-stop.

“More people see it as a priority to treat their bodies well [when on holiday], spending days or weeks pursuing their interests, be it yoga, Pilates or Muay Thai,” says Charlyn Ding, founder of Om & Away, a Singapore-based wellness travel portal. “It’s the perfect holiday for stressed out people who need a break from work, or a jump-start to get fit and healthy.”

Want in on the trend? Here are five fitness-focused holidays to try in Asia and Australia.

1. Pick up Muay Thai in Bangkok

Muay Thai fighter training.
Petchyindee Academy might be beginner-friendly, but make no mistake — it’s one of the top Muay Thai gyms in the city, and is the training home for dozens of champion fighters.

While many Muay Thai gyms in Bangkok are geared towards seasoned fighters, a growing number cater to all levels, including travellers looking for an active holiday. Petchyindee Academy opens in new window is especially great if you’re just starting out. It offers world-class training facilities, and both group and one-on-one lessons conducted by some of the best trainers in town. For the full Muay Thai experience, you can sign up for the beginner’s training programme opens in new window, a one-week course that includes meals and accommodation at the gym’s on-site hotel on top of an intensive training regime.

Address: 36/36 Charan Sanitwong 34 Alley, Arun Amarin, Bangkok Noi, Bangkok 10700
Tel: +66 94 659 5642
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2. Discover Vietnam by bike

Cyclists in Vietnam sharing a path with Vietnamese men riding buffalos.
The tour takes you through quiet country lanes where you’ll get a glimpse of rural Vietnamese life.

This seven-day Vietnam Heritage by Bicycle Tour takes you on a 250-kilometre journey through Vietnam’s central landscape, starting in Hue and ending in Hoi An. Share the road with locals as you zip through villages and beaches and take in the mountain views at Hai Van Pass. Less experienced cyclists will be happy to know there are plenty of breaks and a support vehicle is available at all times.

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3. Practise yoga in Western Australia

SUP yoga practitioners in action.
The festival includes yoga workshops covering various styles including Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin, Kundalini and SUP (above).

The annual South West Yoga Fest takes place from March 20 to 22 next year in Yallingup (which means “Place of Love”). Located three hours by car from Perth, the 110-acre Solitaire Homestead will be the stage for morning sun salutations, an inversion and arm balance workshop and even Qi Gong. And what would a wellness festival be without a market peddling essential oils and bites made by local businesses?

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4. Learn to surf in Okinawa

Man surfing in Okinawa.
Danny’s surf school is located smack dab on the beach in Yomitan, a village in the Nakagami District of Okinawa.

For the past decade, ex-pro surfer Danny Melhado has been running a surf school that gets students from all over the world. The winter season between November and March is one of the best times for riding waves. Come and surf for as long as you want — but be sure to make a booking in advance as his guest house only takes up to seven people at a time.

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5. Climb Mt Semeru outside Surabaya

Man looking at Mt Semeru belching out smoke.
Mt Semeru is located at the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, a three-hour drive from Juanda Surabaya International Airport.

Mt Semeru is an active volcano and the highest peak in Java with an elevation of 3,676 metres above sea level. Indo Trekkers conducts guided hikes up the mountain, which periodically belches clouds of steam and smoke. It’s a demanding trek, but the intrepid will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the area’s major peaks rising above a bed of clouds.

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