With what could best be described as a disastrous year for travel almost behind us, and with the glimpse of borders gradually opening again on the horizon, 2021 offers a tempting range of options for scouting your next active adventure. The last year has left us all a bit travel-starved, and there were moments for some when even a trip down to the local park was a luxury. So we all deserve a bit of escape, and as the situation gradually improves what better way than to start surveying locations for your next expedition. To help you along we’ve compiled a list below of some our own top locations for active adventure in 2021.
Known for its impeccable hospitality, Japan’s deeply embedded culture and natural beauty create an unforgettable experience.
Japan sits at the top of the list with a lot of excitement surrounding the Olympics. The event happens in Tokyo during July and August, though, which is the peak of their summer season (reaching 30.8C/88F). The thrill of the show may just be worth the heat! These Summer Olympics will have new sports making their Olympic debut to include karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding.
The spring apple blossoms and fall autumn foliage in Kyoto are renowned for their stunning beauty. Spring months are March-May while the season of Autumn encompasses October-November. This former capital holds numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites as well as some of Japan’s more formal traditions to include Kaiseki dining. Kyoto happens to be one of our favorite cities to tour by bicycle!
Speaking of cyclists, Shikoku boasts a special place on many a cyclist’s bucket list! Just a short ride from the industry lies this island wonderland. Famous for stunning scenery, its well-maintained roads invite you off into rich evergreen forests, over wild rivers and through tiny towns with numerous breath-taking panoramic views. If a visit to Japan interests you, check out the tours we offer here.
Beyond the amazing cycling, delicious variety of foods, including legendary Bahn Mi, there is much to stimulate your creative side along with tranquil waters and unique countrywide transportation.
FLOURISHING CONTEMPORARY ARTS
The art scene of Vietnam is flourishing, specifically Ho Chi Minh City! What was once a scene of artists reflecting much of what they saw in Western works, has revolutionized. Contemporary Vietnamese creations now fill private spaces, employ curators and hold regular exhibitions. Sophie’s Art is one curator offering resources, talks and tours about Vietnam’s visual culture. One of our favorite sites is the Factory Contemporary Arts Centre featuring a range of current artists like fashion designer, THUỶ NGUYỄN in ‘An Everyday Dream.’
HA LONG BAY VS LAN HA BAY
The UNESCO-recognized waters of the Gulf of Tonkin feature emerald waters and towering limestone islands, split by an invisible line creating two distinct travel zones: Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay. The more widely acclaimed Ha Long Bay offers a wider selection of sailing options. Its neighbor, Lan Ha Bay, is more secluded and tranquil with fewer tour boats and still quite new to the public eye. Both destinations a must-see pre or post-tour. Let our travel experts help guide your choice!
Go by train! Lonely Planet describes the Vietnamese railway system as “ageing but pretty dependable… and a relaxing way to get around the nation.”
Having ridden the rails in Vietnam, we can attest to a truly unique experience with trains both timely and accommodating. What you might not know is that private companies offer accommodations in comfortable private carriages attached to the back of some trains. For the most comprehensive information we recommend the website “The Man in Seat 61”. Our join our Highlands and Coast tour which includes a day trip by rail up the coast from Nha Trang to Quy Nhon.
Considering exploring Vietnam with Grasshopper? Here are our tours that include Ho Chi Minh City and beyond.
The northernmost states of America and on into the Yukon of Canada sit quietly amid the limelight of desirable travel destinations.
It’s not just lobsters and blueberries that make us miss Maine -(but don’t forget the lobsters and blueberries)! Ninety percent of the state is blanketed in forests, nowhere better represented than Acadia National Park, thick with trees, mosses, ferns and flowers. On our Coastal Maine tour you’ll experience Maine’s forested beauty kayaking offshore from Acadia, cycling its famous Carriage Roads, and viewing sunrise from Cadillac Mountain.
ALASKA & THE YUKON
The largest protected wilderness area in the world forms the backdrop for three days of cycling on this adventure. The scenes of towering mountains, flowered valleys, alpine forests, and rich wildlife cannot be understated. The days of the Klondike Gold Rush come alive in Whitehorse and the tribal dances of the First Nation Chilkat people bring an appreciation for their reverence of the land. Our tour starts in historic Skagway on the White Pass & Yukon railway, considered one of the world’s most brilliant feats of railway engineering.
The wild spaces and wildlife of the Everglades make for a destination like no other in the world, all less than an hour from the Miami International Airport! Our expert guides and naturalists have worked overtime to create a day of complete immersion into the authentic beauty and native cultures of this unique ecosystem. You’ll be left wondering, how have I traveled around the world and never seen the Everglades. That experience only to be topped by a sense of wonder after cycling Florida’s Overseas Highway to Key West. Lots to think about while sipping cool drinks to Caribbean sunsets.
There are many reasons that Taiwan ranks number one of the top-searched destinations on Agoda. The combination of natural beauty, sought-after cycling, active adventures and cultural immersion provides an experience like no other.
2021 is the Year of Cycling Tourism in Taiwain. Known as the Bicycle Kingdom, Taiwan is home to big bike names like Giant and Merida and boasts island-wide cycling excursions. The cycling Route No.1 encompasses the full island divided into 12 unique routes. The more leisurely and renowned Sun Moon Lake cycling route stretches to 29km and is listed in the best 10 cycling routes by CNN Travel. The pathways for exploring run the full gamut, from brief excursions to pro biking.
TAIWAN LANTERN FESTIVAL
Celebrated across the country and a big draw of international interest, the Taiwan Lantern Festival includes the Pingxi Sky Lanterns in the north and the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival in the south. The Beehive Fireworks consists of a procession of palanquins through the town, arriving at location where a fuse is lit and thousands of rockets ignite at the same time. The sound is bee-like and fills the air with sparks called a “baptism of fireworks”.
An incredible sight, the world’s deepest marble gorge forges its way through the Central Mountain Range via the Liwu River. Accessible by bike (of course), bus, scooter or taxi, the sheer number of breathtaking views may just slow your trip. Plan ahead! The prestigious international King of the Mountain (KOM) annual cycling race takes place here. Our Eastern Escape tour takes in the same exhilarating route with significantly less effort – think decent not ascent!
RIVER & CANAL BOATS
Few cities around the world offer the full extent of river transportation that Bangkok does. Via riverboats or smaller canal boats (for the more adventurous), attractions and most parts of the city are accessible inexpensively. Less than $1 will get you not only transportation but a first-hand view of the city’s skyline and neighborhoods. Watch for the Chao Phraya Express Boat with the orange flag and its daily service from 6am-10pm for $10. Some of Bangkok’s most noteworthy attractions are right on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Four of those include Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), and Wat Arun. Also, a new electric boat service has started on a canal near the train station.
LOY KRATHONG FESTIVAL
This is Thailand’s Festival of lights and almost always this time falls on the month of November. It’s known as Loy Krathong, literally “float a water lantern”, by most of the country. In the north, the celebration is Yee Peng, “the second full moon”. According to location lanterns are either released into the sky or set afloat down the river. As Buddhist merit-making festival, the magical moment before releasing the lantern is a time to reflect and pray on new beginnings. Check our article on the best places in Thailand to experience Loy Krathong.
It’s possible this can be left unsaid, as many mouths have already started salivating at the mention. But let’s reflect anyway. CNN Travel states that “Thai dishes take 4th, 5th and 6th places in the listing of the world’s best foods” in a recent (2020) poll. Tom Yum Kum soup placed 4th with its coconut milk base and combination of 4 famous Thai flavors: salty, sour, sweet and spicy. The staple Phad Thai took the vote for 5th place. This classic dish is the cause of long, winding dinnertime lines at renowned street food vendors like Thipsamai on Maha Chai Rd in Bangkok. Som Tam Papaya Salad brought in 6th place, with its much sought-after sweet and sour combination of shredded green mango.
The dates that Australia will open its doors again are unknown and this is one reason we created our newest tours here. Please allow us to simply say, our tours are a fantastic reason for Aussies to explore the hidden sites in their own backyards. Here the best active adventures are compact, covering less ground on tour, which allows us to slow down, take a closer look at an area, immerse ourselves in the natural environment and enjoy fresh air away from major centers.
BIKE, HIKE & KAYAK THE NOOSA & HINTERLAND
The incredible diversity of southeast Queensland beckons you! The rustic Brisbane Valley allows a traffic-free cycle ride through tiny towns once connected by railway. The Bunya Mountains hold ancient stories, connecting the giant Bunya Tree nuts to indigenous peoples with immense significance. And have you seen the Noosa Everglades? This beautiful waterway is one of only two such systems in the world and host to a huge variety of birdlife. Our tour covers all of this and so much more, with time to enjoy the service of excellent hosts and appreciate the skills of artisans. More on our Noosa & Hinterland tour here.
NOOSA BIOSPHERE RESERVE
A place where nature and people live as one, sustainably and intentionally, with amazing results. The Noosa Community has a rich history of preserving its natural beauty and cultural heritage. This balanced relationship was internationally recognized in 2007 and designated a protected Biosphere by UNESCO. Visit the Noosa Biosphere Project website for the projects completed, like the Noosa Trail Master Plan of eight intersecting hinterland trails. Many more projects are in development. Whatever the choice of activity in this innovative area, you can feel the connection to nature permeate everything.
From its 55 waterfalls to the dolerite cliffs of Cape Raoul, this island offers a retreat with a truly unique wilderness. Freycinet National Park is home to Australia’s most iconic species and an internationally top-rated beach in the world, Wineglass Bay. Beyond beautiful, Tasmania includes a tap into Australia’s history at Port Arthur and a plethora of foods unique only to this island. Read more on some culinary secrets straight from Tasmania. For more details on discovering Tasmania with Grasshopper, check out our Multi Active Bike, Hike & Kayak Tour.
Cheers to higher hopes for 2021 and the new adventures that await. Hope to see you on the trail!