Whether you would like to include more athletic activities into your travels or would just want to intimately explore Asia, kayaking is a great way to experience this continent. From being surrounded by legendary emerald stones of descending dragons to gliding through the cerulean waters of the islands of four kings, there is no better region to discover the joy of kayaking. If you are looking for a fascinating adventure while getting to know this part of the world differently, we have rounded up the best places to go kayaking in Asia.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Legend has it that these magnificent limestones karst and isles were believed to be emerald stones from dragons summoned by The Jade Emperor to protect the Vietnamese from invaders. Ha Long literally means “descending dragon” in ancient Vietnamese. These stones, which are said to form invincible walls as defense, then turned into islets of different sizes and shapes. These “barriers” now have mesmerized and welcomed people from all over the world. Ha Long Bay has also been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature
Video credit: The Au Co Cruise
Travelers usually immerse in the beauty of Ha Long Bay by joining in one of its world-famous cruises. While these tours allow you to bask in its beauty for a longer period of time, not to mention a more luxurious way, you may also do so by kayaking. These cruises generally include the activity in their itineraries since it really is the best way to see more of the bay’s secrets. Kayaking in Ha Long Bay will allow you to smoothly enter crevices and nooks that boats just won’t be able to go through. Paddle through astounding lagoons, hidden caves, and just fully soak in these beautiful sculptures of nature that took millions of years to create.
Hoi An, Vietnam
The most popular way of travelling around Vietnam would no doubt be by motorbike. Beyond the convenience of reaching more secluded areas with narrow roads, it is the experience of driving along the coastal areas and through regal mountains of this picturesque country that makes every traveler jump into one. And picturesque is a word that Hoi An perfectly epitomizes. Historical and architectural infusion of French colonial buildings, charming Chinese shops, intricate Vietnamese temples, with oriental lanterns stitching the structures all over this quaint town will definitely excite the dreamer in you. Did we mention a river runs beside all of this grandeur? As tempting as it is to drive around the town with a motorbike, it is banned from the center of Hoi An along with cars. Kayaking along the Thu B?n river will serve as your portal to getting to know this magical town in a more personal level. Let the flow of the water guide you through mangroves, the ancient town, and see locals going about their day to day life.
4000 Islands (Si Phan Don), Laos
Satiate your thirst for adventure by kayaking in the mythical 4000 islands of Southern Laos. It is here that the Mekong bursts to its widest, outpouring its strength over islets which may or may not visible depending on the weather. Sandbars usually emerge during the dry season, thus, the name 4000 islands seems fitting if you have the patience to count them well. If you don’t like the idea of counting islands but would want to spot dolphins and be awed by the biggest waterfalls in Southeast Asia, Khone Phapheng, then let Si Phan Don entice you. Located just at the foot of Laos and nestled at the border of Cambodia, this place promises a kayaking experience like no other.
Hear the roaring thunder of majestic falls before navigating your way around Don Det and Don Khone. Afterwards, head to the large open area of water which serves as a border for the two countries and prepare for a possible dolphin show. Don’t worry, there is no SeaWorld in Laos and these gentle creatures are not locked up for entertainment or are not to be capitalized on. In fact, Irrawaddy dolphins are not directly exploited but they are vulnerable to incidental mortality in fisheries. The deep and tranquil waters of Si Phan Don has been home to these cetaceans, however their population decline due to the aforementioned threats might lessen your chances of seeing them. Regardless, slithering your way over the breadth of this part of Mekong and enjoying the sceneries around you guarantee remarkable memories to relive.
Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
“Shaken, not stirred.”
You’d probably be shaken to the core once you find yourself dwarfed by the karst tower that is James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay. Locally known as Koh Ta-pu, this landmark made its way into every tropic chaser’s bucket lists after being featured in Guy Hamilton’s The Man with the Golden Gun. The movie has propelled Phang Nga bay into popularity so it is no surprise to see tourists flocking the said natural curiosity and watch them making weird hand gestures while taking photos. Imagine those touristy shots you see of Leaning Tower of Pisa, and replace the tower with this ‘rock’ star of Thailand.
If you don’t fancy boosting your Instagram likes by posting such pictures, then kayaking in Phang Nga Bay is for you. Shy away from the tourists, and get lost by marveling at the Hongs that lie inside the bay’s islands. Hongs or ‘rooms’ are results of collapsed cave system characterized by open ‘ceiling’ and surrounded by limestones enclosure. These are secluded realms thriving with flora and fauna that are best discovered by paddling your kayak into. While you’re in there, why not indulge on that martini drink you cheekily snuck into your dry bag and complete your James Bond experience?
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Serene crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, and marine biodiversity so rich you would just want to be in the sea the whole day; many describe Raja Ampat as a paradise lesser known in the northwestern part of Indonesia. An off the beaten path destination, this archipelago comprising of 1,500 islands in West Papua has allured explorers with its isolation. Reaching Raja Ampat is no easy feat. Just thinking about taking flights and ferry rides which may total to 24 hours of travelling time, you may wonder if it’s actually worth it. The answer would always be a resounding YES.
Aside from the thousands of islands covered in lush jungles which are largely uninhabited, Raja Ampat’s abundant aquatic life serves as an underwater treat for divers. For paddlers who love gliding above water, the view from your kayak is an exciting feast for the eyes that matches the wonders the ocean keeps below. Often dubbed as one of the world’s best sea kayaking experience, the archipelago boasts of kayaking opportunities for beginners and advanced paddlers with its maze of islets, peninsulas, and bays.
Video credit: Papua Diving Resort
You can sweep across tranquil waters or go against the tides of Gam’s southern coast while exploring this regal sanctuary. Once dusk creeps in, you may be tempted to drop your paddles and just marvel at the breathtaking display of colors on the sky generously painted by Raja Ampat’s sunset. It’s as if nature has been made aware that this place is locally translated to as ‘Four Kings’. Lo and behold, it does not hold back in entertaining its royal audience with spectacular visual feasts fit for nobilities. Get treated to these natural exhibitions and feel like a king yourself whilst drifting above water in your amphibious throne.Cody Latimer Jersey Ryan McLeod Womens Jersey