Sidebar: five Asian adventures for the bucket list
Walk the Mountain Torq via ferrata in Sabah, Malaysia
The name via ferrata comes from the Italian for "iron road". It's a trail made up of iron rungs, footholds, cables and rails along a mountain face. Mount Kinabalu is home to the world's highest, which starts at the Panar Laban rock face (about 3,400 metres) and reaches 3,800 metres. Walkers are connected by a cable to fixed structures all the way, so it's safe. Travel packages are available from Charlotte Travel charlottetravel.com.hk tel: 2110 6070).
Trekking the Kawa Karpo in Yunnan province
Kawa Karpo, or "white pillar" in Tibetan, is one of the Buddhist world's holiest mountains, straddling Yunnan and Tibet. Worshipped as a deity, the 6,740-metre peak is never climbed, but is the centrepiece of a demanding 180-kilometre, 12-day trek that winds its way through remote villages, arid canyons, moss-laced forests, alpine meadows and panoramic mountain passes, following the footsteps of devout pilgrims. Packages are available from Whistling Arrow whistlingarrow.com tel: 2811 8892).
Run the Tokyo Marathon in Japan
The race passes tourist spots such as the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, Asakusa and Ginza. But the biggest draw is arguably the party atmosphere - huge crowds lining the street and many runners in wacky costumes. Sign-ups for next year's event (February 24) exceeded the 35,500 runner quota on the first day of registration, so entrants will be picked by lottery. Beat the lottery: packages, including guaranteed entry, are available from Flight Centre flightcentre.com.hk tel: 2830 2836).
Bicycles and Bhutan are a perfect fit. Cycling is definitely more efficient than walking, and can get you to places inaccessible by car. Thailand-based SpiceRoads Cycle Tours www.spiceroads.com offers a week-long itinerary that starts from the capital Thimphu and heads east, stopping to visit
dzong (fortresses), monasteries and temples.
Raft the Tuul River in Mongolia
No rafting experience or special fitness is required, only swimming ability. The sacred Tuul River originates from the Khentii Mountains and runs for over 700 kilometres through the capital Ulan Bator towards Russia. The best section is said to be a stretch that wraps around Terelj National Park (you may have seen it in the 10th season of
The Amazing Race). Explore Altai explorealtai.com based in Ulan Bator, has rafting packages including food, transport and a guide that start from US$85 per day per person for two people.