Staying fit is not only good for your health, but a great way to enjoy holiday time. When we travel, we often find ourselves looking for a way to keep active and also see things in a different way. On this episode we’ll chat about the active pursuits we enjoy while traveling and share some of our favorites to help you work up a sweat while exploring and having fun on your next visit to Asia!
Scott and Trevor banter about how they stay active and fit while traveling in Asia:
Trevor: I enjoy doing active things so I’ve never even thought of “looking for things to keep active”. I probably only ever became aware of such when my friend Elbert came to PP years ago and “needed to find a gym”. Even last year I was on koh rong and a guy in my hotel had chosen the place because it was the only one with a gym. I guess it makes sense that fitness freaks would look for such things on their holidays just as bird watchers go places where there will be birds.
Scott talks about the pros and cons (see different things, people and from a different perspective): “The only con is really sweaty clothes that sometimes aren’t dry by the time you have to move on and get really stinky! – YES this requires planning. Tip: travel with some detergent from a convenience store.”
Trevor: Yeah I can see the sweaty clothes as a problem, but I get sweaty just cruising around Angkor so that’s likely to happen anyway. Maybe just having to pack specific gear for whatever kind of fitness you’re into is a con. I guess the pro is that you get to do such fitness when you get there even if it’s something as small as running shoes.
Scott and Trevor talk about their favorite active activities they tend to do while traveling.
Trevor: Swim obviously, I almost always have a small mask. I really like walking for hours to explore. Otherwise just whatever cool things to do wherever, whether there’s a mountain to hike or a kayak to rent. You know, I feel like deja vu, like we did this episode before, but we did one quite similar: Episode 44 Day hikes in Asia, a link to which will be on the show notes. I guess it’s not quite the same but I feel like you really enjoy looking for walking or running trails as an actual activity more so than I do.
Scott: Great point – I forgot about that one – fun to re-listen to some of these. Damn – we have some great content and advice!
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Scott: For me it’s generally jogging, which requires little ‘equipment’, is possible many places with a little help from Google Maps and is also a neat way to see a place and its people. Getting on a bicycle is also a pretty common one for me as is kayaking when water and boats make that possible.
I’ve heard of people seeking-out yoga classes when traveling and using things like Meetup for jogging, etc. I haven’t done that but it would be a pretty neat way to meet others living in a spot while you’re there.
Something I like is that while you’re jogging for instance, people won’t try to sell you stuff or stop you. They tend more to smile (smile to them first) and realize you’re not up for a chat. But you can have many interactions with people while passing by.
Scott and Trevor chat about activities they enjoy by location:
Scott: Hiking/biking atop Angkor Thom or around the outer moat of Angkor Wat.
Trevor: Easy. Or climb a mountain. Did that yesterday when I climbed Phnom Bakheng for sunrise at Angkor. There are a number of hikes you can do around Angkor including Phnom Kraom, Phnom Bok, and Phnom Kulen.
Scott: Jogging along the boulevards and riverfront at Phnom Penh. You can get a nice 7km run in if you do them all. Start near Independence Monument then go towards Naga World and turn left into and along Botom Park, in front of the Palace, then to the riverfront, follow it to the end, then back again. One of my favorites and great for people-watching while you run.
Trevor: In Phnom Penh I swim at The Place. It’s only 25m but it’s a good pool. And they have all sorts of fitness classes and gym equipment if you’re into that sort of thing. There is a TRX place in Phnom Penh you can join as a traveler (CrossFit YiQi). The Place has day passes as does Cambodiana hotel which has a pool and gym. I like to participate in activities rather than exercise and there’s tennis courts at Olympic Stadium, though I’m not sure about rental rackets if you’re on holiday, and there is a rock climbing wall in Phnom Penh: Phnom Climb. We actually did a whole recent episode on climbing in Asia that is good for exercise in pp, Bangkok, and elsewhere in Cambodia and across the region.
Scott: TRX cables are great to travel with I hear. I have a little towel for stretching my legs and sometimes have traveled with a very light blanket for doing floor exercises on.
Scott: Jogging at Union Park in Hanoi, it’s a couple km around it, quite nice
Trevor: No clue. I would swim at the beach or ride a bike in the countryside. I suppose this is why nice hotels have nice gyms. I wish I could recommend one but I guess you could just do some online research. Otherwise there are lots of mountains in Vietnam. There must be some good hiking, biking, kayaking etc. get out there but bring good shoes! My ex Nat had a north face blowout (brand new shoes) in Borneo. Scott had a footwear blowout in another remote area here in Cambodia. Or just bring duct tape!
Scott: Jogging along the Mekong River at Vientiane; you can do about 8km one-way so put that into a return trip and you have quite a distance. Head west and the road turns into dirt, while heading east is paved and more built up.
Trevor: I like riding a bike around Luang Prabang but that’s for relaxation. If you’re breaking a sweat you’re doing it wrong. But Laos is such an undeveloped country it must be a good mine for adventure tourism. We should get Andrea on here. I’ve done some nice river kayaking. Grasshopper must do bike trips in Laos yeah?
Scott: Mountain biking near Rai Boong Rawd just SW of Chiang Rai city. It’s pretty easy to head out of the city and end up riding through these plantations, not too far from Doi Chang which provides a nice background. Fat Free is a good rental shop. You want to enter the area from Dio Hang area, Soi 13 I believe.
Trevor: As with Laos, my suggestion is some organized trekking. Scott know any good trekking outfits in the north? Hmmm, I don’t off-hand or that I want to personally endorse, but there are more and more local ones – a quick Google search should turn up some options.
Scott: Bang Krachow in Bangkok is a very nice spot. Getting a bit popular but easy to rent a bike there, quick crossing by ferry and you can ride roads and/or canal paths. Have a phone with Google Maps and just try taking some canal paths. You’ll always sooner or later end up hitting a road again.
Trevor: I’m reminded of a professor in college who told me, to paraphrase because that was LA in 1990, If you want to exercise in Bangkok during the day, you’re better off sitting inside and smoking a pack of cigarettes. That said, the Bang Krachow ride is nice. You can rent a bike. I used to be a member at Soi Klang Racquet Club which has day passes for all racquet sports, rock climbing, and fitness stuff. There’s also Virgin Active fitness centers all over Thailand but I don’t know if you can just roll up and buy a day. It’s that whole California style hard sell gym membership attitude that has me generally avoiding gyms or gym people
Scott: Kayaking at Ao Nang and Railay Bay – between them is great! The islands near Ao Nang’s cliffs are fun when the tide is low and you can kayak under and through some of them.
Trevor: Sure. Climbing and kayaking great there. Water is a bit nasty to swim in. In recent years my favorite place for ocean swimming has been Lamai beach on Koh Samui. The beach is probably 4km. The southernmost 1km is much quieter (few jet skis launching in and out) and has buoys you can follow. Deep, relatively clean and usually calm. Great place for ocean swims
Scott: Jogging along the Mekong River at Chiang Khong, nice pathway right along the river and you can get 1.5-2km in along the river, very peaceful, you go past a few temples and then you slide directly into beers at sundown.
Scott: Surfing at Weligama – sand soft bottom, little rollers and fun
Trevor: Speaking of surfing, this one is a no-brainer. I also like hiking around Ubud and up around the volcanoes.
Scott: Ride a rental bike in Beijing, I used Mobike and Ofo, there are tons of companies. You need to download the app and create an account – I used a friends. Easy to pick up and drop off anywhere. Tons of cool areas to ride but I explored the new CBD around Chaolang and Sanlitun area where many embassies, funky shops and bars are located.
Trevor: Beijing is a place you’ll do hours of walking. In China it’s easy to not know where you’re going or what train to get on or off and you’ll just walk all day.
Scott: Cycling Kyoto – the streets, Philosopher’s Path and trail network along the river are great, cut through the Imperial Palace grounds at some point
Trevor: Walking all over Tokyo. Just like in Beijing, I like to explore cities on foot and Tokyo is a great one to walk for hours.
Scott: Jogging at Bogyoke Park; great wooden bridge walkway, probably about 1.5km, the shame is that you can almost do a lap around it but there’s a blocked-off section. You can also have a decent run along the park at Inya Lake on the east side, opposite the Sedona Hotel, also about 1.5km long. Biking at Bagan and also country riding near Inle Lake.
Trevor: Random aside: we kind of forgot about yoga but there are a few places I’ve found that are pretty great. Navutu Dreams in Siem Reap. Hanchey Bamboo Resort on the Mekong River in Kampong Cham (both in Cambodia). And the Tamarind Springs on Koh Samui used to have a great yoga and meditation program.
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