To truly understand China, you’ve got to get out and meet it on its own terms, which is exactly what this 12-day trip through the country’s northern reaches delivers. Up here, you’ll get to the big stuff (the Great Wall, Xi’an’s Terracotta Army, Beijing) and lesser-known treasures that only the hardiest of travellers ever get to see: village life in Inner Mongolia, the amazing Yungang Buddhist Caves and the nearly 3,000-year-old city of Pingyao, to name just a few. North China: No tourists allowed!
Highlights: Envision ancient times at the Great Wall of China, live like a local in an Inner Mongolian ger, marvel at the Hanging Monastery of Datong, stare down the Terracotta Warriors, learn traditional Chinese painting in Pingyao
Melbourne to the Red Centre (OAMR)
If you really want to get Down Under and experience Australia’s highlights without feeling rushed, you’ll have to get off the big coaches. Explore Melbourne before hitting the Great Ocean Road and cutting through the outback to the Red Centre. Here you’ll experience the mysteries of Uluru and gain insight into Aboriginal culture. When it comes time to bed down, shake things up with a variety of unique accommodation—swags to underground hostels and even a traditional sheep station.
Highlights: Marvel at the 12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Road, bed down at a traditional outback station, learn about creation time stories from the Aborigines, catch the magnificent colours of Uluru at sunset.
Looking to tackle a bundle of different environments all in one go? New Zealand’s South Island has what you need and then some. Action is the common thread throughout this trip that incorporates hiking, kayaking, cycling and even bungee jumping across a variety of landscapes, including rainforests, glaciers and some of the most gorgeous coastline you’ll ever see. This trip is exciting even when you’re not moving; accommodations include a seasonal floating boat hostel and a wilderness hostel deep in the rainforest itself. Unique? You bet.
Highlights: Explore the trails of Abel Tasman National Park by foot, get an adrenaline rush in Queenstown, weave through the remote fjords of the Doubtful Sound by sea kayak, cycle the Otago Rail Trail.