The Best May Travel Experiences:

For all other months, go here: The Best Travel Experiences

May brings a thawing to the world’s highest places, allowing travel to the roof of the world in the Himalayas, Andes and more.  South America begins to dry out after the longest rainy season with lush and vibrant jungles and animals coming out of hiding.  Ideal temperatures return to much of America and Europe just ahead of the summer crowds providing an opportunity to experience the best parks and attractions in a more intimate setting.

Rock Climb the incredible Batu Cave temple complex in Malaysia (Danny Xeero)

Rock Climb the incredible Batu Cave temple complex in Malaysia (Danny Xeero)

 

Epic Road Trips

  • Manali to Leh, India – Ride to Leh: Cross the Himalayas on a motorcycle to Kashmir on the highest passes in the world from Manali to Leh.  You will be reminded of the difficulty when you cross, Rohtang La meaning ‘pile of corpses‘ in the local language. The snow must melt before the trip is attempted (typically mid to late-April) and the best information can only be collected on the ground.
  • Chicago to Los Angeles, USA – Route 66 Road Trip: America is best experienced by driving, and Route 66 optimizes the American road trip.  Step back to a time when a cross-country trip snaked through farms and quaint Main Streets of small towns.  Quirky tourist attractions and traditional diners dot the path.
  • Arizona, USA – The Navajo Nation: The parks of Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon are a photographer’s dream come true.  May is a great month to balance photographic conditions with reasonable temperatures.  How to Photograph Antelope Canyon

 

Route 66 is the original American road trip through Main Street, USA

Route 66 is the original American road trip through Main Street, USA. (Photo via Moyan Brenn)

Best Festivals

  • Lumbini, Nepal – Buddha’s Birthplace: According to legend, Buddha was born in 623 B.C. in the famous gardens of Lumbini. In 2014, his birthday corresponds to May 6. Remains of Buddha’s actual birth attract pilgrims from all over the Buddhist world.
  • Cheung Chau Island, China – Bun Scrambling: For a more lively festival for the Buddha’s birthday, head to Cheung Chau Island, where elaborate costumes and acrobatic feats of dancing culminate in a competition to bag the most buns on a climb up a four story tower of bread.
  • Gloucestershire, England – Cheese Rolling Festival: Participants race a roll of cheese down the steepest hill in town.  Winner gets the cheese.
Want some crackers with your cheese?  Check out these crazy festivals: Cheung Chau Bun Scrambling (Left via) and the Cheese Rolling Festival (Right via)

Want some crackers with your cheese? Check out these crazy May festivals: Cheung Chau Bun Scrambling (Left via) and the Cheese Rolling Festival (Right via)

Best Cultural Experiences

  • Vanuatu – Land Diving: The yam crop signifies the start of land diving season in May and June, and massive platforms are built to support this ancient style of bungee jumping using only vines.
  • Lhasa,China – The Last of Tibet: See the former capital of Tibet before it is bulldozed and replaced with tourist attractions and government monuments.  So sad.
  • Israel: See both Sides of the Conflict: The world’s most contentious piece of real estate is a polarizing topic, but have you seen it from their perspective?  This unique tour visits locals on both sides to understand their life and struggles.  The month of May also brings religious festivals and perfect weather with few crowds.    A Visit to Hebron to See the Conflict from Both Sides
  • Potosi, Bolivia – Work in a Silver Mine: Cerro Rico, a mountain “made of silver” funded much of the Spanish new world.  Today, the mountain is hollowed-out and unstable, but you can visit traditional miners who work in some of the harshest conditions.  Bring coca leaves and other gifts for the miners.  The Cerro Rico Silver Mine in Potosi
The view from the ridiculous crater lake of Gunung Rinjani mountain, Lombok.

The view from the ridiculous crater lake of Gunung Rinjani mountain, Lombok. (via)

Best Treks

  • Cuzco, Peru – Hike the Inca Trail:  The Inca Trail is based on the network of stone-paved roads created by the ancient Incas with three overlapping routes varying in length and level of difficulty.  The trail crosses the Andes mountain chain through fog forest, alpine tundra, prehistoric stonework, llamas, and leads finally to the famed ruins of Machu Picchu
  • Indonesia – Gunung Rinjani: The less strenuous route to the crater rim still gives the best views of “the cone” – a volcano surrounded by a lake inside a volcano. Either way, the trip takes you through hot springs, caves, steep climbs, possible interactions with monkeys, and almost unreal starry night skies.
May is one of the best months to visit the Antelope Canyon, one of the most photographed canyons in the USA

May is one of the best months to visit the Antelope Canyon, one of the most photographed canyons in the USA (Photo via Moyan Brenn)

Best Wildlife Encounters (Land)

  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Firefly Park: is watching firefly at Kuala Selangor Fireflies Park. These unusual phenomena can be found year round, however, May is the beginning of the driest season.
  • Botswana – Cycle Safari: Mashatu Game Reserve: One of the largest private game reserves in Southern Africa has cycle safaris.
  • Ivato, Madagascar – Track the Indri: This elusive species of Lemur haunt the forests of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park.  With their eery chorus of cries, it is no surprise that they have attained a certain mythological status in tradtitional Malagasy culture.  No indri has ever been successfully transplanted into a zoo despite many attempts.
  • Mfuwe, Zambia – Leopard Spotting: The leapord is the most elusive of the Big 5, and has frustrated many who have tried to complete the big game “wish list.”  South Luanga National Park during this time of year offers the best chance to see these magnificent creatures.
Get up close to huge salt water crocodiles in Darwin

Get up close to huge salt water crocodiles in Darwin. (via)

Best Wildlife Encounters (Water)

  • Darwin, Australia – Cage Dive with Salt Water Crocodiles:  Darwin is home to the world’s biggest crocodiles.  The truly adventurous can go cage diving with these beasts.
  • Gabon – See Hippos Surfing: Who could resist a surfing hippo?  May is also a great month to visit this sultry country.
  • South Africa – Snorkel the Sardine Run: The massive spawning swarm of sardines swims up the coast, followed by every predator in the food chain.  Snorkelers can get up close to the feeding swarm, but scuba diving is not recommended.
  • Matura Beach, Trinidad – Protect the Leatherback Turtle Hatchlings: Matura Beach is home to one of the largest colonies of Leatherback Sea Turtles on the planet and May is a peak month for hatchlings.  Nature Seekers and the Turtle Village Trust work with the community to protect nesting leatherback turtles and provide excellent opportunities to help.
Gaze into the exploding Mount Yasur on Tanna Island, Vanuatu (Photo by: Shane Dallas)

Gaze into the exploding Mount Yasur on Tanna Island, Vanuatu (Photo by: Shane Dallas)

Best Extreme Sports

  • Kansas City, MO, USA – Slide Down the World’s Tallest Waterslide: Opening day for the world’s highest waterslide is in May at Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City.  At 17 stories, this ride is taller than Niagara Falls.
  • Tara River, Montenegro – Raft the Tara River: In Durmitor National Park, May is when the Tara River is at full flow.
  • Nova Scotia, Canada: Tidal Bore Rafting: Extreme tides here create massive tidal waves that shoot down the rivers.  Climb on board a Zodiac to enjoy a truly unique rafting experiences on the planet.  The experience is even more ferocious near the full moon.  Find out more information here
The dead sea is one of the saltiest lakes on the planet.  People flock to the healing waters to experience the extreme buoyancy.

The dead sea is one of the saltiest lakes on the planet. People flock to the healing waters to experience the extreme buoyancy. (via)

Best Natural Phenomena

  • Dead Sea, Jordan – Dip in the Dead Sea: Spa Resorts huddle up to the healing waters of one of the saltiest lakes on the planet.  Snap a pic reading a newspaper while floating and cover yourself in the greasy healing mud.
  • Tanna Island, Vanuatu – The World’s Most Spectacular Active Volcano: The second most active volcano produces the most explosive displays.  Stand on the edge of the crater as the ground shakes and the lava explodes in front of you.  Gazing Into the Mouth of Hell
  • Kauai, Hawaii, USA – The Rugged Napali Coast: America’s most picturesque coastline is stunning from all angles- boat, helicopter and snorkel this Hawaiian island.  The month of May brings calmer seas ahead of the Summer tourist rush.  See the Napali Coast by Air and Sea.
The stunning view from a helicopter above Kauai's rugged Napali Coast

The stunning view from a helicopter above Kauai’s rugged Napali Coast. (pic via Sherry Ott)

Best Competitions

  • Thailand – River Kwai trophy:  May 31, 2014: kayak, swim, bike and run through the jungle.  Starting at the Bridge over the River Kwai, the race route follows scenic trails through the mountains and farmlands of western Thailand.
  • China – Great Wall Marathon: (May 17, 2014) If the thought of a normal marathon bores you, try climbing, running and crawling a full marathon across the Great Wall of China.  Sign up here
  • Monaco – Monaco Grand Prix: (May 25, 2014) The slowest and most difficult circuit on the Grand Prix is also the most famed.  Watch drivers risk their lives to carve their way through the storied terraces of Monaco. The Magic of the Monaco Grand Prix
  • Kentucky, USA – Kentucky Derby: (May 3, 2014) Termed, “The greatest two minutes in sports,” serious partygoers make the Kentucky Derby a weekend event.  Gentlemen wear vibrant suits and ladies dress to express their true southern Belle while drinking mint juleps.
The iconic Monaco Grand Prix snakes through the streets of this Medeterranean city.

The iconic Monaco Grand Prix snakes through the streets of this Mediterranean city. (via)

Other Activities Worth Noting:

Nepal, Climb or Skydive Mount Everest (Season cancelled for 2014 due to tragic events), Tuscany,Italy; The Tequila Trail, Mexico; Slovenia, Wildflower Festival; Lithuania, Street Musician Day; Cornwall – Obby Oss Festival: May 1; Kyev, Ukraine – Kyev Days; Lamu, Kenya – Maulid Festival; Cappadocia, Turkey – Stay in a Fairy Chimney:  in göreme; Cappadocia, Turkey – Hot Air Balloon Ride; China – Hike Leaping Tiger Gorge; Palmyra, Syria – Al-Bayda Festival

Rose Valley in Goreme, Cappadocia by hot air balloon ()

Rose Valley in Goreme, Cappadocia by hot air balloon ( via)

 

The myWanderlist Best Travel Experiences for Other Months

Want to read my best travel stories? Here are some good ones:

  • Madain Saleh Saudi Arabia: Hitchhiking to Petra’s twin city
  • Dancing with Corpses: Famadihana- Turning of the Bones in Madagascar: The hidden meaning behind one of the most bizarre ceremonies will surprise you
  • The Secret Lives of Sea Gypsies: My personal experience living with the world’s best divers on the fringes of civilization
  • Volcano Boarding Nicaragua: The extreme sport for the slightly insane?
  • Bagan Temples: Little-known Temples, hidden passageways and secret keys to Photographing the Sunrise at Bagan blissfully devoid of tourists

 

Do you know of any great blogs covering these experiences? If so, I’d love to add links. Anything to add? Drop me a comment or note.

Feature Image Photo Credit (via Moyan Brenn)

 

Szechenyi Thermal Baths  ; Grand Canyon Horseshoe Bend pic ; Xian Terra cotta Warriors ; Macchu Picchu ; Join the 300 club

 

About the author: Brad Bernard

 

Brad Bernard has traveled through 92 countries to find off-the-map experiences and authentic adventure travel. He pushes his own personal boundaries by travelling experimentally. Brad’s personal quest to find the most extreme and unique in travel has bred misadventures and moments of enlightenment alike. You can read his craziest stories on his adventure travel blog

Website: https://plus.google.com/+BradBernard340/