Top 5 Adventures When Money is no Object

23 February 2015

Imagine if you could plan whatever trip you wanted to. Any amount of luxury or adventures. And cash just wasn't a consideration. Wouldn't that be amazing?

Or perhaps that's actually true for you. You lucky dog, you!

Either way, it's good food for thought. What would you do after you'd taken a bath in your freshly-minted coin and bought yourself a red convertible? You'd pour yourself a glass of bolly, take a slurp of caviar straight from jar and start planning your trip. Here's our top 5.

1) Release your inner sophisticated sumo

where? Tokyo, Kyoto and Mt Fuji, Japan

why it's expensive

Tokyo has repeatedly been declared the world's most expensive city. Why is it so expensive? Ummm. We might need to return to uni for an economics major to answer this one. But in the short term, let's just say it's a small country with a lot of people, a solid economy favouring Japanese product, and a culture that  loves success and status.

what to do

Touch down in the shiny city of Tokyo. A heady mix of traditional gardens, glitzy skyscrapers and wide-eyed cartoon kittens. If you want to splurge (and yes, we do), go high-end. Try the classic Tokyo Park Hyatt – featured in Lost in Translation – for sterling city views, large opulent rooms and imagined dalliances with Scarlett Johansson.

Tokyo has the most Michelin three-star restaurants of any city in the world. High credentials. So some some fine dining should definitely be on your agenda.

Next, take the bullet train to Kyoto and soak up the zen vibe – wander the exquisite gardens, have a traditional cup of tea and perhaps put in an offer to purchase the Golden Pavilion. Finally, head to Mt Fuji for an iconic hike. It's quite a serious climb, but the views from the summit are outstanding (and they're actually free).

Check out the ultimate Japanese adventure tour, here.


 2) Hang with penguins in the chilliest place on Earth

Where? Voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula.

why it's expensive

It's uber-remote, freezing cold, and there's nothing there. Stocking an ice-strengthened ship with food, equipment and staff to take visitors in comfort and safety to the most extreme place on the planet is not a cheap exercise. (Try it on a budget. We dare you.)

The cost of the expedition has to be reflected in the voyage price. But that is money well spent, dear friends, for an experience that will stay with you like no other.

what to do

This is possibly the most spectacular place on earth. What do you do here? Be wowed and wonderstruck by the icy glory of nature. It's a place where penguins skid on their tummies into the water, where icebergs compete for the title of most sculpted and icy-blue. Where orcas leap from the sea and leopard seals hunt anything that moves.

It's the most remote continent on the planet, not to mention the coldest, windiest and driest. But the conditions don't mean that you have to suffer the extremes. On your voyage, there will be fresh fruit at breakfast, wine served with dinner, and gumboots are supplied (but BYO mink-lined Gore-tex).


3) Eat like a boss on a European fine-dining crawl

where? City hop from London to Copenhagen, Paris and San Sebastian.

why it's expensive

These are probably the most expensive restaurants in Europe, if not the universe*. (*Note: this is not a fact, just unsubstantiated blog-talk.) Food is one thing on which you can spend money beyond your wildest estimates of how much food could actually cost. Insane amounts of cash. Enough to fund the management of a mid-sized city zoo. No, make that a large city zoo.

What to do

Hey, if money is no object, here's our dream line up.

  1. London. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay – he might be a bit of a tosser, but chef Clare Smyth is meant to be top notch.
  2. Copenhagen. Noma – voted 'best restaurant in the world'. (You'll have to schedule this meal once the restaurant returns from its Tokyo sojourn. Of course. Who isn't relocating to Tokyo for two months?)
  3. Paris. L'Arpege – to cleanse ourselves with some vegetarian fare.
  4. San Sebastian. Arzak – modern Basque food in San Sebastian – dreamy.

Approximate cost: $26 million dollars. Approximate feeling: Very full in the tummy.

(For more sensibly priced foodie trips, check here.)


4) If you dislike efficiency and love things made from mud....

where? West Africa overland – we're talking countries you couldn't pinpoint on a map, like Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.

why it's expensive

It costs because it's playing logistical hard-to-get. It's difficult to get to and difficult to get around in. Your trip wont run to a tight schedule – or any schedule – so it might take a long time. But while you are there, you wont be spending much dosh. At all.

what to do

Perhaps the last frontier of adventure travel, West Africa is a vast and remote region with a rich cultural heritage. Think voodoo masks, isolated palm-fringed beaches and mud huts – and mud schools, mud mosques, mud shops and seriously-rutted mud roads.

It's not a journey you take lightly. We're not talking a Hakuna Matata singalong from The Lion King here.

More like Blood Diamond. (Sure, not a great travel analogy, but it's the only movie we could think of set in West Africa. And, sadly, Leonardo DiCaprio wont actually be there when you go.) Anyway, whatever. Your horizons will be significantly broadened – that's what a bit of cash can buy you.


5) Fjord-filled wilderness and Scandinavian style. A combination worth paying for.


where?  Norway and the Arctic Circle.

why it's expensive

As one of the richest countries in the world (the sixth richest, in fact, in 2014), everything here is accordingly expensive – food, transport, shopping. It's a large and sparsely-populated country – the further north you go into the Arctic Circle, the more remote things get... the more expensive things get.

what to do

Norway is long and skinny with a complicated coastline of fjords and mountains. You can't do Norway justice in just a few days. We're talking a real journey, along the isolated roads, through rugged landscapes and small coastal towns. You can spend days in the beautiful cities of Trondheim and Bergen – but you could spend weeks walking in the national parks and exploring the spectacular fjords. (And more weeks still filling a shipping container with original Scandinavian mid-century furniture while in Oslo.)

Cross the Arctic Circle to experience the midnight sun, see the northern lights and search for polar bears. Or – since we have money to burn here – you could just pay someone to bring those things further south for you.