We’ve already asked our fellow travelers for their choice of The Best Hiking Trails in the Americas and The Best Hikes in Europe and now we’re asking them to tell us of their picks for The Best Hiking in Asia.
Asia is a vast and diverse continent which conjures up images of exotic lands, lavish temples, dense jungles, tropical islands, beautiful beaches, mysterious cultures, delicious food and highly populated bustling cities. Hiking may not be the first thing you think of when picturing Asia but the natural beauty of this area of the world makes it prime trekking territory. The trails may not be as well maintained and marked as those in the Americas or Europe but that just makes them more exciting and interesting.
Doi Suthep-Pui National Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Hiking through the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand, offers much more than a challenging walk through the forest. Although, it is both a vigorous hike and a wonderful way to escape the city for a few hours. But the most fascinating aspects of the hike are those left in the footsteps of monks who have traversed the path for centuries.
The first evidence of the monks’ presence is the many trees with orange sashes lining the trail. These orange bands, each one affixed by a monk, is said to make the tree holy, and therefore safe from being cut down. The next site is a mysterious ancient temple and flowing waterfall that seem to appear out of nowhere. The Wat Pha Lat, translated as the “Monastery at the Sloping Rock”, is actually a functioning monastery that can only be reached on foot.
The monastery is dotted with temples, carved statues and other quirky structures that make the site feel sacred, mysterious and slightly odd at the same time. The hike provides some good exercise, a wonderful day in nature with a little culture on the side. It’s more than enough reason to put the Doi Suthep trail on the list of one of the world’s best hikes.
Read more from Jen and Sean at The Venturists
Mt. Yakedake in Kamikochi, Japan
For many people, Shinto gates, the Shinkansen bullet train and an overload of neon lights are the first things that come to mind when they think about Japan. But for me the wonderful and varied nature of Japan impressed me the most.
One of the absolute highlights of my 1-month trip around Japan was Kamikochi, a beautiful valley in the Japanese Alps. In Kamikochi, I went camping for 3 days and spent my days hiking through the magnificent mountains. One of the tracks I did was hiking to the top of Mount Yakedake. Interesting fact: Yakedake means ‘Burnt Mountain’ in Japanese.
I have to admit it was a heavy and steep hike, involving a 900 meter ascent! But the views from the 2455 meter tall top were worth it! From the top of Mt. Yakedake I didn’t just have an amazing view over Kamikochi valley, I could also look straight into the crater of this still active volcano. Smelling the sulfur and feeling the heat from the stones I thought: wow, nature is impressive…
Read more from Lotte at Phenomenal Globe
Taal Volcano, Philippines
One of the best places for hiking is the Taal Volcano located in Tagaytay, Philippines because the weather is really nice in Tagaytay – not too warm, like the rest of the country. The most popular hiking trail takes just one hour to reach the top of the crater and is an easy hike with no need to hire a guide.
Taal Volcano is also popular for having a crater lake and if you’re up for more adventure and want to inject extra challenge into your day, you can choose the 3-4 hour trek, called the Spanish trail. The trek here is much more challenging and longer, and you will need to be with a guide to reach the crater lake.
You will find locals selling cold water and fresh coconut juice all around the hiking area, just in case you want to take a rest at any point. After the trek, you will be rewarded with incredible views. A few minutes of walk from the crater lake viewing area, and you’ll reach the Lava point where you will get the best and most quiet views of the crater.
Read more from Ruben at Gamin Traveler
Mount Huashan, China
Mount Huashan in China’s Shaanxi province is home to what many claim is the world’s most dangerous hike. Photos and video of the infamous plank walk have captured the attention of adventurous hikers the world over. This 30cm wide timber pathway winds its way for 200m, bolted to the side of a 300m high cliff.
Hundreds of people tackle the hike every single day, and congestion is common on the plank walk. There is no official count of how many people have lost their lives on Mount Huashan, but the recent installation of a cable and the requirement for people to wear harnesses has kept the number down. Even with the safety measures, you still must put your faith in a centuries-old piece of questionable Chinese engineering to survive.
Read more from Alesha and Jarryd at Nomadasuarus
Tadiyanmol Hike in the Western Ghats
Tadiyanmol is one of most beautiful and lesser known hikes in the Western Ghats of southern part of India. It is the highest peak in the Coorg or Kodugu district and sixth highest peak in the state Karnataka at an elevation of 5760 feet (1748 meters).
The hike to the peak is about 14 kilometers from the starting point and is on moderate difficulty level. The trail is quite well defined but however hiring a guide is recommended due to the abundance wildlife that the place has. The views at the peak are something to die for as the peak of the mountain is generally covered in low moving clouds. In a nutshell, Tadiyanmol provides enchanting views and is one of the must hikes in the Western Ghats.
Read more from Raksha at Solo Passport
Everest Trails in Nepal
Hiking along Nepal’s Everest Trails is the most spectacular hike I have ever done. It really is a trip of a lifetime, with the most incredible mountain scenery. Being surrounded by the World’s highest peaks and seeing Mount Everest up close is such an amazing feeling.
Getting to Everest Base Camp at an altitude of 5,545m is a 12-13 day return trek from Lukla, including acclimatization days. There are long days trekking at high altitude and over high passes, so it is a strenuous hike. But you are not only rewarded with the scenery, but also a fascinating insight into Sherpa culture, as you hike past prayer wheels and under prayer flags, and have the opportunity to visit monasteries and stupas along the trail.
If you don’t have time to do the full Everest Base Camp trek, a shorter trek to Ama Dablam Base Camp, at an altitude of 4,570m is possible as a 9-day trek. This still gives you the incredible mountain views but makes it possible as a 2-week holiday, including transfers through Kathmandu.
Read more from Marianne at Mum on the Move
Mt. Rinjani, Lombok Indonesia
Mount Rinjani is an active volcano on the island of Lombok, Indonesia. It rises up to 3,726 meters and it’s the second highest volcano in the country. There’s a caldera on the top of the volcano which is filled partially by the Segara Anak Lake. This lake is about 6,600 ft above sea level and about 200 meters deep.
Trekkers can choose from a 2 or 3 days hike including a 4-hour trek to the summit on the 3rd day. It may seem easy at first but hiking up to 8 hours a day is not for everybody. However, when you do, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views on the island of Lombok. Trekkers are asked to register and hike with guides and porters because they can prepare food, set up tents and know the trail better. This makes it easier for amateur climbers like I was when I first tried it. Overall, I would say this is one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but the views were all worth the effort.
Read more from Angie at Travel Moments
Kheerganga, Parvati Valley in North India
Kheerganga is nestled in the stunning Parvati Valley in North India. During my latest visit to the hills, I decided I needed some mountain air and there was nothing better than watching the Super moon rise over the Himalayas. So, I decided to make my way to Kasol in Himachal Pradesh.
Kasol is a renowned hippie paradise of India but there is so much more to it then the dope and the parties. It is a complete paradise with lovely treks all around Parvati valley. I opted for the best trek of all – 6 hours up a steep 13 km stretch amidst jungles and rivers to Kheerganga. Even though it was slightly challenging, reaching the top and camping overnight in sub-zero temperatures while gazing at the Super moon was an experience of a lifetime for me. No wonder this tops my list of best treks of 2016.
Read more from Jyotsna at Wander With Jo
There’s a chance that when you hear the word ‘Xingping’ you’ll think of the infamous tranquil scene of fisherman on their wooden boats catching their fill for the day at the break of dawn. The Yi river running through these beautiful karst mountains can be seen on the 20 yuan note of China but there’s more to Xingping than this.
Many people just stop here for an hour or so on their boat tour from Guilin but make sure to stay. There is some cracking hiking to be had! One of the routes, taking just 30 minutes to ascend (but oh my it’s steep!) is Laozhai mountain. Make it to the top and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the river flowing through the villages as well as a sunset you’ll be hard pushed to forget. It has turned out to be one of my most favourite hiking moments in Asia and if you want more, there’s another route you can take to the next village the day after!
Read more from Alice at Teacake Travels
Zhuilu Old Trail in Taiwan
There are many trails inside Taroko, Taiwan’s most beautiful National park. Yet, there is one above others: spectacular Zhuliu Old trail, which leads hikers up to cliffs at 1100 meters with views of Taroko canyon and river Liwu. Great hiking potential is definitely one of the reasons to visit Taiwan and hiking Zhuliu Old trail introduces you to the natural beauty of this island.
For hiking Zhuliu Old trail, one needs to get permissions from the local police and national park office, so the trip should be planned at least one week in advance. It’s rather confusing to fill in the forms in Chinese, so assistance from local travel guide is welcome (I used Taiwan Vista Tours). You have to present the documents before being allowed the start. The hike is rather challenging, even if you choose the shorter 3 km version instead of the longer one (10 kilometers in total). This trail can be done in 2-3 hours, and then you have time to check out other places in Taroko or relax the muscles in the wild hotsprings.
Read more from Veronika at Veronika’s Adventure
Lion Rock, Hong Kong
When people think of Hong Kong they don’t think of great hiking trails. Well, they are wrong! In a concrete jungle like Hong Kong you’d be surprised to find some epic hiking trails. My favorite is the Lion Rock hike on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong.
Not only is it a peaceful oasis in a hectic city but it also has the best view of Hong Kong. I love sitting up at the top looking down onto Hong Kong, the city looks even more massive from above. The hike takes about 2.5 hours round trip and the trail is well marked. It’s a great hike for people of all ages, but I suggest going earlier in the morning to avoid the midday heat. There are tons of things to do in Kowloon but hiking is my favorite. After a hike head to Tim Ho Wan’s the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant and the best dim sum in Hong Kong.
Read more from Hannah and Adam at Getting Stamped
Batad in Banaue area of Ifugao province of Philippines is a UNESCO Heritage place in Philippines and its claim to fame is its many hectares of tall rice terraces; all of them hand built two thousand years ago and their descendants are still farming here!
To reach Batad, one has to first arrive at Banaue, earlier the better. From here Jeepneys that will take you to Batad “Saddle”. The views are already mesmerizing when you cross the saddle on foot and start the hike. While the hike may not be too difficult, it is the views that are to die for at the end of the hike. There are plenty of lodges here.
The crowning glory is the hike from this point to Tappiya falls, especially during the rains. The trail is basically the slippery rock edges of 12 to 15 high rice terraces going up and down until you reach a shelter selling soft drinks and hard boiled eggs. From here after a slippery descent on rocks as high as half meter to one meter, one reaches falls. The sight of the Majestic and ferocious Tappiya falls dissolves all the tiredness!
Read more from Nisha at Lemonicks
Note: The Banaue and Batad rice terraces in the Philippines are also Live Dream Discover’s pick for best hiking in Asia!
Mount Pulag, Philippines
Mount Pulag is the third highest mountain in the Philippines, standing 9587 ft high. It’s one of the most popular hiking destinations in the country for its majestic summit views. Mid-experienced and veteran hikers aim for the summit to stargaze at the Milky Way at night and to catch the famous sea of clouds on early mornings.
I first hiked Mount Pulag with friends 2 years ago via the Akiki trail. We passed by a river and through sloping landscapes covered in pine trees. Living in a tropical country, I wasn’t prepared for the cold up in the mountain. With its high elevation, it’s not uncommon for small pieces of ice to form where there is humidity. The number of jackets I brought wasn’t enough when we finally reached the base camp, a 30-minute walk to the summit. However, the grueling trek and biting cold was worth it. We witnessed a beautiful sunset, the tips of mountains from afar looking as if they have just emerged from clouds. I set up my tripod and camera. A bit longer and there was a great pink hue in the sky. It’s a spectacular view to marvel at.
Read more from Katherine and Hali at Tara Let’s Anywhere
Yandangshan Mountain National Geological Park, China
With jagged Shiwei Rock as the dramatic backdrop, the Shizhiyan Cliff Scenic Spot area of Yandangshan Mountain National Geological Park (which is near the major city of Wenzhou in China) offers a relatively easy two-hour hike through varied terrain that includes bamboo forests and a rushing river. Several stepping-stone bridges add some challenge. Half-way through, a short boat ride on a still, scenic section of the river is an option to cut down on climbing. After the ride, some simple snacks are available a resting spot.
If you like adventure and hiking you may want to take a look at these articles:
- Best Adventure Destinations in Europe
- Best Adventure Destinations in North & South America
- Best Adventure Destinations in Asia
- Best Hikes in Europe
- Best Hikes in Australia & New Zealand
- Best Hikes in North & South America
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Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.