List Of the Top 10 Best Hikes in Asia
Asia is a continent teeming with natural beauty, diverse landscapes, and breathtaking hiking trails. Whether you’re an experienced trekker or a beginner seeking an adventure, Asia has something for everyone. In this post, we’ll take you through the top 10 best hikes in Asia that will leave you in awe of the region’s unparalleled beauty.
Asia is diverse, offering pristine beaches, bustling cities, exotic jungles, and far-reaching deserts. However, what truly captivates adventurers like me are the awe-inspiring mountain landscapes and the incredible hiking opportunities they present.
In this article, I’ve enlisted the insights of 10 hiking enthusiasts to unveil their favorite hikes in Asia. From the legendary Everest Base Camp trek to the enchanting hike to Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan, these are the absolute best hikes you can experience on this continent.
Ak-Suu Transverse, Kyrgyzstan
Stephen from Monk Bought Lunch
The seven-day Ak-Suu Transverse trek in Kyrgyzstan’s Issyk-Kul oblast is a journey through a diverse tapestry of landscapes. Starting from the eco-tourism base of Jyrgalan in the east, the trail takes you over eight mountain passes, with the highest, Ala-Kol Pass, standing at a staggering 3886m. Throughout 108km, you’ll ascend a remarkable 7128m.
The remarkable diversity of landscapes and cultural encounters truly sets this route apart. Beginning in the lush Jyrgalan valley, the journey transitions into steep mountains and vast grasslands inhabited by semi-nomadic shepherds. During the prime summer trekking season, it’s common to pass by yurt camps, where locals offer tea and bread, creating memorable cultural interactions.
Beyond Ala-Kol Lake and the Karakol Valley, the trail leads to Jeti-Oguz Valley’s striking red-soil canyons and rock formations. Along the way, you might encounter Soviet-era sanatoria, adding a unique cultural twist to your hike.
Mount Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo
By Annabel from Smudged Postcard
Mount Kinabalu, towering at 4,095 meters, claims the title of Southeast Asia’s highest peak and resides in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. To reach the summit, Low’s Peak, you must be accompanied by a registered guide due to national park regulations. Climbing permits are limited daily, so booking in advance is essential.
The climb typically spans two days, with overnight dorm accommodation available at Laban Rata Resthouse, located at 3,270 meters. The first day is a pleasant hike through a rainforest teeming with carnivorous plants and diverse bird species. The second day begins around 2 a.m. as you aim to reach the summit for a spectacular sunrise view. Afterward, it’s a descent back to the park gates by mid-afternoon.
Be prepared for cold weather during the nighttime ascent, even in Borneo’s tropical climate. Hats and gloves are essential. The hike suits families with older children, as it doesn’t require formal mountaineering experience. Visiting in March or April offers the best weather conditions and clearer views.
Mount Rinjani, Indonesia
By Annie Abelman
Mount Rinjani in Indonesia stands at 3726 meters above sea level, making it a challenging but rewarding trek for experienced hikers. Beginning the adventure typically involves traveling from Bali or Gili to Lombok.
After the first day’s trek, you’ll relish an unforgettable campfire by Rinjani’s crater lake, with hearty meals prepared by resilient porters. You’ll start early the following day, descending to the crater lake before an uphill scrambling alongside macaque monkeys, eventually reaching the crater ridge.
While day three offers a more leisurely route with open tracks, you’ll still encounter diverse species and stunning views. Weather permitting, you can ascend to the summit. Even if you don’t reach the top, the experience and scenery will leave an indelible mark on your memory.
By Alexander from Destinavo
Sapa, nestled in northern Vietnam, is renowned for its picturesque rice terraces and the indigenous tribes residing in its mountains and valleys. Beyond the captivating landscapes, Sapa offers a cultural experience through homestays, where you stay with local families, share traditional meals, and hike from village to village alongside them.
Spending at least 2-3 days in the valley is recommended, but longer stays allow for deeper exploration of the region. While the hike is relatively easy for families with children, sturdy shoes are essential, especially during rainy seasons when paths become slippery.
Sapa is typically accessed from Hanoi, with a train journey to Lao Cai. Enjoy the beautiful valley, ascend and descend through villages, and immerse yourself in the charm of Sapa’s culture and landscapes.
Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan
By Myra Armstrong
Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Paro Takstang, is Bhutan’s most iconic landmark. Perched on the edge of a mountain, nearly 900 meters above the ground, this monastery is a sight to behold. Accessible only by hiking, the path is comprehensive, and the terrain manageable for those with average fitness levels.
As you ascend, the scenery becomes increasingly breathtaking, with colorful prayer flags, soaring valleys, and glimpses of the monastery. The best view, however, is from the cliff opposite the sanctuary, where you can capture the iconic photo.
Remember to dress appropriately, covering your knees and shoulders, and leave your backpacks, shoes, and cameras outside the temples. While Bhutan can be expensive due to the tourist tax, the rewards of this hike make it well worth the cost.
Kolsai Lakes, Kazakhstan
By Ellis from Backpack Adventures
Kazakhstan, known for its vast steppes, hides a hidden gem in the southeastern corner near Almaty—the Kolsai Lakes. These blue lakes are surrounded by stunning alpine mountain scenery. They are accessible through an 8-kilometer hike from the village of Saty.
The relatively short trek is challenging, featuring trails with beautiful views above the first lake, serene river crossings, and a steep climb to the second lake. Plan for at least 4-5 hours to reach the second lake, where you can camp or stay in local homestays. Saty, the starting point, is a 6-hour drive from Almaty, so allocate at least three days for this hike.
Consider exploring the nearby Charyn Canyon and Lake Kaindy if you have your transportation. Kazakhstan’s Kolsai Lakes promise a unique hiking experience amid stunning natural beauty.
Tiger Leaping Gorge, China
By Daphna from A Tiny Trip
Tiger Leaping Gorge, located near Lijiang, China, offers a thrilling hike through the breathtaking mountain scenery of Yunnan province. To embark on this adventure, you’ll need to leave the cobblestone streets of Lijiang for Qiaotou via public bus or private transport.
As you enter the park, you’ll leave behind rolling hills and enter the mountainside along the Jinsha River. Along the route, you’ll find guesthouses offering food and lodging. While most of the hike is easy to moderate, some sections can be steeper and more strenuous.
After the first day, you’ll reach Halfway Guest House. On the second day, you’ll descend, passing a waterfall, and arrive at Tina’s Guest House. You can venture into the gorge, offering incredible mountain views from there.
Tiger Leaping Gorge promises unforgettable vistas and a diverse hiking experience in the heart of Yunnan province.
Batad Rice Terraces, Philippines
By Lotte from Phenomenal Globe
The UNESCO Heritage rice terraces of Batad, located in the Ifugao province of Luzon in the Philippines, are a testament to ancient agricultural ingenuity. Accessible only by foot, Batad offers a unique hiking experience through terraced fields that are over 2000 years old.
While a 3-kilometer trail is the shortest option, a multi-day hike from Banaue to Batad is highly recommended for a more immersive experience. Navigating the intricate terraces and narrow paths is challenging, making a guide essential.
The trek leads you through Banaue’s rice terraces, the terraces of Cambulo, and finally, the famous terraces of Batad. Trekking here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, allowing you to appreciate the laborious creation of these terraces on steep hills without modern equipment.
The Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
By Mike from Live Travel Teach
Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit is an unparalleled trek known for its natural splendor, cultural immersion, and stunning mountain views. Spanning 15-20 days, this trek is a journey through the heart of the Himalayas.
The trek begins with waterfalls, monkeys, and mesmerizing foothills, eventually leading to snowcapped mountains, yaks, and glaciers. Along the way, visit local temples and shrines for an authentic Nepali experience.
Guides and porters enhance your trek, making accommodations and meals stress-free. Supporting the local economy by hiring guides porters, and spending on food and lodging is essential. The Annapurna Circuit offers a thrilling adventure amid the world’s highest mountains.
Everest Base Camp, Nepal
By Campbell and Alya from Stingy Nomads
Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak at 8848m, lures the bravest climbers. For trekkers, reaching Everest Base Camp is a significant accomplishment. To begin the trek, you must fly or walk to the mountain village of Lukla, as no roads connect to it.
The trail traverses awe-inspiring mountain scenery, Sherpa culture, and Nepalese hospitality. The 130km roundtrip trek to Everest Base Camp usually takes around 12 to 13 days, with Kalapatthar at 5550m being the highest point.
Ascending slowly is crucial due to altitude risks. Guides and porters are valuable companions on this journey. Trekking in the world’s mightiest mountains provides an exhilarating adventure and a deep cultural experience. Nepal’s Everest Base Camp trek is a bucket-list hike for adventurers like me.
Q1: Are these hikes suitable for beginners? A1: While some are challenging, walks suit all experience levels. It’s essential to research and prepare accordingly.
Q2: What’s the best time to visit these destinations? A2: The ideal time varies by location, so check each hike’s specific seasons and weather conditions.
Q3: Are permits required for these hikes? A3: Yes, some walks may require permits. Make sure to obtain the necessary permits in advance.
Q4: Are guided tours available for these hikes? A4: Many of these hikes offer guided tours, which can enhance your experience and provide valuable insights.
Asia’s top 10 hikes offer diverse experiences, from challenging treks to leisurely walks in stunning natural settings. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a novice explorer, these destinations have something to offer everyone. So, gear up, plan your adventure, and immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of Asia’s hiking trails. Take good of the opportunity to create lasting memories in some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes. Happy hiking!