From the mountains of Nepal to the jungles of Borneo, Asia has a trekking adventure to suit every budget, interest and level of experience. There’s no better way to get to know a destination (and your fellow travellers) than on foot, so whether you’re looking for a gentle hike or a serious challenge, we’ve put together a selection of five great and most iconic walks to get you inspired to dust off your hiking boots.
This 200-kilometre trek is one of the world’s finest, but it’s no walk in the park. Crossing two river valleys along the way and reaching a summit of more than 5000 metres above sea level at Thorung La pass, this trek will challenge even the fittest of walkers at times, but the rewards make it all worthwhile: jaw-dropping Himalayan peaks and crystal-clear rivers, rhododendron forests and ancient teahouse, a rich cultural experience and the occasional soak in natural hot springs. It’s a good idea to join a guided tour: porters will carry the bulk of your gear and generally help you make the most of your time on the circuit.
One of the deepest and most spectacular river canyons in the world, the gorge is roughly fifteen kilometres in length, formed by the Jinsha River – a tributary of the mighty Yangtze River – cutting a path between two mountains. The walk itself is challenging without being overwhelming and can be combined with a tour of the other highlights of the Yunnan Province, including the ancient city of Dali and stunning Danxia landscape of Shibao Mountain.
Travel three hundred kilometres north-west of the Vietnamese city of Hanoi, almost all the way to the Chinese border, and you’ll find yourself in Sapa – a region that is home to Vietnam’s highest peak, terraced rice paddies that have been carved out of steep mountainsides, and some of the best hiking in southeast Asia. The best time of year to visit this region is between August and November, when the autumn colours are at their finest. Whether you choose to join a guided hike or travel at your own pace, you’ll be staying in local homestays where you’ll get to spend time with local families, sampling local, home-cooked cuisine and experiencing the unique culture of this lush, green region.
Located on the island of Borneo, Mt Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia, and its incredible biodiversity has earned it UNESCO World Heritage status. Despite its height (rising to a summit of just over four thousand metres), the mountain is surprisingly straightforward to climb, requiring no specialist mountaineering equipment and only a reasonable level of fitness. The trail leads you through the mountain’s various ecosystems, from dense rainforest at the base to bare rock-face toward the summit, and many climbers choose to spend a night on the mountain in order to reach the summit in time to witness one of its spectacular sunrises. For more advanced climbers, the mountain also offers the world’s highest via ferrata, a series of steel cables and ladders that will lead you to the summit via a more difficult route.
Considered by many to be one of the toughest long hikes in the world, it takes as many as 25 days to complete the 200-mile journey. This is thanks mainly to the need to acclimatise to the high altitude and allow for unpredictable weather along the way, but due to the tightly-controlled tourism industry in Bhutan, you can expect uncrowded trails on which to enjoy the spectacular mountain scenery. Your trek will lead you past Buddhist monasteries and through small villages where the way of life has changed little over the centuries.
From towering mountain passes to lush rice fields and dense jungles, the incredibly varied landscapes of Asia ensure that no two treks are the same. Whether you prefer to join a guided walking tour, or you just need assistance putting together your own independent itinerary, your personal travel manager can help.