Look, let’s face it: if you live in the city, there are hardly any places to get your fit on while immersing yourself in nature. But we’re very fortunate to be surrounded by countries with more hiking trails than we can conquer in a lifetime.
Don’t think you’re very athletic? You don’t have to be. There are all sorts of different trails in Asia, from the most kid-friendly to the sort that pushes you to the limit. Pack your boots, water bottle and camera, because these are some of the most beautiful treks that you don’t want to miss:
1. Dragon’s Back, Hong Kong
Surprise, surprise! Hong Kong isn’t just the great dim sum city, but home to some of the most beautiful trails in Asia. One of the most spectacular is the Dragon’s Back in Hong Kong Island, part of the bigger Hong Kong trail.
Starting at To Tei Wan on Shek O Road, the Dragon’s Back runs 7.4 kilometers long, through the Shek O Peak with its stunning views. You’ll end up at the Big Wave Bay, which is a popular spot for surfing, so you might want to bring your swimsuit along. It shouldn’t take you more than two and a half hours to complete the hike.
Difficulty Level: Beginner
How to Get There: Take the MTR to Shau Kei Wan. From here, you’ll want to hop on Bus No. 9 heading towards Shek O. Stop at To Tei Wan, where the trail begins.
2. Mount Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia
Indonesia has so many natural wonders, one of which is the tri-colored crater lakes of volcano Mount Kelimutu. The lakes change colors throughout the year, and they’re definitely a sight worth the hike up.
The locals say that the best time to get the best views is before sunrise. It can get quite foggy throughout the day, so most tourists start out at three or four in the morning. The easiest and fastest way to get there is to take the 8-seater truck to Kelimutu National Park’s carpark, then do a 30-minute climb to the top.
If you want to challenge yourself, you can take the 20km trail from Moni village that will lead you to the craters.
Difficulty Level: Beginner
How to Get There: Take a flight to Maumere from Bali (Denpasar). Hop on a bus or hire a private car to take you to Moni, gateway to Kelimutu National Park.
3. The Great Wall of China
Most tourists flock to Baidaling or Mutianyu to see the Great Wall, which is peculiar, considering the wall is over 20,000km in length. If you don’t want to squeeze your way through this wonder of the world, consider doing a hike through one of the more remote sections of the Great Wall. It’s a lot more serene (as how we think it should be!), and the views are breathtaking.
If you don’t feel comfortable hiking without a guide, there are plenty of tours that provide everything you’ll need. Most trails are manageable by even the most beginner hikers, although you can always request for a more challenging route.
Difficulty Level: Beginner to Intermediate
How to Get There: This is dependent on which trail you’ll choose. If you choose to go with a tour, they would arrange for transport from the city.
4. Markha Valley, India
Sorry beginners, you might want to give this a miss. The Markha Valley trek takes you to the Himalayas, and has a few high passes (from 4,900m to 5,200m) that you’ll have to hike through. There’s a real risk of getting altitude sickness, and if you’re not prepared, you might end up having one of the worst experiences in your life.
The Markha Valley might be in India, but the Buddhist monasteries and villages seem to have more of a Tibetan influence. It’s possible to do a trek on your own, but most people hire a guide to take them around.
The hikes range from two to eight days long, depending on which route you choose or how challenging you want it to be. There will be homestays to bunk in along the way, but some nights you’ll have to camp out in your tent.
The best time to go is from June to September, but even then you will need to pack warm clothes for the chilly nights.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Expert
How to Get There: Fly to Leh from Delhi. Take a cab or bus to Spituk, which is 7km away.
5. Gunung Tahan, Malaysia
Can you tahan* climbing Gunung Tahan? Known as Malaysia’s most difficult submit to ascend, Gunung Tahan (or Mount Endurance) is located inside of Taman Negara national forest. You’re going to have to train before you set out on this trail.
The total trek goes over 100km long, but you can choose different routes to go on, from a four-day hiking and camping trip to a seven-day one. What makes Gunung Tahan such a challenge is the terrain, which is unlike any on this list. At times, you’ll find yourself clambering on all fours to get past the endless roots and branches.
You can’t hike in the national park without a guide. But with tigers, leopards and rhinos roaming freely in the forests, you would definitely want an experienced trek leader accompanying you on your trip.
*Able to withstand.
Difficulty Level: Expert
How to Get There: Your end destination depends on where you’d be meeting your guide. If you’re starting from Sungai Relau, you can take the overnight train from Singapore to Merapoh. However, if you’re starting from Kuala Tahan, take a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Jerantut.