Hiking in Asia is so much fun! There really are some gems to be savoured here, with the best hiking stretching across China, India, Bhutan, South Korea and Vietnam to name just a few!
Hiking Asia is something my fellow travel blogging buddies love just as much as me, so I asked them to put their favourite routes forward. From beginner hiking trails to the most difficult awesome hiking trails out there, this list is for you!
You’ll find each hike and trek’s difficulty level below, the time it takes, a description of what you’ll see plus some really useful essential tips. Get your boots on. It’s time for hiking Asia.
Recommended by Pashmina from The Gone Goat
Imagine treading through deep waters and walking on a thin layer of ice in -30 temperatures. That was my experience of the Chadar Trek; one of the wildest treks tagged by National Geographic in 2012 in Ladakh, India! It is also known as one of the most popular winter treks in India.
This is one of the most difficult treks in India. The distance on foot is around 105 km. On average, you’re covering 15 to 17 km every day. Plus, you’ll be facing harsh temperatures and camping spots.
Around 9 days.
Like a walk in a frozen dreamland, the Chadar Trek has a unique way of displaying the frozen beauty of the Himalayas. The journey leads off from Ladakh to the snowbound villages of the Zanskar Valley. One of the most interesting sights is that it falls under a route that takes you along traditional winter trading trails connecting Padum to Ladakh along the frozen Zanskar river. You even gain insight into the remote cultures of Zanskar and Ladakh and. There’s a chance you’ll be able to connect with the local Zanskaris and even spott snow leopards if you’re lucky.
I remember exchanging panicked glances with my trek mates every time we stepped on an unsteady slab of ice, ready to break at any time. Wearing eight layers of thermals and coming from a tropical country, it was way harder for my body to adjust to the harsh environment but that didn’t matter anymore when I was greeted by the region’s stunning landscapes.
‘Chadar’ refers to a blanket of ice and can only be accessed during the coldest months from January to February. The region remains closed off for eight months to a year due to heavy snowfall.
You must pack an incredibly warm jacket, sleeping bag and sturdy hiking shoes.
Recommended by Joan Torres from Against The Compass
Lenin Peak, a 7,100-meter mountain, is the second highest mountain in the Pamir range and the third in the former Soviet Union. The peak is located in both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan but you start to trek from Kyrgyzstan. Massive glaciers, contrasting colors and, basically, jaw-dropping scenery, make me believe that this is one of the best trekking experiences I’ve ever had.
The base camp, which is already at 4,000 meters above sea level, is easily reached in half a day from the village of Sary Mogul and the advanced base camp, which is at 5,100 meters, is around 6 hours from the base camp but be aware that, since there are a lot of ups and downs, the total ascend is around 2,000 meters.
Moderate – Difficult: depending on whether you hike the peak or head to just the advanced base camp!
The Lenin Peak is particularly famous, more than any other 7,000-meter summit, and the reason is that this is the easiest 7,000-meter mountain to climb in the world, as it doesn’t really require any hard climbing experience but you can reach the top by foot.
Still, you need to be an experienced climber, so regular travelers should not attempt to go to the top.
However, the advanced base camp, which is located at the bottom of the more than 2000-meter ice wall that takes you to the top, is highly feasible for any reasonably fit traveler, and it is fairly quick to reach.
From the village to Sary Mogul you go through a massive arid plain, one alpine lake, plenty of green rolling hills, several glaciers, rivers, and of course, continuous views of a 7,100-meter peak.
Do not attempt this if you are not fit. You need to have some trekking experience behind you.
It takes time to get used to the altitude: bring plenty of water and take breaks when you need to.
Recommended by Liz Smith from Peanuts or Pretzels
Located north of Lijiang, China Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest gorges in the world, and it is home to one of our most memorable treks. However, it’s a bit off the main highway and in a remote area – so you will need to do some advanced planning if you want to hike the area.
Moderate on the middle route / more strenuous on the high road.
1 to 2 days depending on the route you choose.
Heading north from Lijiang, you have a couple choices for visiting the gorge. The first option is to enter the gorge in the town of Qiaotou by hiking the “high road” path – a hike that can take a day or two (depending on your route & speed) and you can stay overnight at guest houses along the way.
Another option is to hire a car at the entrance ticket office in Qiaotou to drive you into the gorge, where you can drop off your gear at a guest house and then spend a couple days doing various day hikes in the area. Maps are available at the ticket office as well as at guest houses. Keep in mind that these maps are quite rough and the paths are not very well marked, which can be confusing. So take appropriate precautions and bring supplies.
Trekking in this area takes you through local mountain villages, carefully terraced farm land, and gives amazing views of high mountain peaks, including the famous Jade Snow Mountain!
By far our favorite hike that we did in Tiger Leaping Gorge was the Middle Gorge Hike. This hike takes you far down the steep mountain all the way to the famous “Tiger Rock” in the middle of the river – where the legend says that the tiger leaped across the river, giving the area its name.
The lower hike is said to be made by locals, which is why you find some of them along the path charging “tolls” to pass by. It’s annoying, but we decided to just deal with it, because the hike was truly one of the most memorable we’ve ever taken.
Recommended by Sarah Carter from ASocialNomad
As hiking trails go, this combines an amazing history, fabulously well maintained trails and a great cultural aspect! Located in Japan, the Nakasendo trail linked Kyoto to Tokyo and was used during the Edo period by the Shogun to help rule the country: tax collectors went about their business using the trail that linked postal towns!
The Nakasendo trail is 530 kilometres long and there were originally 69 postal stations located on the route. If you want to walk it today it will likely take you around 3 weeks. However, the most popular part of the trail is the day hike from Magome to Tsumago, which is around 5 miles / 8 km.
Along the way stay in ryokans and the traditional post inns, where you can relax and explore Japanese culture and hospitality. You’ll also find traditional tea houses in which to take refreshment en-route too!
The local tourist office can make the hike even easier for you as they provide a luggage forwarding service between the two renovated post towns.
Spring and Autumn are the best times to walk the Nakasendo trail, avoiding the heat of summer and the potential snow of winter, as the trail does pass through high country.
Recommended by Manouk Bob from Bunch of Backpackers
The Mestia-Ushguli trek is one of the most popular treks in Georgia, due to it beauty, accessibility and comfort. This four day trek will take you through the mountains of the spectacular Svaneti region in the Caucasus!
You need a basic level of fitness.
On average you hike around six hours per day, after which you can spent the night in one of the village’s family-run guesthouses.
During the trek, you pass through mountain passes, villages with the ancient Svan watch towers, powerful rivers, glaciers, and colorful meadows.
The trek starts in the village of Mestia, which is the biggest town in the Svaneti region. From Mestia, you can also do several day treks or take a cable car up to the mountains. The trek ends in beautiful and remote Ushguli, which is the highest inhabited village of Europe.
At the guesthouses in the evening, you can enjoy the Svan hospitality and home-cooked Svan food, which of course, tastes even better after a long day of walking.
On average you will spend about 20 euros per day on food and accommodation.
You can also opt to camp along the way and extend your Svaneti trekking with the Mazeri, Guli Pass and Kuraldi Lakes. (like I did).
Make sure to bring some basic snacks (nuts, candy), as there are no shops on the route.
Recommended by Claire Evans from The Adventurous Flashpacker
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from hiking in Jordan, but it certainly wasn’t anything as incredible as the hiking in the Dana Biosphere Reserve. Hiking in Dana is a real treat with beautiful landscapes, rugged hiking trails, and very few tourists.
The hike is relatively flat and isn’t tough fitness wise, but there are a few technically challenging sections where a little rock scrambling is required.
Take your pick of the hiking trails throughout the nature reserve, ranging from a couple of hours to several days. The Wadi Ghuweir Trail is a one way 14km trail (give or take depending on your drop off and pick up locations), and takes around 6 hours, makeing the most of Dana’s otherworldly beauty.
The hike starts in the valley below Shoubak, around one hour drive from Dana Village, and ends near Feynan, around two hours drive back to Dana Village.
The Wadi Ghuweir trail winds through a long siq surrounded by soaring canyons and rock formations, and moves onto an open valley filled with tropical lush foliage. Water runs through the entire length of the hike, ranging from a small trickle to flowing water that you need to wade through.
I recommend taking a guide and wearing hiking shoes with good grip for the rocks.
Don’t forget to factor in transfer times, which can be unexpectedly long in Dana due to the lack of main roads.
The best time to hike Wadi Ghuweir is in spring or autumn. Exercise caution in the wet season, as the valley can experience flash flooding.
Recommended by Ferna Mae Fernandez from Everywhere With Ferna
A solo hike in Khao Ngon Nak situated in the heart of Krabi, Thailand is one of the short treks that one should do when in the country. This is the best trek I did exploring the town, with a 3.7km in distance on a craggy trail. However, one must not underestimate the journey, especially in humid and very warm weather!
It took me 2 hours to delve into this activity but this is also because I paused on every station to take some photos!
Making your way there, you’ll see all types of different trees standing still where the colors mesmerize you! Look out for the unique red-orange colored trees stationed among the green environment. The noise of the birds echoing and the crickets never ending chirrups become your companion along the journey.
For all of you who love information, there are plenty of information points along the way to enrich your hike. The letters are in Thai and English so it’s easy for locals and tourists alike to understand.
The boulders on the last 500m are the ones that are hard to maneuver! The slopes and sandy places will extend the time it takes to reach the peak.
The peak is the best station and really stunning because of the Andaman view along the limestone karsts.
Please do bring lots of water and maybe a can of soda to keep you hydrated. The weather will drain your energy.
Make sure you wear a light and dry outfit.
Recommended by Karolina Patryk from Lazy Travel Blog
Just 130 kilometers northeast of Beijing is the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall of China, which is possibly one of the best treks in the world. Located right smack between the Gubeiku and Simatai sections, Jinshanling consists of both the restored and unrestored portions of the wall.
It is also the most beautiful portion of the wall with the greatest number of distinctive watchtowers that are about 10 to 12 meters high! The least crowded among all the other sections, the Jinshanling Wall is also a viewpoint that provides breath-taking sights.
5 hours once you reach the wall.
The Jinshanling Wall is around 2 hours drive from Beijing and the best way to get there is by hiring a driver through the WeChat and WeChat Wallet apps, which will set you back around 900RMB.
If you are staying with a hotel, you can get the reception to arrange one for you as well.
Another option is to take the direct bus from Wangjing West Bus Station which departs Beijing at 8 AM and returns at 3 PM. Although it is a cheaper option, costing around 32RMB each way, the downside is it is only available during the peak season from April to November.
From April to October, the wall is open from 6 AM to 6 PM. During the off-season, from November to March, the wall is open from 7 AM to 5 PM. The price of admission is 65RMB during peak season and 55RMB during off-season.
Recommended by Harsh Gupta from Wanderers Hub
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery, popularly known as Paro Takstang, is an iconic religious site in Bhutan that is perched precariously to a rock cliff 10,240 ft overlooking the Paro Valley. For anyone visiting Bhutan, trekking to Tiger’s Nest Monastery is a given!
It is best to be mentally prepared for the trek uphill as it can get strenuous at some points.
Around 5-7 hours.
At a medium pace, it’s easier to climb to the top well within 3 hours. Frequent trekkers can easily finish this trek well within 2 hours. But, set aside a full day for the Tiger’s Nest hike as it will take 5-6 hours easily for the round trip hike, plus additional one hour to tour the monastery.
The journey uphill is soul-stirring and at the same time rewarding for the views it offers are breathtaking. You will notice red-robed monks praying and singing along the way and many prayer flags will keep your spirits up.
The scenery becomes even more pretty as you climb higher and gain elevation.
Make sure you wear proper hiking shoes and are fully clothed at the monastery (knees and shoulders covered).
Bring along some refreshments and plenty of water for this trek.
Remember – do it slowly and experience complete immersion in the cultural heritage of Bhutan.
Recommended by Rahma Khan from The Sane Adventurer
Oman is one of the most naturally diverse countries in the Middle East. The Jebal Shams Mountain in Oman is a part of the Al Hajar Mountain range and it is the highest peak in the Arabian Peninsula standing at 3000 meters above the sea level! It attracts lots of local trekkers and adventure-seekers from the neighboring countries; however, despite being a great trekking trail, the mountain has still not gained enough popularity in the region. The trek is called the Jebal Shams trek (Jebal Shams means the mountain of the Sun in Arabic).
The trail is rocky and challenging at some points where the route gets extremely narrow.
It is a short two days trek which can be completed in a single day as well if you have a good fitness level.
The trek passes by small villages and Bedouin houses in the mountain which are surprisingly still untouched by civilization. You will always be accompanied by the mountain goats on the trek which is owned by the local shepherds on the mountain. The sunrise and sunset views from the main viewpoint of Jebal Shams are incredible! After all, who wouldn’t like to see the sunrise or the sunset from the top of the mountain of Sun?
There are no shops or tea houses on the mountain so it is important to pack enough supplies to last two days on the mountain.
Recommended by Annalisa Franceschini from Traveling With Magpies
Regardless of having to get a visa and a guide to take you through it all, don’t be discouraged. This is one of the most popular treks in Tibet, and it’s totally worth the hassle!
Moderate to Difficult.
The Ganden Samye trek demands a moderate-difficult physical effort and allows you to spend time on an untouched landscape at more than 5000 meters of altitude.
I needed to sip oxygen from a small tank on the second day of walking, and I had to rest more often than expected.
The Ganden-Samye trek in Tibet takes 4 days and covers about 80 kilometers on the highlands, an hour drive from the city of Lhasa.
The trek retraces the traditional pilgrimage of the Tibetan monks and devotees from Ganden Monastery to Samye Monastery. These are two of the most important sanctuaries for Tibetan buddhism, and are still operating today.
During this trek you will have the special chance to meet the Tibetan nomad population. Tibetan nomadic herders spend the summers in tents made from yak coat, picking up medical herbs while the yaks are grazing free in the valleys. The Tibetan guide walking with you will help you to visit their tents and know about their customs. The Ganden-Samye trek is my most treasured travel memory, and I can’t wait to do it again.
The Tibetan agency that you’ll pick to arrange your travel permits will hire porters with yaks to carry your camping gear, food, oxygen, and everything else they will find necessary.
Similarly to all the activities concerning travels to the Tibet Autonomous Region in China, to be able to do this trek, first you need to apply for a Chinese tourist VISA.
You’ll also need to hire an official travel guide to escort you through the whole trekking journey. I recommend you get the support of a Tibetan travel agency to go through all the process.
Recommended by Ben McLaughlan from Horizon Unknown
If you’re looking for a multi-day trek in Myanmar, Kalaw to Inle Lake is a perfect way to not only get beautiful vistas of lush fields and rice terraces but to also meet interesting and colourful characters in the local communities.
From the small town of Kalaw in Myanmar begins the three-day trek to Inle Lake. Meeting and staying with local families as the trail winds through green fields and rice Terraces is what makes this trek so memorable.
Many locals you encounter along the way are farmers tending to their crops, but they never seem too busy to stop, wave and smile as you continue along the exhausting hill-side trail. Many stops are impromptu and are for soaking in the scenery.
Usually, trekkers hire a guide as the trail is usually not well marked and it’s easy to get lost. Having a guide is a great insight into local life around the communities in the area too!
Snakes aren’t uncommon along the track. During my three days, my small group only saw one, but my guide said he sees them all the time in the fields and laying on the trail.
There are quite a few rest stops for food and a break along the walk allowing you to refuel.
Sun protection is also a must as most of the track is uncovered.
Recommended by Carine & Derek from We Did It Our Way
It feels like hiking is Korea’s national sport so it’s no surprise that climbing Mount Hallasan is a must. It’s the country’s highest peak and Jeju island’s most prominent landmark. Luckily, it’s also a beautiful hike. We couldn’t recommend this trail enough. If you’re an avid hiker, or even slightly sporty, you will love this. It’s also pretty cool that you can say you’ve climbed to the top of Korea’s highest peak!
The trail is a mix of stairs, paving and rocks. However, the last ascent to get to the top is quite rocky, and steep.
8 hours in total.
The Seongpanak Trail is 9.6 km long, and takes about 4 hours each way (if you are semi-active).
In 1970, Mt Hallasan was declared a national park, and it’s easy to see why. There are over 1,800 plants and 4,000 species of animals and insects that call this mountain home! You can see them from any of the five hiking trails. In the fall, the leaves turn to beautiful shades of vibrant reds, oranges and yellows, so even if you don’t see any animals, the fall foliage is enough to make you swoon.
We picked the sunniest fall day to climb this 1,947.06 m mountain – the goal was to have a clear view once we made it to the top! Then we chose the longest, but most popular trail, Seongpanak Trail, one of the only 2 trails that takes you up to the peak of the crater.
We absolutely loved this trek. Not only were the views along the way breathtaking, but we made so many friends along the way. Each Korean we would pass along the way would greet us with a friendly ‘Hello’; a custom we’ve gotten used to hiking various trails in Korea. Being as cheeky as we are, we would always greet them back with ‘Annyeong haseyo’ (Hello in Korean). They thought this was hilarious, and would want to talk and walk together for a while, which made us even happier!
Make sure you bring snacks, lunch, and water with you. It’s a long hike.
Also bring a bag to carry your trash with you because there are no bins along the way.
Get started early enough because you have to clear the main checkpoint by 1pm and start descending by 2:30 or 3pm, so you don’t end up hiking down in the dark.
We learned the hard way that just because it’s a sunny day at the foot of the mountain, it doesn’t mean you will have a clear view at the top. Once we finally made it to the crater, we were greeted by thick fog. At least the views along the way were breathtaking!
Recommended by Somnath Roy from Travel Crusade
One of my best treks that I ever tried in life was the steep ascent from Baltal to Amarnath (the Hindu Holy cave of Amarnath) where you can see the ice shivling. The trek is a huge ascent with lots of twists and turns that can make any traveller speechless. The Amarnath trek happens every year in June in India. It calls many pilgrims and other like minded travellers from around the world.
Challenging! Expect an arduous climb, high elevations and adverse weather.
1 day to get to the top.
It is recommended to stay overnight and return the next day after you have finished sightseeing. The trek is a 19km uphill ascent from Baltal with stops at Sangam and Panchtarni.
People choose to trek here as it rejuvenates the body and mind and teaches us a unique way of enjoying life by actually being a wayfarer! The shrine within the cave here is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. Tourists of all ages including children and the aged come from different corners of the world to view the majesty and brilliance of this natural formation. Once you reach the cave, you will see the ice shivling which represents a form of Lord Shiva.
The trek at Amarnath is one of the fascinating moments that’s happened in my life and I cherish every moment of it.
The ice shivling only lasts for a month and half here, after which it starts to melt down. Don’t miss it! Visit between July and August.
Recommended by Jess Drier from Unearth the Voyage
One of the best places in the world to go on a trekking adventure and see some amazing scenery would be in the northern hemisphere of Vietnam in a little mountain town called Sapa. Sapa is home to the Hoang Lien Son mountain range which is actually the tail end of the Himalaya mountains.
If you are looking to conquer a peak, Fan Si Pan is Vietnams highest peak, and Sapa is the best place to start your trek up this mountain.
There are many different treks with a range of different difficulties you can take from Sapa. Most people opt to hire a guide as the trails can be a little difficult to follow.
For Fan Si Pan peak: account for 3 days of steep, uphill trekking to get to the top!
Trekking in Sapa is one of the best treks in the world because of the scenery along the way. The trails take you through amazing cascading rice terraces and there are constantly gorgeous views of the mountains. Along the way, you walk through local villages home to the Hmong, Dao and Tay tribes living in the area. You will get a great sense for how these hill-tribe people live by talking with your guide and observing their day to day life.
It is extremely common when trekking in Sapa to arrange a homestay tour from Hanoi or Sapa which typically includes a guide that takes you trekking and a 1-3 night stay at a locals’ home.
Keep in mind when trekking anywhere in the Hoang Lien Son mountains, the weather can get quite cold and it is often rainy. Hiking through rice fields and terraces during the rainy season can be quite treacherous so it is best to plan your trip during the “dry” season in September or October. Even if you go in the dry season, it can still rain, so be prepared by bringing the proper hiking boots and gear to endure wet weather.
Either way, trekking in Sapa is amazing and you will enjoy your time in rain OR shine!
Recommended by Priyadarshini Rajendran from Glorious Sunrise
Tikona fort is in Lonavala, a lovely hill station in Maharastra, India. It is a small fort, now in ruins, at the top of a mountain. The trek to the top is a magical experience, especially in monsoon season as you will find yourself lost in the green wonderland within minutes!
Easy to moderate.
There are two paths that you can take on this trek, one is easy and the other is a moderately difficult one.
Around 1.5 hours with all photo stops included.
You will need to take a taxi from Pune to Tikona Peth where you find the trek’s base camp. From there you will walk through green fields where you find villagers in colorful saris and lungis working in the fields along the way. Slowly, make your way up the hill enjoying the slight drizzle falling from heaven.
Mid-way through the trek, you will find a small temple and a pond surrounded with dense foliage. As you move up the narrow stairs to reach the top, you will see that the views of the surrounding valley are splendid!
In monsoon season it can get slippery, but if you take care to use shoes with good grip and general precautions, it really is the best season to enjoy this trek.
In general, July to February is ideal as it can get quite dry and hot in the summer months of March to June.
Recommended by Mo from Travelust 101
Fancy some Bali hiking? Bali is an island that never ceases to amaze me. Even after living on this Island of the Gods for five years, there continues to be endless things to do, from surfing, snorkeling, hiking, temple hopping, scuba diving, chasing waterfalls, and so much more! If you are a nature lover, Bali is an ultimate paradise.
Among many outdoor activities, one attraction that draws visitors from all over the world is Bali’s breathtaking sceneries of perfectly sculpted, lush rice terraces. While you can go trekking in almost every rice field, I recommend that you explore off-the-beaten-path Bali to escape the crowd and experience the authentic island life.
One region of Bali that I recommend for rice field trekking is Sidemen!
As easy (or hard) as you want to make it. Tell your guide what you want.
As quickly or as long as you want. Tell your guide what you are looking for.
Despite the massive tourism that has commercialised the island, Sidemen has remained off the tourist radar and represents quintessential Bali of quaint, picturesque farm villages. Even though Sidemen is located just an hour outside of busy Ubud, the traditional and authentic lifestyle of Sidemen will make you feel like you have transported back in time.
Although it’s possible to trek around the village on your own, you should hire a local guide for an intimate cultural immersion. A local guide will take you through the rice fields and farmlands that you will not be able to find or get through on your own. I was so glad to have my guide Wayan, who not only led me through some challenging terrains but provided me with so much expert insight into the farming culture of Sidemen.
You can book a trekking tour through your accommodation in the main town of Tabola in Sidemen.
If you decide to trek in Bali rice fields, be sure to slather on some sunscreen, put on comfortable sneakers and take plenty of water with you!
There’s some brilliant hikes and treks in here which we hope you decide to take on too! Which one is your favourite on the list? Is there a hike which you love but which we’ve missed off the list? We would love to hear about it!
Add your questions, thoughts and suggestions and we’ll reply.