The world’s largest continent is a geographically diverse and gorgeous place. From the dizzying heights of the Himalayas to the steamy jungles of the lowlands, there’s all manner of terrains to be traversed by foot. And if that’s your preferred mode of transport, you’re in luck. To get you on your way, here’s our choice of best trekking destinations in Asia.
The Himalayas are rife with trekking opportunities. So it should come as no surprise that Nepal is one of the best trekking destinations in Asia. If not the world. It’s home to Everest – the tallest mountain on the planet, as well as eight other peaks that measure over 8,000 metres in height.
The trek to Everest Base Camp is perhaps Nepal’s most famous trek but there are plenty of other options beside this. Those looking for a more cultural experience should head straight for the Annapurna range. Not only does this region offer the usual spectacular scenery of snow-capped mountains peaks, it also offers the chance to visit Nepalese villages and Buddhist & Hindu holy sites.
Recommended tour: Annapurna Sanctuary Trek
Vietnam is another country where you can combine cultural immersion with scenic hiking. The north of the country is a shimmering patchwork of vivid green rice paddies, towering evergreen peaks and colourful hill tribe villages. It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and dive head first into Vietnam’s ethnic cultures.
The laid-back town of Sapa has become the region’s hill tribe trekking capital. With that has come a certain degree of commercialism that’s not for everyone. However, it’s not difficult to get off the beaten track. Along the border with China you’ll find countless sleepy mountain towns with stunning settings and riotous markets.
The somewhat reclusive kingdom of Bhutan shares the same mountain range as neighbouring Nepal. So you can expect a similar hiking experience here. And as interest in Bhutan continues to grow, it’s being touted as the next best trekking destination in Asia. Think dramatic mountain peaks, pristine high-altitude lakes, flower-filled meadows and beautiful pine forests. Plus lots of unique local encounters.
Treks in Bhutan range from day hikes that end at gravity-defying monasteries to gruelling month-long challenges that take you through some of the world’s least traversed landscapes. The most popular trek is the 6-day Druk Path Trek from Paro to Thimphu. Along the way you’ll visit ancient forts and traditional villages.
Recommended tour: The Druk Path Trek
As tourism continues to develop in the once-isolated country of Myanmar, so too do the trekking opportunities. Whether it’s through the agricultural lands of the south or the Himalayan foothills of the north, there’s a surprising range of options. And you’ll find these trails are much quieter than those in neighbouring Thailand where hill tribe trekking is a mini tourism industry in its own right.
The Chin Hills in the northwest of Myanmar are prime hiking terrain. There are diverse forests, manageable peaks and a rich ethnic diversity. Here you can visit remote tribal groups, scale Mount Victoria and explore the little-visited Nat Ma Taung National Park, home to beautiful and rare flora and fauna.
India is another country that encompasses a large portion of the Himalayan mountain range. And as such, treks in India are varied and plentiful. From the states of Leh and Ladakh in the west to Bengal in the east, the north of India is a fascinating insight into the country’s Buddhist communities. And in the lower Himalayan foothills you’ll find some of India’s best-known tea-growing regions, including Darjeeling.
But it’s not only the north where hiking opportunities abound. There are plenty of choices in the south from the lush Cardamom Hills to the Western Ghats. It’s quite different scenery to that in the north. The mountain peaks here are carpeted in green with steamy cloud cover hanging overhead.
The Teardrop Isle may not scream ‘best trekking destination in Asia’ to many. But look beyond the popular Cultural Triangle and you’ll find that there’s huge potential for hiking adventures. And for those that prefer their hikes without the crowds, this potential remains shockingly underutilised (read as: no crowds).
Sri Lanka’s hill country offers the ideal terrain with verdant mountain ranges, attractive tea plantations, sacred mountains and wildlife-rich cloudforests. Despite UNESCO World Heritage status, a number of trails in the region have only recently opened to the public. So while Adam’s Peak and the sunrise ascent serves as Sri Lanka’s most popular hike, there are endless opportunities to get well and truly off the beaten track.
Recommended tour: Sri Lanka Tracks and Trails
If you’re looking for more inspiration on adventures by foot, check out our full range of trekking and walking holidays.