5 Most Scenic Hikes in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is home to some of the most beautiful mountains in the world with absolutely stunning views. This is your curated (short, but sweet) list of hikes for you to embark on your next travel adventure. These picturesque hikes in the Southeast Asian region will leave you feeling like you’re on top of the world (literally).
Pu Chi Fa Mountain, Thailand
Feeling like your head’s in the clouds? That’s because it probably is. Overlooking the border of Laos is Chiang Rai’s pride – Pu Chi Fa. Following Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is Thailand’s second busiest hiking spot. The Chiang Rai region boasts quaint villages and lush forests and most especially, Pu Chi Fa. No matter what time of day it is, you’re bound to see the sea of clouds from atop. But for your ultimate viewing pleasure, you should definitely catch it at sunrise.
Elevation: 1,442 metres
Difficulty Level: 3/10
Sapa Mountains, Vietnam
Dubbed as one of Vietnam’s most scenic regions, you can expect your Sapa trekking experience to be one of those moments where you can’t help but stop in your tracks to feast your eyes on the beauty that lies in front of you.
Sapa is in remote north-Western Vietnam, in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. This peak is more of a walk-through than a climb, making it perfect for beginners or for those who just want to slow down and take it all in. One of the more notable sights of this trek is the endless rows of ancient rice terraces. These natural slopes claimed from nature were voted as one of the most beautiful rice terraces in Asia by US Magazine, Travel and Leisure.
If you are in for a historical journey, you will also be able to learn about some of Sapa’s minority tribes. Guides commonly give their visitors tidbits on the history and culture of Sapa. Responsible tourism is also commonly practised in the region, so be sure to take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.
Elevation: 1,499 metres
Difficulty Level: 2/10
Mt. Pinatubo, Philippines
Only three hours away from Manila, Zambales is more commonly known as a surf town situated in the Northern region of the Philippines. But beyond the waves it offers, Zambales is actually home to one of the countries’ most sought-after hikes for adventurers. Behold, Mt. Pinatubo.
What makes it so special is that Mt. Pinatubo isn’t actually a mountain, but is a volcano settled in the central part of the Zambales mountain range. Before unfolding into the beauty that it is now, Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, which made headlines in the local news. It was the second-largest volcanic eruption in the Philippines in the 20th century and is considered one of the countries’ most catastrophic eruptions.
But fret not. Today, Pinatubo is a safe place to visit and will welcome you with open arms. Upon reaching the crater of the volcano, a large, beautiful lake spanning 2.7 kilometres will greet you with its crystal clear waters with ‘Tiffany blue’ tints. It has one of the most serene views that look like something out of Jurassic Park – before all the chaos happened, of course.
Elevation: 1,486 metres
Difficulty Level: 3/10
Mt. Rinjani, Indonesia
Moving on to even more volcanoes, we have Mt. Rinjani. Similar to Mt. Pinatubo, Mt. Rinjani is also a volcano. Located on the island of Lombok, this is Indonesia’s second highest volcano.
Since this is the second highest peak in Indonesia, it would take you about three days and two nights to complete the entire journey.
Many hikers describe their Mt. Rinjani experience with words like ‘epic’ and ‘priceless’. You can expect moderately steep hills, but also diverse scenery. The landscapes are almost completely green; from warmer and cooler hues depending on the season.
As you make it to the Mount Rinjani summit, a sulfur lake will welcome you in the middle of the volcano. The views of the crater will leave you in awe, yet seeking for more it has to offer.
Elevation: 3,726 metres high
Difficulty Level: 9/10
Mt. Kinabalu, Malaysia
“If hell were a mountain, it would look like Mount Kinabalu”. Novice mountaineer, Sasha Gonzales described her experience hiking Mt. Kinabalu in one sentence that is enough to scare you off from conquering this summit.
Mt. Kinabalu reigns supreme as the highest mountain in the Malaysian archipelago. Being one of the more challenging mountains on our list, hiking this summit would require a certain level of experience and physical training – definitely not recommended for beginners. It would also take a minimum of two days to reach the peak.
The journey consists of steep rock walls, warm granite rocks, dense jungle trails and freezing air. But above all that lies a breathtaking view that will make the climb up more than worth it. From atop, you will be able to see the dense clouds covering the surroundings. Even the landscapes you’ll come across on the journey itself will astound you; being surrounded by the rich fauna and flora will make you appreciate the beauty of nature and all it has to offer. Now it makes sense why thousands of hikers from all around the world come to visit and conquer this mountainous beast every year.
Elevation: 4,093 metres
Difficulty Level: 7/10
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