As tourists, our thirst for adventure has never been greater. For many of us, the idea of spending a week lying on a sun lounger around a swimming pool just doesn’t cut it – we want excitement, a challenge, the chance to try something new.
That’s where trekking comes in. Arguably the most popular form of ‘adventure tourism’, it gives you the chance to get back to nature and experience a country in a way you never could by just staying at the same hotel.
When it comes to trekking, Asia really has the market sown up. The Himalayas, home to eight peaks of 8,000 m or more, are a real haven for trekkers, who are attracted by the mountain range’s challenging terrain and spectacular landscape.
However, while the Himalayas might be the most famous trekking hotspot in Asia – or anywhere in the world, for that matter – they’re far from the only option.
Read on if you want to find out more about some of the most famous and less well-known treks and trails Asia has to offer.
Annapurna, the Himalayas
We couldn’t write a list of top Asian trekking spots without mentioning at least one Himalayan destination.
Everest is probably the most famous trekking challenge anywhere in the world, with tens of thousands of people walking the trail to Everest Base Camp every year.
However, the Annapurna Circuit gets our nod as the route that truly showcases the best of the Himalayas. Widely considered to be one of the world’s classic trails, the circuit takes about 17 to 21 days to complete in full and passes through four regions – Lamjung, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi.
Although it’s the mountainous terrain that makes any Himalayan trek famous, the Annapurna Circuit also takes you through lower elevations teeming with subtropical valleys and isolated villages.
Gunung Ledang, Malaysia
Also known as Mount Ophir, Gunung Ledang is much more than just a challenging trek offering incredible views – it’s also dripping in folklore.
Legend has it that a princess with magical powers lived on the mountain and was desired by Sultan Mahmud Shah, the ruler of Malacca.
As a way of rejecting the sultan’s advances, the princess set him seven impossible tasks, including the construction of gold and silver roads for her to walk to and from the mountain to Malacca.
Some versions of the story say the sultan couldn’t complete any of these tasks, while another states he finished all but the last – filling a bowl with the blood of his young son.
Yet another has it that the sultan was ready to kill his son with a dagger, only for the princess to appear to say she could never marry a man prepared to wound his own child.
By visiting Gunung Ledang, you can lose yourself in this popular Malaysian tale while experiencing what is thought to be the most climbed mountain in the country.
On a clear day, trekkers are rewarded for their efforts with panoramic views of the Sumatran coastline and the Straits of Malacca.
Markha Valley, India
Trekking along the course of the Markha River takes you through a remote former Buddhist kingdom known as ‘Little Tibet’, due to its strong ties to the Tibetan culture.
One of the world’s highest inhabited plateaus, the Markha Valley offers panoramic views of the mighty Himalayan, Ladakh and Zanskar ranges. The route takes in the mountain passes of Ganda La, Kagmaru La and Stok La.
As well as sampling the undeniably impressive scenery, you’ll get the chance to meet nomadic families and watch as they herd their yaks.
If you don’t want to book through a major agency, it’s possible to organise a trek through the Markha Valley on your own, finding a guide in the town of Leh, hiring equipment yourself and spending the night in homestays.
Aurora, The Philippines
The presence of the Sierra Madre, the longest mountain range in The Philippines, makes the province of Aurora in the Central Luzon region hugely popular with trekkers.
Arguably the best trails can be found in San Luis, where you can visit natural attractions such as the Cunayan and Ditumabo waterfalls and the Banju Springs.
Dingalan also has plenty to recommend it, from splendid views over the verdant Dingalan Bay to the Lamao Caves.
One word of caution – it’s best to avoid mountain trekking in Aurora during the wet season from June to October, as the province is often bombarded with typhoons.
Yakushima Island, Japan
Visit Yakushima and you’ll find out why it’s known as the ‘Alps of the Ocean’.
Mountains make up about three-quarters of the island, with Mount Miyanoura – the tallest peak in Kyushu – located at the centre of several peaks that stand at more than 1,500 m.
Despite its small size – the whole island has an area of about 500 sq km – Yakushima has some hugely varied terrain and vegetation, while the climate ranges from subtropical near the coast to subarctic in the mountains. This diversity makes it an absolute joy for trekkers.
About the Author:
Ryan is the resident blogger at AsiaRooms. When Ryan is not working he spends his time travelling the globe, drawing on his travel experience and passion for travel to spread the good word. Ryan is also a social monkey and can be found lounging around on Twitter & Google+ and loves to interact with other travel bloggers.