This region of the world is home to the highest mountains and best trek in the planet. So, as you can imagine, you don’t have to look far to find excellent hiking. Snowcapped peaks, glacial lakes and unique wildlife are what inspires people to travel thousands of miles across the globe to hit the trails here.
Aside from taking in the views of the biggest and baddest mountains in the world, one of the best ways to experience the culture of Asian countries is by foot. Many treks on this list take you to villages far from the reach of modern society and give you a unique look at life of the people who live there.
ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT Trek – NEPAL
The Annapurna Circuit is considered the oldest trek in the Himalayas and one of the best hiking routes in the world. It’s a long trek of 17-21 days depending on which route you take. The highlight of the hike is crossing the Thorung La Pass which is the highest point on the trail at 17,769 ft (5,416m). This circuit isn’t only about stunning landscapes but is also a journey through Nepalese culture, you’ll trek through Buddhist villages and Hindu holy sites. Despite its popularity, the Annapurna Circuit remains at the top of the list of the best treks in Asia.
MOUNT RINJANI – INDONESIA
At 3,726 m, Rinjani is the second highest volcano in Indonesia, second only to Mount Kerinci on Sumatra, and it dominates the landscape of the relatively small island of Lombok.
Within its huge 50 km² caldera sits the crater lake Segara Anak (Child of the Sea). Eruptions within the caldera have formed a new small cone called appropriately enough, Gunung Baru (New Mountain). Segara Anak has a natural hot spring.
The mountain and its satellites form the Mount Rinjani National Park (Taman Nasional Gunung Rinjani) – officially 41,000 hectares within the park boundaries and a further 66,000 hectares of protected forest outside.
In 2008, the Indonesian government proposed to UNESCO that Mount Rinjani be one of the world’s official geoparks. If this was approved by UNESCO, Mount Rinjani would become the first such geological park in Indonesia.
DINGRI TO MT EVEREST – TIBET
Mt. Everest Base Camp north face is one of the most popular short treks in Tibet. It offers the spectacular view of highest mountain in the world and spectacular views of the Himalaya from stark desert valleys. Trip offers an experience to visit Buddhist Culture, Tibetan nomadic life style and their activities, visit all the Tibet’s famous Monastery and Palaces and the view of Mt. Everest North Face from the Rongbuk Monastery is perhaps the most dramatic of all its sides – Simply Unforgettable! We begin our trip by exploring the sights and sounds of the fabled city of Lhasa and drive across the Tibetan hinterland to Nepal border visiting the ancient towns of Gyangtse, Shigatse en route. In Dingri we meet our Sherpa support staffs and trek for the next 5 days to the Everest Base Camp. We are probably one of the few Nepali outfits that engage our own Sherpa staffs for all our trek services in the Tibetan Himalayas.
MARKHA VALLEY TREK – INDIA
Ladakh remains one of the best places to experience the unique culture of the High Himalaya. As our trek follows the Markha River, we discover a landscape where lofty peaks of the Stok, Matho and Zanskar Ranges tower above picturesque Ladakhi villages and verdant valleys below. From the highest pass, the Gongmaru La (5200m), we enjoy incredible views extending as far as Tibet, before descending to Hemis, Ladakh’s largest and most famous monastery.The route will take you past Buddhist monasteries and remote mountain villages. The highlight of this trek is seeing the peak of Kangyatse. There are homestays along route which make it possible to do this route without carrying stoves, tents and sleeping bags.
SEORAKSAN NATIONAL PARK – SOUTH KOREA
This park is one of the most beautiful and iconic on the entire Korean Peninsula. Designated by Unesco as a Biosphere Protection site, it boasts oddly shaped rock formations, dense forests, abundant wildlife, hot springs and ancient Shilla-era temples. Seorak-san (Snowy Crags Mountain) is the third-highest mountain in South Korea, with its highest peak, Daecheong-bong, standing at 1708m. Set against this landscape are two stately temples, Sinheung-sa and Baekdam-sa.
Peak season is July and August, while in mid-October visitors flock to see the changing colours of the autumn leaves – best appreciated over a bottle of meoruju (wild fruit wine). Given the park’s size (nearly 400,000 sq km), sections are sometimes closed for restoration or preservation, or to prevent wildfires. Check with the Visitor Centre before you head out.
The park is divided into three sections, unconnected by road: Outer Seorak is the most accessible and popular area, nearest to Sokcho and the sea. Seorak-dong has hotels, motels, minbak (private homes with rooms for rent), restaurants, bars, noraebang (karaoke rooms) and general stores; Inner Seorak covers the western end of the park and is the least commercialised; Southern Seorak is the name given to the Osaek (Five Colours) area, which is famous for its mineral springs.
KAMCHATKA – RUSSIA
There are few places in the world that can simultaneously enthral and disappoint quite like Kamchatka (Камчатка). A fickle temptress, it tends to hide its primal beauty behind a veil of thick clouds and fog.
But when the skies finally clear and the powdered snouts of several dozen volcanoes appear through the clouds, all else melts away and you understand that you’re in a special place. No matter what you went through to get here, no matter how long you’ve spent grounded, it was all worth it.
Visitors to Kamchatka are an intriguing mix of outdoorsy types and package tourists. The former have back-country adventure on their mind; the latter want to see Kamchatka’s otherworldly geysers, fuming volcanoes and bears the easy way – by helicopter. They’re united by deep pockets.
Yet against all odds, Kamchatka has suddenly become viable for independent, relatively budget-conscious travellers. The permit situation has relaxed, allowing visitors to take public transport north to Esso in the heart of the peninsula, where a slick nature park office is busy mapping trails in English and guesthouses hawk beds for less than R1000. Here hot springs abound and you are not far from several volcanoes, including tempestuous Mt Klyuchevskaya (4688m), the tallest active volcano in Eurasia.
The capital, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, may be gritty, but it’s in an incredible setting and also has its share of easily accessible activities, including lift skiing into late May and some very doable volcano climbs. Kamchatka may not be a budget destination yet, but no longer is it strictly the domain of tycoons.
TAVAN BOGD – MONGOLIA
Stunning Altai Tavan Bogd National Park follows Western Mongolia’s border with China and Russia, and is the greatest attraction in Western Mongolia. The Park really does have it all: beautiful valleys, alpine lakes, rivers, glaciers, and the highest peaks in Mongolia. This natural richness gives rise to a host of activities; most visitors will do some hiking or horse riding, but there are fantastic opportunities for the better equipped or ogranised to try fishing, climbing, rafting, or back country skiing. To top it all off, travelers can experience the amazing Kazakh culture and see archeological sights such as petroglyphs and burial mounds. With all these attractions, you would think the place would be crawling with tourists. Fortunately, Altai Tavan Bogd Park is still blessedly peaceful and unvisited; even in peak tourist season, traveling the most popular areas, you’ll only see other tourists every few days or so. Get there before it all changes!