Asia is incredibly diverse in its landscape and topography – from volcanic ranges and snowy peaks to sun drenched beaches and tropical rainforests. It’s also home to some of the best, most rewarding and scenic treks the world has to offer.
Here are four of the best:
Wilson Trail, Hong Kong
Wilson Trail is a picturesque 78kilometre path that runs from Stanley on Hong Kong Island to Nam Chung on the Kowloon Peninsula. The Wilson Trail traverses eight country parks - Tai Tam Country Park and its Quarry Bay Extension begin the journey. Across the harbour, there is a gap where the trail runs through hills outside the parks. In the central new territories, the Wilson Trail heads north before finally climbing into the majestic Pat Sin Leng Country Park. Each of the eight country parks the Wilson Trail traverses has its own unique character and although it’s a fairly strenuous walk, it rewards with great views from each of the peaks along the route. These make the hike well worth the effort and a welcome retreat from the neon, smog and crowds of Hong Kong.
Tiger Leaping Gorge, China
Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the world’s deepest river canyons and one of Asia’s most dramatic and photogenic hiking trails. About 15km in length, the gorge is named after a legendary tiger that leapt across the gorge to escape the clutches of a hunter - no mean feat considering the canyon’s narrowest point is still a staggering 25 metres wide!
You can hike Tiger Leaping Gorge by taking either the aptly-named “High Road” or “Low Road”. If you take the high road, you might find it a little narrow but it’s well-maintained and has mountain hut accommodation along the way for those wanting to break up the journey. The “Low Road” runs closer to the river, deep in the gorge, offering more frequent views of the mighty Yangzi River, China’s longest , but the path is a little unstable in places and the high road is definitely the safer option. Tiger Leaping Gorge isn’t safe for hiking in the wet season.
Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan
The magnificent unspoiled Pamir Mountains in little-explored Tajikistan offer a range of exhilarating hikes and walking trails far off the beaten path.
The Pamir Mountains (or “Roof of the World” in Persian) are some of the world’s highest and most remote, sprawling across the borders of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Untamed wilderness, sparse breathtaking landscapes and oxygen-challenging altitudes provide plenty of opportunities for the adventurous while there are still ample walking trails available to suit most ages and skill levels. Those lucky enough to stumble upon remote mountain settlements may be treated to the renowned hospitality of the Pamir people.
You’ll need permits to access the trails and given the remote nature of some of the more challenging treks, you’ll need to take all necessary equipment and be well versed in mountain safety. Gharm, Chasma and Julandee are all great bases to explore the region. Don’t forget your camera!
Mount Fuji, Japan
Japan’s iconic and much-celebrated Mount Fuji, with it’s distinctive conical shape is a ‘sacred mountain’ to many Japanese and one of Asia’s most popular and rewarding climbs, not least of all because of the legendary sunrise viewing at its peak.
As the famous saying goes, "You’re wise to climb Mount Fuji once, but a fool to climb it twice." Mount Fuji looks as formidable as it does magnificent and while it definitely challenges with an arduous trek, hikers of all ages and experience have climbed it without issue. Climbing the path to the 3,776m summit takes one to two days with 10 huts along the trail allowing a more recreational climb for those wanting to pace themselves - not a bad idea!
Sunrise at the top of Mount Fuji is a truly incomparable experience; to catch sunrise from the peak, you’ll need to start your climb in the afternoon, then spend the night in a hut along the way. The best times of year to climb Mount Fuji are July-August.