South East Asia isn’t only home to glorious street food and beautiful temples. There’s also some awe inspiring natural beauty nestled in the countries, and the best way to see it is up close, trekking through the natural playgrounds of beaches, mountains and terraces – here are our top 10 recommendations for treks in South East Asia.
1. Penang National Park, Malaysia
The Penang National Park sits on the North Eastern tip of Malaysia, and it’s bursting with wildlife, beaches and rainforests. This one can be tailored to suit your own fitness level, as you’re able to catch a boat back to the entrance of the Park from Monkey Beach. Not surprisingly, it’s full of monkeys too – so hold onto your hats kids.
2. Gunung Rinjani National Park, Indonesia
This is home to Mt Rinjani, the tallest mountain in Indonesia at 3,726 metres. This might be a physically challenging climb, but the views at the top are thoroughly rewarding. Locals say that the mountain does not require a conqueror; just a lover of nature (we won’t be bothering with training, then!). The volcano sits on the island of Lombok, and is clearly visible from the nearby Gili Islands.
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3. Komodo National Park, Bali
As the name suggests, this is home to the feisty komodo dragon. This makes it a great trek for wildlife fanatics, but if you’re not a lizard lover the Kintamani climb might be more your thing. Once at the top, you’re able to see into the crater, dip your toes into Lake Batur and stop for a cheeky refreshments at one of the coffee houses along the way.
4. Luang Prabang, Northern Laos
If you’re staying in this region’s main city, a trekking trail is a wonderful way to check out what the rest of Northern Laos has to offer. You’re able to cycle, kayak and hike in the scenic surrounds of the Mekong River. Treks through Khmu villages offer an interesting insight into the agricultural life of this region.
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5. Chiang Mai, Thailand
The hill tribe treks in Chiang Mai might be the most well known item on this list, and for good reason. It’s a world away from the islands on the gulf and the hustle in Bangkok; instead you are presented with a variety of trails that lead to hidden temples and friendly rural communities. The scenery might be different, but the Thai hospitality is still as prevalent as ever in these villages – you will be invited in, and stuffed to the brim with food.
6. Baunaue Rice Terraces, Philippines
This is the stuff of nature documentaries, isn’t it? Well, either that or several Instagram-worthy posts. The Baunaue Rice Terraces were carved into the hillsides by ancestors of the rural communities 2,000 years ago, and many are still in working order today.
7. Cao Bằng, Vietnam
The Cao Bằng province sits in the Northeast of Vietnam, bordering the People’s Republic of China. This is one of the first places Vietnamese people inhabited, possibly for it’s natural abundance in farming land. Nowadays, people visit this watery wonderland to hike through the mountains and paddle through the springs, rivers, and the infamous Cao Bằng Waterfall.
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8. Mount Kinabalu, Borneo
If you want to win someone over into the world of mountain climbing, take them here. Mt Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia at 4,095 metres tall, and treks begin in the early hours of the morning, finishing at sunrise. Your trek will end with an awe inspiring view, worth any amount of hikers’ blisters!
9. Mulu National Park, Borneo
Borneo managed to sneak into this list twice for a good reason. The Mulu National Park is home to sights you won’t really believe are on Earth, as well as the world’s largest underground cave. It’s common to rent out a chalet here, so you can explore all the geothermic structures this park has to offer – you won’t be disappointed.
10. Ratanakiri, Cambodia
Looking to uncover the road less travelled? Ratanakiri might be the destination for you. Nearby Ban Lung provides an excellent base point for many of the over night tours around the region. Here, you can sleep under a canopy of leaves in the gibbon-infested rainforests and spend your days trekking though the Cambodian jungle.