Heaving from the thin, high altitude air, adrenaline pulsing through your veins, all signs of exhaustion suddenly fade as you make that last step to the top. Mountaineers are often familiar with this feeling while being rewarded with panoramic views which always seem to look better after having earned it from an arduous climb.
Despite the challenges nature throws our way, there’s just something recharging about arriving at a new summit. For those looking to put their mental and physical determination to test, check out these 7 mountains in Asia.
1. Mount Kinabalu
Kinabalu National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site in Sabah, Malaysia, is home to one of the tallest mountains in Southeast Asia. Each year, over 40,000 people from all around the world head to Kinabalu National Park just to climb Mount Kinabalu. Completing the climb commonly takes two days, and people of varying ages undertake this challenge. Despite the high elevation, no special equipment or climbing expertise is required to reach the summit – just a reasonable level of fitness combined with top-notch determination will do!
2. YALA PEAK
This is one of the few non-technical peaks in Nepal that still has a mighty Himalayan feel. You'll trek through the Langtang Valley, near the border with Tibet and see all the sights you'd expect in Nepal - hiking past yaks, over suspension bridges clad with prayer flags and staying in teahouses or camping under skies far from the light pollution of the cities.
3. Mount Huashan
Starting with something low but not quite the easiest, Mt. Huashan is located in the Shanxi province of China and has a reputation for having the world’s most dangerous hiking trail. The most famous part of this mountain isn’t the very top but a path of narrow, wooden planks haphazardly bolted onto the mountainside. Other than getting that hair raising selfie on the edge of this mountain, it also boasts breathtaking scenery through the trail.
4. Mount Ijen
Mount Ijen is a stratovolcano in East Java, Indonesia. The highest point of the volcano complex belongs to the famous, most active volcano in the country, Mount Merapi. A highly recommended site on Mount Ijen is the Blue Fire Crater. Hikers usually set off early in the morning (about 2 am) to reach the rim of the crater in time to witness the magical phenomenon of blue flames, which can only be seen in the dark. Hiring a guide is unnecessary as the pathway is prominent. Hikers will find themselves alongside friendly locals who undertake this hike every day to get to the sulphur mines.
5. DOI INTHANON
The highest mountain in Thailand is only 100km or so from the buzzing city of Chiang Mai. There are two ways to get yourself up the mountain - via the Ang Ka Luang trail or the Kew Mae Pan trail. What’s great about this mountain is that, while the Kew Mae Pae trail is definitely more challenging, neither route is particularly hard - regardless of your previous hiking experience. The Ang Ka Luang trail is the most trodden. It’s literally a short boardwalk hike that will take you around 30 minutes. All things considered? It’s not the most exciting, despite the ultimately fantastic views. We much prefer the Kew Mae Pan trail. Take it, and you'll walk around 2.5km (approx 2-4 hours) through deep forest. You'll quickly reach wide-spanning views of rolling hills and forest on your hike. You'll look out on green valleys and (with any luck) blue skies on the ridge, and then the picturesque summit and a descent full of waterfalls and streams awaits.
6. Mount Apo
Located between Davao city and Cotabato province, Mount Apo is the highest mountain in the Philippines & a potentially active volcano. Attracting trekkers from all over the world, expect an array of landscapes — from an endless rock face to lush green forests, mossy swamps to volcanic structures. The first campsite is also where the Mainit hot springs can be found where trekkers are welcome to take a dip.
7. Mount Fansipan
Vietnam’s highest peak, dubbed as “the Roof of Indochina”, is a very steep mountain that is only recommended for those in excellent shape. It takes a minimum of three days to scale to the peak and get back down. Mount Fansipan has rugged terrains, and hikers require plenty of energy and endurance. Once you spot a triangle metal piece that says “Fansipan 3,143m” on it, you know you’ve made it.