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Mount Batur
Photograph: Delfina Utomo

The best hikes in Southeast Asia

Ain't no mountain high enough

Dewi Nurjuwita
Written by
Dewi Nurjuwita
&
Aiko Tun
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In Singapore, we're blessed with great hiking trails and lush green parks to get our share of outdoorsy fun. If you know our trails and nature parks like the back of your hand, you might be thinking of challenging yourself. Travel further and you'll find that Southeast Asia is a hotspot for great hikes. Now that international travel looks like it could be a reality soon, we're already planning our next hiking trip. From the volcanoes of Indonesia and the stunning national parks of Thailand, these are the region's most spectacular hikes to test your limits. 

RECOMMENDED: The best hiking trails in Singapore and the best rooftop gardens in Singapore.  

Mount Batur, Bali
Photograph: Delfina Utomo

Mount Batur, Bali

Length of hike: 1,717 metres up the summit (approximately two hours) 

Located in Bali, Mount Batur is probably the quintessential Southeast Asian hike. The active volcano forms part of UNESCO's Global Geopark Network and is a two-hour drive from the tourist hub of Seminyak. Head to the base early and trek up to catch a stunning view of the sunrise set against the island's surrounding rugged landscapes. 

Pu Chi Fa Mountains, Thailand
Photograph: Christopher Snyder/Flickr

Pu Chi Fa Mountains, Thailand

Length of hike: 1,442 metres up the summit (approximately 30 minutes) 
Feeling like your head's in the clouds? Well, maybe it is. Phu Chi Fah actually translates to “the mountain that points to the sky”, and it's not hard to see why as you stand on the summit, overlooking stunning views of the border of Laos at an elevation of 1,442 metres. The beauty and wonder of nature aren't only limited to its peak either – you'll see picturesque quaint villages, lush greenery and the crisp fresh air of the countryside along the way. 

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Kalaw to Inle Lake, Myanmar
Photograph: Chinh Le Duc, Unsplash

Kalaw to Inle Lake, Myanmar

Length of hike: 61km (approximately over 2 days) 

Perched on the Western Shan State of Myanmar stands the idyllic town of Kalaw. Here, you can look forward to a 2-day hiking trail to the scenic Inle Lake, promising unforgettable experiences at every ascent and descent, as you make your way through canola and chilli fields; and back and forth across the train lines. Take in the sights of the place where time seems to have stopped, as you hear the laughter of children playing in the paddy fields, water buffalos and cows roaming the area, and farmers working the paddy fields tirelessly under the sun. While the trek is not one that is too difficult, it would be wise to go with a guided tour due to the lack of signposts.

Taman Negara
Photograph: Paolo Margari/Flickr

Taman Negara

Length of hike: 53 kilometres from headquarters in Kuala Tahan for the Tenor Trail (approximately seven days and six nights to complete). 

You don't have to travel far for out-of-this-world hikes. In neighbouring Malaysia, you'll find one of the oldest rainforests on earth. A sprawling jungle of over 100,000 acres across three separate states, Taman Negara is home to wildlife like the rare Asian elephant and Malayan tiger alongside hundreds of tropical birds. 

Embark on a river cruise, explore limestone caves with ancient wall-drawings or climb up to the canopy trail for a closer look at wildlife. After all, the jungle is home to the world's longest canopy walk, stretching half a kilometre above the treetops. 

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Oudomxay, Laos
Photograph: Thierry Leclerc/Flickr

Oudomxay, Laos

Length of hike: Approximately 5 hours

If you want to immerse yourself in a different culture, meet the hill tribes of Laos in the Oudomxay Province. Located in the mountains of northern Laos, it is home to 14 indigenous ethnic groups. It's an easy day trip from the capital, Muang La, taking you through Laos' untouched wilderness. Start from the villages of Huay Ho and Long Ya and get acquainted with local life, beliefs, work, religious rituals and the tribe's day-to-day before going deeper into the forest, even tracing a creek upstream. Soak up stunning mountain views, walk through Long Ya Village and hike up to see a 35-metre-long reclining Buddha statue and footprint hidden in the forest. It'll definitely be a walk to remember. 

Mount Kinabalu, Borneo
Photo: Ling Tang

Mount Kinabalu, Borneo

Length of hike: 4,095 metres up the summit (approximately over two days) 

Want to really challenge yourself? Try conquering the highest mountain in the Malay Archipelago (and Malaysia). This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts a rich and diverse ecology, surrounded by a rainforest full of plant and animal species such as orangutans and the stinking corpse lily indigenous to the region. Choose from two trails to the Low's Peak summit: the Ranau Trail or Kota Belud Trail. But take note that only 135 climbing permits are issued each day, so you need to book in advance. 

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