global tourism

From Mt. Pulag to Mt. Fuji: 12 hiking destinations in Asia to add to your bucket list

Joshua Berida

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From Mt. Pulag to Mt. Fuji: 12 hiking destinations in Asia to add to your bucket list
There's also some hiking spots in Indonesia, South Korea, and Kazakhstan that you can check out!

Asia is home to some of the world’s highest mountain peaks and stunning landscapes. From China to Nepal to Japan and even here at home in the Philippines.

You get to see a spectacular sunrise (or sunset) or experience the thrill of finally reaching a mountain peak. You don’t have to go on a multi-day hike, there are a few places where you can enjoy a day trip and still see a spectacular bird’s eye view atop a mountain.

These are hiking destinations in Asia you might want to consider adding to your bucket list.

Mt. Apo
Mt. Apo
View from the top of Mt. Apo. Photo by Nathalie Penados

This mountain in Mindanao is the highest peak in the Philippines at just under 3,000 meters high (2,954m to be exact). The multi-day trek will take you through stunning views and landscapes. The Philippine Eagle calls the mountain its home.

This mountain is an active but dormant stratovolcano. You’ll need to be reasonably fit to scale Mt. Apo.

Mt. Apo
Mt. Apo views. Photo by Nathalie Penados
Mt. Ulap
Mt. Ulap
Mt. Ulap. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

If you’re looking for a day hike from Metro Manila or Baguio, Mt. Ulap is the destination for you. I would describe Mt. Ulap as “Mt. Pulag lite” shorter trail but with similar views.

The spectacular surroundings will make you want to take numerous stops and photos. The stunning rock formations and rolling trails serve as excellent backgrounds for your photo ops. The gradual ascents and descents are manageable even for beginners.

After the hike, you can stay in Baguio or hang out in the City of Pines before heading back to Metro Manila.

Mt. Ulap
Mt. Ulap is a popular day hike. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler
Mt. Pulag

This mountain in Luzon is famous for its spectacular sea of clouds that you can see around sunrise (if you’re lucky). You’ll feel like you’re hovering above the surroundings when you set your eyes on the magnificent views. The journey to the peak and viewpoint are just as beautiful, with rolling hills everywhere you look.

Rising at 2,928 meters, Mt. Pulag is the third highest peak in the Philippines and is the highest in Luzon. The Ambangeg Trail is the most popular route to climb Pulag (it’s the easiest). New hikers can take on this trail and tick off an item on their bucket list.

Everest Base Camp
Everest Base Camp
With these views, the effort and preparation are worth it. Photo by Isaac de Leon
Everest Base Camp
The views along the way to the base camp are spectacular. Photo by Isaac de Leon/Rappler

Nepal is the hiking Mecca of the world with many of the highest peaks (including this one) located in this country. If you don’t have the time or are not yet prepared, you can go on an adventure to Everest Base Camp. The hike to the base camp will literally and figuratively take your breath away. The snow-capped mountains are a sight to behold.

Everest Base Camp
The look of a successful hiker. Photo by Isaac de Leon
Kamikochi
Kamikochi
Kamikochi provides visitors with easy trails with beautiful views. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

This destination in Central Japan provides visitors with scenic trails to ponds and lakes. You can go on a few hours leisurely walk to see views of the surrounding mountains. You can also climb one of the peaks in the park. Kamikochi is a possible day trip from Matsumoto.

Kamikochi
Kamikochi. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler
Mt. Fuji
Mt. Fuji
Mt. Fuji is a true icon of Japan. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

Fuji is a Japanese icon. You’ll immediately think of it when you plan your Japan itinerary. You can see it (on a clear day) even if you’re staying in Tokyo.

The hiking season is from July to the middle of September. That’s your window if you plan to climb Japan’s highest mountain. You can also view it from afar.

Lake Kawaguchi provides visitors with easy trails and viewpoints to see Mt. Fuji in all its glory.

Kawaguchi
If you missed hiking season, you could always go to Lake Kawaguchi to see Mt. Fuji. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler
Huangshan
Huangshan
Views from Huangshan. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

Your jump-off point for this mountain park from China is Shanghai. From the city, you can take the bullet train to Huangshan town. From the town, you can take a bus or hire a car to take you to the start of the trail or the cable car.

My friend and I took the hiking trail, which took approximately seven to eight hours per way. We had to take our own food, water, and extra clothes. The park has hotels and camping grounds, which allow one to spend the night in the mountains.

You can go up to the different viewpoints to admire the valleys and mountain views. Huangshan is also a great place to see the sunrise and sunset.

Huangshan
Take a break and enjoy the views in Huangshan. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Zhangjiajie. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

The movie Avatar has catapulted this park in China to the top of places to visit in the country.

The park is huge, with sections taking around seven to eight hours to complete. You’ll need multiple days to see and hike Zhangjiajie’s different sections.

It’s mostly stone or wooden steps and platforms, so it’s relatively easier to explore. However, you’ll still need to be fit to finish the trails on foot. You can take the cable cars or the elevator to reach the famous viewpoints in a few minutes instead of hours. The hike provides magnificent views of rock and stone pillars and formations.

Zhiangjiajie National Forest Park
Zhangjiajie’s famous rock pillars. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler
Mt. Rinjani
Mt. Rinjani
Climbing Rinjani will test your perseverance. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

If ever you’re in Indonesia and love hiking, add Mt. Rinjani in Lombok to your itinerary. This towering mountain presents a challenge to hikers. The hike up to the crater lake is just a warm-up for those who want to conquer its peak. The views of the lake are already spectacular, but if that’s not enough for you, get ready for a difficult assault on the peak.

Rinjani’s peak is already higher than Mt. Apo, and the trail up is a mix of pebbles and sand, which your feet will sink into. It’s also freezing if you decide to watch the sunset at the top.

Mt. Rinjani
The crater lake in Rinjani. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler
Bukhansan
Bukhansan
If you’re brave enough, you can walk and stand on the boulders during your hike in Bukhansan. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

The hustle and bustle and the old-meets-new vibe of Seoul will draw you in.

However, after a few days in the metropolis, you might want to recharge and experience nature’s serenity. Bukhansan is a day hike you can do while in Seoul. It’s convenient to reach it by public transportation.

The hike provides scenic views along the way (especially during autumn). The peak provides bird’s eye views of the beautiful rock formations.

Bukhansan
Autumn is a good time to hike up Bukhansan. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler
Kolsai Lake
Kolsai Lake
Kolsai Lake. Photo by John Marx

If ever you find yourself in Kazakhstan, make sure to add the scenic Kolsai Lake to your itinerary. This lake provides an easy trail with beautiful views. There’s a more challenging trail that can take a few days to finish. It’s also a popular day trip from Almaty.

Kaindy Lake
Kaindy Lake
A foggy day in Kaindy Lake. Photo by John Marx

You can combine a day trip to Kaindy Lake with a trip to Kolsai Lake from Almaty. Kaindy gained popularity because of the tree trunks rising out of its blue waters. It also helps that the surrounding views are beautiful as well.

There are numerous other hiking destinations in Asia, these just barely scratch the surface of the number of mountains and parks you can visit on the continent. Feel free to share your own recommendations. – Rappler.com

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