Authored by Sydney Edwards
What do you understand by the term trekking? People often use the words hiking, trekking, and mountain climbing interchangeably, and they’re definitely similar in that you spend time outdoors and walk in nature.
But they’re also very different.
Hiking is the easiest of the three; short 2 – 8 hr adventures where you finish on the same day you started. Mountaineeting on the other hand is challenging, technical, and you climb what is often dangerous terrain at high elevations.
But trekking? Trekking is somewhere inbetween; non technical, multi day hikes where you camp along the way and carry all your food and equipment with you; an exhilarating adventure sport that presents both a physical and mental challenge.
There’s nothing better than exploring the beauty of a place on foot, and trekking is a great way to go further, dig deeper and really immerse yourself in local culture, and remote landscapes that your everyday hiker wouldn’t normally get to.
When it comes to the best treks in the world, Asia is a fabulous region, with a high concentration of incredible, bucket-list worthy treks. So if you’re keen on trekking, check out this list of top treks across Asia, brought you by Sydney Edwards from Route Prints.
The Top Five Treks Across Asia
Mt. Everest Base Camp
Image credit: Amy Blyth
Where: Nepal / Tibet
Ask any avid trekker, and you’ll definitely find this on their trekking wish list; an epic 62-kilometer trek to Everest Base Camp, starting from either Nepal or Tibet.
If you want to make it to the South Base, located at a height of 5,364m, start from Nepal. If you want to make it to the North Base, located at a height of 5,150m (though the trek is equally as demanding), start your journey from Tibet.
Regardless of the route you choose, the trek will take from 14 – 20 days, and you’ll pass through tiny mountain villages and pine forests,trek alongside topaz rivers and across staggeringly-high suspension bridges to the foot of the world’s highest mountain.
You’ll not only test your physical and mental abilities but also witness some breathtaking views and learn about the local Sherpa culture. With sub-zero temperatures and altitude sickness to contend with this isn’t a challenge for the faint-hearted.
The ideal time to take on this trek is March, April or May. Click here for more information and things you need to know about the Everest Base Camp Trek.
Where: Malaysian Borneo
The highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea, Mt Kinabalu is a great choice for those who want to ease into trekking with something that is relatively easy and only takes a few days to complete.
Standing at 4,095m, this is the highest mountain in Malaysia, though one of the reasons it’s so popular is its accessibility; contrary to other high peaks in the region, you can reach the summit with great ease in a mere 2 days (read this post on what to expect and how to prepare).
Sabah Parks only issues 185 climb permits per day, so it’s important to apply for a climb permit and Panalaban accommodation in advance. This is not a trek you can undertake independently – you have to book with a mountain guide.
Once you reach the top and see the sunrise view, standing above the sea of clouds, you’ll realize you’ve been longing for this moment without even knowing it!
You can plan to trek Mount Kinabalu at any time year, though we suggest between March and August when the weather is best. If the weather does not permit, Sabah Parks Authority will close the gate to the summit for safety reasons.
The Snowman Trek
Unlike the ease of Mount Kinabalu, the Snowman Trek in Bhutan is one of the planet’s hardest long walks, only recommended for those who are really serious (damn serious) about trekking.
This is among the most difficult treks in Bhutan, and one of the toughest in the Himalayas, but it’s also one of the most beautiful. It will take around 25 days to complete, and the height of the trek is even higher than many of the elevated points in the United States.
To complete this trek, you’ll cover 200 miles following the borders of Bhutan and Tibet, and crosses eleven high altitude passes, some at an altitude of more than 5,000 m above sea level. As such altitude sickness is something to take very seriously, and trekkers should be prepared to properly acclimatize.
This isn’t the type of trek where you’ll find a community of other hikers along the trail; tourism in Bhutan is controlled to minimize the impacts of high volume tourism on the culture and environment. So, you’ll have to be comfortable trekking alone or in very small groups for this experience.
For the challenging nature of the trek, you’ll be rewarded with a real-life screen saver the whole way; and endless vista of Himalayan peaks dotted with tiny Buddhist monasteries and secluded villages.
Image credit: Masa Sakano (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr
Chadar Frozen Trek
Where: Ladakh, India
Avid trekkers certainly have a special place in their heart for this trek across the frozen river in India. Yup, you read that right! This is called the frozen trek as you will be walking alongside or even right on the frozen river Chadar.
The Chadar Frozen Trek is considered one of the most difficult treks in the country, and is the perfect option if you’re looking for an offbeat route. Ladakh’s Zanskar River turns into an icy blanket to trek on, and you’ll visit frozen rivers, waterfalls and sledges along the journey.
This trek can only be made during winter and its duration varies from one week to even one month. But for sure you need to be prepared for some extreme cold, as the temperatures drop way below 0°C, sometimes down to -35°C.
And there won’t be any mattresses, as you will be sleeping in caves or camping right next to the river. Here is our experience on Chadar Trek.
Image credit: Abhijit Kalokhe [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikipedia Commons
The Pamir Mountain Range in Tajikistan is also known as the “Roof of the World”, home to some of the highest elevated mountains on earth.
The best part about this trek is that the snowy peaks will let the climbers go on thrilling treks, experience the culture that is far away from modernity and lets you witness some eye-catching scenic vistas.
The best time to try this trek depends on where you wish to go, total time you want to give to the trekking, your choice of the peak you want to summit, and where you want to head to. So this one requires a lot more research that others on the list might.
This is also a great region for taking a road trip if you want to familizarise yourself with the Pamir Mountains before taking off on a trekking adventure. Road trips of the Pamir Highway can be done in a good 7 days.