A short three hours from Hong Kong, Mount Kinabalu sits as the tallest peak in Malaysia and Borneo, and boasts the title of 20th tallest mountain in the world. So if you’re looking for adventure, but don’t have many annual leave days left, you could climb, summit and be back in time for your Monday morning meetings in as little as three days!
Fly to: Kota Kinabalu International Airport
Flight time: 3 hours
Best time to go: It’s recommended to go during dry season, anytime between March – August, however the climate is tropical so do plan for passing showers and heavy rain at any given moment!
Duration: Minimum of two days and one night, however it’s advisable to plan for three days, two nights in case of inclement weather or altitude sickness. More info here.
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If it’s breathtaking views and cultural diversity you’re after, the Annapurna Circuit is a trek that simply can’t be missed. Although there are treks which start from just two days, it’s recommended that, in order to truly make the most of it, you stay for as long as possible and explore as much as you can! Lonely Planet‘s best tip for this trek is to “remember that the side trips and excursions from places like Manang, Muktinath and Jomsom rank as the highlights of the trek,” so be sure to keep that in mind when you’re planning.
Don’t have much time? Why not head to Kathmandu and book a guide to take you on a series of shorter hikes in Kathmandu Valley? Start early morning and head back to town for a glass of wine come evening. Sounds pretty good to us!
Fly to: Tribhuvan International Airport
Flight time: 5 hours (plus a 25-minute flight to Pokhara)
Best time to go: Aim to trek during spring (March – May) or autumn (September – December) for clear skies, mild weather and little rainfall.
Difficulty: Dependent on the route you choose!
Duration: Treks can last anywhere from 2-21 days, depending on how much time you have and the area you’d prefer to explore. More info here!
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For the second highest, active volcano in Indonesia (and considered one of the toughest to conquer!) you’ll want to set aside at least three days and two nights to scale the 3,726 metres. On the first day you’ll start with a relatively easy 2,000 metre climb to the rim of the crater, with a tough second day ahead of you as you climb down to the lake and to the base of the summit. All this before heading up 1,000 metres to the summit at 2am the next day! Don’t forget to check out the hot springs on your way down. Not even your best photos will capture all the breathtaking and unbelievable colours.
Fly to: Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar)
Flight time: 5 hours. You can then take a boat from Bali which takes anywhere between two to six hours (depending on where you’re staying) with a further three-hour car journey once in Lombok. Alternatively you can fly to Lombok International Airport, however you will have to stop over.
Best time to go: During the wet season much of the mountain is off limits, so it’s best to plan your trip between April – November, when it’s considered to be the dry season in Bali.
Duration: Three nights, two days
Read more: Asia’s Best Volcano Hikes
There’s plenty to explore in South Korea’s Seoraksan National Park, and depending on where you begin your hike, you can scale Daecheongbong, Seoraksan’s highest peak in just two hours. However, if it’s a more unusual experience that you’re after, book your shelter and consider hiking overnight. We’d recommend starting from Baekdamsa, which is less crowded than the main entrance at Seoraksan, but still has plenty of hiking options available (you can check some of them out here).
Fly to: Incheon International Airport. Take a bus from Sokcho (which leaves every 30 minutes from the Express Bus Terminal in Seoul) or an intercity bus goes to Baekdamsa from Dong Seoul terminal to Baekdamsa.
Flight time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Best time to go: Spring and autumn is the best time to hike in Seoraksan National Park as the weather is mild. In summer temperatures can exceed over 30 degrees celsius and in winter, snow makes it difficult to navigate paths.
Duration: Hikes can take anywhere from 2-8 hours depending on your preference.
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Keen hikers won’t want to miss Tiger Leaping Gorge. One of the deepest gorges in the world, it spans a length of up to 30km with stunning scenery and unbelievable views throughout. There is only one hiking trail to take, which is the “upper trail,” so be sure to research this one, otherwise you’ll end up with hundreds of tour buses along the route to Tiger Leaping Rock (which is still a beautiful road walk, if you prefer to take things slower). There are guest houses along the way, which you can stop and rest in overnight, with vendors selling snacks as you go.
Fly to: Lijiang Sanyi International Airport. Cathay Dragon and China Eastern fly via Kunming or Chongqing
Flight time: Between 5-6 hours, depending on your chosen route. It will take you roughly 1-2 hours from Lijiang to the entrance of the gorge.
Best time to go: Plan your trip for the dry season in either September/October or April/May. Avoid the rainy season between May and September as the rains can make the trail hazardous, with risks of landslides and falling rocks.
Duration: 7 hours to about 3 days, depending on your preference.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally written by Lexi Davey in May 2018, and was updated in September 2019.
Featured image by Pete Johnson via Pexels, image 1 courtesy of Getty Images, image 2 courtesy of Getty Images, image 3 courtesy of Getty Images, image 4 courtesy of Getty Images, image 5 courtesy of Getty Images.