Most travelers don’t think of Southeast Asia when they’re planning a hiking trip; colder locales are often the first choice. Unbeknownst to many, the region is home to extensive ranges of forests, hills, and mountains that offer a unique experience to those keen on exploring them. Just make sure you go in the dry season! Below, a few standout picks from The Luxury Travel Agency:
1) Sa Pa, Vietnam. If you only hike a single time in Southeast Asia, it should be here. Set in the far north of Vietnam, Sa Pa is a region of majestic green mountains and staggered rice terraces, carved into the soil hundreds of years ago, that blanket the slopes. The views you see as the setting sun floods the green, rippling valley with golden light are some of the best you will ever come across, anywhere in the world. There are hiking opportunities for all fitness levels: hardcore hikers can summit Mt. Fansipan, the highest in all of Southeast Asia, while those who prefer a smaller scale can explore numerous trails and highlights, such as the 200-meter Silver Waterfall. The best time to go is either between September – November, or March – May; winters up in the mountains can get quite chilly!
2) Mae Hong Son, Thailand. Also set in its nation’s northwest, the Mae Hong Son region is less mountainous than Sa Pa, but makes up for the difference in richness of culture and history. Intrepid travelers can rent motorbikes and tackle the Mae Hong Son Loop, a well-known route through the province. The opportunities for adventure are endless – one mountain trail might lead to a modest temple perched high above the jungle, another could lead to a set of massive caves, with stairs to the bottom chock-full of Buddhist statues. The Luxury Travel Agency can arrange visits to the villages of hill tribes who have lived in the area for centuries; many of these women produce stunning patterns on clothing and handbags that make an authentic souvenir while directly supporting its makers. The best time to visit is from November to May, when the rains are at their lowest, making exploration easy.
3) Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia. Stretching across Cambodia’s southwest, this mountain range is sparsely populated, in contrast to many of its neighbours; as such, it is a home for a breathtaking display of biodiversity. Some of the national park’s many inhabitants include gibbons, Siamese crocodiles, pangolins, and what may be the largest population of Asian elephants left in the wild! Unlike Thailand, tourism is really just starting to become a focal point of Cambodia’s economy, particularly in this region; however, a number of excellent eco-friendly resorts exist from which to base your adventures. This means that you’ll be, in many ways, “beating the rush” to one of Southeast Asia’s last great jungles. We recommend visiting between October and April, for maximum accessibility.
You’re probably already planning a trip to Southeast Asia for the beaches, the shopping, and the street food – why not add a spot of hiking to your journey? Get in touch with The Luxury Travel Agency for firsthand advice!