10 short hikes in South East Asia

Posted on 12/06/2017

Nicholas JR White, photographer and ViewRanger ambassador, has been trekking through the beautiful wilderness of South East Asia. Discover rainforest hikes, mountain climbs and sunrise treks with his incredible routes, free to download on ViewRanger.


1. Searching for the waterfalls of Munduk, BaliMunduk Waterfall by Nicholas JR White

Munduk is a small village, sitting proudly on a ridgeline in the highlands of Central Bali. Jungle covered mountains dominate the horizon, while down below Balinese farmers busy themselves on the miles of rice fields which form a dazzling patchwork on the valley floor. Hidden down dirt tracks and jungle pathways, Munduk’s spectacular, thunderous waterfalls are well worth the humid hike.

 

2. Gili Meno Circle

Gili Meno Circle Route on ViewRanger by Nicholas JR White

Gili Meno is one of three fine examples of paradise. Positioned in the blue waters of the Lombok Strait between Bali & Lombok, Gili Air, Gili Meno & Gili Trawangan are beautiful, modestly sized islands famed for their white sand, clear waters and slow pace of life. Gili Meno is the smallest and most ‘chilled’ of the three; an hour of your time is all that’s needed to walk the circumference of the island - plenty of time then, to pop into the sea and snorkel with turtles, or take a seat on one of the many gazebos that line the shores and sip down a cocktail or two…

 

3. A sunrise trek up Mount Batur, Bali

A sunrise trek up Mount Batur by Nicholas JR White

This 1,717-metre active volcano is a must-do for most who visit Bali. It’s reachable from all the main hubs on the island with many mountain guides on offer to take you to the steaming crater in time for sunrise. It’s not a particularly challenging climb, but as one of the sacred mountains on the island it’s a very rewarding experience. Stopping at a small temple at the foot of the volcano, the guides lay offerings and pray for safe travel to the crater. From the top, you can tuck into an egg breakfast and watch the sun rise accompanied by the monkeys who frequent the rocks near the summit!

 

4. Climbing Mount Agung

Mount Agung by Nicholas JR White

The highest point on Bali is at the top of the 3000m active volcano that is Mount Agung. It’s much harder than nearby Mount Batur, and takes much longer too! 

Starting the climb just after midnight, you reach the summit just before sunrise. I was fortunate on this morning as the weather was fine, and was treated to a beautiful cloud inversion whilst sipping a coffee kindly
supplied by my guide - who seemed unphased by the punishing few hours of relentless uphill and jagged rock. The crater is impressive to say the least, and as the sun rose it lit the giant wall a subtle pink, highlighting the rock strata. You can just make out some climbers on the very, very top for a sense of scale!

 

5. The Campuhan Ridge Walk

Campuhan Ridge Walk on ViewRanger by Nicholas JR White

A straightforward walk out of Ubud on a beautiful trail through rice fields and grasslands. The Campuhan Ridge Walk is popular for all those who visit the town of Ubud, heralded as Bali's cultural centre. It’s only a very short walk, but a good way to escape the streets of Ubud for a few hours - and there are some great Warungs (local restaurants) at the end where you can sip a fresh fruit smoothy and observe the rice-workers in the fields below.

A Cycle & Climb Combo Above the Rice Fields of Tam Coc Tam Coc is often described as “inland Ha Long Bay”, where giant rock towers seem to sprout from the paddy fields, and a myriad of rivers snake there way through numerous caves. Renting a push bike you can take in all the sites of this peaceful corner of Vietnam and watch the local women paddle boats with their feet as they use their hands to scoop fresh oysters from the riverbed. This route was a brief cycle around the dirt tracks of Tam Coc, with a quick dash & scramble up the cliffs above Bic Dong Temple. 


6. A Cycle & Climb Combo Above the Rice Fields of Tam Coc, Vietnam

Tam Coc by Nicholas JR WhiteTam Coc is often described as “inland Ha Long Bay” where giant rock towers seem to sprout from the paddy fields, and a myriad of rivers snake their way through numerous caves. Renting a push bike you can take in all the sights of this peaceful corner of Vietnam and watch the local women paddle boats with their feet as they use their hands to scoop fresh oysters from the riverbed. This route was a brief cycle around the dirt tracks of Tam Coc, with a quick dash & scramble up the cliffs above Bic Dong Temple.


7. Trekking through the Sa Pa rice terraces, Vietnam

Sa PaVietnam's colder Northern fringes are a mecca for visitors who wish to escape the chaos of Hanoi. Although the town of Sa Pa itself doesn’t quite offer the peace and tranquility you may have hoped for, a short walk out of town and you soon find yourself gazing in awe at the terraced working landscape that towers high into foothills of Fan Xi Pan - Indochina's highest summit.

I always chuckle to myself when guide books recommend “strong, stable footwear” when I see the local farmers scaling near vertical hillsides, chasing pigs in nothing but flip flops!

 

8. Khao Sok Rainforest Trek

Khao Sok RainforestKhao Sok is an incredible place. Limestone karsts and dense rainforest; an area so ecologically diverse that it contains five percent of the world’s species. Many of the longer treks into the rainforest require a local guide who knows the lay of the land and can also advise you on whether the snake next to you is likely to kill you or not! 

I had limited time in the area, so set off on one of the shorter trails. Giant bamboo forms a natural amphitheater, which is filled with the calls of gibbons, and monitor lizards weave through the dried leaves on the forest floor. It’s a truly magnificent place and somewhere I wish to return to in the future.

 

9. Hiking the 7 Tiers of the Erawan Waterfalls

Erawan WaterfallsThis walk takes you from the Erawan National Park HQ and follows the footpath up to the top of the waterfalls. Made up from 7 individual tiers, the Erawan Waterfalls make for a spectacular day trip from Kanchanaburi. A swim here in the azure waters provides a welcome relief from the heat of the forest. Inquisitive fish rush past your feet and sunbathing monitor lizards look on from the surrounding rocks.


10. Northern Thailand Hilltribe Trek

nw_Hill-Tribe-Village.jpgThe town of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand serves as a base for some great trekking out into the rural far-north. For three days we trekked through this seemingly unspoiled corner of Thailand, spending each night at remote hilltribe villages. 

Our local guide and his trusty machete hacked through bamboo and scaled trees to retrieve fresh grapefruit, papaya and banana. We followed water buffalo across rivers, watched as a million spiders crawled the walls of a dried up riverbed and took a bamboo raft through a cave with nothing but a paraffin torch to light our way.

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