Asia: the world’s largest continent, vast in adventure opportunities, and interlaced with hundreds of different cultures. This is what makes the countries of Asia a prime travel destination for backpackers and hikers. The list below highlights some of the finest national park hot spots that Asia has to offer.
Japan’s tallest mountain is a perfectly shaped cone that is attractive for both artistic and athletic reasons. You can sit on the shores of one of the Fuji Five Lakes and take photographs, or summit the 12,388-foot peak. Either way, you won’t be disappointed — Mt. Fuji’s close proximity to Tokyo makes this trip the perfect getaway for the adventurer who wants to spend a night in the city.
Gobi Gurvansaikhan- Mongolia
The Gobi is a cold desert (yes, they exist). Snow falls on sand dunes and the Bactrian camels eat the snow for hydration. A great way to see the Gobi is to ride a Bactrian camel and stay in a yurt. The Yolyn Am, a giant ice field, lies in a narrow valley and the ice is several meters thick for most of the year. The snow-capped Gurvan Saikhan Mountains on the interior of the park rises nearly 10,000 feet. Driving a car out into the Gobi will transport you to a near-lifeless place that looks more like another planet.
Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Ang Thong is an archipelago of tropical islands that offer white sand beaches and stunning views. Because the islands are surrounded by coral reefs, the snorkeling is fantastic. There are a few places to stay on the main island as well as opportunities for exploring the islands by sea kayak. The most common way to travel between the main island to the others is by cramming into a large boat with hundreds of other tourists, but if you can secure a spot on a smaller boat, you may find yourself alone with your family or friends on some of the most beautiful beaches on earth.
Sagarmatha, Nepalese for Mt. Everest, encompasses a huge chunk of the Himalayas as well as the south side of Everest. While the main attraction is reaching the summit of Mt. Everest, many folks don’t find this to be an ideal vacation. There are other peaks and trails that will take you through the rugged mountains and glaciers of the Himalaya.
Goreme – Turkey
Over tens of thousands of years, wind erosion has shaped Goreme into a land of strange stone towers shooting 130-feet into the air. This area is one of the largest cave-dwelling sites in the world, dating back to the 4th Century. Byzantine churches, art, and homes can be found carved into the pillars, cliff-sides, and underground. And while a nice hike through the park is a great way to see what humans and nature have created over the millennia, hot air balloon is another popular way to experience Goreme.
Guilin-Lijiang River –China
Considered by some to be the most beautiful place in China, the Guillen Lijiang River has inspired artists for centuries. The river is flanked by steep stone hills topped with green vegetation and ancient villages. There are many cruises that can take you up the river as well as bamboo rafts for adventurers looking to escape the touristy crowds.
Jiuzhai Valley Huanglong China
This may the best backpacking location in China as it was only recently opened by Chinese officials to hikers. Located on the edge of Tibet, this park is characterized by stunning fall foliage, pristine-turquoise lakes, sweeping waterfalls, and snowy mountains. There is plenty of exotic flora and fauna to be seen as well as Tibetan villages that have been around for hundreds of years.