Yes, Southeast Asia is known for its culture, history, architecture, etc. But, it’s also becoming well-known as a great place for hiking – both day treks and multi-day treks. Because there are so many hiking opportunities in this part of the world, it’s a bit tricky to narrow down the options in order to make a “Best” list. So, with the disclaimer that the list is arbitrary and that there are lots of other wonderful hikes, here I go (in no particular order):

Kuang Sii Waterfalls Adventure Jungle Trek (Laos)
This 3-4 hour trek goes through a scenic mountainous area outside Luang Prabang. It includes a stop at a Hmong hill tribe village, the Butterfly Park and the Bear Rescue Centre. The day ends with a picnic lunch and a dip in the pools that have formed at the bottom of several hundred feet of cascading waterfalls.

Sapa Hill Tribe Trekking (Vietnam)
There’s a large variety of treks in Vietnam’s tribal area of Sapa. The minimum amount of time that visitors should plan to devote (including roundtrip overnight train rides from Hanoi to Sapa) is three nights. But, in order to trek to more remote villages, rather than the most touristy villages, plan to spend a couple extra days – or even a week – in the Sapa area.

Day hikes range from 1.5 hours to Ta Phin Red Dao village to 5-6 hours taking the Den Thang Mountain San Seng-Hau Thao Commune trek. Some of the treks involve a fair amount of uphill walking, but there are also some easier treks such as the 3 hour walk to see the Black Hmong village at Sa Seng Valley. And, some treks can be combined with bike rides. Check out  “Adventures” on the Vietnam section of our website, to see a longer list of Sapa day treks.

Inle Lake Eastern Shore (Myanmar)
This 4-4.5 hour trek at Myanmar’s otherworldly Inle Lake is a soft trek that’s about 25% uphill and 75% downhill. The trek starts from Thaleoo on the eastern shore of the lake. Walk through the paddy fields along a creek to Naunglay, where the locals specialize in bamboo basket-making. Continue trekking to Konechan village where there’s an old monastery and stupa plantation, as well as a wonderful view of the lake. Finish the trek at Alemyaung where you’ll lunch on Pa O traditional food before returning to your hotel by boat.

Angkor Countryside (Cambodia)
Though this adventure isn’t exclusively trekking, it’s still worth including in this list. The day trip starts with a ride in an army jeep into the Cambodian countryside. A stop will be made at the Angkor Centre for Conservation and Bio-Diversity where you can see some of the animals that have been rescued from poachers and are now being rehabilitated. Leaving ACCB you’ll being your 1-1.5 hours hike through the jungle to Kbal Spean waterfalls. Return via the same trail, making the roundtrip trek 2-3 hours in duration.

The North Country (Thailand)
It’s hard to know where to begin, in terms of specific treks, because northern Thailand must be one of the world’s trekking capitals. There’s a diverse number of trekking options throughout the country, but for purposes of this list I’m narrowing it down to a couple of overnight excursions in northern Thailand.

One of our newest offerings is the Pai Trek & Overnight with Red-Lahu Tribe 2day/1night adventure. The first day involves a 4-5 hour trek along rivers and through forests to visit Lahu and Karen hill tribes. The highlight is being able to interact with these ethnic minorities on their own turf. You’ll join Lahu villagers for a cooked-over-the-fire dinner and will spend the night in a traditional bamboo stilt house. This excursion begins and ends in the mountain town of Pai.

Though not as remote as the Red-Lahu adventure, the 2day/1night Mae Kampong trek is another good overnight trekking adventure. It includes a visit to a hot spring and a cave, interaction with villagers, an herbal sauna, learning handicrafts and soft trekking in the mountain forest. You’ll spend the night at a homestay. This excursion begins and ends in Chiang Mai.

Diane Embree
June 14, 2017