A Bucket List of Mountains to Climb in Southeast Asia


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Contributed by Guest Author: Ryesen Janell

Ryesen Janell is an avid trail runner and rock climber. She’s developed her love of the outdoors at a very young age, living very close to the Rocky Mountains. She has ticked off many things from her bucket list, including hiking in the Himalayas and scaling rocks in Yosemite Valley.


Canadians are spoiled for choice when it comes to national parks. But the ORORO family believes in stepping outside of one’s comfort zone every once in a while. It may be home, but there’s so much more to explore outside the Great White North. And if you happen to find yourself in Southeast Asia, these are the mountains you can tick off your bucket list:

Malaysia: Mt. Kinabal


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The northern side of Borneo is where you can find Kinabalu Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the Center of Plant Diversity for Southeast Asia, and is home to majority of Borneo’s faunal species.

At the heart of the park is Mt. Kinabalu, a popular destination for backpackers all over the world. It’s not too difficult of a hike, and you’ll encounter kids and older adventurers along the trail. There’s no camping allowed on Mt. Kinabalu and visitors sleep in comfortable cabins (with buffet offerings!) a few kilometers from the top. Hikers usually wake up very early in the morning to reach the summit. At the top, you’ll find the mountain's iconic rock formation and glorious sunrise views.

Philippines: Mt. Apo

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The Philippines is another must-visit destination for hikers. Because it is an archipelago and a part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, there is no shortage of mountain ranges on its map. If you’re up for something more difficult, Mt. Apo in the island of Mindanao is dubbed by the local mountaineers as the “final challenge,” and rightly so. According to Daydreaming in Paradise, this is because it is the tallest peak in the country, standing at 2,954 MASL.

Local guides recommend you take three days to complete the trek — though two days is possible — in order to fully enjoy the views Mt. Apo has to offer. On one side, there are tropical forests and hot springs, while the other trail has sulfuric vents. It’s known as the Boulder Face and is the steepest and most challenging portion of the entire hike. So, pray to the gods of quads and come prepared!

Vietnam: Mt. Fansi

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Few people can say they’ve reached the roof of the Indochinese Peninsula — and you will, too, once you’ve successfully reached the peak of Mt. Fansipan. It’s located in Sapa, Vietnam, known for its lush rice terraces. It’s possible to summit Mt. Fansipan independently, and Vietnam Coracle notes that the Tram Ton Pass Trail is the easiest to follow. It does require a bit of scrambling on wet stone and steep trails. However, under the right conditions, you’ll be blessed with beautiful views of a sitting Buddha and terraced hills. If you’re feeling a little tired, you can skip the gruelling descent and take a cable car for 700,000 VND (41.5 CAD).

Indonesia: Mt. Rinjani

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Indonesia is heaven on Earth for mountaineers, and it’s really hard to pick just one of its mountains to conquer. But Mt. Rinjani in Lombok Island is an absolute must. It’s the second highest volcano in the country, just a few meters shy of Mt. Kerinci’s altitude. However, the views are far more incredible and worthwhile than what Mt. Kerinci has to offer.

The trek is difficult and takes about three days to complete. You’ll have a proper camping experience, which means you’ll need a full pack for the trip. But once you reach the top, the views of the crater and the lake will make you forget about the hard trek. Make sure to tick this off your bucket list as soon as you get the chance! Tempo.Co reports that there might be a cable car soon, which might lead to an increase in foot traffic and more pollution on the mountain.

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