World's Most Epic Hikes

So many peaks, so little time? Here are the best in the world, handpicked for you. Source: Shutterstock.

THE WORLD has no shortage of hiking sites, and thrilling peaks and Lonely Planet has just saved you some time by sieving through the thousands of peaks and walking trails to list out only the best.

In the newly-published Epic Hikes of the World guidebook, Lonely Planet’s writers collaborated to uncover 50 most incredible hikes in 30 countries that adventure travelers are bound to love.

Among the best are those located in Asia-Pacific. This includes Japan, India, Malaysia, China, Australia, and New Zealand.

Discover why they are considered the world’s most epic hikes:

Shikoku, Japan: 88 Sacred Temples of Shikoku Pilgrimage

The Shikoku Pilgrimage or Shikoku Junrei is a multi-site pilgrimage of 88 temples associated with the Buddhist monk Kūkai (Kōbō Daishi) on the island of Shikoku, Japan.

It involves visiting the 88 “official” temples of the pilgrimages, but not necessarily in order.

Garden of Taihoji Temple in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. Taihoji is No 44 of Pilgrimage to the 88 Sacred Temples of Shikoku. Source: Shutterstock.

The standard walking course is approximately 1,200 kilometers long and can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days to complete.

The pilgrimage is traditionally completed on foot, but modern pilgrims may use cars, taxis, buses, bicycles, or motorcycles.

Many pilgrims begin and complete the journey by visiting Mount Kōya in Wakayama Prefecture.

Ladakh, India: Markha Valley

The Marka Valley trek in India is one of the most famous treks of the Ladakh region, allowing visitors to experience magical and remote Buddhist kingdom of Ladakh.

While trekking, tourists will pass through beautiful Buddhist monasteries, mountain villages, high altitude pastures of Nimaling, the high altitude peak Kangyatse, and even the odd tea “house” tent.

A traveler at a campsite along the Markha Valley trek in Ladakh, India. Source: Shutterstock.

Depending on where you start and end your trek and how fast you hike, it can take you anywhere between two to eight days.

For those who are interested, guided tours complete with five-star camping with cutting-edge outdoor equipment are available.

The shortest way of doing this trek is to start from Chilling Village and end the trek at Shang Sumdo village.

Sabah, Malaysia: Mount Kinabalu

In Malaysia’s state of Sabah, also known as the “Land Below the Wind” is the country’s highest peak and the third highest in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu.

Towering at 4,095 meters tall (13, 435 feet above sea level), it is a popular hiking and climbing trail, but it is not meant for newbies.

Mount Kinabalu Hike

A stunning sunrise near Mount Kinabalu’s Low’s Peak, about 3,900 meters high. Source: Shutterstock.

Scaling the mountain incorporates “tangled jungle, granite ridges and barren plateaux, traversing Borneo’s highest and holiest mountain is a task that requires nerves – and legs – of steel,” Lonely Planet wrote.

However, with cozy resorts and campsites along the way, and breathtaking panoramic views for days at the peak, hikers often return to accomplish the challenging trek.

Mount Kinabalu was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2000 for its “outstanding universal blues,” the first in Malaysia to be recorded.

Beijing, China: Gubeikou to Jinshanling on the Great Wall of China

Steeped in history, the Great Wall of China is a popular hiking route with both locals and foreigners alike.

One of the most hiked routes is Gubeikou to Jinshanling, which covers Gubeikou Great Wall, the restored Jinshanling Great Wall, and the unrestored Jinshanling Great Wall.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China stretches into the distance at the mountainous section of Gubeikou and Jinshanling. Source: Shutterstock.

Built in the Ming Dynasty in 1368, Gubeikou was a strategic pass of the Great Wall, offering important access to Inner Mongolia and northeast of China.

The hike takes about five to six hours, and it offers the opportunity for hikers to compare what the Great Wall may have looked like when it was initially finished versus how it looks like now.

Want to be a part of the hike? Several guided tours are available at tour-beijing.com and chinatravellers.com.

Sydney, Australia: Seven Bridges Walk

Sydney’s Seven Bridges Walk is an annual event that takes participants on a 28-kilometer course which crosses the iconic bridges of Sydney Harbour to raise funds for cancer.

During this walk, you will explore Sydney entirely on foot and cross all seven of its bridges: Pyrmont Bridge (which goes through Darling Harbour), the Anzac Bridge, Iron Cove Bridge, the Gladesville Bridge, Tarban Creek Bridge, Fig Tree Bridge, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Australia

The Sydney Harbour Bridge stretching across the shore against the Sydney skyline in the background. Source: Shutterstock.

Every couple of meters or so is a photo opportunity as you will get gorgeous views of Sydney Harbour, the new Barangaroo Reserve, Darling Harbour, and Glebe Foreshore, to name a few.

Along the way, there are event villages where you can enjoy refreshments, entertainments, and facilities.

Participants can walk all or part of the course, which is a clockwise loop, meaning you can start and finish wherever you like.

South Island, New Zealand: Routeburn Track

New Zealand’s Routeburn Track in South Island’s Fiordland National Park is said to be the “ultimate alpine adventure, weaving through meadows, reflective tarns, and alpine gardens.”

A world-renowned 32-kilometer hiking track, which overlaps two national parks, starts on the Queenstown side of the Southern Alps and finishes on the Te Anau side, at the Divide.

Hiking in the Southern Alps on the Routeburn Track in South Island, New Zealand. Source: Shutterstock.

Along the track, you will be rewarded with sprawling views of spectacular vistas over vast mountain ranges and valleys.

There are four huts along the track – Routeburn Flats Hut, Routeburn Falls Hut, Lake Mackenzie Hut, and Lake Howden Hut – so comfortable overnight trips are possible.

Much of the Routeburn Track is accessible to independent hikers, but there are also guided tours available.

So many peaks, so little time?

Which one will you challenge yourself to first?

Lainey Loh

Lainey Loh | @laineyx

A certified daydreamer, when she's not physically travelling, she's often going places in her head. Her first love is coffee & her second, wine – & she accepts bribes in either forms. She's also entirely capable of deep conversations about life & random musings just for laughs, but do excuse her if she appears AWOL mid-chat – she's just going places in her head.


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