Easy Summits To Get You Hooked On Climbing in SE Asia

Add a little adventure to your next vacation on these islands in the sun with an easy, fun hike!

July 30, 2019

When planning a holiday in Southeast Asia we’re most likely thinking along the lines of party in Bali or Bangkok, eating our heads off in Malaysia or Vietnam, beachcombing in Koh Samui or Boracay, or lux shopping in Singapore. If you’re not an avid hiker already, Southeast Asia may feel like the last place you’d think of to nurture your outdoorsy side. 

Yet, just about every nation in Southeast Asia has mountain to climb, ranging from the extremely easy hikes like Bukit Timah Hill (the highest point in low-lying Singapore), to swashbuckling jungle treks like Carstensz Pyramid (the highest point between the Himalayas and the Andes). With trail-running and outdoors culture steadily growing in popularity in Southeast Asia, and with such breath-taking landscapes and diverse ecosystems to enjoy in the region’s higher altitudes, mountaineering is spreading like wildfire on social media, and this is beginning to capture the attention of travellers too. 

With a bit of simple advice – particularly pertaining to the unpredictable weather and volcanology – so many peaks in the region are in easy reach and are suitable for amateurs embarking on one of their first hikes. So if you’re inclined to squeeze a summit into your summer vacation, Summits.com is here to help you narrow down your search for Southeast Asian peaks to explore!

Mount Bromo Photo by Iswanto Arif on Unsplash
Mount Bromo Photo by Iswanto Arif on Unsplash

Mount Bromo 

Location: East Java, Indonesia

Height: 2,329m (7,641ft)

Climbing Height: Less than 500m

Duration to Summit: Approximately 2-3 hours

Best Time to Visit: May to August (dry season)

Difficulty Level: Easy

In addition to being one of the easiest and most popular hikes in Indonesia, the best part about summiting Mount Bromo is the stunning view it has to offer. The active volcano can be found within the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, releasing puffs of white sulphurous smoke up into the clouds. This majestic beauty has both local and foreign travellers from all over the world, climbing just to catch a glimpse of the gorgeous sunrise.

Mount Lambak Wikicommons
Mount Lambak Wikicommons

Mount Lambak 

Location: Johor, Malaysia

Height: 510m (1,673ft)

Climbing Height: 400m (1,312ft)

Duration to Summit: Approximately 3 hours

Best Time to Visit: March-September (dry season)

Difficulty Level: Easy 

This is an easy, breezy hike that will reward you with the best of nature that Malaysia’s Kluang District has to offer! If you arrived in Kuala Lumpur hoping to spend every penny you got on the delicious street eats down Jalan Alor and bargain buys in Petaling, then this is your perfect escape from the city, or a quick diversion on the way down to Singapore. With clear pathways and wooden bridges, once you’ve completed this easy climb, there’s a lovely picnic spot at the base.

Bukit Timah Summit Mathias Rosenkranz via Flickr
Bukit Timah Summit Mathias Rosenkranz via Flickr

Bukit Timah Hill

Location: Singapore

Height: 164 m (537ft)

Climbing Height: 163m

Duration to Summit: Approximately 1-2 hours

Best Time to Visit: February-April, June-July & November-December

Difficulty Level: Easy

Singapore is no concrete jungle. With green spaces like the Gardens by the Bay, the Botanical Gardens, and the Singapore Zoo, there’s always a little bit of nature hidden amidst the seemingly endless buildings and streets of Singapore. Yet Bukit Timah has some of the most pristine rainforest environments on the island. Although it’s the highest point in Singapore, it’s barely a climb. You can start this casual stroll at 7am and work up your appetite for your kaya toast for breakfast when you’re done!

Mount Popa Sunset Popa - Brian Snelson via Flickr
Mount Popa Sunset Popa - Brian Snelson via Flickr

Mount Popa

Location: Mandalay Region, Myanmar
Height: 1,518m (4,980ft)

Climbing Height: Approximately 850m

Duration to Summit: Approximately 4-5 hours

Best Time to Visit: November-January

Difficulty Level: Easy

Mount Popa is a sacred mountain in Myanmar. The Taungkalat Temple is what most foreign visitors think of as sitting atop Mount Popa, but that is actually perched on an extinct lava plug adjoining the actual summit, also called Taung Ma-Gyi (mother hill). Having last erupted in 442BC, Taung Ma-Gyi is now an extinct volcano. The Burmese consider this the home of spirits worshipped in both Theravada Buddhism, as well as Burmese spirituality. Some may see Mount Popa as an equivalent to Mount Olympus in Greece.

Doi Inthanon Photo by Bharath Mohan, Unsplash
Doi Inthanon Photo by Bharath Mohan, Unsplash

Doi Inthanon

Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Height: 2,565m (8,415ft)

Climbing Height: 360-2,500m (depending on trail)

Duration to Summit: Approximately 2-3 hours

Best Time to Visit: November-June (avoiding the June-October monsoon season)

Difficulty Level: Very Easy 

Located in the Chom Thong District, Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand. Yet, this is probably the easiest highpoint you will ever summit, given that you can drive almost the entire way up. Yet, with a comfortably cool climate throughout the year and a rich ecosystem to explore, the Doi Inthanon summit is popular with visitors from all over the world. In addition to summiting the peak to enjoy the views of the pagodas and beyond, there are waterfalls and quaint villages to immerse yourself in, and sunrise and sunset viewpoints that will leave a lasting impression.

Pinatubo's Crater Lake Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash
Pinatubo's Crater Lake Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

Mount Pinatubo

Location: Luzon, Philippines

Height: 1,460m (4,800ft)

Climbing Height: 500-1,100m

Duration to Summit: Approximately 2-4 hours

Best Time to Visit: July-October

Difficulty Level: Easy

Having last erupted in 1993, Mount Pinatubo is considered an active volcano in the Zambales Mountains of the Philippines. However, it was the 1991 eruption – the second largest in the 20th century – that made this the popular tourist attraction it is today, with the formation of the picturesque crater lake. Getting to it involves just 3 hour drive from the capital city of Manila, then a quick dash across volcanic plains in 4×4 jeeps, then a hike to the crater. A great bit of adventure to add to your otherwise beach-bumming holiday in the Pearl of the Orient.

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