Editors' picks: Top 5 mountains to climb in Southeast Asia

The 5 mountains that have most captured the imaginations of Summits.com's editors so far, and which we'd most like to hike up next.

February 14, 2024

We’ve been writing about a lot of mountains across Southeast Asia, some of which the Summits.com’s team has climbed, and some which we haven’t yet. So here are the mountains that most make us want to lace up our boots and get hiking up mountain trails.

Is there a gem of a mountain that you think we’ve missed? Let us know at [email protected].

A Mountain Exploded

In 1257, the island of Lombok exploded. Where once was a tall pointy mountain, a hole the size of Manhattan was left in the middle of what was once a tall pointy mountain. About 3 inches of Mount Rinjani can still be found covering Bali, and ice cores still show the sulfur that was released into the atmosphere and the chilly winter that it caused.

Today, the verdant jungle trails, a dazzling crater lake, and ever-present volcanic possibilities makes it an exhilarating climb.

A Tall, Remote, And Serene Volcano

Mount Kerinci is a very tall volcano in a remote part of Sumatra. Yet the trail is  readily accessible to amateur travellers. Those that make the journey to climb it will be rewarded with some of the most breathtaking views in the region, which can often be enjoyed just by yourself and your climbing chums in serene solitude.

The Pride Of The Philippines

Mount Apo, found right near Davao in the southern Philippines, is a picture-perfect volcano, and at nearly 3,000m high, is the tallest peak in the Philippines. Attacking this vertical ascent is the latest fitness challenge for uber fit Filipinos and travellers. If thats not your speed, then the environment on and around the mountain is stunning, pristine, and unique.

The Mountain That Rewards Endurance

With over 60 km of tough trekking through some of the regions’ most ancient trees, rivers, and pristine ecosystems in the Taman Negara National Park in the centre of Peninsular Malaysia, Mount Tahan is a challenging jungle trek conveniently placed not too far away from a major international airport. Tahan being the Malay word for ‘endurance’, its more than a weekend hike. It takes a few days trudging and camping in hot and humid conditions and tropical downpours. But the rewards are great: It is among the few remaining tropical rainforests on Peninsular Malaysia, with most now chopped down for plantations, so it is one of the last places you can see how that richly biodiverse part of the world should be.

The Final Summit

Puncak Jaya is considered one of the world’s “Seven Summits.” It is considered the highest mountain on the continent of Australia – not to be confused with the country, because you won’t find it there. At 4,884 metres, it is the highest point between the Himalayas and the Andes, the highest point in Indonesia, and it would be the highest point in Southeast Asia if we didn’t have to count the Himalayan northern tip of Myanmar.

You’ll find Puncak Jaya in a deeply remote and mysterious part of the world – very difficult to get to. If you don’t want to risk your life trekking for weeks at a time through remote jungle with reportedly aggressive local tribes, then you have to hire a helicopter to get you part way up the summit. It is for this reason that more people have climbed Everest than Puncak Jaya.

Interestingly, Carstensz Pyramid, as it used to be known, was first conquered in 1962 by an expedition led by Henrich Harrer – the Geman who famously spent “Seven Years In Tibet.” Also in his party was Jean Jaques Dozy – a geologist who spotted a green-tinged peak while climbing, which has since turned out to be the largest and most lucrative gold deposit in history.

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