8 Mountains in Southeast Asia to Conquer Before You Turn 40!

It’s undeniable that there’s something magical about the mountains in Southeast Asia. The region is home to countless enigmatic cliffs and breathtaking mountain scenery after all. And the views from the top? They’re absolutely otherworldly.

But, I do wonder: is mountain-climbing one of the must-do things on your travel bucket list? Don’t you just want to challenge yourself to the fullest while you’re still young? After all, there’s just something amazing about walking among the clouds high up in the mountains, far removed from whatever earthly worries that plague your mind. 

Well, if your answer was “yes”, then read on, my friend because this list of the most scenic mountains in Southeast Asia is just for you! I’ve arranged them in order of the difficulty of the hike, so there’s surely a few that suit your physical condition. 

However, I feel like before we begin, I should mention that as much as hiking is an enriching travel activity, it does require a fair amount of stamina and leg strength, so make sure you don’t skip leg day! 

1. Mount Batur (Indonesia)

Image credit: TropicaLiving

Mount Batur is one of Indonesia’s two tallest volcanoes. That being said, Mount Batur is relatively easy to hike, even for beginners. At 1,717 metres above sea level, it is also one of the most frequently visited tourist hot spots in the country.

Since it typically takes 2 hours on average to reach the summit, I recommend setting out as early as 4 a.m. just so you can make it in time to catch the alluring sunrise. Hey, you can always catch up on your beauty sleep later in the day, right?


2. Mount Bromo (Indonesia)

Image credit: Sara Marlowe

The elevation of Mount Bromo is 2,329 metres making it one of Indonesia’s most ideal hiking destinations that’s also perfect for beginners. The hiking path is thankfully not very steep, so it’s not really that difficult of a hike to reach the top.

The journey often takes between two to five hours depending on individual stamina and physical condition. To ensure you make it in time to watch the sunrise, you might want to set out as early as 3 in the morning. 


3. Mount Kinabalu (Malaysia)

Image credit: SIPAT – View from the Edge

I think Mount Kinabalu doesn’t need much of an introduction for us Malaysians. But just to refresh your memory, it stands at a whopping 4,095 metres above sea level, easily making it the tallest peak in Southeast Asia. When you reach the top, you will literally be standing higher than the clouds. 

Hiking usually starts around the 1,800 – 1,900 metre mark and it can take up to three days to reach the summit depending on your speed. There are plenty of lodging options around, so you have the privilege of pacing yourself comfortably.

As a Malaysian myself, I simply must recommend this hike to all those who love nature. The views are simply unbelievable! And while it’s possible to hike it on your own, it’s always best to hire a local guide since this hike isn’t exactly the easiest on this list.  Don’t forget, it IS the tallest peak in the region, so when you finally conquer it, the only way to describe your feeling will be: syiok ah


4. Mount Merapi  (Indonesia)

Mount Merapi is Java’s most active volcano. Its peak stands at an elevation of 2,930 metres above sea level. It can get pretty crowded during the weekends as hordes of tourists try to make it to the summit.

Due to the rocky path, you will need a fair amount of stamina and lots of willpower to make it to the top. Time to show your Malaysian spirit la guys! The hike takes an average of 5 hours, so make sure you’re well prepared for the challenging journey ahead. 


5. Mount Apo (The Philippines)

Image credit: Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ.

At 2,954 metres above sea level, Mount Apo is the tallest peak in The Philippines. Better suited for experienced hikers, the the entire journey could easily take up three to four days!

Along the way, you’ll be able to see majestic waterfalls, enigmatic hot springs and greenery that stretch as far as the eyes can follow. At the peak, you’ll be treated to the awe-inspiring scenery of the surrounding area.

The biggest challenge throughout the hike is amenities. You’ll be surrounded by lush tropical forests throughout the hike and will most likely have to sleep, eat and relieve yourself here as well. So, this is definitely not for the weak-willed. 


6. Mount Agung (Indonesia) 

Image credit: _paVan_

Mount Agung is the highest point on Bali Island, standing 3,142 metres tall. Many of the locals consider this mountain lying southeast of Mount Batur to be a sacred mountain.

It’s no wonder then that the sunrise and sunset here are breathtakingly beautiful. From the summit, you can enjoy an aerial view of the entire island, but the hike itself is rather difficult, so you’ll have to steel yourself for this hike.

Due to its frequent volcanic ability, it is best to check the hiking conditions ahead of time before making your way there. 


7. Mount Fansipan (Vietnam) 

Vietnam’s tallest peak, Mount Fansipan, is 3,143 metres above sea level. The hike to the top is by no means easy thanks to the uneven trail and unpredictable weather condition. However, experienced mountain climbers will adore this place for its fantastic scenery.

There are three different trails here of varying difficulty to suit different levels of stamina. If you’re quick, you could find yourself at the summit within two days. If not, it might take you about four days instead. Remember to take a photo with the triangular plaque at the summit as a commemorative souvenir!


8. Mount Rinjani (Indonesia)

Image credit: Trekking Rinjani

Lombok Island’s Mount Rinjani is the second tallest volcano in Indonesia (about 3,726 metres above sea level). Definitely not one for beginners, the hike to the summit takes between three to five days depending on the chosen hiking trail and individual stamina.

At the top, you can gaze at at the pristine lake below. If you’re up for the challenge, you’ll no doubt be rewarded by the amazing natural scenery and unbeatable sense of accomplishment. Make sure to bring some warm clothing as the weather can change in an instant during the hike. 

And as you might have read in the news recently, the area is prone to earthquakes, so do be careful and make sure to take all necessary precautions before embarking on the hike. 


Regardless of age or sex, anyone can scale a mountain with enough will power! While it might sound exhausting, hiking to the top of the mountain often leaves you with irreplaceable memories of fantastic views and accomplishments. You might even be able to catch a meteor shower when the skies are dark and the night is still! 

So, not only is hiking beneficial for your health, it also enriches the soul and builds character. As long as you maintain a certain level of physical prowess, no mountain is ever too difficult to conquer. Think about it: when was the last time you truly left the hustle and bustle of city life behind and embraced nature?

Well, I say now is the time to start planning! See you at the top! 

Translated from: 在东南亚40岁之前必攀登的8座山

By Darren

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