Asia is a continent of contrasts, with everything from snow-capped mountains to white-sand beaches and chaotic super-cities to quiet, traditional villages that have remained unchanged for centuries on offer.
For those who love the great outdoors and have an appreciation of all things off-the-grid, you’ll find no shortage of ways to spend your time outside of Asia’s big cities.
Here are five of the continent’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders to add to your travel bucket list.
Mount Aso, Japan
Forget Mount Fuji. Located on the island of Kyushu is a steaming volcano that’s about as far away from the bustle, neon lights, indulgent spas and sheer opulence of the luxury hotels in Tokyo as humanly possible.
Mount Aso is still active and not only is it Japan’s biggest, but it’s one of the largest anywhere in the world. The fact it could erupt at any time is all part of the thrill for visitors who can easily access the caldera from the car park located just five minutes away.
The hilly grasslands that surround it are home to vibrant flora and rice paddies, making for an impressive view from its 1,592m peak, as well as from atop the 100m drop into its basin, which glows a striking shade of green.
Kang Lau Shek, Hong Kong
Located at the southeastern tip of Tung Ping Chau Island, these two oddly shaped rock formations are popular among tourists looking to get out and explore Hong Kong’s countryside on two feet.
The two sea stacks stand at eight meters tall and have become deeply worn by the sea over centuries. Situated on a wave-cut platform, they are an obscure addition to the horizon and are a common stop for photographers.
Definitely a must-visit once you’re done shopping in Hong Kong!
Jeju Island, South Korea
Jeju Island, otherwise known as the Hawaii of Korea, is located around 130km south of the main land and serves as an extraordinary departure from the city of Seoul.
The island has an incredibly volcanic history and is home to South Korea’s tallest mountain, as well as a whole bunch of other natural treasures — but it’s the Manjanggul Caves that make our list.
Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, these are undoubtedly one of the most spectacular lava tunnels in the world, buried 30 meters beneath the ground. Only one kilometer of its eight is open to the public, but those who take the trip will be treated to a fascinating world of stalactites, lava rafts, resident bats and lava columns – one of which is the largest in the world.
Gunung Mulu National Park, Malaysia
While Malaysia’s man made attractions such as the Kuala Lumpur and Petronas Towers are obvious highlights when visiting, getting out of the city to uncover some of Malaysia’s truly natural beauty is a must — and there’s one natural attraction that ticks all the boxes.
Gunung Mulu National Park is a protected rainforest on Malaysian Borneo where secret gardens, hidden valleys, and waterfalls are surrounded by lush flora, limestone cliffs and an abundant world of wildlife.
And while the summit of the mountain has epic views across the park, it’s the jagged Pinnacles of Gunung Api that people come for miles to see.
Pangong Lake, India
Set within a disputed territory of the Himalayas between India, China, and Tibet, this sparkling lake is picture perfect and almost completely devoid of tourism.
The lake is a whopping 81 miles long and is an incredibly hostile environment, with no living creatures dwelling within its depths. The journey to get here is troublesome — although theatrical in nature — requiring a five-hour stint in a car along mountainous roads with sheer drops.
Despite the dramatic drive and the fact there is no life underwater, the lake is home to a number of migratory birds in the summer which is a sight to behold.
You’ll also find a small gift shop located around the lake, where you’d think the staff would be more pleased to see you presumably having waited days since their last customers.
Featured image source: Flickr