Running the trails is a great way to explore the unknown, escape the pressures of urban life and get your daily dose of endorphins but how do you choose the best trails to explore? Everyone has a different set of criteria.

Some of you trail running enthusiasts may look at distance and elevation while others may prioritise type of terrain and level of difficulty or a combination thereof. Whatever your criteria may be, South East Asia has countless trails for you to choose from.

As an added bonus, the trails in this part of the world will also give you the opportunity to come up close and personal with locals, see how they live and even interact with them.

Sport tourism is a growing industry in South East Asia and you can conquer the trail that you set out to finish and at the same time, give back to the local community as a thanks for the invaluable experience you have gained.

Here are some of my personal favourite trails in the South East Asian region that you should check out. The trails of South East Asia await so pack your trainers and book those flight tickets! 

1. Philippines – Osmena Peak 

Osmeña Peak is one of the tallest peaks in Cebu and is a 1-hour drive from the small town of Alegria. The journey is bound to be a rough one as there are no proper roads so do prepare yourself for a bumpy ride.

On a top of Ocmena Peak on Cebu, Philippines.

The trail starts at Mantalongon market approximately 2417.98 feet above sea level and the route to the peak is an uphill climb of approximately 4km. The peak is 3323.49 feet above sea-level and should take about 40 mins depending on your running speed and how many stops you make along the way.

Once at the top, the 360-degree view of Cebu island is simply stunning. The best time to start your run would be in the wee hours of the morning so that you will be just in time to catch the sunrise. Certainly, a must not miss! 

2. Singapore- MacRitchie Reservoir

Singapore may be a small country but this 12-hactare jem of lush greenery lies within it. One loop around the MacRitchie reservoir is 10.5km with a total ascent of 166.99 feet and a maximum elevation of 230.87 feet.

View of the walkway in the park from the water. Macritchie reservoir above water park Singapore.

Be sure to bring enough hydration because it is going to be hot! This beginner to intermediate level trail is pretty manageable for the amateur runner.

It is not the most technical trail but do take note of some rocks, pot-holes, roots and mud (if it is raining) that you may encounter coupled with some uphill and downhill portions.

There is also a treetop walk which is a great place for you to take a breather to admire the landscape and snap a couple of photos. Word of caution: Watch out for the monkeys!

3. Cambodia- Angkor Wat 

The Angkor Wat is located in Siem Reap which is in the north-western part of Cambodia, a 12- minute drive from Siem Reap international Airport. To enter the vicinity of the temples, you will need to purchase a ticket and it is recommended for you to buy a ticket the day before if you plan to begin your run early the next morning.

People heading in to watch Angkor Wat Cambodia.

There are two routes to choose from. The longer one is around 26km and the “Small Tour” circuit is approximately 17km.

This trail is generally suited for the intermediate trail runner who has had some experience on the trails but wish to gain more experience and at the same time soak in the amazing views of one of the most beautiful religious monuments in the world.

Truly a refreshing experience for all trail runners out there looking for a unique experience. 

4. Indonesia-Mount Batur (Kintamani)

Located on the island of Bali, Mount Batur is a volcano 5,633 feet above sea level that presents a myriad of challenges for trail runners.

Group of hikers walking on the caldera of volcano of Batur, Bali, Indonesia.

This extremely exhilarating trail will take a 2-hour hike or an hour and a half run at a moderate pace for you to reach the peak.

I would suggest that you bring along a windproof jacket on your run just in case there is a drop in temperature as you near the top or if it starts to rain.

This route is not for the faint hearted and you might want to consider carrying with you a pair of running poles just in case you require some extra stability.

Do your homework before going there and find out if there has been any volcanic activity recently. Eruptions have happened before so please bear in mind that safety comes first. 

Experience Trail Running In South East Asia

Trail running is a great way to experience, feel and connect. These are my top 4 picks and yours may be different.

If you discover a trail route that excites you in ways that only you can understand, why not go conquer it? Adventures await, so time to get the adrenaline pumping!

Ryan Joshua Mahindapala

Ryan is a sports enthusiast who believes in the power of sports to achieve personal growth. He is an avid athlete and loves to explore the world. He is the Founder of Thinking Movement, a Medium publication focussed on providing insights and solutions to issues pertaining to sustainability, social justice, inclusion, mental health and self-help.

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