The continent of Asia is such a huge and diverse place that it should come as no surprise that there are many national parks here worth visiting. With breathtaking natural landscapes, colorful flora and fauna, and some of the most endangered species of wildlife on the planet, outdoor lovers owe it to themselves to travel to Asia and set out on a journey of exploration.
So if you’re looking to add some new items to your travel bucket list for the new year, here are 12 incredible national parks to visit in Asia. They’re all highly recommended for different reasons but are all totally worth a trip overseas. We’ve also included some nearby towns to each of these parks to help you find accommodations for your trip.
Jiuzhai Valley National Park – China
Crystal clear blue and turquoise lakes are what people often remember most about Jiuzhaigou National Park. However, there are plenty of other things to take notice of here too. This park is located in the northern region of Sichuan province and part of the Min Mountains near the Tibetan Plateau. Depending on when you visit, you can experience some of China’s most beautiful snow-capped peaks and evergreen forests. The Giant Panda lives here, and there are some beautiful orchids in the park. Several Tibetan villages lie inside this national park as well. You can find everything from five-star hotels to traditional homestays in the Jiuzhai Valley, including Gui Bing Lou at the park entrance and He Ye Bing Guan and Mu Wu Bing Guan just a short walk away.
Gunung Mulu National Park – Malaysia
Located in Miri, Sarawak, this national park and UNESCO world heritage site is a must-see destination when you visit the Borneo region. Come here to see the cave formations of Sarawak Chamber and Clearwater Cave. But just know that it is required to be accompanied by a licensed guide to enter the park’s caves. Besides the caves, popular activities here include the canopy, hiking trails, and boat rides. There are homestays within two kilometers of the park at Mulu. Mulu even has a Marriott Resort & Spa, and across the river is a lodge and inn at Benarat.
Ranthambore National Park – India
This national park is one of the most important reserves for protecting tigers, but there are many other species of animals living here too. If you’re lucky, you may see monkeys, birds, sloth bears, leopards, and even crocodiles in the lake. Game drives are the big draw here to see the wildlife, as well as ancient temples and forts too. There are lots of hotels and resorts near Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan and Sawai Madhopur, many of which are along Ranthambore Road.
Fuji Hakone Izu National Park – Japan
Mount Fuji is one of the most well-known sights in all of Japan, and you can see it and much more when you visit Fuji Hakone Izu National Park. In addition to the famous peak, you can also visit Fuji Five Lakes, Hakone, the Izu Peninsula, and the Izu Islands that are all part of this national park. Visit in the springtime to see the beautiful pink moss that grows on the epic mountain. Consider staying in Hakone when you make this trip because it’s part of the national park and not even 100 kilometers from Tokyo. This area is famous for its hot springs and is a popular getaway destination for Tokyo residents looking to reconnect with nature.
Ang Thong National Marine Park – Thailand
This is a unique national park in Thailand because it is in a marine environment that’s comprised of more than 40 islands. Ang Thong means “golden basin,” and local wildlife species include sea turtles, monkeys, and egrets. Just travel approximately 20 miles northeast of Ko Samui to reach this natural wonder.
Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park – China
Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park is another amazing place to visit in China, known for jagged peaks and crumbling hills. The mountains here almost look like someone painted them with a paintbrush because they have unique rust, gold, and copper-colored hues. The vibrancy of colors on these mountains is an artist or photographer’s dream. The best time to visit this park is at dawn or dusk between June and September because the weather is most comfortable and the rain brings out the vibrant colors even more. While you’re in the area, check out the Great Buddha Temple, which has the largest indoor reclining Buddha in China. Zhangye is a small city that has an airport with limited flights. Nearby Lanzhou has direct flights from other major cities in China.
Yala National Park – Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has lots to offer nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts, and one great place to add to your Sri Lanka itinerary is Yala National Park. Head to the southeast part of the island for the chance to see rare birds, elephants, and leopards. Some of the parts of the park are closed off to the public, but there are definitely still parts worth visiting. Jetwing Yala and the Yala Safari Game Lodge are conveniently places to stay here, and the nearest city is Hambantota, which is about a 40-minute drive.
Hallasan National Park – South Korea
Travel to the island of Jeju to visit South Korea’s Hallasan National Park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Come here to see the remnants of ancient volcanoes, flowing waterfalls, and beautiful flora. On the island, you can feel the diverse range of climate for yourself, from sub-tropical to very cold temperatures all in one place. There are quite a few hotels on Jeju Island, many of which are less than 10 miles from the park.
Sundarbans National Park – India
Another national park that’s definitely worth visiting in India is Sundarbans National Park, which is famous for its tigers. The park is located in West Bengal, is part of the Ganges Delta, and spans at least 328,680 acres. Come here to experience one of the wildest places on earth. The nearest city to stay at if you’re looking for accommodations is Kolkata.
Khao Sok National Park – Thailand
Lush jungles, mountain peaks, and fascinating wildlife distinguish this national park in Thailand. Khoa Sok National Park is also home to Sambar and Barking deer, Asian elephants, Sun bears, gibbons, and macaques. It’s the oldest and largest national park in Thailand, located in Surat Thani and featuring the Cheow Lan Lake. It is also home to one of the world’s oldest rainforests and a rare flowering plant called the Rafflesia. Don’t miss the limestone formations that have been shaped by the elements of nature over time and the iconic trees and plants along the way. Conveniently, you’ll only need to travel a couple hours north of Phuket to reach this national park, and there are lots of good places to stay in town when you visit.
Bokor National Park – Cambodia
This is an excellent national park to visit to learn about diverse flora and fauna. It’s been a wildlife sanctuary for over 100 years and was established to protect Sri Lankan elephants and leopards. Highlights of a trip to this park include the ruins of the Black Palace, the two-tier Popokvil Waterfall, Lok Yeay Mao Monument, and the 100 Rice Fields. The nearest city to this park is Kampot, the capital of Kampot Province in southern Cambodia, if you’re looking for hotel accommodations.
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park – Mongolia
If you stay in Ulaanbaatar, you can catch a bus to reach Gorkhi-Terelj National Park in Mongolia. It’s about 80 kilometers northeast of the city and a popular destination for hiking, rock climbing, rafting, icy water swimming, horseback riding, and skiing in the winter. It’s also the most popular destination and the third biggest protected area in the country. Part of the park in the southern region has been developed for tourism and has some camps, car parks, and a couple shops in the Rerelj village and a mini market by Turtle Rock. However, much of this park still remains undeveloped and very difficult to access unless you are familiar with the area. The Chinggis Tourist Camp has accommodation in authentic Mongolian gers that have soft beds and Western-style showers. This park gained recognition when it was featured in the tenth season of the television show, The Amazing Race.
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