1. HUANGSHAN, ANHUI, CHINA
The Yellow Mountains, as they are known, look like traditional Chinese paintings precisely because they inspired many of them. Walk on the steps around these sharp granite peaks and centuries-old pine trees that somehow grow there, and view the five “seas” that have been famous since ancient times.
GETTING THERE AirAsia flies from various destinations to Hangzhou. From there, take a bus to Huangshan.
2. UNKAI TERRACE, HOKKAIDO, JAPAN
Unkai means “sea of clouds” and there are two spectacular types that you can see from this popular viewing deck when the conditions are perfect: the waterfall-like unkai flowing down from the Hidaka Mountains and the unkai in the basin, half-covering the Tower of Hoshino Resorts Tomamu.
3. DIENG PLATEAU, CENTRAL JAVA, INDONESIA
Volcanic craters, lakes and thousand-year-old temples dot this chilly plateau 2,000 metres above sea level. Add in a sea of clouds and you have a mystical land where nature and culture mingle beautifully, befitting its name, “Abode of the Gods”. The abundance of peaks offers endless opportunities for sunrise hikes.
GETTING THERE AirAsia flies from various destinations to Yogyakarta and Semarang. From there, take the bus or hire a van to Wonosobo town on the plateau.
4. MT PULAG, BENGUET, PHILIPPINES
At 2,922 metres, Mt Pulag is the Philippines’ third highest peak. Although it’s a relatively easy climb, the lack of shade and the cold weather can make it challenging for mountaineering newbies. Pitch your tent and camp overnight for the sea of clouds that make the long journey worthwhile.
GETTING THERE AirAsia flies from various destinations to Manila. Take a six-hour bus ride to Baguio City. From Baguio, Ambangeg (where the DENR office and the start of the easiest trail are) can be reached with a jeepney hire. Alternatively, some tour companies offer Pulag treks including transport from Manila.
5. ALISHAN, CHIAYI COUNTY, TAIWAN
One of Taipei’s most famous scenic areas, Alishan is renowned for its aboriginal culture, tea plantations, and the hundred-year-old Alishan Forest Railway. The national park has three renowned mountains for sunrise viewing, the best being Mt Zhushan, accessible by sunrise train.
GETTING THERE AirAsia flies from various destinations to Taipei and Kaohsiung. From either city, take the High Speed Railway to Chiayi station.
6. PHU CHI FA, CHIANG RAI, THAILAND
The forest park close to the border of Thailand and Laos is an open secret amongst the Thais. In the winter months, visitors take a 4WD and stay at small guesthouses for that early morning walk up to the top, which offers the best views of Laos even without crossing the border.
GETTING THERE AirAsia flies from Bangkok to Chiang Rai and from various destinations to Chiang Mai. From either city, hire a car, driver and guide to Phu Chi Fa.
7. FANSIPAN (PHAN XI PANG), LAO CAI, VIETNAM
The ascent to Fansipan, Indochina’s highest mountain, typically takes two or three days. Along the way, marvel at Sapa’s rice terraces and take pit stops at Hmong villages. At the summit of Fansipan, you will be rewarded with the triangular marker as proof of your arrival and a view of a vast sea of clouds that make other mountains in Northwest Vietnam look like islands floating in the distance.
GETTING THERE AirAsia flies from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok to Hanoi. From Hanoi, trains go to Lao Cai (advance reservations recommended). From there, take a mini bus to Sapa, where you will begin your climb.