Being the largest continent in the world, Asia is home to an abundance of natural wonders. Dramatic waterfalls, lush rainforests, untouched beaches… you name it, and it is probably just a short flight away.
Lakes are one of the most phenomenal natural wonders we can step foot on. And into, literally. These bodies of freshwater vary greatly in depth, size and elevation. While some allow us to waddle and frolic in them, others are so incredibly massive that just admiring them from a vantage point can easily become the highlight of your trip. Of course, there’s no shortage of stunning lakes in Asia. To narrow down your pick, here is a list of some of the best ones around the region.
Lake Toba, Indonesia
A household name when it comes to lakes in Asia, Lake Toba proves its popularity with its spectacular landscape and multiple offerings of activities around the area. This makes Lake Toba a great destination for a long weekend getaway.
Activities around Lake Toba
- Take a tour around Samosir Island which is tucked in the middle of Lake Toba.
- Soak in Samosir Island’s hot springs after a tiring trek.
- Visit Batak tribes and learn about the traditional Batak culture.
Best time to visit Lake Toba
May is the best month to visit Lake Toba. During this month, the weather is dry and has a good balance between cool and warm. Try to avoid festive seasons like the end of the year and the Chinese New Year period when it tends to get crowded.
Getting to Lake Toba
From Medan, you have to get to the town of Parapat situated at the edge of Lake Toba via private car, shared taxi or public bus. From Parapat, take a ferry ride to Tuk Tuk on Samosir Island, where you can start exploring Lake Toba.
Inle Lake, Myanmar
Another Southeast Asian lake that is a must-visit is Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most gorgeous natural attractions. While most travellers flock to Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, do not miss out on a trip here when planning your Myanmar itinerary.
Activities around Inle Lake
- Take a long-tail wooden boat ride down Inle Lake. (Bonus: time your boat ride during the sunset)
- Watch the local fishermen’s balancing performances on the edge of their boats.
- Explore the magnificent stupas at Indein, a Burmese village off Inle Lake.
- Spectate and cheer on traditional pagoda races by coinciding your trip with the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival, one of Myanmar’s biggest festivals.
Best time to visit Inle Lake
November to February, when the weather is cool and dry, is the best period to visit Inle Lake. January, in particular, is typically the month with the coolest weather and the most hours of sunshine.
Getting to Inle Lake
The nearest airport to Inle Lake is Heho Airport. From Heho Airport, take a 45-minute taxi ride to Nyaung Shwe, the main town of Inle Lake.
Penang National Park, Malaysia
A relatively undiscovered gem just a 1.5-hour flight away from Singapore is Malaysia’s Penang National Park. The next time you make a trip to this street food heaven, be sure to set aside a day trip to its national park. It houses a beautiful meromictic lake, an unusual phenomenon in which fresh and saltwater co-exist in different layers. This is one of the few such lakes in Asia.
Activities in Penang National Park
- Take a dip to enjoy the unusual sensation of both warm saltwater and cool freshwater grazing your skin.
- Chill out on the white sands of Kerachut Beach.
- Visit the Turtle Hatchery & Conservation Centre and partake in the turtle release sessions.
Best time to visit Penang National Park
To best experience the meromictic lake in Penang National Park, visit during the monsoon season between May to November. During this period, strong winds and waves push the saltwater into the lake, while blocking the outflow of freshwater at the same time.
Getting to Penang National Park
Penang National Park is about 30km from George Town, Penang’s capital city. Take a bus from Komtar Bus Terminal in George Town and alight at the final stop, which is situated near the park’s entrance.
Lake Kayangan, the Philippines
Lake Kayangan in Coron Island, Northern Palawan, could just be the most postcard-perfect lake on this list. It is one that boasts emerald waters and majestic limestone rocks. Besides admiring it from the view deck, visitors are also able to dive into the waters—the cherry on top for the ultimate Lake Kayangan experience.
Activities around Lake Kayangan
- Snorkel and swim in the cool waters.
- Take a 15 to 30-minute hike and explore the cave at the summit.
- View the rock formations from underwater. (Bonus: dive deeper and find the Awuyuk Cave through a limestone wall opening)
Best time to visit Lake Kayangan
The best time to visit Coron Island is between December to May, which is the dry season. Try to avoid lunchtime and visit early in the day when it is less crowded.
Getting to Lake Kayangan
From Coron Town, which is where you will likely be staying, take a boat ride to Lake Kayangan. There are plenty of tour options available, including full-day island hopping tours, private boat tours, or multi-day expeditions around Coron Island and its nearby islands.
Lake Kawaguchi, Japan
Located at the base of Mount Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi is easily accessible from Tokyo, making it the perfect day trip destination to escape the city bustle. It is the biggest of the reputable Fuji’s Five Lakes, and not only boasts a splendid view of Mount Fuji, but also Mount Fuji’s reflection on its clear waters.
Activities around Lake Kawaguchi
- Catch the Fuji Moss Phlox Festival, which occurs from mid-April to late May.
- View Mount Fuji from the lavender and blueberry fields at Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center.
- Get your adrenaline fix at Fuji-Q Highland theme park.
Best time to visit Lake Kawaguchi
Different times of the year will bring you different experiences at Lake Kawaguchi. For instance, mid-April offers the classic cherry blossoms experience, while November will enthral you with its autumn colours. For the viewing of Mount Fuji, visibility is usually the best around 9am.
Getting to Lake Kawaguchi
From JR Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, catch a train (there are multiple options depending on the duration and cost) to Otsuki, then hop on the railway to Kawaguchiko. You can also catch a highway bus from Shinjuku, Shibuya and Tokyo bus stations.
Lake Attabad, Pakistan
Lake Attabad was formed after a natural disaster destroyed the Attabad village in 2010. The village was hit by a landslide, which blocked the flow of Hunza River for months, resulting in the birth of Lake Attabad. Ever since then, this beautiful silver lining of a catastrophe has been seeing a rise in its visitors. And with its dazzling turquoise waters nestled within the grand mountain peaks, it is not hard to see why.
Activities around Lake Attabad
- Enjoy water activities including jet skiing, fishing and boating.
- Spend a night or two at one of the lakeside guest houses or campsites.
Best time to visit Lake Attabad
The best time to visit Lake Attabad is during spring and early summer, when it is ice-free as the meltwater from the mountains deposit glacial salt into the lake.
Getting to Lake Attabad
From Karimabad, make your way to Ali Abad on a shared van which shuttles between the two towns. From the main road of Ali Abad, board the minibus. It takes off whenever it is full, so be prepared to set aside an hour of waiting or more.
Pangong Tso Lake, India
One of Ladakh’s best nature spectacles, Lake Pangong Tso is the world’s highest saltwater lake towering at more than 4km above sea level. The lake is famous for its colour-changing waters, appearing in shades of blue, green and red at different times of the day. Do note that some visitors experience altitude sickness here, so take it slow and rest adequately to acclimatise before heading to the lake. A permit is also required for foreign visitors travelling from Leh.
Activities around Pangong Tso Lake
- Catch the sunrise at dawn.
- Take a dip in the lake, or even ice-skate on the frozen surface during winter.
Best time to visit Pangong Tso Lake
Lake Pangong Tso is beautiful every month of the year. Even during the winter period from November to February, you can still admire the lake in all its beauty and even walk on its surface. The only months to avoid are June and July, when it is the peak tourist season.
Getting to Pangong Tso Lake
Lake Pangong Tso is a six-hour drive from Leh. For a fuss-free arrangement, you can engage one of the many travel agents in Leh offering tours to Lake Pangong Tso. For travellers who want to explore the lake independently, there are local buses and taxis operating from the lake. Note that the bus services do not run daily so remember to do a check here prior to your trip.
These seven lakes are just the tip of the iceberg amongst a myriad of other impressive lakes in Asia. Lake-exploring is a great addition for any itinerary as there are activities for all traveller types. Whether it is a honeymoon or a family getaway, be sure to include a lake visit on your next vacation to spruce it up.