After two long years and counting of restricted movement across much of Asia, the borders are finally reopening and travel is becoming more feasible by the week. Many people will be looking to make the most of any opportunity to get out and explore again, and to take on an adventure of a lifetime. Luckily, Asia is just the place for serious expeditions, as well as less intense jaunts. From the high peaks of the Himalaya, through the deserts of the “stans” to the tropical jungles of the equatorial belt, Asia has it all in pannier loads. Here we take a look at five of the continent’s best cycling adventures for you to aim for in the near future. Mae Hong Son Loop, Chiang Mai, Thailand 620 to 720km (385 to 445 miles) and road bike tour of seven to 10 days The curvaceous and extremely hilly Mae Hong Son Loop is a classic northern Thai cycling adventure. This is no ride for the faint-hearted as it gains around 12,000 metres of very steep road climbing along the way, which means it’s a tough task if you’re carrying full touring gear and is best done with vehicle backup or an ultra-lightweight backpack – feasible, since the daytime temperature is pretty stable year-round, and there is no shortage of accommodation and facilities along the way. The route heads north from Chiang Mai to Mae Tang and then climbs west through stunning and remote mountains to Pai and on to Mae Hong Son. From there, it’s due south to Mae Sariang and then back eastward to Chiang Mai. All in, the route is around 620km, although it is well worth adding in a side trip to Baan Rak Thai (about 78km extra) and also tackling Doi Inthanon, the country’s highest mountain (around 25km extra and 2,565 metres high). There is a lot to see and experience along this amazing route, and anything over 100km a day is a big ask, apart from the first big day to Pai. The best time to ride this route is between September and mid-February, when it is cooler at night. February through to late April is burning season and best avoided, and outside that it can be wet but very pretty. Taiwan circumnavigation and traverse 968km, 10-day rolling road tour around the island from Taipei, with some challenging excursions recommended Taiwan is one place in the world that really does deserve the tag “Bicycle Island”. Not only are the lion’s share of the world’s quality bikes produced there, but Taiwan is also extremely well ordered and facilitated for cycling, making a solo or group bike tour there a breeze to pull together. A few years ago brought the launch of Route 1, a road-based circumnavigation route around the island that is generally started from Taipei. This ride has become something of a rite of passage for local cyclists, because it is challenging but not a killer loop. The route follows a mix of well-surfaced main roads and cycle routes, and all along the way are accommodation options, as well as bike shops and service and rental centres. If it all gets too heavy, you can always hop on a train for a rest day. The highlights of this route include the southeastern countryside section south of Hualien and the dramatic coastal road to Kenting. Although the route is well detailed and easy to follow, it is well worth building in some flexitime to take in some of the amazing ride diversions that are on offer. For fit riders, the 100km climb from Hualien and through the dramatic Taroko Gorge to Wuling (3,275 metres, the highest road in Taiwan) is a must, although with luggage it is a tough cookie to crack. It is also worth a diversion (or extension from Wuling) to Sun Moon Lake, just to ride the lakeside road loop – you could just do the southern half of the loop and also traverse the island from Hualien to Taichung. The optimum time to ride there is between October and March, when it is cooler and mostly dry. Manali-Leh and beyond, India 474km place-to-place high-altitude rough road adventure in the Indian Himalaya, with some recommended extensions The rough road journey from Manali to the Leh has been a challenge for adventurous cyclists for decades. Many tour operators do run supported trips along this route, with most taking the reverse option, which is slightly easier in terms of climbing. In all, there are five major passes on the route, with two of them topping 5,000 metres – Khardung La, at 5,359 metres, being highest. Plenty of cyclists do tackle this solo, carrying camping gear or staying in the basic accommodation en route. A consequence of the high altitude is that you do need to acclimatise for this ride, and also take your time. Seven to 10 days is recommended. It is well worth adding on a week or two to continue into the Spiti Valley and to Zanskar, which are spectacular and wild places. The best time to ride it is between June and September. The road to Shangri-La (and beyond), Yunnan, China 265km place-to-place three-day road ride through the high mountains of Yunnan, with options to go beyond This is a ride that comes laced with physical challenge and mystery, and which is wrapped in jaw-dropping natural scenery and sprinkled with historical culture. There are many places that lay claim to be the fabled Shangri-La from James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon , and this corner of Yunnan makes a strong argument for being the inspiration for the book. Starting at 2,000 metres from the historic town of Lijiang, the route follows the road over the mountains for about 85km to Tiger Leaping Gorge, which is where the real adventure begins. The road through the gorge makes for one of the world’s most scenic bike rides, and it is strongly recommended to stay overnight in a guest house. There is a long and twisted road climb out of the gorge, and your backdrop is the craggy Haba Snow Mountain. From there, it is pure mountain drama, and no traffic, until you reach the white water terraces of Baishu, which is a good place to break the journey. Next up is a 4,200-metre climb and a long descent to the idyllic high plateau of Deqin, which some assume to be Shangri-La. You can also continue north from there into some spectacular plateau scenery, but do try to follow the old road, because the trucks on the main route are not pleasant company. Travel light if you don’t have support, because the air is thin and the climbs are long. Be sure to carry cold weather gear, and try to ride this route in autumn or spring, rather than in winter when it is snowy and freezing. The Pamir Highway, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan 1,200km multi-day (12 to 20 days, plus diversions) rough and gravel road ride across the remote and barren roof of the “stans” The “M41” route, as it has been known since it was built during the Soviet era, has been a destination of choice for many adventurous cyclists in recent years. More commonly known as the Pamir Highway, the route traverses the wide-open Pamir Mountains from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to Osh in Kyrgyzstan, following a broken and largely unsealed road at high altitude across remote and windswept lands. There are several high passes to climb, the 4,655-metre Ak-Baital Pass being the highest. The route is best ridden on a gravel bike, a tourer or a mountain bike, and most carry camping gear, although there are basic facilities on the route. Many cyclists take a diversion along the Wakhan Valley, which has good facilities and adds about 200km to the overall distance. The route can be ridden from late spring (for greenery and wildflowers) through to early autumn, and is generally best ridden in an easterly direction, for favourable winds.