From the high-rise trails of the Himalaya to the deserts of Anatolia and the jungles of Indonesia, the continent of Asia is home to some of the most extreme and varied terrain in the world. In mountain biking terms Asia may not have the plethora of well-manicured ski resort trails or as many dedicated bike parks as Europe and North America, but what we do have in abundance is superb natural riding. Here are five of the very best trail riding destinations in Asia. Cappadocia, Turkey The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cappadocia is one of the most surreal and beguiling places on the planet, and the mountain biking here steps up to match this. With its arid and desert-like terrain, numerous valleys, Star Wars-like fairy chimneys, ancient cave dwellings and underground cities Cappadocia is also steeped in history and doused with culture, which make it so much more than just a great mountain biking destination. Being able to ride freely through here, and with so few humans around, is a treat for any cyclist. The trails are fast, gritty and often loose, and they weave their way around this amazing landscape for miles on end. The towns of Goreme, Uchisar, Avanos and Urgup loosely define the central area of Cappadocia, although there is also great riding to be found in its further reaches too. This is rolling cross-country style riding with options to suit all abilities. May to October is the prime riding time here, as it can get cold and sometimes snowy during winter. Chiang Mai, Thailand Northern Thailand’s historical city of Chiang Mai has become the go-to destination for Southeast Asian mountain bikers in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. It’s jewel in the crown when it comes to natural trail riding lies to the western fringe of the city, around the tree-clad slopes of the Doi Suthep and Doi Pui mountains, which rise in tandem to a dizzying 1,676 metres high. You can choose to take a “songtaew” (taxi van) uplift to the top and pick from a sweet selection of ridge top and downhill runs, or access the cross country trails from near to the 700 Year Stadium. There are numerous natural single and double track trails on these slopes – some have been partially carved out by local riders, while others are used by the farmers and hill tribe communities that live there. There are also popular trails around Mae On, east of the city, making for a good mix with options for all riding styles and abilities. The city is also well-facilitated for bikers and has numerous bike shops, guides and tour operators. The best time for riding there is between September and February, when the trails are dry and the temperature is mild. It’s best to avoid the late February to late April burning season, and while the July to September rainy season can be very pretty, some trails can be in bad shape during heavy rains. Bali, Indonesia You can find great riding of all sorts in many areas in Indonesia, however as a complete mountain biking and holiday destination the tropical island of Bali takes some beating. Most of the population and infrastructure of Bali is to be found in the southeastern corner, while the prime mountain biking is tucked away just to he north of there, towards the slopes of the island volcanoes. There are countless narrow roads and unpaved trails to be found north of Ubud, but the real gems are located closer to Mount Batur and around the Jatiluwih rice terraces. Almost any time is good to visit Bali – even during the November to March rainy season the riding can be great. During the peak dry season the trails are drier, although you may also get unlucky and show up during a smoky interlude. Kathmandu, Nepal Although many visitors to Nepal use its capital city of Kathmandu as a stepping stone to the great classic treks and mountain bike journeys scattered all around this amazing and mountainous country, they are really missing out. When it comes to accessible mountain biking, Kathmandu is one the best mountain bike cities and destinations in the world. Surrounding the Kathmandu Valley are numerous mountains, all of which are adorned with superb natural trails linking hill towns and remote villages together, and many of these trails have been tweaked to perfection by local bikers over recent years. You could ride fresh trails for weeks here, with Nagarkot being the most popular destination for visiting riders, which is also a good higher elevation base in its own right. The city is exceptionally well set up for visiting bikers, making it a breeze to find good rental bikes and spare parts, hire guides, arrange uplifts and source trail info. However, there is a caveat – Kathmandu suffers greatly from air pollution, so do try and arrange a visit for just after the October to December rainy season, as by March and April the air gets pretty nasty. If not, then do keep an eye on the AQI index, especially if you suffer in such conditions. Pokhara, Nepal Straddling the Fewa Lakeside beneath the snow capped peaks of the Annapurna Range of mountains is the charming Nepalese city of Pokhara, a place that cannot go unmentioned when summing up the world’s greatest mountain biking destinations – which is why Nepal deserves at least two slots here. There are several classic cross-country and enduro style trails to be found out of town and to the far side of the lake, and the town is also well facilitated for bikers. However, the main allure of Pokhara is as the gateway to some of the greatest two wheeled adventures in Nepal, with the nearby Annapurna Circuit being an epic challenge of the highest order, while the high-rise trails leading through neighbouring Mustang rank among life’s bucket list rides. Although Pokhara doesn’t suffer quite as badly from air pollution as Kathmandu, it is a problem, hence it is also best visited at the end of the rainy season and during early winter, when the air is clearer. Alternatively have a flexible plan and be prepared to run to the higher elevations if the air is too bad.