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The Best Marathons in Asia for Your Next Runcation

Rack up your miles while exploring modern cityscapes, pristine pockets of wilderness and exotic cultures. Sign up for these top marathons in Asia.

Looking for a new experience? Smash your fitness goals and see a city in a whole new light by joining these top marathons around the region. The best part is you don’t need to be an elite runner (nor a fast one) to join thousands of others as you power through 42.2km to the finish line. Ready, set, go!

Tokyo Marathon, Japan

  • When: 1 Mar 2020
  • Fee: JPY 18,200 (marathon), JPY 5,600 (10K race)
  • Website: www.marathon.tokyo

See the Land of the Rising Sun through new eyes on the Tokyo Marathon. Part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors—the ‘Big Six’ of the largest and most prestigious marathons in the world—the full marathon route reflects the city’s past, present and future, taking you through some of Tokyo’s most renowned districts.

After flagging off from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office building in Shinjuku’s bustling financial hub, prepare to be captivated by the charms of Asakusa (home to Tokyo’s oldest temple, Sensō-ji); catch vestiges of Old World Japan in Ryogoku (the training ground for sumo wrestlers) before beating down the stylish promenades of Ginza as you run your final 12km towards the finish line outside the iconic Tokyo Station in Marunouchi. The quaint, red-brick facade of the station’s main building serves as the perfect backdrop for your ‘finish strong’ pic.

Fact: Your entry into the Tokyo Marathon will largely depend on luck, as the race attracts up to 320,000 applicants each year, but only 37,500 are ultimately chosen from the ballot draw. Still, there’s no harm trying for the 2021 race! More info on entry requirements here.

NOTE: Due to the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s edition of the Tokyo Marathon has been restricted to elite athletes only and not to the general public. More information here.

Getting there: The race flags off at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office building, a ten-minute walk from the west exit of JR Shinjuku Station.

Cheorwon DMZ International Peace Marathon, South Korea

Lace up for the rare opportunity to run through South Korea’s Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), an area usually off-limits to civilians for the rest of the year! As far as marathon routes go, the Cheorwon DMZ International Peace Marathon is also one of the most scenic, with plenty of historic and cultural landmarks along the way. The course runs along the border area separating North and South Korea, and kicks off against the dramatic backdrop of Goseokjeong Pavilion—known for its beautiful cliffs and rivers.

Besides running through the picturesque paddy fields of Cheorwon (the home of premium rice production), the route will also take you past the ruins of the Workers’ Party Headquarters (a North Korean base before the Korean War), Woljeong-ri Station (an abandoned railway station), and the Iron Triangle Zone (the site of the conflict between Chinese militants and United Nations forces in the Battle of Triangle Hill in 1952).

Fact: By taking part, you’ll be playing a role in the peace efforts between South and North Korea. It’s a running experience like no other as you discover more of the nations’ shared history, culture and natural attractions.

Getting there: Cheorwon, Gangwon province can be reached via intercity buses and trains from Seoul. Click here to find out more about your domestic travel options within Korea.

Penang Bridge International Marathon, Malaysia

If you’re a beginner looking to run your first ever marathon, the annual Penang Bridge International Marathon is a must on any runner’s bucket list. The iconic bridge ( connects the Malaysian peninsula to Penang Island, and it’s this unique experience that’s made the state government-organised event a hit since 1986!

The route begins in Penang Island’s Bayan Lepas, and takes you through city streets and highways before you head towards the Penang Bridge. While the terrain is mostly flat with some elevation, running the 13.5km-long bridge all the way to Penang’s mainland and back is a test of your physical and mental endurance—the view of the long, straight road ahead can be agonising once you’ve already covered close to 30km—but keep your head up high and push through! If you’re lucky, you may even get to see the sun rise over the island. Waiting for you at the finish line is a carnival-like atmosphere, perfect for celebrating your big achievement.

Fact: If you’re not yet ready for a full marathon, the half-marathon route covers a portion of the bridge before a U-turn takes you back to the island.

Getting there: The race typically kicks off near Queensbay Mall, which is accessible on race day via shuttle buses from George Town.

The exact date of the 2020 event will be announced soon. Check www.facebook.com/penangbridgemarathon/ for updates.

New Taipei City Wulai Gorge Marathon, Taiwan

Escape the city and heed the call of the wild by turning your heel towards the New Taipei City Wulai Gorge Marathon. Located 25km south of Taipei, this marathon offers a phenomenal track that allows you to check out the mountainous landscape replete with rivers and hot springs the region is famous for. After flagging off and crossing the Wulai Suspension Bridge, the trek proceeds to take all runners on an adventure through some of the area’s most renowned attractions such as the Lover’s Trail and Wulai Waterfall, as well as the quaint Xinxian Suspension Bridge. The route is a hilly one, so prepare for some spectacular elevation!

Fact: The Wulai Gorge holds bragging rights for being the only gorge on the globe that’s accessible within a 20-minute drive from a metro station. It’s also known for its hot springs, so book an extra day for some post-race relaxation.

If you’re keen to sign up for the Wulai Gorge Marathon, be warned that slots are extremely limited—there are only 1,500 spots for the full marathon.

Getting there: Take the Taipei Metro to Xindian Station and hop onto Bus 849, which takes you all the way to Wulai. Alternatively, you can also consider taking a taxi from Taipei to Wulai.

Borobudur Marathon, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Now you can visit a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site and conquer a marathon at the same time. With Borobudur Temple looming impressively in the background, the Borobudur Marathon’s unique route takes you through country paths and plantations; you’ll pass by villages and see locals going about their daily activities (some will even cheer you on, so wave and say hello!). As expected, the course is full of rolling hills, so pack a few energy gels, stay hydrated and pace yourself accordingly.

Fact: Borobudur Temple is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. Cool off post-race by exploring the temple grounds in its full splendour—and prepare to go up plenty of stairs!

Getting there: To get to the marathon’s starting line in Lumbini Park, there will be a designated shuttle bus service that departs from selected meeting points in Magelang and Yogyakarta.

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