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The Best Five Cities for Running in Asia

by Mark Lowenstein

Finding a great place to run in some cities in Asia can be challenging. They can be crowded, dense, car-centric, and traffic-choked. Some cities have grown so fast in recent years that the growth of recreational infrastructure, such as parks and paths, hasn’t kept pace with development.

But there are some cities in Asia that are wonderful for running. There are some standouts, such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Most major cities in Japan have some good places to run – and the country has a fantastic running culture. Chinese cities suffer from poor air and lack of green space. In India, one has to seek out ‘running tracks’ in many of more visited cities such as Delhi and Mumbai. Our least favorite city in Asia for running: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

With that, here are our five favorite cities in Asia for running, ranked. What makes them good: scenery, variety, a good infrastructure of parks & paths, and a culture that encourages running.

  1. Singapore.  Our favorite city for running in Asia. There’s a wonderful variety of waterfront paths, large parks, and an extensive pedestrian and cycling infrastructure that also makes the city great for running. Plus, the weather’s great, the city is spotless, the waymarking is topnotch. Bonus: many paths are lit at night, so you can go for an evening run and enjoy great skyline views!
  2. Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s geographic setting is among the elements that make this city fabulous for running. The famed Bowen Road on Victoria Peak has got to be on any runner’s bucket list. Plus, there are scenic waterfront paths that are great for viewing the harbor and Hong Kong’s incredible skyline. And, the fact that 40% of Hong Kong is protected parks means that there are some great options for trail running in the area’s lush vegetation.
  3. Osaka. Known as the ‘Water City’, Osaka is our favorite city for running in Japan. There’s great variety here for runners: beautiful paths along the bay and rivers, several gorgeous parks, running tracks around Osaka Castle, and even an opportunity to experience 80 temples in one 8 km route! Plus, Kyoto and Kobe are a quick train ride away and also feature great running options.
  4. Kaohsiung City. This port city in southern Taiwan is better for running than Taipei. There are well-developed paths taking advantage of the city’s waterfront and along the Love River, the scenic Cijin Island, and a huge, centrally located nature park with trail running for all abilities.
  5. Busan. As one of the world’s largest ports, Busan is also known for its beaches, mountains, and temples. In addition to great seafront and river paths, Busan is one of the few cities in Asia that features runnable beaches! And for some hilly running in a green area with great views, head to the adjoining Jungang Park and Busan Democracy Park.

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