6 marathons in Southeast Asia to try next year

A runcation through Bagan’s iconic religious structures? It doesn’t get any better than this. Source: Shutterstock

IF YOUR New Year’s resolution includes a call to be fitter, then why not combine running and travel, and explore Southeast Asia’s best marathon trails? After all, a wise woman once said:

This type of tourism, aptly named “Runcation”, has quickly taken the world by storm, particularly among travelers looking for a bit of adrenaline rush while also enjoying the sights of a new city.

So if you’re so inclined, here are our top picks of exciting marathons across the continent that need to be on your bucket list in 2018.

A word of caution: prepare yourself for the blistering Southeast Asian heat!

Bangkok, Thailand

The Bangkok Marathon in 2016. Source: BKK Marathon.

One of the best-known marathons in the continent is the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon, or just Bangkok Marathon for short.

To avoid the heat, this marathon starts at 2am (yes, you heard that right!). That way, you can enjoy the gorgeous sunrise as you run along some of Bangkok’s most well-known roads.

Don’t forget to look to your side as you run along Phuttamonthon, or else you’ll miss the 15m Buddha statue that stands proudly in the middle.

Phuket, Thailand

The Laguna Phuket Marathon takes place in one of the world’s most well-known tourist destinations: Phuket!

This race course will lead you through some quiet spots on the island, taking you along rubber plantations, tropical forests and stunning beaches.

The event has also recently won Best Amateur Sport Event in Thailand, so there’s no reason why a beginner can’t complete the marathon.

But if that’s not enough to win you over, just know that organizers host a “Pasta Party” complete with a five-star buffet for marathon runners before the event.


The Singapore Marathon is a popular event among locals and foreigners alike. Since 1982, the marathon has been held on the first Sunday of December.

The route follows some of Singapore’s most well-known spots, such as Gardens by the Bay and the Esplanade. This year’s event welcomed 126 different nationalities within the almost 50,000 participants.

If you have kids, why not bring them along? The Kids Dash is a mere 600m race course for runners up to the age of 13.

Bagan, Myanmar

Few countries in the world can boast the innumerable numbers of temples that Myanmar has. Even fewer places would let you run a marathon through their fields like Bagan does.

The Bagan Temple Marathon will allow you to run past some of the city’s 2,200 temples and their neighbouring traditional villages.

Since this is a relatively new event, you will profit from a smaller entrance fee and less people to compete with.

Kuching, Malaysia

kuching marathon

A photograph from the Kuching Marathon in 2015. Source: Sarawak Tourism.

If you would rather run through a vibrant city rich in cultural history, then the Kuching Marathon is definitely for you!

The route will take you around the colonial buildings of the town and the beautiful temples that it has to offer.

In 2018, it will be the marathon’s fifth year since its inauguration, making this a hip destination that must not be missed.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

angkor wat

The sprawling 162ha Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia is the largest religious monument in the world. Source: Wikimedia Commons

It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to run beside the largest religious monument in the world, and the Angkor Empire Full Marathon takes this feat seriously!

The race will start at Angkor Wat and take you through the Royal Palace, the South Gate and the Bayon Temple. Don’t worry about the sweltering heat – parts of the race will take place under Cambodia’s lush trees.

If you tire yourself out during the race, simply look up in astonishment at your surroundings; surely that will give you the energy you need to finish.