The Beach at Pulau Perhentian, Terengganu
Malaysia offers travelers many spectacular natural wonders. Whether you feel like scaling great heights or exploring the mysteries of the deep, Malaysia has the perfect location for you. Here are seven of the most extraordinary natural attractions, as ranked by The Star, Malaysia’s leading news organization.
Mulu Caves National Park, Sarawak
This Unesco World Heritage Site boasts one of the world’s longest networks of caves in the world. The Sarawak Chamber is the world’s largest underground space. It is so large, it can hold 40 Boeing 747 planes without their wings overlapping!
Other key attractions include the Eden Valley Walk, the Medicine Plant Trail and the Paku Waterfall. At nightfall, millions of bats – 12 species in all – fly out of the caves in great swarms, blotting out the sky.
Penang National Park, Teluk Bahang
This 11 square mile green space is one of the highest rated parks in Asia. Tourists and locals alike flock to the prime beachfront site for its many attractions, including the lowland mangrove swamp in Teluk Tekun and hiking trails at the popular Monkey Beach.
The meromictic lake at Pantai Kerachut is one of only three in Asia where salt water and fresh water do not mix, creating different colored layers that are host to vastly different environments.
Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), Selangor
Just 30 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur, FRIM is a favorite among nature lovers for its wealth of flora and fauna. Founded in 1929 for forestry research, the 2 square mile site was declared a national heritage in 2012. and tens of thousands have enjoyed its spanning a 544ha area.
Whether you choose to pitch a tent, pack a picnic basket or tote a pair of binoculars for a spot of bird-watching, you will enjoy being within this pristine, unpolluted environment.
And be sure to check out the famous canopy walkway located at the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve. The walkway system, suspended between trees at approximately 100′ above ground level, offers visitors a panoramic view of the verdant forest and the Kuala Lumpur area along its 450′ length.
Before you go, check out their opening hours as attractions are weather-dependent.
Royal Belum State Park, Perak
Hailed as one of Malaysia’s best kept eco-tourism secrets, the Royal Belum State Park is located within the Belum-Temenggor rainforest reserve area. Said be over 130 million years old, this vast virgin jungle – relatively untouched by human exploration – is older than the great Amazon and Congo rain forests.
It hosts 10 hornbill species and over 3,000 species of flowering plants – even the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia – and serves as a natural habitat for 14 of the world’s most threatened mammals, including the Malayan Tiger and the Sumatran Rhinoceros. Visitors need to apply for a permit from the Perak State Park Corporation in order to enter the rain forest as it is a protected zone.
At the state park, which spans an area of 450 square miles, you can stay overnight at the wildlife observation area, go bamboo rafting, or observe the animals that flock to the natural salt licks for their dose of that much-needed mineral.
No local ecotourism list is complete without visiting this site, reputed to be the world’s oldest rain forest at more than 130 million years old. With a total area of 1700 square miles, it spans three states – Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu. Also located within the park is Gunung Tahan, the highest peak in Malaysia
Visitors can experience the great outdoors in many ways, including hiking, rafting through rapids, staying overnight at a wildlife observation hideout, and traversing the 1500′ long canopy walk.
There are more than 300 species of fish in the park’s many rivers, including the famed Ikan Kelah or Malaysian Mahseer. Tourists can feed this protected species at the Kelah Fish Sanctuary, and watch the speedy, agile creatures chase the treats. Fishing is allowed only in certain areas. Anglers are advised to hire a local guide to find out where the approved locations are.
Cameron Highlands, Pahang
Things are cooler on in the highlands, which span 275 square miles. Night time temperatures can fall as low as 55 degrees F. As the environment is less humid, hiking along the jungle trails is decidedly more pleasant than at lower elevations.
Pick fresh strawberries to eat with sugar and whipped cream at the local farms or spend your morning at either the Sungai Palas tea plantation with its lush and beautifully tended green vistas or the picturesque Boh Tea Centre. Don’t forget the Rose Center in Brinchang which offers a rewarding hike up among flowered paths along with weathered art installations and unique sculptures.
Pulau Perhentian, Terengganu
If it’s sun, sand and sea you crave, visit the beautiful Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil islands. With their beautiful coral reefs, secluded coves and laidback atmosphere, rarely has the phrase “tropical paradise” been more appropriate than for these islands that fringe the edge of the Pulau Redang Marine park.
Unfortunately, the influx of tourists sees the island struggling to keep pace with the demands inflicted on its natural environment. So whether you choose to visit Turtle Bay, explore private bays, get your diving licence, snorkel in its crystal clear waters, or laze on the beaches to do nothing at all, be sure to leave the place as you found it.