Top 5 national parks to visit in Malaysia

Top 5 national parks to visit in Malaysia

There is a lot to be said about the vibrancy of Malaysia’s lively cities, diverse culture and mouthwatering cuisine, yet, there is a tranquil side where nature overtakes. 

National parks of timeless natural beauty – home to bountiful endemic species and distinctive natural playgrounds.

Some national parks offer gorgeous canopy views of the wild, others touch the sky with enormous mountains and some sprawl over many islands.

So we’ve come through with a list of our top 5 national parks to explore while you’re in Malaysia, each that will give you a taste of everything there is to enjoy.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

This park covers an area of 50 sqkm over 5 islands and their surrounding reefs and sea, featuring sweeping beaches and breathtaking scenery.

Manukan Island is beautiful, with palm trees and cute macaques lining the soft white sand. For those looking to explore marine wildlife, there are snorkelling opportunities abound.

But don’t worry, you’re not stranded on a deserted island, there are restaurants, clubhouses, chalets and recreational facilities throughout.

The smallest island amongst the park is Mamutik Island, offering beautiful beaches and picturesque coral reefs.

Similarly to Mamutik Island, Sulug Island is another small island that’s best for travellers who prefer a quiet and tranquil atmosphere.

Finally, there’s Sapi Island, which features one of the best beaches in the park, popular snorkelling and diving spots and one of the longest island to island ziplines in the world.

Gunung Mulu National Park 

Situated just below the equator, Gunung Mulu National Park encompasses a thick jungle of biodiversity and some of the largest explorable caves in the world. The best way to truly experience the national park is via the Headhunter’s Trail.

The name is apt given that a five-hour hike leads to the Pinnacles, a landscape of limestone peaks situated 45 metres above the rainforest. The site looks like an overrun graveyard of barbed tombstones and laying eyes on it makes the taxing hike all worthwhile.

Mulu is also home to the Mulu Canopy Skywalk, a 480-metre canopy skywalk that features 15 platforms pinned to tall trees, allowing you to catch a glimpse of the life the rainforest supports. Beneath the teeming jungle, vast limestone caves extend for 300 kilometres and maintain their own diverse ecosystems.

Stop over at one of the many caves in Mulu National Park, e.g. Sarawak Chamber; the largest known cave chamber in the world or visit Deer Cave during the afternoon to sightsee the exodus of an estimated amount of 3.5 million bats.

Taman Negara National Park

Covering a total area of 4,343 square kilometres, Taman Negara is one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world at over 130 million years old.

The park is a popular ecotourism destination; attracting foreign and local nature fanatics eager to unearth the abounding plethora of flora and fauna. It’s home to some of the rarest mammals, including the Malayan Tiger, Asian elephant, and Malayan gaur, as well as birds such as hornbills, masked finfoots, red junglefowl, and the rare Malayan peacock-pheasant.

Another exciting activity for visitors is walking along the Canopy Walkway to enjoy a spectacular view of the lush greenery. This 40-metre high and 530-metre long suspension bridge is the longest in the world.

Not only you can stride between the treetops, but you can also meet the indigenous people of Orang Asli village, zip through Sungai Tembeling’s seven rapids on a boat, take breathtaking photos at Lake Berkoh, and cast your rod at Kuala Perkai, Rincing, Rawa and Lata Said.

In terms of accommodation, there are many choices for visitors, ranging from resort to hostel. The most popular is the Mutiara Taman Negara Resort, which is the only resort in the National Park boundary.

Kinabalu National Park

Kinabalu Park houses the amazing Mt Kinabalu – the highest mountain in Malaysia.

Reaching the summit of Mount Kinabalu (source: Tourism Malaysia)

The park boasts an estimated 4,500 species of plants which include 1,500 species of orchids, 77 of which are endemic to Kinabalu. The park also supports 289 species of birds and 290 different types of butterflies.

To make the most out of the park, travellers should take the Poring Hot Spring tour, which is about an hour away from Kinabalu Park. This is a journey that takes tourists through the park in the morning and after lunch they hit the Poring Hot Spring.

Here, you can relax in the all-natural mineral-rich hot springs water, surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens. There is also a cold water pool nearby for those who prefer a cold dip.

Poring Hot Spring – Sabah

But the journey through the park wouldn’t be complete without an immersive exploration of Mount Kinabalu’s treetops.

Poring Treetop Canopy Walk invites travellers to witness the grandeur of a hundred million-year-old rainforest, spanning from a 105m length walkway that is suspended 30 metres above the lush jungly tangles.

The park meets every demand with options for bird-watching, guided trekking, climbing and camping. Kinabalu Park has such a rich array of wildlife that every traveller will marvel at this incredible display of nature.

Bako National Park

Despite its seemingly small size, Bako is a nature geeks dream.

It contains a wide range of vegetation – swamp forest, scrub-like padang vegetation, mangrove forest, dipterocarp forest, delicate cliff vegetation and more.

Bako also has some amazing white sand beaches that provide perfect resting spots in between jungle treks. All of the beaches are bordered by limestone and sandstone cliffs, and the action of the sea has left some remarkable rock formations, such as the famous Sea Stack.

Alongside the beaches is Bako’s extensive trail system which is made up of 16 colour-coded jungle trails offering a range of walking and hiking options. Adventurous travellers can opt for full-day jungle hikes or overnight camping expeditions, whilst those who prefer to take it easy can partake in a relaxing forest walk.

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