If you’re thinking of eco-travel, Malaysia is the place to go. Not only does it have a great tropical climate, but it also has some of the world’s best eco-tourism hotspots. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll love the many spectacular natural wonders that Malaysia has to offer.
Here are Malaysia’s top 10 eco-tourism destinations.
Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, Pahang
The sanctuary is located 160km from Kuala Lumpur City. You can get there by taking the Karak Highway toward Lancang. It offers safe sanctuary for endangered and orphaned elephants that have been rescued from all over the Malaysian Peninsula. The sanctuary promotes public awareness of the elephants’ plight in Malaysia and also educates the public on the significance of habitat and environmental protection. You can join the elephant activities at any time of the year.
Santubong and Buntal, Sarawak
Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia and is a hotspot for Irrawaddy dolphins. In Santubong and Buntal, you’ll find these dolphins swimming in groups of more than 30. Dolphin-watching tours run from April-November, which can be combined with a mangrove cruise where you can see other rare wildlife, such as Borneo’s world-renowned proboscis monkey.
Cameron Highlands, Pahang
This hill station has low humidity, making the jungle trail hikes more pleasant. You can also pick and eat strawberries at the farms and spend your mornings at the Sungai Palas tea plantation. Selfies are definitely recommended at the stunning Boh Tea Centre. At the Rose Centre in Brinchang, you can take a hike along flowered paths, and look at weathered art installations and sculptures, like murals depicting the zodiac signs and a giant shoe.
Pulau Perhentian, Terengganu
If you want the sun, sand and sea, go to the Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil islands along the edge of the Pulau Redang Marine Park. These islands are a tropical paradise, with beautiful coral reefs, crystal clear waters, secluded coves and a laidback atmosphere. Also try visiting Turtle Bay, exploring private bays, getting your diving licence, snorkelling, or just lazing on the beaches.
Mulu Caves National Park, Sarawak
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting one of the world’s longest networks of caves, the Clear Water Cave. It’s also home to the world’s largest underground chamber (the Sarawak Chamber) and biggest cave passage (the Deer Cave). Other attractions worth seeing include the Eden Valley Walk, the Medicine Plant Trail, and the Paku Waterfall. In the evening, you’ll also witness the Bat Exodus, where millions of bats belonging to 12 species leave the caves in great swarms.
Penang National Park, Teluk Bahang
It’s the world’s smallest national park, measuring 29.6sq km, but it’s the seventh highest rated park in Asia according to Agoda.com. The prime beachfront site has many attractions, including Teluk Tekun’s lowland mangrove swamp and Monkey Beach’s hiking trails. Another unique attraction is Pantai Kerachut’s meromictic lake, where saltwater and freshwater don’t mix, resulting in different coloured layers of water.
Talang-Satang National Park, Sarawak
This marine national park is made up of four islands on Sarawak’s southeast coast, which are also called the “Turtle Islands” because they account for 95% of turtle landings in Sarawak. The national park has shallow reef areas with hard and soft corals, a wildlife sanctuary, nesting sites, fish-breeding areas, as well as shelter and resting grounds for sea turtles. The peak nesting season for these turtles is between April-September. Pulau Satang Besar, the largest Turtle Island, is open to visitors.
Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), Selangor
FRIM is only 30 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur and has plenty of flora and fauna. The Kepong site (a national heritage site) has a pristine, unpolluted environment. You can camp, go on a picnic or do some bird-watching. Also check out their popular canopy walkway at the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve. The 150m walkway offers a panoramic view of the forest and the Kuala Lumpur area.
Taman Negara, spanning Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu
Taman Negara means “national park” and is the world’s oldest rainforest – over 130 million years old. The highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia (Gunung Tahan) can be found here. Main outdoor activities are hiking, river rapid shooting and rafting, staying overnight at a wildlife observation hideout, and taking the 530m canopy walk. The rivers have over 300 species of fish, including the famous Ikan Kelah and Malaysian Mahseer, which you can feed at the Kelah Fish Sanctuary. You can also catch fish, but ask a local guide for approved locations to avoid getting a fine.
The Royal Belum State Park, Perak
The Royal Belum State Park is located within the Belum-Temengor rainforest complex. It’s home to 10 hornbill species and more than 3000 species of flowering plants, including the world’s largest flower (the Rafflesia). It’s also the natural habitat for the world’s 14 most threatened mammals, such as the Malayan Tiger and Sumatran Rhinoceros. To enter the rainforest, apply for a permit from the Perak State Park Corporation. You can stay overnight at the wildlife observation hideout, go bamboo rafting, or observe natural salt licks that attract various animals.
Whether you want to visit endangered animals, scale great heights or explore the mysterious deep, look no further than Malaysia when deciding on your next outdoor adventure.