You don’t have to travel far to drink in the natural beauty our home planet has to offer.
Did you know that up to 70% of Malaysia’s total land area is made up of tropical rainforests? And that Malaysia is home to approximately 20% of the world’s animal species? (FYI, the world is estimated to contain 8.7 million species of animals.)
I don’t know about you, but the above facts absolutely blew my mind. How blessed we are to be living right next to a biodiversity hotspot! If you, like me, are endlessly fascinated with the natural world, check out these amazing destinations in Malaysia where you can become one with nature.
Taman Negara National Park
Straddling three states (Pahang, Kelantan, and Terengganu) in the northern part of West Malaysia, the Taman Negara National Park is around six times – six times!! – the size of Singapore. The rainforest is pretty darn ancient, too; at 130 million years old, it is considered one of the oldest rainforests in the world. Taman Negara is teeming in wildlife, including several endangered species like the Malayan tiger and Asian elephant. Here’s one more jaw-dropping fact to add to this national park: It boasts the world’s longest canopy walkway, which stretches for 530 metres and is suspended 100 feet above the jungle floor.
Consisting of two main islands – Pulau Perhentian Besar (big island) and Pulau Perhentian Kecil (small island) – the Perhentian Islands are a must-visit for lovers of the sun, sand, and sea. The white sandy beaches, amazingly clear water, and rolling green hills are a sight to behold. If you’re feeling adventurous, go on one of the several trails available on Pulau Perhentian Kecil – one of them leads you to the Lighthouse Towers, from which you can jump off into the clear, blue sea!
Situated at the northwestern tip of Pahang and with a mean annual temperature of 18 °C, the Cameron Highlands is the indisputable destination of choice for those of you looking to escape the scorching heat in Singapore. But above and beyond its cool climate, the Cameron Highlands is home to sprawling tea plantations, scenic waterfalls and bountiful wildlife.
Gunung Mulu National Park
If you’ve long been enchanted by caves, trust me when I say you NEED to check out this national park located in Malaysian Borneo. For starters, it houses the largest known cave chamber in the world (by area), Sarawak Chamber – the chamber is so massive, it could hold eight jumbo jets! Second, Gunung Mulu National Park boasts one of the world’s largest interconnected underground cave systems, Clearwater Cave. Third, you’ll see the magnificent Mount Mulu, a sandstone mountain standing at 2, 377 metres. There are many more incredible cave networks, cliffs and gorges found at the Gunung Mulu National Park, as a result of limestone and rock formations that started some 90 million years ago. I can’t wait to visit it one day.
Niah National Park
The oldest recorded human settlement in east Malaysia is apparently right here, inside the Niah Caves in Miri, Sarawak. In 1958, a group of archaeologists discovered a 40, 000-year-old skull – the oldest human remains ever discovered in the region. And, one of the caves also contain rock paintings dating around 1, 200 years old!
For those of you who advocate wildlife conservation, you would love these islands, which lie 40km north of Sandakan in Sabah. There are three islands – Selingaan, Bakkungan Kechil, and Gulisaan – all of which are home to Turtle Islands Park, a marine park for endangered green and hawksbill turtles. The park enforces pretty strict rules and regulations for visitors (which is great); for instance, to avoid any disturbance to the turtles, visitors are not allowed on the beach between sunset and sunrise. Apart from turtle-watching, you can also swim, snorkel or dive in the ocean, which is teeming in coral reefs.