1. Islands of Mersing
This national park encompasses a variety of islands in the South China Sea, including Tioman, Besar, Rawa, Aur, Pemanggil, Sibu and Rompin. The location is world-famous for diving, but the island interiors also make it an excellent and accessible jungle trekking choice. Of course, the island resorts allow you to simply lounge about the tropical paradise for good relaxing time too.
Highlights: SCUBA diving around Tioman Island, jungle trekking
Accessibility: Easy, but time-consuming–A boat trip from Merseng is the best way in. Once there, dozens of resorts will see to your every need.
Tip: Pretty much everything in the area moves through Tioman Island.
Beautiful sunset across the national park
2. Taman Negara
The oldest of Malaysia’s national parks, Taman Negara is the first to be founded and houses a rainforest estimated to be over 130 million years old. Visitors have a chance to see rare and exotic animals including the Malayan tiger, Sumatran rhino, crab-eating macaque and Malayan peacock-pheasant. If you’re looking to explore the wilderness of Malaysia, this is the best place to go.
Highlights: Canopy walkway, caving at Gua Telinga, rafting Lata Berkoh
Accessibility: Good–It’s one of the country’s most popular parks and has reasonable support infrastructure.
Tip: Tour groups run river boat tours that disembark from KL and include lodging as part of the package.
The canopy walkway of Taman Negara
3. Gunung Mulu
Unlike most Malaysian national parks, Gunung Mulu is famous for its underground terrains beneath the jungle and rainforest. It is home to amazing limestone towers and awe-inspiring caves. Park visitors can see its cavern chamber large enough to house 40 Boeing 747, the biggest single cave passage in the world, and as many as 27 separate species of bat. Above ground, the limestone formations include dizzying spire, twisted gorges and sheer cliffs.
Highlights: Sarawak Chamber, Deer Cave, Clearwater Cave
Accessibility: Difficult–access only by air or boat. Limited lodgings on site.
Tip: Do not miss the nightly bat exodus.
Underground adventures at Gunung Mulu
A relatively new park and somewhat undeveloped, Endau-Rompin is home to the largest remaining population of Sumatran rhinoceros on the peninsula. It’s home to Orang Asli tribes still living (mostly) in their traditional ways. Named after two rivers, the park also boasts river boating, waterfall viewing and white water rafting.
Highlights: Trekking over 26km of rainforest trails; visiting the Orang Asli
Accessibility: Difficult–4×4 access almost necessary, especially if it’s been raining. Best for adventure travellers.
Tip: Park is closed during monsoon season, so plan your trip accordingly.
Wildlife viewing doesn’t get any better
5. Mt. Kinabalu
Home to Gunung Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia, Sabah’s Kinabulu National Park also boasts lush and diverse rainforests, making it one of the most-visited national parks in the region despite its remote location. Visitors can also see a variety of flora and fauna as they trek from ground level towards the mountain top.
Highlights: Climbing Mt. Kinabalu, poring hot springs
Accessibility: Very good–many roads and maintained trails, modern lodging in and around the park
Tip: The climb is extremely popular. Book early to make sure you have a spot.
Mt. Kinabalu, the highest point in the region
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