As tourism officials and industry players continue working on a roadmap for recovery following Covid-19, one of Malaysia’s best assets could be its natural attractions. Returning tourists are searching for wellness breaks with an emphasis on health and nature, which means the great outdoors is set to take centre stage. With many national parks to choose from, Malaysia is the perfect landscape for post-pandemic travel. In this article, we look at five of the best.
Located around 300km from Kota Kinabalu in the centre of Sabah, the Maliau Basin covers over 58,000 hectares of pristine rainforest, designated a conservation area since 1981. Home to rich biodiversity, the region is a great place to see many species endemic to Borneo, such as the pygmy elephant, the banteng and sambar deer, along with 2,000 other recorded species of flora and fauna. The landscape itself is also a major attraction, with a combination of waterfalls, hiking trails and jungle camps offering visitors the perfect off-road adventure.
Sabah’s largest terrestrial park, the Crocker Range runs through eight districts, covering almost 140,000 hectares – an area of land that’s approximately the same size as Singapore. The Park was awarded biosphere status by the International Coordinating Council for Biosphere Reserves in 2014 and is home to one of the last remaining hill dipterocarp forests in Sabah. Easily accessible from Kota Kinabalu, the Crocker Range is a great place to explore Borneo’s greenery on a short getaway.
Sarawak on the western coast of Borneo is the setting for some of Malaysia’s most eye-catching natural treasures. Chief among them is the Gunung Mulu National Park; a UNESCO World Heritage Site that shelters one of the world’s most elaborate and extensive cave systems. With river rapids to ride and lush jungle interiors to explore, Gunung Mulu is a rabbit hole of wild adventures that returning travellers will find impossible to resist.
Penang National Park
Back over on the peninsula, Malaysia continues to offer a spectacular array of treasures in the natural world. Penang National Park covers 1,213 hectares of land and sea, home to white sandy beaches and the Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve, which includes everything from hill forests to coastal mangroves and coral seas. For travellers with green fingers, the Park is an Eden; over 100 species of plants have been recorded here, including wild orchids, fig trees and pitcher plants. Against this colourful backdrop, wildlife sightings include dolphins, long-tailed macaques, mouse deer, white-bellied sea eagles and civet cats.
Located in the Tangkak District of Johor, Gunung Ledang (also known as Ophir) stands at 1,276 metres (4,186 feet) tall, overlooking the border between Muar and Melaka. Over the centuries, this lofty location has inspired a mix of poetry, mythology and origin stories, from Malay Sultanates to Javanese empires and Chinese merchant seafarers. Popular local folklore has it that the mountain was once home to a princess with magical powers, who had the Sultans of Malacca in the palm of her hand. Today, the Park continues to offer magical experiences in nature, with spectacular waterfalls, hikes and sunsets a major highlight.