Malaysia offers visitors some of the world’s most exciting wildlife encounters. Flora and fauna bloom in abundance in the rainforests and national parks, and the marine life is equally impressive…prepare to be amazed both on land and underwater.
The country’s coastal waters form part of the Coral Triangle, where nearly 600 different species of reef-building corals can be found. Six of the world’s seven marine turtle species live here, along with more than 2,000 species of reef fish.
You’ll certainly want to meet some of Malaysia’s famous residents, including tapirs, tigers, leopards, honey bears, elephants, rare rhinos, orangutans, gibbons and monkeys. See orangutans in the wild at the Semenggoh Nature Reserve in Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Time your visit so you don’t miss their feeding times (turns out they like coconut), while expert guides tell you all about these impressive creatures.
If you’ve got a soft spot for elephants, visit the Kuala Gandah Elephant Orphanage Sanctuary in Pahang. Learn about these gentle giants, ride them through the jungle with the help of a mahout (a person who rides elephants), or take them to the river and give them a bath. It’s estimated that there are just 1,200 wild Asian elephants left in Malaysia and the elephants at this important sanctuary have been rescued and re-homed in the wild.
Wildlife-lovers should check out Sipadan National Park, just off Sabah’s east coast, which offers amazing diving, including cliff dives, cave dives and more. You might meet schools of barracuda, jackfish, turtles, and harmless white tip, black tip and other reef sharks.
Kilim Karst Geoforest at the northeast tip of Langkawi is also worth visiting, thanks to its turquoise lagoons, mangrove forests and white-sand beaches. Look out for the impressive Bogak trees and limestone rock formations that mushroom up from the sea. Don’t miss the famous Cave of Legends and Bat Cave, both of which can be accessed from the park.
Malaysia is also home to more than 8,000 species of flowering plants. In Malaysian Borneo, record-breaking new species continue to be discovered, including the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia, which can measure up to three feet in width and be seen in the Royal Belum Forest Reserve. The world’s tallest tropical tree species – the tualang – grows here, towering up to 260 feet in height. Its lofty branches provide a home to giant bees, who make a delicious multi-floral jungle honey. Don’t forget to try it while you’re here… You can also visit Taman Negara National Park, where you can go on canopy walks in the trees, meet the indigenous people Orang Asli, and if you are lucky, even see a Malayan tiger.
Malaysia was also made for adventures thrills. If you’re into hiking, river rafting, wildlife-spotting and exploring, then you’ve come to the right place. Many of the country’s most exciting adventures are to be had on Malaysian Borneo, where you’ll never run out of things to do.
If you are not afraid of heights, tackle the world’s highest ‘iron road’. The Via Ferrata on Mount Kinabalu in Sabah. A series of rungs, rails and cables make up this mountain path.
Malaysia’s crystal-clear waters offer divers an incredible number of dive sites and pristine beaches. Here, sloping reefs, coral gardens and pinnacles await on deep, drift, wreck, cavern and wall dives. Visit the Perhentian Islands, known for their pinnacles, on a boat trip from Kuala Besut, Terengganu. Redang Island has some incredible coral gardens. It’s also worth visiting Tioman Island, just off the peninsula’s east coast, where wrecks can be explored by experienced divers.
River rafting is becoming a popular adventure sport. Head out to Sabah who has two main rivers rafting at the Padas and Kiiulu Rivers. Peninsula Malaysia has its good share of rafting sites at Sungai Sungkai in Perak, Sungai Selangor in Kuala Kubu Baru and Sungai Tembeling in Taman Negara.
In Sarawak, go underground at Gunung Mulu National Park, home to one of the world’s longest cave networks. There’s room for 40 Boeing 747 airplanes (and plenty of resident bats) in the Sarawak Chamber. Don’t miss Deer Cave, accessed via a plank-walk that cuts through swamps and limestone outcrops. The cave is famous for its uncanny profile of Abraham Lincoln, which guards the southern entrance of the cave.
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