With its glorious vistas, verdant undulating terrain and varied tropical landscapes, Malaysia’s beautiful rainforests offer vast possibilities for trekking and camping. The country’s extensive array of national parks and wildlife reserves are ideal for communing with nature and discovering her secrets.
From the primordial rainforest of Taman Negara to the wildlife sanctuaries at Danum Valley and the Kinabatangan floodplains, some of Asia’s well-preserved environments offer nature lovers a wealth of experience.
While amateurs may try Malaysia’s many easily accessible recreational forests near urban centres, seasoned explorers can go for challenging weeklong treks up mountains such as Gunung Tahan, the tallest peak in Peninsular Malaysia
For the uninitiated, having a trained local guide is necessary to ensure safety and to learn about the amazing and recious diversity of flora and fauna in the ecosystem. Tropical rainforests are dense, and the thick vegetation provides camouflage for the jungle denizens. It takes patience and a trained eye to see them.
Swampy mangroves, extensive river floodplains, dipterocarp rainforests and montane hillscapes are among the varied environments that can exist even within trekking distance of each other. Each possesses its own ecosystem and wildlife.
The tidal mangrove forests act as vital buffers against coastal erosion as well as protective breeding and nursery zones for numerous fish and aquatic species. There are mangrove belts along most of Peninsular Malaysia’s west coast as well as in Sabah and Sarawak. Some, such as in Kuala Selangor Nature Park, have boardwalks for the safety and convenience of visitors.
The most common type of rainforest is the dipterocarp forest. It is one of nature’s most complex ecosystems, a habitat for thousands of plant species ranging from tiny lichens to exotic palms, ferns and vines and huge trees rising well over 50m to the heavens. Each has its own role in the jungle’s cycle of life.
Further up the hills and mountain slopes, montane forest environments take over with their cooler ambience and presenting spectacular views that are well worth the trek.
Jungle trekking can take an hour or more and, with camping, as many days as desired. Among the best periods to go trekking in Peninsular Malaysia is in the ‘dry season’ from March to September when the rainfall is less. In Sabah, the ‘wet season’ is from October to February and Sarawak is from November to February.
In many areas, jungle trekking can be combined with other interesting activities such as river expeditions.
Malaysia’s primeval and unexplored rainforests offer intrepid trekkers great opportunities to observe tropical flora and fauna. The wilds of Malaysia overflow with fantastic plant and animal diversity that can be found in the competitive conditions of the ecosystem. Many species are exotic, rare or even endemic to the particular region and are protected animals in the country. Tigers and elephants are among the protected species in Endau- Rompin.
Generally, most rainforest animals are shy or camouflage themselves to avoid predators or to hunt. ‘Bumbun’ or tower hides and canopy walks, such as at Taman Negara, aid those searching to spot the inhabitants.
Take the time to spot the many insects and butterflies flitting about in the forests of Peninsula Malaysia. Marvel at the
pendulous nose of the proboscis monkeys found at Sukau in Sabah and Bako in Sarawak. Listen to the swooshing wingbeats of colourful hornbills in the vales of Sarawak or the call of gibbons echoing at dawn in Danum Valley in Sabah.
Besides wildlife, the natural terrain features cool rivers to ford across and enchanting waterfalls to splash around amidst the natural surroundings. A visit to the rainforest requires the full use of one’s senses to discover all its features and creatures.
Part of the adventure is to discover how they all fit together.
The lower altitudes of primary jungles like Taman Negara and Kenong Rimba Park in Pahang; Endau Rompin in Johor; Mulu and Lambir National Parks in Sarawak are humid, so your choice of tents should allow for good ventilation. All-enclosed nylon tents with sewn-in groundsheets are not recommended as they tend to condense air inside. Cotton tents get heavy after absorbing water.
When camping on high altitude locations such as Gunung Jerai in Kedah; Gunung Korbu in Perak; Gunung Tapis and Gunung Tahan in Pahang, choose a site sheltered from the wind and avoid the higher peaks when thunderstorms occur. A self-contained tent with aluminium poles and stakes is best for mountain camping.
Only a basic set up is needed when camping at the marine parks or beaches in the country, such as Pulau Payar in Kedah; Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan; Pulau Redang in Terengganu; Pulau Tioman and Cherating in
Pahang and Tunku Abdul Rahman Park in Sabah. A hammock or sleeping bag may do very well.
Although most of the national parks and private tourist facilities furnish and rent out camping gear, it may be wiser to bring along basic camping necessities.
Remember to check on restrictions which may apply due to ecological or other reasons. If unsure, contact the park authorities.
Whether camping in the damp rainforests, on sunny beaches or atop mountain peaks, there are a few easy environmental tips to keep in mind to protect and preserve Malaysia’s campsites.
There is so much to do and so many places to see in Malaysia. To make sure that you don’t miss anything, use this handy map to navigate your way across the country and find great places to visit.
Perlis is the northern gateway to Malaysia. Despite its small size, Perlis has an abundance of attractions that make it a great destination.
Kedah is Malaysia’s largest paddy producing state. Delve into history in Lembah Bujang, the site of an ancient civilisation or relax in Langkawi, a world-famous resort island.
The site of a UNESCO World Heritage City, Penang is a holiday paradise with fabulous beach resorts and eclectic cultures. It is also the undisputable haven for foodies.
A tin-rich state in its heyday, Perak beckons with a range of sights and experiences. The state’s top attractions include Pangkor, an island getaway and Pangkor Laut, an internationally-acclaimed private island.
Hailed as the Cradle of Malay culture, Kelantan is a destination teeming with age-old arts, crafts and pastimes.
Beautiful islands, culture and nature give Terengganu its magical appeal. Dive, snorkel, sunbathe at the islands or journey to its hinterland to experience the best of nature.
The largest state in the peninsula beckons nature-enthusiasts with exciting eco-adventures. From Taman Negara, the oldest national park in the country, to the idyllic Tioman Island, Pahang is simply mesmerising.
Malaysia’s dynamic capital city is bustling with attractions and activities. Explore the city by day and night.
Selangor is home to the country’s main airport KLIA, and the main gateway by sea, Port Klang. It is also the country’s most developed state with a long list of shopping malls and themed attractions.
Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia, is a well-planned township with impressive buildings, verdant parks, scenic lakes and beautiful bridges.
Find the best attractions in this vast eco-paradise.
Sarawak, the largest state in Malaysia, has a vast wilderness that contains numerous national parks including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mulu National Park.
Located off the northwestern coast of Borneo, this island thrills visitors with its wreck diving sites, historical relics and duty-free shopping.
The birth place of the nation, Melaka is a treasure trove of history and heritage. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage City for vestiges of the past.
Known for its fascinating Minangkabau culture and a unique social system, Negeri Sembilan is the place to learn age-old customs and traditions.
Visit Malaysia’s southern gateway, for a family vacation at the theme parks or escape to its islands for an unforgettable holiday.
Enjoy birdwatching at 55 Important Bird Areas (IBA) throughout the country, tucked away at various habitats such as islands, coasts or lush lowland and montane rainforests.
Love the cool highlands? Find refreshing destinations to unwind in Malaysia. From French-themed settings, energetic amusement parks to forest-clad hills, there is something for everyone.
Find the coolest, trendy spaces to hang out while you tickle your tastebuds with the best delights.
Find the fun and thrill that you are looking for in Malaysia. Meet your favourite characters, plunge down the world’s longest water slide or enjoy the rides and games!
Get your rod ready to reel in the best catch in Malaysian waters.
For those who appreciate the finer things in life, Malaysia is the place to indulge in sheer comfort and sophistication. Luxe Malaysia takes you beyond your expectations.
Enjoy exploring the South China Sea, Andaman Sea, Celebes and Sulu seas for incredible sights from pelagic species, sea turtles to reefs, wrecks and more.
The best way to engage with the locals, a homestay programme gives a peek into the lifestyles, customs, cultures and pastimes of a local family.
What better way to explore Malaysia than through its food! Follow the aroma to track down lip-smacking delights found around the country, together with interesting snippets on its culture and origins.
Get your complete info on cruising, yachting, anchorage facilities and land excursions around the country.
Blessed with year-round sunshine and rain, Malaysia has a wealth of tropical flora and fauna. Visit its national and marine parks to enjoy the captivating sights both on land and underwater!
Get a glimpse into Malaysia’s rich mosaic of ethnic communities and indigenous people.