Bird Watching in Malaysia

Malaysia Bird Watching

As Bird Watching in Malaysia is growing, more birders have been heading here in recent years to spot some of this tropical country's beautiful and endemic birds.

Over the years, niche tourism players have also been actively promoting Malaysia as a bird-watching destination, and with good response.

Bird Watching in Malaysia

Malaysia is home to over 795 species of tropical birds which can be found on many different types of terrains. The birds are mainly found in lowland rainforest, montane areas, swamps, and water birds by the sea.

Local bird-watchers have also doubled in numbers in the last five years due to the ongoing publicity done by various tourism departments and NGOs.

Some states in Malaysia have also taken the initiative to promote birding as one of the activities, namely Sabah, Sarawak, Pahang, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, and Langkawi.

Malaysia, a Bird Watching Paradise 

Tourism Malaysia has also put in the initiative to promote bird watching in Malaysia. In 2015, they conducted a closed-door seminar with industry players at an event called 'Malaysia, a Preferred Birding Destination'.

This seminar was concluded at a hotel in Cyberjaya with tourism boards, tourism players, and birding enthusiasts, which focused on elevating the niche interest as one of Malaysia's main niche tourism attractions.

The birding seminar also brought together some 100 participants comprising government officers from;

  • Ministry of Tourism and Culture
  • Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
  • Tourism Malaysia
  • Forestry Department
  • Department of Wildlife and National Parks
  • Tourism promotions boards
  • Researchers and academicians
  • Nature and birding societies
  • Nature guides
  • Travel agents
  • Nature photographers
Malaysia, a Preferred Bird Watching Destination'
Birders in action during a bird race in Sabah recently
YB Dato' Sri Maznah Mazlan, who launched the Birding in Malaysia seminar, said, 
“This seminar is a great start to combine the efforts of all stakeholders and bird experts together to identify the strategies to make Malaysia a preferred birding destination.
I look forward to seeing all parties working together to elevate Malaysia’s birding destinations into a world-class destination.
This is an effort that requires the combined effort of all, such as the private sector, the academicians, associations, volunteers and the community.”
Tourism Malaysia, a Preferred Birding Destination
Encik Jefri Munir having a group discussion with birders
Over the two days of the birding seminar, the mixed group shared experiences and best practices, imparted knowledge on birding and proposed specific ideas on developing and marketing the niche interest in identifying marketable birding areas for tourists.

Also discussed was documenting the inventory of birds in Malaysia, developing the human resource to support birding tourism, proposing an entity and blueprint to push the birding agenda forward, and marketing and promotional strategies.

Malaysia Bird Watching Tourism
Japanese Birders in Malaysia
Why is Malaysia perfect for Bird Watching? 

As the country is located in the tropical zone, Malaysia is blessed with an abundance of fantastic biodiversity offering natural assets of virgin jungles, beautiful islands, cool highlands and a pristine rainforest that come together to provide the perfect habitat and ecosystem for birds and also wildlife. 

As for birding in Malaysia. the country lies on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Network Site, which provides strategic and critical resting sites for migratory birds flying between wintering sites in Southeast Asia and Australia and the breeding grounds in China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and Siberia.

Bako Buntal Bay in Sarawak also recently became the first site in Malaysia to be officially recognised within the flyway network.  

The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) has identified 55 Important Bird Areas in Malaysia, internationally recognised areas for biodiversity conservation.

A total of 795 species have been recorded in Malaysia, with over 60 species considered endemic birds, many of them found equally in Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo Malaysia. 

The diverse bird population combined with the beautiful scenery, bustling cities and friendly people make any visit to Malaysia an unforgettable experience, especially for first-timer birders and also not forgetting the seasoned veterans.

Some international birders have been known to come back yearly to spot some endemic birds.

Bird Watching Destinations in Malaysia

Overall, there are many notable bird-watching destinations found all over Malaysia, including Malaysia Borneo.

Sabah would be the forerunner in this as the northernmost state of Borneo Malaysia has been actively promoting bird watching for the last 30 years.

  • Danum Valley
  • Kinabatangan River
  • Maliau Basin
  • Kinabalu National Park
  • Crocker Range National Park
  • Kota Kinabalu Wetlands
  • Bako National Park
  • Borneo Highlands
  • Mulu National Park
  • Paya Maga
  • Bakelalan
  • Bario 
  • Fraser's Hill
  • Cameron Highlands
  • Awana, Genting Highlands
  • Taman Negara
  • Cherating
  • Langkawi GeoPark
  • Datai
Negeri Sembilan
  • Tanjung Tuan
  • Matang Forest Reserve
  • Kuala Kubu Baru
  • Kuala Selangor
  • Putrajaya
Other states around Malaysia also provide great places for bird watching, but they are more specialised and require knowledgeable bird guides.

Bird watchers can do this by booking a specialised trip with particular bird tour companies in Malaysia.

One of Malaysia's newly discovered bird-watching spots is the Hornbill Valley or Lembah Enggang, located just outside of Taman Negara.

Several bird species were spotted here, namely a few species of hornbills and other endemic birds.

Bird Festivals in Malaysia

There are numerous bird-watching festivals and events held all over Malaysia, and some of them are held yearly.

The most popular festivals include the Borneo Bird Festival, Wings of KKB and Fraser's Hill Bird Race.

Other events tend to be more nature-related or bird count events which also take place every year.

See this list of bird watching events in Malaysia to find out more, as it provides an almost complete list.

Borneo Bird Race

Malaysia's premier bird race organised by the people in Sabah saw 11 countries participating in a bird race that travelled to three regions in Borneo.

The race is held every few years and is extremely niche as it takes almost two weeks for the entire circuit.

Below are various photos of bird watchers in Malaysia during the Borneo Bird Race, which took participants throughout the stunning island of Borneo.

Participants visited bird watching locations in Sabah, Sarawak, and Brunei during this exclusive birding event.

For anyone interested, you can get more information from this article on the Borneo Bird Race all about.

International birders in Malaysia
A group of international bird watchers in Malaysia
Bird Watching Tourism Malaysia
Bird watchers in action
Indian birders in Malaysia
Birders from India in Malaysia
Malaysia Birding
One of the Malaysian birds photographed
Bird Watching Malaysia
Hong Kong birders check out another bird watcher's photograph
Birdwatching in Malaysia
Birders in action in Malaysia
Japanese Birders in Malaysia
Japanese Bird Watchers in Malaysia
Malaysia bird watching guides
Some of the best bird watching guides in Malaysia
Malaysia Bird watching Equipment
Bird watching equipment in Malaysia
Malaysia Omicron
Omicron is one of the preferred bird watching binoculars in Malaysia
Currently, thousands of birders or bird watchers have been visiting Malaysia, especially over in Sabah Borneo, as bird watching in Borneo is growing at a face pace.

Sabah is also the only state in Malaysia that is highly engaged in birding tourism for Malaysia, where it has been promoted aggressively.

In recent years, many international bird watchers from East Asian countries like Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and China and birders from India have been visiting Malaysia Borneo frequently for the bird festival and bird races.


You can also check my list of best bird watching places in Malaysia as I compiled it based on the commercial areas that are tourist-friendly.

The above compilation is recommended for serious birders and new birders who want to visit Malaysia. You can also visit my other site that highlights more birdwatching locations in Malaysia.

Over the last five years, this outdoor hobby has grown tremendously around the country, and right now, this is the perfect moment to overall promote bird watching in Malaysia to the world.

Malaysia Asia

Blogging since 2007, but writing online since 1997. I belong to the 1st generation of worldwide bloggers, which is of course old-school. Since 2008, I created Malaysia Asia and this travel, flood, gadget and lifestyle blog has won numerous physical awards from tourism boards around Malaysia. (Not those online awards). After 12 years of blogging, I have semi-retired and now blog about things I like, do product reviews and enjoy life. My work has been featured in Lonely Planet, CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel, Wall Street Journal, and many other international publications. Find out more about me and thank you.


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