5 National Parks You Must Visit in Malaysia

National Parks You Must Visit in Malaysia
For the ecotourism and outdoor lover, these are 5 national parks you must visit in Malaysia when you plan a visit to this beautiful tropical country. Malaysia has over 20 national parks and a majority of them are found in Sarawak, Sabah and the peninsular, and all of them are tropical rainforest types of national parks. 

These national parks are well maintained and offer an incredible experience for just about any outdoor or Eco lover and are rich with flora and fauna. To get to some of them requires a few hours of travel from the nearest city or airport but once there, the rewards are breath taking.

The list of national parks to visit in Malaysia are below and in no order, with contact details and the official websites.

5 National Parks You Must Visit in Malaysia 

Taman Negara Pahang
Visitors walking the Taman Negara Canopy Walk
Taman Negara National Park in Pahang 

The largest national park in Peninsular Malaysia and one of the oldest in the world with an estimate age of 130 million years old. The Taman Negara National Park is spread over three states in Malaysia which cover Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan.

This park was established in 1939 and was known as the King George V National Park which spreads over 4,343 square meters. The rare and highly endangered Malayan Tiger is the top of the list to spot while trekking and the park is home to the tallest mountain in the peninsular which is Gunung Tahan. 

Visitors can participate in trekking, hiking, climbing, rapids, bird watching, fishing, caving and even staying here for an ecotourism experience as there are basic, standard and even luxury accommodations available.

The best option is to book the Mutiara Taman Negara Resort, which located in the national park. All other basic accommodations are located just across the Tembeling River which divides the national park from the small town of Kuala Tembeling. Guests usually take a small river taxi across the river to get to the park.

A few of the must do things at Taman Negara National Park is trying the canopy walk, visiting the ethnic tribe village (Orang Asli Village) and doing the night walk in the park.

Mutiara Taman Negara Resort
Mutiara Taman Negara, a recommended place to stay at
How to go to Taman Negara National Park - The nearest town is Jerantut in Pahang and visitors can either take a bus or taxi to the Kuala Tembeling Jetty, which is about 16 km from Jerantut. From the jetty,  a boat ride takes about 3 hours and the fare is RM35 per person one way. 

Boats leave Kuala Tembeling Jetty at 9.00 a.m., 1.00 p.m. and 2.00 p.m. daily, on a first come first serve basis. Visitors can also drive from Jerantut to Kuala Tahan. It takes about 1 hour to reach Kuala Tahan at the national park.

For overland, it takes about 3-5 hours journey time from Kuala Lumpur by bus or van and alternatively, you can take a 45 minute flight into Kuala Terengganu (Terengganu) or Kota Bahru (Kelantan) and overland from there. 

Taman Negara National Park Information
Where: Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan
Website: http://www.wildlife.gov.my/index.php/en/taman-negara-pahang.html
Tel: +6 09 266 1122 / +6 09 266 4152
Email: tnp@wildlife.gov.my

Note: Many websites out there with the name taman-negara.com or tamannegara.asia are third party travel agents who use the domain name to channel website traffic for bookings. 

Taman Negara Bako Sarawak
The seaside and mangrove section of the Bako National Park in Sarawak
Bako National Park in Sarawak 

One of the very unique national parks in Sarawak is called Bako National Park and it is the closest one to Kuching, the capitol of Sarawak. The Bako National Park is also the oldest national park in Sarawak which was established in 1957 and covers and area of 27 square kilometers.

This is one of the smallest parks in Sarawak which offers a wide experience for rainforest, waterfalls, beaches and rocky shorelines with bizarre rock formations. Boats that bring you to the park usually make a quick tour to see the famous Sarawak Sea Stack, which looks like a cobra ready to attack. 

As Bako is near the city, you can simply come here for a full day trip and alternatively stay overnight at the modern or traditional wooden chalets and dorms here. for outdoor and nature lovers, there are a total of 16 color coded hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult while for flora and fauna, this park offers almost every type of vegetation found in Borneo.

There are an incredible seven complete eco-systems which are Beach Vegetation, Cliff Vegetation, Kerangas or Heath Forest, Mangrove Forest, Mixed Dipterocarp Forest, Padang or Grasslands Vegetation and Peat Swamp Forest.

Bako Sarawak
The arrival area of the national park
Highlights here include encountering the unique Bearded Pig, Proboscis Monkeys and the Naphentes Pitcher Plant or Monkey Cup. Bird Watching is also one of the highlights and best done with the park rangers here.

The main camp ground offers a full facility modern restaurant with clean showers and washrooms. however, look out for the naughty macaques who tend to try and steal your food and drinks. Park accommodation consists of 3-bedroom Chalets, 2-bedroom Lodges, 4-bedroom Hostels and a camping ground.

How to go to Bako National Park - From Kuching, you can take a taxi or Petra Jaya Bus No. 6 to Kampung Bako (Bako Village) which takes around 45 to 60 minutes. At the village main jetty, boats can be chartered at the National Parks Boat Ticketing Counter next to the jetty for the 30-minute boat ride to the main Bako Park HQ. The best way to go to Bako is to book a tour from Kuching city as everything will be arranged for you.

Bako Boat Service
Person In Charge : Mr.Shadad Haji Omar
Tel: +6 010 9493 860

Bako National Park Information
Where: South of Kuching, Sarawak
Website: http://www.sarawakforestry.com/htm/snp-np-bako.html
Tel: +6 082 610088 
Toll free line: +6 1 800 88 2526
Email: info@sarawakforestry.com

Note: Bako can be visited for a day trip or an overnight trip. Many travel agents in Kuching offer tours here and you can simply book them from Kuching city.

National Park in Penang Island
The entrance to the Penang National Park
Penang National Park

This is probably the worlds smallest national park at a size of 12.13 square kilometers and offers a dual rainforest and beach type national park which was also gazetted in 2003. This makes it one of the newest national parks in Malaysia which is only offering day trips here. There is no lodging available but visitors can stay outside at various hotels, hostels or homestays. 

The Penang National Park is probably suitable for those wanting to see the hidden beauty of the many beaches around here which total nine beaches and are pristine and quiet. Trekking to these beaches are the main highlights while there is also a canopy walk in the park and along the way, you will see in the distance, local fishing villages.

There are two entrances to the park which is the Teluk Bahang entrance, the main one and the Kuala Sungai Pinang entrance, which is the second one. However, many visitors would choose the main entrance as it is much easier.

National Park Penang
The seaside trek at the national park
There is flora and fauna available with over 1000 species of plants recorded throughout the national park. Bird watching enthusiast will be rewarded as quite a number of birds can be found here. In total, there are two main trails and many other hiking paths at the park.

Entrance is free to the park but those wanting a guide can book a park guide from the main counter. The canopy walk fees is RM5.00 per person too. A tip is to go as early as you can, by taking a bus or private taxi.

How to go to the Penang National Park - As the park is located at the end of Batu Feringgi at Teluk Bahang, you can take a bus (Rapid 102) from George Town or a taxi (RM35 one way). From George Town, the journey takes about 30 to 45 minutes one way. The park opens from 7.30 am till 6.00 pm at the Teluk Bahang Entrance while it is 8.00 am till 5.00 pm for the Kuala Sungai Pinang entrance. 

Penang National Park Information
Where: North of Penang Island, past Batu Feringgi 
Website: http://www.wildlife.gov.my/index.php/en/taman-negara-pulau-pinang.html
Tel: +6 04 881 3530 / +6 04881 3500  
Email: tnpp@wildlife.gov.my

Gunung Mulu National Park
Abraham Lincoln feature seen from inside the Deer Cave at Mulu National Park
Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak 

The grandest of national parks in Malaysia, Mulu National Park is hands down the most visited park in Malaysia and located in the largest state which is Sarawak, on the island of Borneo. The national park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site

There are multiple caves to explore here and the most famous is the Sarawak Chamber, which is the world's largest known cave chamber. The most popular cave is the Deer Cave, where you can see the rock formation of Abraham Lincoln from a certain angle inside the cave.

Gunung Mulu National Park Trail
Me and a park guide exploring the trails in Mulu
Other caves include the Clearwater Cave and Wind Cave which are equally beautiful. The thrill of visiting the Mulu National Park is the trekking and exploring here, where you need to trek about an hour to the Deer Cave. Every evening, outside the Deer Cave, visitors gather to see millions of bats flying out to feed.

For the serious adventurer, the Mulu Pinnacles which are an amazing rock formation. However, it takes about three full days to trek here and back to the park headquarters. 

How to go to Gunung Mulu National Park - From Miri, the best way is to take a one hour flight into Mulu Airport with MASwings and then a ten minute ride to the park entrance. Alternatively, for the extreme outdoor lovers, you can take a traditional longboat ride from Miri or Marudi which will take you around 7-8 hours along the river to the Mulu National Park. 

Gunung Mulu National Park Information
Where: North of Sarawak near Brunei, nearest city is Miri
Website: https://sarawakforestry.com/parks-and-reserves/mulu-national-park/
Telephone: +6 082 610088
Email: info@sarawakforestry.com

Taman Negara Bukit Tawau
Tawau Hills National Park (photo by lydiaflorensia.blogspot.my)
Tawau Hills National Park in Sabah

One of the popular national parks in the east coast of Sabah is the Tawau Hills National Park. This place was established in 1979 and is located about 24km from the city of Tawau. Consisting of mainly lowland dipterocarp rainoforest, the overall area of this national park is 279 square kilometers.

Mostly locals visit this national park which they call 'Table', but for foreigners, you will be surprised on what you can find here. The highest peak is Mount Magdalena which is at 1,312 meters and there are a number of beautiful waterfalls and a hot spring found in the national park. A must visit place here is the 250 feet Gelas Waterfalls (Glass Waterfalls).

Another fascinating find is also the worlds tallest tropical tree which stands at 88 meters tall, can be found at this park. Tawau Hills National Park offers basic lodging with chalets and hostels and there is a local restaurant operated by Sabah Parks.

 A tip is to avoid going on the weekend or school holidays as it tends to get crowded with locals.

Tawau Hills Park
Taman Negara Bukit Tawau (Photo by lydiaflorensia.blogspot.my)
How to go to Tawau Hills National Park - The best way is to take a taxi from Tawau town which will cost around RM30.00 one way. You can also try using Grab or Uber private car service. It is recommended that you make returns arrangement with your driver. To date, there is no public transportation available directly to the park. Always double check your transportation or get the contact number for the taxi or private car driver.

Tawau Hills National Park Information
Where: 24 km from the city of Tawau in the east coast of Sabah Borneo. Tawau is also the gateway to Sipadan and Mabul Island.
Website: http://www.sabahparks.org.my/the-parks/tawau-hills-park
Telephone: +6 088 523500
Email: sabahparks@gmail.com

Mulu Pinnacles
The Mulu Pinnacles
The national parks above is highly recommended by me for anyone who is into the outdoors, trekking, hiking and nature. These parks are located in various parts of Malaysia, so depending on where you are visiting, they might be at you location.

You should also note that this is a rainforest, and with that comes mosquito's and leeches. So please be prepared as different places have different types of leeches. Just prepare yourself with bug-spray and leech socks if you must.

Some of these national parks need overland and boat journeys but when you book with any of the proper tour agents selling these Malaysia national park tour packages, everything is included, making your trip hassle free.

Kampung Adidas Shoes
My Adidas Kampung or Village Adidas rubber trekking shoes, the best for any trekking in Malaysia
Alternatively, many solo or adventure travelers would visit these places on their own, which is not impossible, but a little more effort is needed. I have personally visited many national parks in Malaysia, and hence narrowed down probably some of the easier ones to visit.

There are national parks that are quite hard to get to, which I have visited, and decided not to list them here due to difficult logistics and permits needed. Those places will probably be listed in my upcoming article, especially for the hard core adventurer, so look out for that.

For the first timer to this country in the tropics, I hope you find this list of National Parks You Must Visit in Malaysia handy, and if you have questions, please ask in the comment form below.

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