Malaysia’s Best National Parks – Hiking, Biking, Scuba Diving

Gunung Tahan mountain as seen from Teresek Hill in Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia – copyright Ldc

Although many visitors see Malaysia’s cities and towns when they visit the country, many more are heading to Malaysia’s beautiful national parks to participate in the outdoor activities they all offer. From swimming to snorkeling, hiking to climbing, bird watching to elephant trekking, there’s lots to do in Malaysia’s national parks.

Palau Payar Marine Park – If you’re into any kind of water sports, you’ll love a holiday near Palau Payar Marine Park. This Malaysian national park is only an hour’s boat ride off the coast of Malaysia, and is made up of several incredible islands, pristine beaches and the ocean around them. Palau Payar Marine Park is known for its world-class scuba diving, barrier reefs and marine life.

There’s also an underwater observation chamber attached to a barge, if you want to see the sights but don’t like diving. There are no hotels in the marine park, but you can camp if you get a license. Easiest way to get there is to book with a tour group from Langkawi or Penang Islands.

Taman Negara National Park – Malaysia’s oldest national park, Taman Negara is famous for trekking, birdwatching, river cruises, and its jungle canopy walk. The national park is basically one of the world’s oldest rainforests at over 130 million years old, and is chock full of flora, fauna and many varieties of wildlife. You can stay in Taman Negara overnight, as there are several resorts and jungle lodges offering accommodation.

Famous for eco-tourism, Taman Negara National Park is also home to many rare species of mammals and birds, including various species of macaque, the Indochinese tiger and the Malayan peacock. You’re required to get a permit from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks before going.

Penang National Park – The Penang National Park is one of Malaysia’s smallest but is known for its turtle population, its hardwood trees and its more than 1,000 species of plants. It has a lake, mangroves, wetlands, beaches, coral reefs and mudflats, so is a wonderful national park to visit to see various habitats.

At Penang National Park, you can swim, climb, go trekking or just enjoy watching the birds overhead or the turtles on the beach. There is no accommodation in the park, but again camping is possible with the right permit.

Niah National Park – Famous for the discovery of cave paintings and evidence of human residence more than 40,000 years ago, the Niah National Park is home to a massive limestone cave system.

Located in the Sarawak area of Malaysia on the island of Borneo, just a few miles from the small town of Batu Niah, the Niah National Park was also where the oldest human remains in south east Asia were discovered.

The park has two marked walking trails that go through rainforest or peat bogs, as well as passage ways through the cave systems. To get to Niah National Park, take the bus from either the town of Miri or the town of Bintulu in Sarawak.