Places in Malaysia Site Map
Dipterocarp Mangrove Peat Swamps
Kinabalu NP Gunung Mulu NP National Park Penang NP Matang Mangrove Lake Bera Lake Chini
Malaysia's land area is about 330,000 km2. Its rainforest covers about 70% of its land area and about 90% of Malaysia's rainforest are dipterocarp forest. About 10% of the land area are vegetation or plantation areas. Peninsula Malaysia has 3 main types of forest. They are dipterocarp forest, mangrove forest and peat swamp forest. dipterocarp

The dipterocarp forest in Malaysia are about 130 million years old. It is very rich in flora and fauna. Malaysia government gazetted a few national parks to protect this 'treasure' of Malaysia. Some of Malaysia's national parks especially those in Borneo like Kinabalu National Park and Gunung Mulu National Park are 'top class' parks and are gazetted as World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Some of the national parks in Peninsular Malaysia are National Park (Taman Negara), Penang National Park and Endau-Rompin National Park. Some national parks which are near the coast are Bako National Park, Kubah National Park, Gunung Gading National Park, Tanjung Datu National Park, Lambir Hill National Parks and Similajau National Park in Sarawak, Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park and Tawau Hill National Park in Sabah. Some national parks which are deep inside the jungle are Batang Ai National Park and Loagan Bunut National Park in Sarawak.

The National Park is located across three states, namely Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan. It covers an area of 4,343 km2. The Pahang state has about 2,477 km2, Kelantan has 1,043 km2 and Terengganu has 853 km2. It was previously called King George V and gazetted in between 1938-1939 by the Sultans of the 3 states. In 1957 that it changed its name to Taman Negara.

This National Park is home to about 14,000 species of plant and trees. The tallest tree in Southeast Asia, the Tualang tree (Koompassia excelsa) which grows to about 50m tall can be found in this forest. It is also home to some endangered species of animals like the Sumatran Rhinocerous and Asian Elephants. Oh yes, of course these animals are not easily sighted.

Those who like bird watching can definitely try the National Park because National Park has about 300-350 species of birds from Kuala Tahan and Sungai Relau entrance. The highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia is Mount Tahan standing at 2,187m above sea level and can be easiest reached from Sungai Relau entrance. Wildcat, fox and wild boar might be seen here if you walked at night.

National park from Kuala Koh entrance can go the Aboriginal Settlement, canopy walk and to walk in and under a 'giant' ara tree. It seemed that Rafflesia trail was just discovered but I guess the flower would be difficult to be sighted as it blooms for only 7 days.

A small part of the Kenyir Lake is located inside National Park at Tanjung Mentong entrance. Fishing will definitely be the main activity here. Some caves like Bewah Cave and Taat Cave can be explored. It seemed that archeological artifacts have been found dating back to Neolithic Age. From here, there is a trek to Mount Gagau.
Exhibition Building

Penang National Park is located on the north-west part of Penang Island and covers a land area of about 12 km2 and sea area of 14 km2. In 1928, it was gazetted as Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve but on 10-Apr-2003 it was gazetted as a national park.
Information Counter to get Entry Permit

The uniqueness of Penang National Park is its meromictic lake in Pantai Kerachut. In fact, it is a lagoon. This meromictic 'lake' covers an area of 2.77 km2. Meromictic 'lake' is an area which has layers of water that do not mix. This means that the surface layer of water which is mainly from streams and less dense does not mix the the lower layer of water which is mainly sea water and much denser. Big birds that are easily seen is the White-Bellied Sea Eagle. Sometimes Irrawaddy dolphin and Bottlenose dolphin are sometimes seen.
Entrance into Penang National Park

Along Pantai Kerachut and Pantai Teluk Kampi, Green Turtle nest from Apr-Aug and Olive-Ridley Turtle nest from Sep-Feb. So, the Fisheries Department has a Turtle Hatchery and Conservation Centre at Pantai Kerachut.
Trail Guide

For those interested in light house, a light house was built at 227m above sea level on top of granite stone at Muka Head in 1883. The cost was 37,000 pound and is still functioning. It has about 163 species of bird, 44 species of reptilia and 36 species of mammal. On the way to Muka Head, you will pass the University Science Malaysia Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (USM CEMACS)

Kinabalu National Park is located on northern side of Sabah and covers a land area of about 754 km2. It was first gazetted as a state park in 1964 and later became a national park. The park headquarters is at the southern part of the park at 1,563 m on Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia at 4095.2m.

Kinabalu National Park is home to about 5,000 flowering plants excluding ferns, fungus, etc. It has 9 species of Nepenthes pitcher plant including the world's largest pitcher plant called the Nepenthes rajah or Rajah Brooke's Pitcher Plant which can hold up to 3.5 litre of water. It has about 1,200 species of orchids and one of its favourite is Rothchild's Slipper Orchids. Sabah has about 3 species of Rafflesia namely Rafflesia pricei, Rafflesia keithii and Rafflesia tengku-adlinii

The universal outstanding values of Kinabalu National Park is the biological diversity of its flora and fauna. It is home to over 300 species of birds like Grey Drongo, Malaysian Treepie, Mountain Blackeye and Mountain Blackbirds. Bacause of the height of Mount Kinabalu, its flora and fauna cover 4 climate zones, from dipterocarp forest (tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests) through to montane forest including coniferous forest to alpine meadow.

Kinabalu National Park has a few places of interest of interst like its Mountain Garden, Poring Hot Spring, Kuadasang War Memorial and the Mount Kinabalu itself, the highest peak standing at 4,095m above sea level.

Gunung Mulu National Park is located on eastern side of Sarawak, about 100km east of Miri. It covers a land area of about 528 km2. It was gazetted as national park in 1974. Its universal outstanding value is in its caves system, some of the world's biggest caves in the world.

In Gunung Mulu National Park, visit the Wind Caves for its breeze that is cool and strong due to the arrangements of the stalactites and stalagmites. Next, visit the Clearwater Cave which has a 108km underground river which can flow giant logs. Outside the cave, swim the clear waters from the river. Then visit the Deer Cave, previously the world's largest cave passage which was once an ancient riverbed. There are millions of bats hanging from its ceiling and they will fly out to eat in the evening. In Apr 2009, Son Doong Cave has taken over Deer Cave as the world's largest cave passage. Lastly, visit Lang Cave which has spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.

There are many other caves in this park for adventure caving like the simpler Turtle Cave, the intermediate Racer Cave where ropes have to be used for climbing up and down, and the advance Clearwater Connection over boulders and squeezes. Not to be left out, the advance Sarawak Chamber, the world's largest chamber where fit and experience cavers take about 10-15 hours. To enter this chamber, permission is required. It is open mostly to researcher and students.

There is a 480m long canopy skywalk, the world's longest tree based canopy walk. Other places of interest are The Pinnacles, Kerangas Forest an ideal place for pitcher plants, Melinau Gorge, Head Hunters Trail to see giant porcupines and wild boar, Long Lansat River Walk to stop at Penan's place and The Summit a guided steep 4 days/3nights climb to highest peak at 2,377m.

There are many other national parks in Malaysia, mainly in Sarawak and Sabah. Sarawak has a little more than 10 national parks (such as Bako National Park) and Sabah has about 4 national parks (such as Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park). These national parks are under Malaysia's Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

Apart from national parks, Malaysia has many conservation areas (such as Danum Valley and Maliau), wildlife sanctuary (such as Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary, Labuk Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Lanjau Entimau Wldlife Sanctuary) and forest reserves (like Perlis State Park, Belum Forest Reserve) which are under state government.

Mount Brinchang Mount Brinchang
Recently, in Mar-2011, we, a tour group went to top of Mount Brinchang in Cameron Highlands, Pahang. It was drizzling and very misty. However, I got a few close-up shots which will make you think it was a normal day on a hill top.

Mossy Forest Mossy Forest
Then on the way back, we passed by a mossy forest. The guide told us about the water that can be and is contained by the forest. The moss on the ground was really soft like sponge with lots of water held by it. That was why it is called Mossy Forest.
Pitcher Plant in Mossy Forest

The forest was very misty and the ground very damp as it was still drizzling then. There were quite many Nepenthes plant or local people call it monkey cup. I think they average about 7 inches long. I forgot to ask the guide the species name.
Mangrove area
Mangrove forests in Malaysia covers about 5,668 km2 of Malaysia's rainforest. It is a very important part of the ecological system and protects the soil from harmful natural circumstances because it acts as a barrier against the waves and hold the soil and sediments from the river water. It is home to many species of animal. The trees and plants in mangrove forest are outstanding for their roots that are expose or above soil. These roots are special because it has breathing pores called pneumatophores.
Mangrove forest

Mangrove forests are usually found near river or near sea areas. Mangrove trees and plants can live in wetland area where the water are sometimes fresh and sometimes salty. These features made the mangrove trees very good building materials such as stilts for houses at the beach. Some of the trees in mangrove forest are Tamu Merah (Bruguiera), Bakau Minyak (Rhizophora), Perepat (Sonneratia) dan Berembang (Sonneratia caseolaris). Some of the woods will be made into charcoal.
Mudskippers in Teluk Tempoyak

The fauna in mangrove areas are usually insects, reptiles, birds and creatures that can live both on land and in the water. For example, mudskipper, crabs, snakes, heron, storks and fireflies around Berembang tree area.
Matang Mangrove Forest

One important mangrove forest in Malaysia is the Matang Mangrove Forest in the state of Perak. This mangrove forest covers an area of 1,018 km2. Its main features are virgin jungle, forest research and education areas, clam and fish breeding, firewood and charcoal stoves. Some mangrove forests have been turned into eco-tourism area such as Kuala Gula which is part of Matang Mangrove Forest. Kuala Gula has chalet and is popular for water birds watching.

Some forests have been turn into recreational forests but the forests of the recreational forests are most dipterocarp too. Some popular recreational forests (RF) in Kedah are Lata Mengkuang RF, Peranginan Sik RF and Batu Hampar RF. As for Perak, some RF are Lata Iskandar RF, Ulu Kenas RF and Bukit Larut RF.

I should say recreational forests are forest areas that are 'made' and open for people to visit but somehow, I think that national parks attract more tourist. All recreational forests give people more freedom in doing whatever they want. The recreational forests are state government protected forest areas.

Perak forestry department promotes many of its recreational forests in its Darul Ridzuan museum in Ipoh. Most of the RF in Perak have beautiful waterfalls for people to go picnics. Of course, these forest have species of trees and birds but I guess they are not well documented. Therefore, I cannot say much about them but I will say where they are located.

Lata Iskandar RF is located about 15km from Tapah town and is famous for its waterfall. This is a stopover place for those going to Cameron Highlands and it has food stalls and toilets. Ulu Kenas RF is located about 15km from Kuala Kangsar. It has chalets, camp sites and food stalls apart from its many small waterfalls and natural pools for people to swim. Bukit Larut RF is located about 1 km from the border of Taiping. Its main attraction is its trek to go up Maxwell Hill or Larut Hill. It is a place where the people go jogging.

Peat Swamps Forest
Peat Swamps are usually known as Wetland areas. They are mainly found in areas near lakes and rivers. One very popular area is Lake Bera, the largest natural lake in Malaysia. This lake is located at the southwest of Pahang near the border of Pahang and Negeri Sembilan. Lake Bera is home to many animals. It has over 200 species of birds, 68 species of mammals and 94 species of freshwater fishes.
Photo of Tapirs that I got in Beijing's Zoo

The animals found here are elephants, tiger, clouded leopards, gaurs, tapirs, mousedeer, flying lemurs and flying squirrels. To protect these animals, the Pahang government has set up a few wildlife reserve such as Deerland, Elephant Sanctuary, Seladang Breeding Centre and Krau Wildlife Reserve.

Gaur or Seladang is the world's second largest mammal on land after elephants. These reserve areas allow human to go near the animals. Some fresh water fishes found here are Patin, Jelawat and Lampam.
Photo of Mousedeer that I got in Beijing's Zoo

Apart from Lake Bera, there is another natural lake called Lake Chini. Lake Chini is located next to Pahang River. There was a mystical story that there was an ancient Khmer city existed in this area. However, it has sunk into the bottom of the lake. Apart from this, there was also a legend about a mythical monster living beneath the water guarding the lake. These resulted in scientific expidition carried out by archaeologist.

This lake is home to 300 non-aquatic vertebrates. For examples, elephants, tiger, clouded leopards, wildboars, tapirs, mousedeer, flying lemurs and flying squirrels. Lake Chini is also home to over 140 species of freshwater fish.

Forest as home for Humans
Forests have been home for humans too. Many indigenous tribes in Peninsular Malaysia still live in jungles. For example, the Bateq tribe still live in Taman Negara or National Park near the northern entrance at Kuala Koh. Visit their settlement to know a little about their fire-making and blow-pipe skills.

Some tribes can be found near Lake areas. Semelai can be found in areas around Lake Bera. Some Semelai people still practice their traditional way of life but some already into agro-businees in the Post Iskandar Settlement. Jakun tribe can be found around Kampung Gumum near Lake Chini. Jakun people still practice their traditional way of life. Senoi can be found around Krau area where some of them still practice the traditional way of life.

Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak is home to the Penan tribe. They live mainly at Long Iman near the river especially around Long Lansat River. These Penan people live in huts and sometimes longhouses. Apart from Penan tribe, follow the Head Hunters Trail to Kuala Terikan, the route that the Kayan people (subtribes of Orang Ulu) once used. Oh yes, a guide is compulsory to visit these places. Apart from Gunung Mulu National Park, the Penan tribe can also be found around the Niah National Park.

The Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong near Kuching is a place for tourist to visit and stay to get to know more about the tribes in Sarawak. This Sarawak Cultural Village is also known as the 'living museum' and covers an area of 17-acre site. It has 7 traditional houses of the main tribes in Sarawak. The main traditional houses are Bidayuh Longhouse, Iban Longhouse, Orang Ulu Longhouse, Penan Hut, Melanau Tall House, Malay Town House and Chinese Farm House.

The tribes in Sarawak Cultural Village have performances such as traditional ethnic dances, music and songs, traditional ethnic costumes, games and mock wedding, handicraft shop and traditional/local food. This is the place to see the different cultures in Sarawak.

The Monsopiad Cultural Village is located south of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, near the Kota Kinabalu International Airport. This place was opened in 1996 in memory of a Kadazan warrior called Monsopiad.

Monsopiad Cultural Village like Sarawak Cultural Village has performances such as traditional ethnic dances, music and songs, traditional ethnic costumes, games and mock wedding, handicraft shop and traditional/local food and rice wine called Lihing.

Apart from the Kadazandusun people, Murut tribes can be found in Tenom. The Murut people are great hunters and live in longhouses. Tenom can be reached from Kota Kinabalu via train. Tenom is the last station from Kota Kinabalu and is famous for its orchid centre which has about 600 species of orchids.

The Land Bajaus also known as 'Cowboy of the East' and are found mainly in Kota Belud in northern Sabah. These people are skilled horse riders, good in cultivating rice and rearing ponies and buffaloes. Visit Kota Belud on Sunday to see them in their traditional costumes and decorated ponies.

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