Malaysia is a favourite among outdoor enthusiasts for its jungles, wildlife and spectacular nature. We round up the top five jungle treks in Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo, from heading deep into the rainforest and scaling mountains, to hiking in the cooler highlands.
The Cameron Highlands sits in Pahang at an elevation between 800 metres (2,625 feet) and 1,600 metres (5,249 feet) above sea level. The cooler air temperature has driven tourism since colonial days as tourists flock to avoid the stifling heat of the lowlands. Hiking paths transverse the highlands offering some of the more comfortable jungle treks in Malaysia.
Visitors can follow trails ranging from short leisurely walks in the rainforest or through tea plantations, to challenging climbs to reach waterfalls or scaling Mount Berembun. First-time hikers who aren’t accustomed to the heat and humidity should consider hiking in the Cameron Highlands for their jungle experience.
For a more accessible jungle trek in Malaysia, head to Templer Park, approximately 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur in Rawang, Selangor. Templer Park, named after a former British High Commissioner in British Malaya, provides easy hiking trails passing clear streams and multi-tiered waterfalls. Most routes take between one and two hours to complete. Lucky tourists might see eagles, lizards and several species of birds as well as hundreds of monkeys. Pro tip: Templer Park sits a few kilometres north of Batu caves; combine both on a day trip.
Mount Datuk, or Gunung Datuk in Bahasa Malaysia, reaches a height of 885 metres (2,904 feet) in Sembilan, approximately 110 kilometres (68 miles) south of Kuala Lumpur. A steep start gets progressively easier after the first few hundred metres. Several checkpoints and rest stations make the climb more manageable and provide a convenient spot to rest. Red arrows painted onto the rocks point out the route, which makes getting lost almost impossible. A giant rock marks the summit connected to the trail by ladders attached to the rock face. The Straits of Melaka can be seen on the horizon on a cloudless day, but don’t set hopes too high. Hikers need to bring plenty of food and water as they complete the four to five-hour trek; none is available on the mountain.
Want to explore and hike in primary rainforest where only a few privileged humans have stepped? Head to Danum Valley in East Sabah, located over 70 kilometres (43.5 miles) from the nearest town in the heart of the jungle. The 130-million-year-old dipterocarp forest covers a total of 438 square kilometres. Some parts remain unmapped and unexplored to this day. An on-site research facility attracts scientists from around the world to study the thousands of species of flora and fauna including wild orangutans, clouded leopards and pygmy elephants. Guides take visitors on some of the best jungle treks in Malaysia through the dense forests, along canopy walks and in search of wildlife. For the ultimate ecotourist experience in Borneo, stay for a few nights at Danum Valley’s hostel, camping site, or splurge on a private bungalow.
Bako National Park covers approximately 27 square kilometres of the Muara Tebas Peninsular in Sarawak. Located just 26 kilometres (16.2 miles) northeast of Kuching, this is one of the more accessible national parks in Malaysia. A total of 16 colour-coded trails ranging from 0.5 kilometres (0.31 miles) to six kilometres (3.7 miles), take hikers through the rainforest landscapes. Culture Trip recommends the Lintang Loop, which passes through all the national park’s vegetation and ecosystems and takes four hours to complete. Visitors first need to get to Bako Market and then take a speedboat (30 minutes) to Bako National Park HQ. On-site accommodation includes chalets, lodges, hostels and camping facilities.