Malaysia is a land of wonders, surprising you at every corner with its beauty and might. Whether it is man-made creations like the Petronas towers, the tallest twin buildings in the world, or natural marvels like the Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world, the country is home to several unique treasures that make it one of the most exciting destinations in Southeast Asia. Some of Malaysia’s precious landmarks have even been given special recognition by UNESCO for having cultural, historical or some other form of significance. Wondering what are these places? We have listed out the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Malaysia that you must visit once in your life.
Here are the four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Malaysia
Sabah is home to one of the four UNESCO World Heritage sites in Malaysia, Kinabalu Park which boasts rich biodiversity with flora from the Himalayas, China, Australia, the Malay Peninsula and the pan-topical region. Located on the island of Borneo, it has plants from half of Borneo’s species. The protected area gained its UNESCO status in 2000, and it has been a popular tourist destination for adventurers and nature lovers.
Spanning over 754 sq km, the highlight of the park is Mount Kinabalu, standing approximately 13,435 ft tall. It is the highest peak between New Guinea and the Himalayas and is a tourist destination in its own right, with many climbers aspiring to conquer it. The park also has hiking trails covering the incredible flora and fauna, along with botanical gardens and hot springs.
How to reach Kinabalu: Kota Kinabalu International Airport, the second busiest airport for passenger traffic in Malaysia, is the nearest, roughly 106 km away.
Gunung Mulu National Park
Gunung Mulu National Park also received its UNESCO status in 2000. While it is also on the island of Borneo, the park comes under the state of Sarawak. The reason it stands apart is that it has some of the most stunning karst features (a type of landscape where the bedrock has dissolved and created sinkholes, sinking streams and caves).
Gunung Mulu is a 7,798 ft tall sandstone pinnacle that is one of the biggest attractions in the park. The largest known cave chamber in the world, the Sarawak Chamber, is tucked away in the diverse landscape of the national park. Furthermore, it has 295 km of explored caves which are home to millions of bats and cave swiftlets. It feels like there is another world hidden underground.
From touring the caves, boating on the meandering rivers and trekking through the flora and fauna to extreme adventures like climbing the steep pinnacles, there is a lot to explore at Gunung Mulu National Park.
How to reach Gunung Mulu National Park: Kuching International Airport is the closest international airport, about 796 km away from the park.
Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca
The Strait of Malacca is the shortest sea route between India and China, making it one of the busiest trade routes, with 500 years of cultural exchange taking place in the cities of the strait. Malacca City (also spelt as Melaka), in the coastal state of Malacca and George Town, in Penang, has been a hotspot of such diverse history and trade, granting them the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
The Asian and European influences have endowed the cities with a unique multicultural heritage. Malacca’s architecture has traces of the 15th-century Malay sultanate, and 16th-century Portuguese and Dutch colonial rule. George Town has remnants of the 18th-century British era. The two towns constitute an architectural and cultural townscape bringing together the East and the West.
Places to see in Malacca: Immerse yourself in the culture of the city through places like Melaka Straits Mosque, Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum, Jonker Street, Chinatown, Chitty Village, Dutch Square, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum and Church of Saint Paul.
How to reach Malacca: Malacca International Airport, previously known as Batu Berendam Airport, is within the city.
Places to see in George Town: Learn about the town’s diversity at places like Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang Botanic Gardens, Dhammikarama Burmese Temple and Chew Jetty. The streets of George Town are filled with vibrant art which is worth exploring too.
How to reach George Town: Penang International Airport, the second busiest airport in terms of cargo traffic, is the nearest, about 17 km from the city.
Nestled in the lush green valleys of Northern Perak is the only ancient site in Malaysia dating back to the prehistoric era – the Lenggong Valley. Only a two-hour drive from Penang, Malaysia’s fourth and most recent UNESCO World Heritage site (declared in 2012) is home to Southeast Asia’s oldest, most complete human skeleton, known as the “Perak-Man”.
This relatively unknown archaeological site is not always on every tourist’s list of places to visit in Malaysia, but it will surely tickle one’s mind as it has managed to preserve the hominid history outside of Africa, from 1.83 million to 1,700 years ago.
The noteworthy remnants of the valley have been preserved in the Galeri Arkeologi Lembah Lenggong Archaeological Museum. The archaeological sites that have granted the valley this special status are – the impact site of a meteorite that came 1.83 million years ago and preserved palaeolithic tools found near Bukit Bunuh, a workshop site containing multiple tool types in Kota Tampan, Gua Gunung Runtuh cave where Perak-Man was found. It is important to note that you will need relevant permits to visit the archaeological site.
How to reach Lenggong Valley: Penang International Airport is the nearest to the park, roughly 140 km away.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Gunung Mulu National Park is located on Borneo Island, in Malaysia’s Sarawak state.
Answer: Kinabalu Park is located in the state of Sabah on the island of Borneo.
Answer: Lenggong Valley is located in the state of Perak.