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Malaysia

Main attractions

Mount Kinabalu with characteristic cloud veil, Malaysia
Mount Kinabalu with characteristic cloud veil / Lip Kee Yap, / CC BY-SA 2.0

Malaysia is unusual country which is divided by South China Sea into two distinct parts. The eastern part on Borneo island could be characterised as the "great wilderness" while the west - Malay peninsula - is more rich with amazing man made landmarks. Most impressive landmarks in this spectacular country are:

  • World's largest cave chambers - Malaysia has some of the most spectacular caves in the world, such as Gua Nasib Bagus with its Sarawak Chamber - cave chamber of unbelievable dimensions.
  • Unique ecosystems - in many locations of Malaysia are found unique tropical forests and other ecosystems but some of the most interesting ones are montane ecosystems around Mount Kinabalu - here are found some very unusual, unique organisms.

Natural landmarks

Mount Api pinnacles, Malaysia
Mount Api pinnacles / Paul White, / CC BY 2.0

Rock formations

  • Bukit Batu Lawi - Sarawak. Two enormous limestone peaks, rising 2,046 ("male") and 1,850 m ("female" summit) tall. Sacred mountain since the ancient times. Cliff faces of mountains are several hundreds of metres tall.
  • Hidden Valley, Gunung Mulu - Sarawak. Narrow, very impressive valley with up to 300 m tall clifs on both sides.
  • Low's Gully - Sarawak, northern slope of Mount Kinabalu. Some 10 km long and up to 1.8 km deep ravine, one of the most inhospitable and at the same time - spectacular places in Borneo.
  • Mount Api pinnacles - Sarawak. Group of very impressive, 20 - 30 m tall limestone needles - pinnacles rising above the rainforest.
  • Teluk Assam Beach - Sarawak. This secluded beach is adorned with spectacular sandstone formations - natural arches, rock stacks and different other cliff forms. Many other rock formations are seen also in other locations of Bako peninsula.

Caves and sinkholes

Sun shines in Niah Great Cave, Malaysia
Sun shines in Niah Great Cave / Mandy, / CC BY 2.0
  • Deer Cave (includes Lang Cave) - Sarawak, Gunung Mulu National Park. Enormous show cave, 4.1 km long. Cave has giant cave rooms, the largest one has a height of ceiling of 125 m, width - 169 m. Main entrance is 146 m high. Cave contains very interesting cave formation - cave showerhead, which looks like a true showerhead in the ceiling of cave with waterfall coming from it. In the cave lives giant colony of bats (Tadarida plicata).
  • Garden of Eden - Sarawak. Giant collapse doline, opened to south-east, but from other three sides surrounded with 100 - 300 m high vertical walls. Most likely this is former giant cave chamber with two giant caves (Deer Cave and Green Cave) still continuing in both sides of Garden of Eden. Volume - 150 million m³, size 1,200 x 1,000 m.
  • Gua Air Jernih (The Clearwater system) - Sarawak, Malaysia. The longest cave in Asia (tenth longest in the world), total length: 197 km. Cave system contains one of the largest underground river systems. Most likely the largest cave in the world by volume.
  • Gua Nasib Bagus with Sarawak Chamber - Sarawak. Contains the largest known underground chamber in the world which is some 700 metres long, 396 metres wide and 70 metres high.
  • Niah Great Cave - Sarawak. Enormous cave with several giant chambers, cave rooms are up to 75 m high. Cave is located in the spectacular Gunung Subis massif - group of limestone blocks rising above the surrounding plain. Cave contains remains left by people who lived in it for more than 40,000 years. Here have been found such artefacts as axes, adzes, pottery, glass beads, but the most famous find is fragment of 38,000 years old human skull.
  • Sendirian sinkhole (Solo sinkhole) - Sarawak. Visually very impressive sinkhole, up to 240 m deep. At surface level the hole is up to 115 m wide, but the walls are overhanging and below it is larger, with enormous stalactites hanging over the patch of jungle below.
Cemerong Falls, Malaysia
Cemerong Falls / rumer279, / CC BY 2.0

Waterfalls

  • Cemerong Falls (Cemerung Falls) - Terengganu. Approximately 250 m tall waterfall. Water here slides down along steep cliffside, after heavy rains it may become very powerful.
  • Kadamaian Falls - Sabah. Approximately 700 m tall waterfall. Stream here falls down along very steep cliff and has many smaller cascades.
  • Maliau Falls - Sarawak. Group of at least 7 beautiful waterfalls, the tallest is 28 m high. Falls are wide and rich with water.

Ecosystems

Rafflesia keithii near Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia
Rafflesia keithii near Mount Kinabalu / Col Ford and Natasha de Vere, / CC BY 2.0
  • Gomantong Caves - Sabah. Well known due to swiftlet nests which are collected in 90 metre height for bird's nest soups. Enormous colonies of bats, dung beetles, centipedes and cocroaches.
  • Maliau Basin - Sabah. An enormous, rounded platform with a diameter of some 21 - 25 km, rising per some 200 - 1000 m above the surroundings. It can be accessed only through the gorges of Maliau River. Covered with largely unexplored tropical forest which has never been inhabited by people.
  • Mount Api pitcher plants - Sarawak. Near the summit of Mount Api (1,750 m tall) are montane forests with especially high diversity of pitcher plants (Nepenthes), at least 8 species of pitcher plants are found here.
  • Mount Kinabalu montane ecosystem - Sabah. Very interesting ecosystem with multiple endemic species found only here. Ecosystem includes Kinabalu giant earthworm (Pheretima darnleiensis) which grows 70 cm long and Kinabalu giant red leech (Mimobdella buettikoferi) which grows up to 45 cm long and feeds on earthworms. Here grow some 5 - 6 thousand plant species including more than 800 species of orchids, more than 600 species of ferns (50 of them are found only here).

Trees

  • Chengal in Gunung Mandi Angin - Terengganu. Largest tree in Malaysia, enormous chengal (Neobalanocarpus heimii (King) P. Ashton), circumference 16.75 m, 65 m high.
  • Tallest yellow meranti tree, Maliau Basin - Sabah. Tallest known tree of this species (Shorea faguetiana Heim.), 89.5 m tall.
  • Pontiankak Putih Cantik (Tualang of Mengaris Knob) - Sabah. Tallest measured tree of this species (Koompassia excelsa (Becc.) Taub.), 85.76 m tall. There are unconfirmed reports of taller trees in this species.

Other natural landmarks

Polished amber from Merit Pila, Malaysia
Polished amber from Merit Pila / Sebakoamber, / public domain
  • Endau-Rompin National Park and Mawas - Johor and Pahang. One of the oldest tropical rainforest complexes in the world which contains many rare plants and animals. Forest is 870 km² large. Indigenous people in this forest tell stories about encounters with Mawas - mythical, human like creatures who are 3 - 4 m tall. There are also recent sightings of this creature.
  • Merit Pila lignite mine - Sarawak. Lignite mine where the largest known pieces of amber are found. Largest extracted piece was 3.5 m long, 1.5 m wide and some decimeters thick, but layers of amber in the lignite are even 130 m long.

Man made landmarks

Prehistoric drawing in Gua Tambun, Malaysia
Prehistoric drawing in Gua Tambun / DagdaMor, / CC BY 3.0

Prehistoric heritage

  • Gua Gunung Runtuh - Perak, Lenggong Valley. Site where the oldest human skeleton in this part of Asia has been found. Human remnants are more than 10,000 years old. This cave and the nearby Gua Teluk Kelawar and Gua Kajang contain prehistoric burials.
  • Gua Tambun Cave Paintings - Perak. Group of interesting paintings which are approximately 3,000 years old. Paintings show humans, deer, dugong, tortoise and other animals and objects.
  • Lenggong Valley Paleolithic stone tool workshops - Perak. Group of prehistoric stone tools workshops along the shores of paleolake (former lake). These sites include Kota Tampan site (70 thousand years old), Bukit Jawa (200 - 100 thousand years old), Bukit Bunuh (40 thousand years old) and the much newer Gua Harimau site (1 thousand years old).
  • Painted Cave in Gunung Subis - Sarawak. Smaller cave in Gunung Subis limestone massif, near Niah Great Cave. Painted Cave is adorned with 1,200 years old paintings and four wooden coffins (0 - 780 AD).
Evening in Malacca City, Malaysia
Evening in Malacca City / Leo Fung, / CC BY 2.0

Historical cities and towns

  • George Town centre - Penang. Historical British colonial town, founded in 1786. Many historical buildings and street planning has been preserved.
  • Malacca City centre - Malacca. Former capital of Malacca Sultanate, centre of the Malay world in the 15th - 16th century. Later it became Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial city and now contains lots of Peranakan (Malaccan Chinese) and European colonial architecture.
Porta de Santiago in Malacca City, Malaysia
Porta de Santiago in Malacca City / Kimon Berlin, / CC BY-SA 2.0

Fortifications

  • A Famosa - Malacca, Malacca City. Ruins of Portuguese fortress, the oldest surviving European structure in South-East Asia. Now remains single gate of fortress - Porta de Santiago. Fort was built in 1511.
  • Fort Cornwallis - Penang, George Town. Largest existing fort in Malaysia, built by British in the late 18th century, rebuilt in 1810.
  • Fort Margherita - Sarawak. Fortification in Neo-Gothic style, built in 1879 in order to protect Kuching from pirates. Watchtower of this fort resembles medieval European castles.

Hindu temples

Batu Caves, Malaysia
Batu Caves / y.becart, / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple - Johor. Unique Hindu temple which is adorned with some 300,000 pieces of glass. Constructed in 2010.
  • Batu Caves - Selangor. Limestone hill with a group of caves and cave temples. Some caves contain remnants of prehistoric settlements, but in 1890 here started devlopment of Hindu temples. Impressive part of temple is majestic stairway with 272 steps. Site contains numerous amazing monuments of art and architecture, including a 42.7 m tall statue of Lord Murugan, built in 2006. Below the temples is Dark Cave - 2 m long network of caves with endemic species of animals.
Cheng Hoon Teng, Malaysia
Cheng Hoon Teng / Jakub Michankow, / CC BY 2.0

Buddhist shrines

  • Cheng Hoon Teng - Malacca, Malacca City. Oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia, built in 1645. In the temple are practised three doctrinal systems - Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Temple is very ornate, well maintained.
  • Dhammikarama Burmese Temple - Penang. Oldest Burmese temple in Malaysia, built in 1803. This temple is very ornate, here is used much gold.
  • Kek Lok Si - Penang. Largest Buddhist temple in South-East Asia. This ornate building was constructed in 1890 - 1930.

Other shrines

  • Malacca Straits Mosque - Malacca. Large and ornate mosque on man-made island, built in 2006. Mosque looks as if it is floating on water.
  • St.Paul's Church in Malacca - Malacca, Malacca City. Ruins of old church, built in 1521, extended later in the 16th century.
Petronas Towers and lightning, Malaysia
Petronas Towers and lightning / Andy Mitchell, / CC BY-SA 2.0

Other man made landmarks

  • Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion - Penang, George Town. Large city mansion of rich Chinese mechant, built in the 1880s. Building has indigo-blue color and contains numerous art values.
  • Petronas Towers - Kuala Lumpur. Twin skyscrapers which were world's tallest buildings in 1998 - 2004. Towers are 451.9 m tall, each has 88 floors.
  • Stadhuis (Malacca) - Malacca, Malacca City. Former residence of the Dutch Governor and Deputy Governor. Oldest remaining Dutch building in this part of Asia, built in 1650.
  • Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge - Penang. 24 km long bridge, second bridge which connects Penang island to the mainland. Length over the water is 16.9 km. Bridge has many curves in order to keep the attention of drivers while driving over the sea. Bridge was completed in 2014.
  • Sultan Abdul Samad Building - Kuala Lumpur. Enormous, ornate building which was constructed in 1897 as British government offices.

List of described attractions by states and federal territories

Johor
Kedah
Kelantan
Kuala Lumpur
Labuan
Malacca
Negeri Sembilan
Pahang
Perak
Perlis
Penang
Putrajaya
Sabah
ArrowTallest yellow meranti tree, Maliau BasinTrees
Sarawak
ArrowGarden of Eden, SarawakSinkholes
Selangor
Terengganu

Map of Malaysia

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