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Malaysia & Myanmar: Nature

The natural wonders of Southeast Asia vary immensely, even within nations. Malaysia and Myanmar are prime examples of the diverse topography of the region. Whether high in the mountains or deep under the sea, they provide stunning experiences for anyone who visits. 

Malaysia

Without a doubt, Malaysia knows how to create a fantastic park. Whether built around a forest, caves, or aquatic life, they all bring something special to anyone visiting the country. Kilim Geofest Park, a UNESCO Global Geopark, is a highlight for anyone looking to learn about the history of the land. Niah National Park is a cave mecca with the Great Cave being a standout. Get below the surface at Pulau Payar Marine Park for an incredible look at sea life. 

Kilim Geoforest Park

Kilim Geoforest Park / Instagram @pedaller_panda

Kilim Geoforest Park is a mecca of fossils, diverse flora, and striking natural wonders as part of the larger UNESCO Global Geopark Langkawi. Named in 2007, it was the very first geopark denoted in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. The easiest way to explore the area is by boat, as it is primarily covered with mangrove forests and limestone rock formations. The oldest carbonate rock in the park dates back between 490 and 370 million years ago. Make sure to get a photo of yourself in front of the massive sign announcing the park.

Pulau Payar Marine Park

Pulau Payar Marine Park / Instagram @aleksandranajda

The Pulau Payar Marine Park is a practically untouched oasis of marine animals in crystal clear waters. It’s comprised of four islands, the biggest of which is Pulau Payar and spread across two nautical miles. Visitors can observe the marine park’s inhabitants from an underwater observation chamber or by snorkeling and scuba diving in the water. The latter options will have you swimming alongside sharks, turtles, fluorescent fish, and more. There is no accommodation in the area—the islands themselves are uninhabited—but Langkawi is a quick boat ride away.

Niah National Park

Niah National Park / No credit

Located within the dense Borneo tropical rainforest state of Sarawak and marked as the oldest human settlement in Southeast Asia, lies a true geological and archeological wonder—the Niah National Park. The vast park is comprised of peat swamp, dipterocarp forests with numerous fig trees, as well as impressive limestone caverns that are home to thousands of swiftlets and bats. Opened to the public in 1975, the park stretches over almost 8,000 acres with a myriad of caves to explore.  

Great Cave

Great Cave / Instagram @hy_looi

Few moments in life make for a truly stunning photographic scene like this in Malaysia. Within the Niah National Park lies the Great Cave, which gets its name from the 25.9 acres of floor space occupied by the caverns. A passage at the back of the cave will lead you down to a chamber named Padang, where rays of sunlight stream through the gaping hole above onto the unique rock formations, making for a breathtaking experience. Within the cave’s mouth, archaeological excavations are also noticeable. Other caves to explore within the Niah National Park are the Moon, Painted, and Traders’ caves. 

To the north of Malaysia, the views are just as spectacular in Myanmar. 

Myanmar

In the north of Southeast Asia, Myanmar has just as much to offer visitors as its island neighbors. An incredible combination of mountains and coastline awaits in Myanmar. A trek up Taung Wine Mountain showcases the beautiful village of Hpa-An. A hike just outside of Pyin Oo Lwin reveals the stunning Anisakan Falls, accompanied by a small Buddhist pagoda. Beach lovers can flock to Ngapali Beach, on the Bay of Bengal. 

Anisakan Falls

Anisakan Falls / No credit

Just six miles outside of Pyin Oo Lwin is the magnificent Anisakan Falls. With water crashing to the ground alongside a small Buddhist pagoda, the view is accessible via a vigorous walk that takes about 45 minutes. If you visit during the wet season, the 400-foot waterfall is especially powerful, but you’ll need proper hiking boots to make the trip at that time. The nearby Dee Dote Falls are often seen in tandem with Anisakan for a beautiful, full-day adventure.  

Ngapali Beach

Ngapali Beach / Instagram @whereisphilipp

On the Bay of Bengal sits the small, enchanting beach town of Ngapali. Home to crystal clear waters and white sand beaches, the town is a calm oasis—perfect for anyone looking to kick back and soak in the beauty of Myanmar. With 15 miles of coastline, Ngapali maintains a fishing town vibe while welcoming visitors to enjoy all it has to offer. It’s said to have been named after the Italian city of Naples.

Hpa-An

Hpa-An / Instagram @rose.bourne

There are few things worth waking up in the dark for, but sunrise at Taung Wine Mountain is one of them. About eight miles from Hpa-An’s city center, the mountain is accessible by scooter or taxi. Once at its base, the hike to the top takes about an hour and is quite steep. As the sun rises, you can see the entirety of the Hpa-An region. As the capital of the Karen State, the picturesque village is surrounded by mountains like this one. Enjoy the remarkable view and perfect way to start your day in Myanmar.

Make your way through Malaysia and Myanmar with long hikes and ocean soaks for a memorable time connecting with the nature found in Southeast Asia.