UNESCO World Heritage Sites are places that have been deemed of significance for its natural and cultural heritage. Malaysia currently has 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ranging from an archaeological wonders, to lush rainforests and heritage towns.
That said, we think there should definitely be more worthy of recognition! You might be surprised by what we have managed to get listed on the Tentative List.
Which of these do you know or visited?
1. Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley
The Lenggong Valley might as well be a lost world in Peninsular Malaysia, with four archaeological sites dating back almost 2 million years. There are prehistoric remains from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Metal ages, which includes skeletons, cave drawings, weapons, and pottery.
Discoveries in the Lenggong Valley have been ground-breaking. In 1987, Kota Tampan was found to have Palaeolithic tools, the earliest record of human invention. In 1991, the complete skeleton of South East Asia’s earliest man, dubbed Perak Man, was uncovered at Gua Gunung Runtuh.
The cave sites make a remarkable place to visit, as it feels like you are walking through an open-air museum with prehistoric artefacts.
2. Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca
Melaka and George Town in Penang share a cultural heritage that runs deep in the architecture, East-meets-West charm and multiracial society. These two towns are filled with colonial buildings and old-world shop houses, a legacy of its 500 years of trade and cultural exchange. No wonder they are so popular among visitors all around the world!
While the old-world atmosphere and delicious food are enough to entice you to these towns, you can also discover workshops run by tradesmen who have chosen to preserve their dying traditions, such as a traditional joss stick making workshop in Penang.
3. Gunung Mulu National Park
Gunung Mulu National Park is a spectacular natural wonder. Located in Sarawak, it has a lush tropical rainforest, dramatic limestone terrain, diverse wildlife, and a history of over 1.5 million years.
There are 295km of explored caves chambers here, three of which are particularly exceptional. The Clearwater Cave System is Southeast Asia’s longest cave, the Sarawak Chamber is the largest cave chamber in the world, while Deer Cave is the world’s largest known cave passage.
4. Kinabalu Park
Kinabalu Park is where Sabah’s iconic Mount Kinabalu is situated, along with rich flora and fauna. The ecological system here is unique, complete with lowland, mountain and alpine terrain. There are also over 5,000 plant species in the national park.
The main attraction at Kinabalu Park is Mount Kinabalu, which lures hiking enthusiasts and those with a brave heart to the top of Malaysia’s highest peak.
TENTATIVE HERITAGE SITES
1. Taman Negara
The National Park of Peninsular Malaysia is the world’s oldest tropical jungle of 130 million years old, covering the states of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan. It is home to over 3,000 plants, 150 species of mammals, 53 species of fish, and 479 species of birds. In 1984, Taman Negara was declared an ASEAN Heritage Park.
For those who plan to visit Taman Negara, you can enjoy fun activities like rapid shooting, jungle hikes, visits to waterfalls, and even visits to Orang Asli villages.
2. Gombak Selangor Quartz Ridge
Not far from Kuala Lumpur is the Selangor State Park, where the Gombak Selangor Quartz Ridge lies. At 14km in length, it is believed to be the longest pure quartz dyke on earth. Some say that the shape of the ridge resembles a dragon’s back.
The forest provides a natural habitat for the biodiversity here including endangered animals like the pangolin, sun bears, tapir and tigers.
Fun fact: Gombak is the ancestral home of 10 Orang Asli tribes in Peninsular Malaysia! Its indigenous cultural richness is an aspect that few Malaysian know about, but the Jungle School in Gombak is trying to change that! Click on the link below to find out what it’s all about.
Read next: Into the Wild: the Jungle School of Gombak
3. Royal Belum State Park
The pristine Royal Belum State Park is located within Belum-Temenggor Forest Reserve in Perak, which is estimated to be around 130 million years old. Apart from the diverse animals, including 10 species of hornbill, the park is also inhabited by the Jahai indigenous tribe.
You can hike to the waterfalls for a dip, explore the vast jungle, visit the Orang Asli village or take a boat cruise on Lake Temenggor, the second largest manmade lake in Malaysia. There are also salt licks where you can watch animals up close.
4. Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM)
Located in Kepong, Forest Research Institute Malaysia is the world’s largest man-made rainforest. It was nominated not only for its unique ecosystem, but also its status as a leading centre for tropical forest research and preservation.
It is not short of recreational activities too! FRIM is a popular place for wildlife observation, bird watching, cycling, trekking and jogging.
5. Sungai Buloh Leprosarium
Located at the Bukit Lagong in Selangor, the Sungai Buloh Lepprosarium was one of the best treatment centres for leprosy in the 20th century, and the second largest in the world. What makes it stand out are the panoramic sceneries surrounding it, as well as the modern facilities.
Today, only around 200 former patients remain in the leper settlement, now called the Valley of Hope. Visitors are welcomed to this mysterious living museum, where you can learn about the endearing stories that still linger in this surreal place.
Read next: Storyteller at the Valley of Hope
Which other places in Malaysia should be on this list?