There’s a reason why we love fireflies. Perhaps when they flicker in the dark, it feels as though the stars from the sky are closer to us. Perhaps they resemble the festive lights of Deepavali or Christmas. Whatever it is, watching fireflies is a magical, mesmerizing experience.
The country is home to seven of over 20 species of fireflies, with the Pteroptyc tener being the most common one. When people think of fireflies in Malaysia, Kuala Selangor is usually the first place that comes to mind. Indeed, it is one of the most popular places in the country to find these creatures, or “kelip-kelip” as locals fondly call them.
In some cases, the dwindling number of fireflies in certain areas have become a cause for concern. For others, the discovery of these firefly habitats is a key way to raise awareness for the need for mangrove conservation.
Here are 20 places you can see fireflies in Malaysia and bask in their enchanting glimmer.
1. Kampung Kuantan (Selangor)
No trip to Kuala Selangor would be complete without a firefly cruise. Down the Selangor River, you can ride on a traditional sampan to get up close to the colony dwelling in the Kampung Kuantan mangroves. Each sampan can carry 4 adult passengers and the cost is calculated per sampan.
2. Bukit Belimbing (Selangor)
Located in Kuala Selangor, Bukit Belimbing Firefly Park Resort is another firefly paradise along the Selangor River. The privately-managed park uses battery-operated boats that can take up to 15 passengers at once. It also has resort facilities and accommodation.
3. Pasir Penambang (Selangor)
Pasir Penambang is the third place you can see fireflies in Kuala Selangor, using a powerboat that can carry up to 30 passengers. If you want, you can even combine it with eagle feeding. While you are in the area, don’t miss the seafood!
4. Bukit Kiara (Selangor)
This might be a shocker to know, but Bukit Kiara has its share of this fantastic lightshow too, having officially been verified as a refuge for the world’s largest firefly species. In July 2017, the Malaysian Nature Society even conducted the first ever firefly walk here, in hopes that more people would support the conservation of Bukit Kiara.
5. Sungai Panjang (Selangor)
Along Sungai Panjang, there is a remote jetty that is home to fireflies and local birds. The conservation area is also known as the Sungai Pakeh Fireflies.
6. Kuala Sepetang (Perak)
Sungai Sepetang is one of the congregating firefly zones in Perak, about 1km downstream from Kampung Dew, Taiping. Kuala Sepetang is also home to the UNESCO-recognised Matang Mangrove Forest. Apart from serving as a habitat for animals, the mangrove wood is also used to make charcoal in the nearby traditional charcoal making factory.
7. Kota Tinggi (Johor)
There is a firefly park along the Johor River, where you can witness one of nature’s biggest mysteries in action. For families or students, this is also great for an education tour, as you get to learn about the history of the river.
8. Sungai Muar (Johor)
Sungai Muar may not have as large a firefly colony as other places but they do have river cruises to watch these surreal viewings. There is also the Sabak Avor Resort here, along with activities like prawn fishing, mangrove tours and accommodation.
9. Kampung Cherating (Pahang)
At Kampung Cherating, you are not only able to watch fireflies – there are other nature-related activities you can join in such as turtle watching, snorkelling, sea fishing, kayaking and a river cruise. The peak season is between April and September.
10. Nibong Tebal (Penang)
The thick mangrove forest along Krian Rivers in Nibong Tebal is well-known for its twinkling fireflies. Tucked on Penang Mainland, there are several seafood restaurants along the river. Joining a cruise also gives you a chance to see floating fish farms, or catch the sunset at the river mouth.
11. Sungai Yak Yah (Terengganu)
The firefly colony along Sungai Yak Yah of Kampung Ibok is said to be the biggest in the east coast but it is not particularly well known. The best spots to view these glittering state treasures are 5km away from the jetty.
12. Sungai Timun (Negeri Sembilan)
Sungai Timun is being revived as an eco-tourism destination. There are river cruises for firefly and crocodile sightings, a turtle sanctuary, and a coastal forest reserve for many outdoor activities.
13. Kubang Kerian (Kelantan)
Kelantan has her very own firefly park in Kampung Pulau, Kubang Kerian. Flickering along the Lubok Durian river, the best time to take in this spectacular sight is from 8pm to 11pm (February to October).
14. Kota Belud (Sabah)
About one and a half hour’s drive away from Kota Kinabalu, you will reach the mangroves of Kota Belud. There are many river cruises you can join, with Nanamun River leading towards the fireflies. Other rivers take you to stunning panoramas, a Mount Kinabalu view, and viewpoints to spot the proboscis monkey.
15. Sungai Klias (Sabah)
The wetlands of Klias is home to both the state’s iconic proboscis monkey and mystical fireflies. While you are on your nocturnal journey, keep your eyes peeled as you might even spot the flying fox or night bats, if you are lucky.
16. Sungai Teratak (Sabah)
Sungai Teratak is part of the Gerama River Wetlands, south of Kota Kinabalu. It is known for its research on fireflies.
17. Tanjung Aru (Sabah)
Located in Sandakan, Tanjung Aru Island is home to a pristine mangrove forest and wetland. You can see wildlife scampering on the trees, local villages going on their daily lives and of course, the synchronized beauty of the fireflies.
18. Weston Wetlands (Sarawak)
The largest firefly sanctuary in Sabah is called Weston Wetland Park, roughly 125km from Kota Kinabalu city. You may even have the opportunity to see the proboscis monkey and salt water crocodiles here.
19. Kampung Santubong (Sarawak)
At Kampung Santubong, you can watch picturesque views amidst the legendary Mount Santubong. The wildlife cruise here takes you to a dophin site and a mangrove swamp populated by fireflies.
20. Kuching Wetland (Sarawak)
It takes about 3 hours by boat the reach this Sarawakian reserved park. By day, you might be able to spot the Irrawaddy dolphins and all kinds of wildlife. By night, the fireflies steal the spotlight!