|• SABAH •|
|Stunning tropical islands and luxuriant nature makes Sabah the idela destination for eco-adventures. The state’s most famous icon is the majestic Mount Kinabalu, reputed to be one of the highest in Southeast Asia. Another jewel is Sipadan, an internationally-famed dive destination. It’ population of nearly 3.1 million is made up of 32 ethnic communities. The capital of Sabah is Kota Kinabalu. It is the gateway to eco-adventures such as diving, river cruising, mountain climbing, white-water rafting and caving. Kota Kinabalu was formerly known as Jesselton. Most parts of the city have been reconstructed after World War II and there are only three surviving buildings from the war.|
|Standing majestically at a height of 4,095.2m, Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak in Southeast Asia. It is situated in Kinabalu Park, a wonderland of ecological treasures covering some 754sq km. The diversity of plant life in Kinabalu Park ranges over four climatic zones. Over 5,000 types of flowering plants including 1,200 species of orchids, 26 species of rhododendrons, over 80 species of fig trees as well as 60 species of oak and chestnut trees are found here. About 100 species of mammals and 326 species of birds are also known to reside in the sprawling park. Ascending and descending Mount Kinabalu’s summit takes two to three days, depending on the weather and one’s fitness level. Every year, participants from around the world gather here to take part in the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon. It is dubbed as the ‘World’s Toughest Mountain Race’. Despite the challenging route and distance, mountain runners take less than four hours to reach the peak and return to the finish line.
|TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN NATIONAL PARK|
|The Tunku Abdul Rahman Park comprises a group of 5 islands located between 3 km and 8 km off Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia. The park is spread over 4,929 hectares, two-thirds of which cover the sea. Before the Ice age, it formed part of the Crocker Range mass of sandstone and sedimentary rock on the mainland. The park was named after Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister.|
|Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising 600 metres (2,000 ft) from the seabed. It was formed by corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to develop. Sipadan is located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin., the centre of one of the richest marine habitats in the world. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem.It is located in the Celebes Sea off the east coast of Sabah, Malaysia.|
|TURTLE ISLANDS PARK|
|Lying in the Sulu Sea, Turtle Islands Park is a cluster of three islands, Selingan, Bakungan and Gulisan Kecil. Here, visitors have the opportunity to catch sight of rare and endangered turtles from the Green and Hawksbill species when they swim ashore to lay eggs. Only the largest island, Selingan, is open to visitors. Besides housing the Park Headquarters, it also offers accommodation and some basic facilities. A visit to the Turtle Islands Park requires an overnight stay.|
|• SARAWAK •|
|There is something utterly fascinating and mystical about Sarawak. This is the largest state in Malaysia, occupying the southen western ridge of Borneo. Its verdant are strewn with massive natural formations, the world’s largest cave chambers as well s endemic flora and fauna. Sarawak’s greatest assets include its UNESCO World Heritage Siteand numerous protected national parks. The vast number of hornbills found here has made Sarawak to be fondly known as ‘the Land of the Hornbills’. Its vibrant ethnic groups, coupled with the legacy of Brooke dynasty, weave a history filled with intrigue and fascination. Kuching, the capital city, is a good place to get a glimpse into the past.|
|NIAH NATIONAL PARK|
Millions of bats and swiftlets, numerous historical sites, ancient tombs and a primary rainforest come together to enchant visitors at this national park. Sprawling over 3,238ha, Niah National Park enjoys great popularity among history lovers and researchers for its archaeological significance. The Great Cave here was inhabited by prehistoric men nearly 40,000 years ago. Among the relics unearthed include Neolithic paintings and Paleolithic artefacts. Another attraction is the Painted Caves, where depictions of human-like figures were found near an ancient burial site. Niah National Park is accessible from Miri and Bintulu. It is situated about 109km from Miri or 131km from Bintulu.
|Kuching Waterfront is a 900m long esplanade. It is a popular hangout for locals and foreigners alike. A number of heritage buildings surround the waterfront. Interesting sights include the Chinese History Museum, Sarawak Steamship Building and Square Tower, each with its own history and saga. The area is best explored via the walking trails that have been laid out. Avid shoppers can visit the Main Bazaar nearby, where a stretch of shops offer an assortment of handicrafts.
|Housed in a stately building bearing Victorian style architecture, this museum is a repository of information on the state’s ethnography, natural history, crafts and the petroleum industry. Please take note that visitors are not allowed to bring in their cameras.
|Longhouses are the traditional dwellings of the natives. These are communal dwellings and many families live in the same longhouse and share their tasks together. A stay at the longhouse offers a chance to experience this interesting way of life. Visitors can stay with the Bidayuh and Iban ethnic groups.|
|GUNUNG GADING NATIONAL PARK|
|Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower, stands as the main attraction in this national park. The species here is called Rafflesia tuan mudae, which can grow up to one metre in width. Forest lodges are available for overnight stays. This park is about two hours drive from Kuching. Visitors are advised to call first to find out if the Rafflesia is in bloom.
Images by Tourism Malaysia.
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