Malaysia is a green country and locals and visitors alike love Malaysian national parks. Over 60% of its total land area is forested. There are not many countries in the world that can beat that.
It is true that Malaysia's forests are being lost at an average rate of around 100,000 hectares per year. At that rate of decline it would take 200 years for all Malaysia's forests to be gone. But there is no danger of that happening. Currently 8% of Malaysia's total land area is classified as protected and a further 8% is set aside as forest reserves. Protected areas include national and state parks, wildlife sanctuaries, wildlife reserves and marine parks.
Malaysia can boast of 25 terrestrial national and state parks (there are a further 40 marine parks) managed by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. New areas of outstanding beauty are regularly being added to the list of protected areas, particularly peat swamps, mangrove forests and limestone habitats.
Conservation areas range from the massive Taman Negara, a million plus acres of the world's oldest primary rainforest, to the semi-urban and man-made Taman Wetlands in Putrajaya.
The biodiversity of Malaysia's forests is immense. It is said that there are more species of trees in one hectare of Taman Negara than in the whole of North America. In addition to observing the profuse plant life you can, while on your jungle walks, look out for unusual birds, shy animals and exotic insects.
Here is a list of some of the main Peninsular Malaysian national parks and forest reserves, arranged by state (Sabah and Sarawak parks are shown on their respective pages).
Selangor and the Federal Territories (Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya)
. KL Forest Eco Park
. Kanching Forest Reserve
. Kuala Selangor Nature Park
. Malaysia Agricultural Park
. Taman Wetlands Putrajaya
. Botanical Gardens, Putrajaya
. Commonwealth Forest Park
. Paya Indah Wetlands
. Bukit Gasing Forest Park
. Bukit Jalil Park
. Taman Tasik Permaisuri
. Sungai Gabai Waterfall
. Ampang Forest Reserve
. Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve
. Lembah Kiara Park
. Sungai Congkak Recreational Forest
. Sungai Tua Recreational Forest / Selangor State Park
. Bukit Putih
. Bukit Dinding
. Templer Park
. Kota Damansara Community Forest Reserve
. Titiwangsa Lake Gardens
. Royal Belum State Park
. Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary
. Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve
. Sungkai Wildlife Reserve
. Temenggor Forest Reserve
. Bukit Panchor State Park
. Penang National Park
. Bukit Mertajam Recreational Park
. Pedu Lake
. Ulu Muda Forest Reserve
. Bukit Hijau Recreational Forest
. Perlis State Park
. Bukit Ayer Recreational Forest
. Gunung Stong State Park
. Tasik Kenyir
. Bakau Tinggi Recreational Park
. Rantau Abang Turtle Sanctuary
. Taman Negara
. Kenong Rimba Park
. Tasik Bera
. Lata Jarum & Pulau Chekas
. Endau Rompin National Park
. Tanjung Piai National Park
. Pulau Kukup
. Gunung Ledang National Park
. Lenggeng Recreational Forest
. Sungai Udang Recreational Forest
And here is an interactive map I compiled showing all the locations of the above parks. As you can see, wherever you are in Peninsular Malaysia, you are never far from a Malaysian National Park or State Park or Forest Reserve.
View Conservation Areas - Peninsula Malaysia in a larger map
I have visited many of these places already. The remainder are on my 'must visit' list for the coming weeks and months. I will add a fresh page onto the website whenever I visit a new place.
Click on the links below to read reviews of my visits to Malaysian national parks, rainforests and other conservation areas.
You don't have to pay for an expensive package tour to explore Taman Negara, the top of Malaysian national parks. Learn from my independent trip here.
Gunung Ledang National Park has attracted naturalists since 1854. Even if you don't climb the fabled mountain itself, the Puteri Waterfalls are worth a visit.
Ampang Forest Reserve is a small park in a scenic valley on the eastern fringes of KL. Temporarily closed following flood damage in March 2012.
An enjoyable circular hike amid unspoilt rainforest awaits on the southern fringe of Kuala Lumpur. Details and photos here.
Bukit Dinding is one of the highest hills within KL city limits (1000 feet). With a surfaced road to the peak it is a safe and straight forward hike for a good workout. Map, photos and details here
Enjoy nature and hiking at Bukit Gasing Forest Reserve in the suburbs of KL. No need to drive miles for a good jungle workout. Map and details here.
Bukit Jalil Park is a pleasant place to picnic, relax and exercise on the southern edge of Kuala Lumpur. Location map, opening hours and details here.
Bukit Putih, also known as Ah Pek Hill Trail, is a good place to hike in the jungle at Cheras, near Kuala Lumpur. See map, photos and details here.
Access to Commonwealth Forest Park has been made difficult by road works but there is still a resort with activities and accommodation available there.
Experience a bird's eye view of a Malaysian rainforest with the FRIM Canopy Walk, close to Kuala Lumpur. Details, photos and directions here.
At Kanching you can swim in clean waterfall pools or picnic and walk in a lush rainforest setting.
Kota Damansara Community Forest Reserve is a good place for hiking and mountain biking on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. There are 11 km of trails to explore.
At Kuala Gandah you can hand feed elephants, enjoy a bare back elephant ride and give them a scrub-down in the river.
Kuala Selangor Nature Park is made up of mangrove forest, mud flats and secondary forest habitats and is a sanctuary for many bird and animal species.
Lata Jarum is a pleasant waterfall in attractive countryside. See videos of boys jumping into the cascade pool.
Lenggeng Recreational Forest is a small nature park set in the unspoilt countryside of Negeri Sembilan. It has a nice waterfall but the facilities need refurbishment.
It would take days to see everything at Malaysia Agriculture Park, a huge park with paintball, extreme challenges, spice gardens, arboretum, animal park and much more.
Paya Indah Wetlands is a wildlife conservation area with a checkered history but it's improving. Read the findings of my June 2011 visit.
Sungai Congkak is a pleasant place to picnic and bathe in natural pools amid unspoilt forest. Chalet prices and details here.
At Sungai Gabai Waterfall you can cool off in the chilly cascades and enjoy natural surroundings and fresh air only a short drive from Kuala Lumpur.
Sungai Tua Recreational Forest is a good place to camp, picnic and bathe in natural pools amid mature forest. Video, location and details here.
Sungai Udang Recreational Forest
A 335 acre permanent forest reserve of mainly lowland dipterocarp trees with a rich variety of flora and fauna. Within easy distance of the city of Melaka.
Standing at Tanjung Piai you can claim to be the southern most person in the whole of mainland Eurasia. Read my review of this southernmost of Malaysian national parks.
Take this hike to the waterfall at Templer Park for a true jungle experience within easy reach of Kuala Lumpur. See location map, video, photos and details here.
The only remaining tropical rainforest within Kuala Lumpur city limits, this park now boasts an impressive new canopy walk.
A walk or bike ride around Putrajaya's Taman Wetlands makes a pleasant day out. Learn how this eco-tourism destination acts as the kidneys of Putrajaya.
Taman Wawasan is a beautifully landscaped park next to the lake in the heart of Putrajaya. It is a great place to walk, jog, cycle or just relax.
Taman Warisan is a great park to see a wide variety of tropical fruit trees, herbs and spices, rubber and other commercial crops. You can get a good meal here too!
I never get tired of visiting Putrajaya Botanical Gardens, my favourite park in Putrajaya. If you like tropical plants and trees you will love it too.
Lembah Kiara Park and the adjacent trails are a pleasant place to play, bike and exercise in the heart of the city.
Taman Tasik Permaisuri is an urban recreational park in Kuala Lumpur. Read about the facilities, location and opening hours here.
Titiwangsa Lake Gardens is an attractive and well maintained park in Kuala Lumpur and a popular place to take photos of the Twin Towers and KL Tower.
More Malaysian National Parks, recreational forests and forest reserves will be reviewed and added to this list shortly.