4 Amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites You Should Visit In Malaysia


Cheng Sim •  Oct 17, 2020

[Updated 21 July 2021]

Malaysia is truly blessed with many natural wonders and scenic attractions. So it's no surprise that there are many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Malaysia with outstanding universal value. If you're feeling adventurous, it's time to add Malaysia's UNESCO World Heritage Sites to your bucket list and discover the beauty of these significant sites when the time is right.

Inscribed on the World Heritage list

1. Kinabalu Park

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Situated in Sabah, Kinabalu Park is one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Malaysia. Inscribed in 2000, the Kinabalu Park is the home of Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Malaysia, and this site is worthy to be on your bucket list. It takes an immense level of endurance and adventure to conquer Mount Kinabalu.

If you prefer to explore this heritage site at a slower pace, wander around the Kinabalu Park that's situated on the foothill of the popular mountain. Surrounded by diverse biodiversity and lush greenery, every nature lover would enjoy spending every minute here.

P.S. For more outdoor adventures, check out these exciting things you never knew you could do in Sabah (besides Mount Kinabalu!)

2. Gunung Mulu National Park

Credit: @mulunationalparkofficial on Instagram

Named after Mount Mulu, which is the second-highest mountain in Sarawak, Mulu National Park is also one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Malaysia that was inscribed in 2000. Circled by the rainforest of Borneo, this nature spot has jagged limestone formations that are an amazing sight to behold. Hiking to the majestic Mulu pinnacles is also one of the main draws of this UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sarawak.

Other than the Mulu pinnacles, the Mulu National Park is also recognised for its enormous caves especially the Deer Cave that has the world's largest cave passage and Clearwater Cave that is said to be one of the longest caves in the world.

3. Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca

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Did you know that Melaka and George Town (Penang) were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008? Both cities were listed as the Historical Cities of the Straits of Malacca thanks to its historical significance and monuments that stand the test of time.

Wander around Melaka and you'll find many historical sites that'll take you back in time. You can visit the Fortress of Malacca, also known as A Famosa, that was built by the Portuguese in 1512. Not too far away is also the Christ Church Melaka, an 18th-century Anglican church that opened in 1753, which is also the oldest Protestant church in Malaysia.

Credit: @jun_kuzaifah on Instagram

There's more to George Town, the capital city of Penang, than its delicious street food. Much of its historical significance was contributed by the British colonisation between 1946 and 1957. Take a stroll through the city and see colonial buildings as well as heritage shophouses that remain beautiful today. You can also swing by the Penang State Museum to rediscover the stories that are told in our history books.

P.S. Check out these amazing halal eateries in Penang that you can't miss out on your foodie adventure!

4. Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley

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Situated in Perak, Lenggong is Malaysia’s fourth and only Archaeological UNESCO Site that was inscribed in 2012. Besides the million-year-old caves sites along the Perak River, Lenggong is also home to the Perak Man, Southeast Asia’s oldest (most complete) human skeleton that was discovered within Gua Gunung Runtuh cave, and the skeleton is said to be almost 11,000 years old! It also has other caves with prehistoric burials that unveil a significant part of human history in the region.

To experience the UNESCO wonders of Lenggong, we recommend booking a 3D2N Heritage Stay by Rumah Tiang 16 that covers accommodation, meals and things to do during your short getaway.

Sites on the Tentative List

While there are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Malaysia, we have five more sites that are currently on the Tentative List. In order to be nominated and inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the site must have a cultural and/or natural heritage of outstanding universal value.

1. National Park (Taman Negara) of Peninsular Malaysia

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Situated in Pahang, Taman Negara was submitted to the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. While Malaysia's oldest national park is still being reviewed for this honour, we recommend tapping into the explorer in you and see the beauty that it has to offer. Said to be 130 million years old, did you know that Taman Negara is older than the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, which is only 55 million years old?

If you're planning a short getaway to Taman Negara, get inspired by our 3D2N Muslim-friendly itinerary to Taman Negara. You can go rapid shooting through the Tembeling River, take a boat ride to Lata Berkoh waterfall, and walk on the Canopy Walk, which is known as one of the world's longest suspension bridge.

2. FRIM Selangor Forest Park

Credit: @frimkepong on Instagram

Anyone who wanders around FRIM Selangor Forest Park will quickly appreciate the beautiful streams, waterfalls and botanic gardens. Situated in Selangor, this man-made rainforest flourishes like how it is today thanks to the restoration efforts from FRIM-Selangor Forest Park.

FRIM Selangor Forest Park is part of the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. While its famous attractions are the forest canopy walkway and hiking trails, the forest park's true star is the surrounding rainforest that's home to more than half of the world's biodiversity.

3. Gombak Selangor Quartz Ridge

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Another place in Malaysia that has been submitted to the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017 is Gombak Selangor Quartz Ridge. Formerly known as the Klang Gates Ridge in the early 20th century, Selangor State Government has renamed it to Gombak Selangor Quartz Ridge (also known as Permatang Kuarza Gombak Selangor).

What makes Gombak Selangor Quartz Ridge absolutely captivating is the surroundings that are largely made out of quartz mineral. Measuring about 14km long and 200 meters wide, it is also said to be the world's longest pure quartz duke.

4. Royal Belum State Park

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Gazetted as Belum Forest Reserve (also known as Hutan Simpan Belum) in 1971, Royal Belum State Park is described as the Crowning Glory of the Peninsula. Surrounded by various species of flora and fauna, this state park has diverse ecosystems that are endemic, rare, vulnerable or threatened in Malaysia.

It's also the home to the Rafflesia, the world's largest flower. As this site greatly contributes to environmental education and scientific research, it was submitted to the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.

5. Sungai Buloh Leprosarium

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Situated in Selangor, the Sungai Buloh Leprosarium (also known as the National Leprosy Control Centre) was established in 1930 and has made significant contribution to leprosy research back in the days. Besides being one of the most important leprosy research centres, it was also the biggest leprosarium in the British empire in the early 20th century. Thanks to its significant cultural contribition, it has been submitted to the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019.

Malaysia is blessed with many natural and cultural sites that are worth visiting. We hope this list will encourage you to explore and be proud of the underrated heritage gems in Malaysia! For more travel inspirations, check out our recommended reads below: