UNESCO Heritage Sites in Malaysia
What is UNESCO World Heritage Site? It is a landmark or area selected by UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. A landmark is named a heritage site because of having scientific, cultural, historical or other forms of significance. More detailed information about the UNESCO site`s nomination you can find in our homepage`s Destinations section by the “New Zealand”. But now we will tell you what`s there in Malaysia!
1. Gunung Mulu National Park
Gunung Mulu National Park with its history of over more than 1.5 million years is Malaysian national park in the island of Borneo, in the State of Sarawak. And this area of more than 50.000-ha is the most studied tropical karst area in the world! Gunung Mulu National Park contains seventeen vegetation zones and is home to many special plant and animal species, including many endemics and threatened ones. To be more precise, there are more than 3500 species of plants, 81 species of mammals, 270 species of birds, 55 species of reptiles, 76 species of amphibians and 48 species of fish. Millions of cave swiftlets and bats, also Tufted ground squirrel, Silvery gibbon, Malayan sun bear, Maroon leaf monkey and many more.
One special place located in the park is the Sarawak Chamber – the largest known cave chamber in the world. And then there is Deer Cave that has one of the world`s largest colonies of free-tailed bats. And the landscape there! Rainforests, rivers, canyons, and mountains. It is just incredible!
If you are still wondering why is this place under UNESCO sites? Well, Gunung Mulu National Park is definitely one with exceptional natural beauty and it is also an outstanding example of major changes in the earth’s history. Therefore, it is still limited for human interference – over 90% of the park and 95% of caves are closed to visitors. The only exception is access to areas for research purposes.
2. Kinabalu Park
Kinabalu Park, located on the west coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, is Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO. This is also a super-special place as it is claimed to be one of the most important biological sites in the world! Kinabalu Park that covers an area of 754 square kilometres, has tropical lowland, hill rainforests and sub-alpine forest. And due to these diverse ecosystems it has also been called the Southeast Asia`s centre of plant diversity! Here you will find more than 4000 species of flora – more than thousand orchid species, more than 70 species of ficus, ferns and others!
Kinabalu Park is surrounding Mount Kinabalu, one of the highest mountains in South East Asia and the highest on the island of Borneo with its 4095 metres. And besides the fascinating landscape that had formed for 15 million years, so many animal species can be found here! More than 300 bird species, 100 mammal species, land snails and many more! Basically, Kinabalu Park had been chosen as the UNESCO site because of its exceptional array of naturally functioning ecosystems and that vast variety of plant and animal life here.
3. Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca
To be more precise, UNESCO World Heritage sites are the historic urban centres of two Malaysia`s cities, Melaka and George Town. Why are they UNESCO? Because they are remarkable examples of historic colonial towns and the most complete surviving historic city centres. They reflect hundreds-of-years-old history of cultural and tradition exchange between East and West – there you can find unique architecture, culture and townscape from the Malay Archipelago, India, China and Europe. And since those times many different ethnicities, religions, languages, arts and cuisine coexist by keeping each own identity.
Melaka is located in the southern part of the Malay Peninsula, next to the Straits of Melaka. There you will see buildings and squares even from the stages of Malay sultanate, which was followed by Portuguese and Dutch rule. This is also a wonderful place to explore the development of maritime urban settlements.
George Town is the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang, and it is located at the north-eastern tip of Penang Island. This town represents the British era from the end of the 18th century. Actually, Penang Island itself is known for being the “food paradise” of Malaysia with a wealth of street food or “hawker food” from so many cultures that have been mixed here for centuries!
Well, Malaysia itself is a real mix of cultures, and these towns will definitely tell you more about the very beginning of this melting pot.
4. Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley
Lenggong is a town in Perak region and it is one of Peninsular Malaysia’s most important areas for archaeology that reveals traces of Malaysia’s prehistory. It is the site of the oldest known place of human activity in the Peninsula and an exceptional proof of occupation of the area during the Palaeolithic era, also during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.
Lenggong Valley actually includes four archaeological sites in two clusters that show one of the longest records of early man in a single locality, and the oldest outside the African continent. This place is even compared to an open-air museum, where you can find skeletons, cave drawings, ancient jewelry, pottery and weapons. Some of the archeological discoveries include Perak Man – South-East Asia’s oldest most complete human skeleton and caves like Gua Gunung Runtuh, Gua Teluk Kelawar and Gua Kajang where prehistoric burials have been found.
The amount of visitors in Lenggong Valley is being managed and controlled, but the sites are still reachable. But, of course, be mindful and respect these special places while exploring!
So these are the UNESCO Heritage Sites in Malaysia. Even if it is not possible to visit all of them, here was some brief information about those very special places in this beautiful country!