The best day hikes in Malaysia

You probably wouldn’t think of Malaysia as a hiking destination – but turns out that there’s dozens of top notch hiking trails across the country.

The home of the iconic Petronas Towers and Batu Caves, is also home to challenging jungle trails and mountain top views.

If you love the outdoors and are planning a trip to Malaysia soon, check out my guide to some of the best day hikes in Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo.


Cameron Highlands

The Cameron Highlands is the perfect place to start your Malaysian hiking adventures.

Here you can choose from up to 10 hiking trails that all start within walking distance of the town of Tanah Rata.

The moody, misty jungle trails of the Cameron Highlands range in difficulty and length – and are all numbered.

If you’re a novice hiker, then the loop trails of 5 and 6 are a good place to start and leads down to Parit Falls.

Experienced hikers can tackle hikes 10 and 8. Trail 8 starts near Robinson Falls and heads up to the summit of 1840m Mt Berembum. The trail is very steep, and slippery in parts, and care is needed. Good hiking shoes are a must on this trail. From the summit, you can choose to go back the way you came, or descend down trails 3 or 6.


Trail 10 leads to the summit of Mt Jasar. It’s a short but steep climb that will take about an hour. The trail begins behind Oly Apartments. Only very experienced hikers should descend from Trail 10 onto Trail 6 as the top of Trail 6 is extremely steep and slippery, and should not be attempted in the wet. If you go down this way, you will pop out at a sea of tea plantations then will have to walk back up the road to Tanah Rata.


The app, a fully charged phone and a battery pack is very important when hiking in the highlands as not all trails are well marked. The trails are all marked on the app so you can ensure you are staying on track. You will find signs like the above sporadically on the jungle trails.

You should also ensure you bring plenty of water, snacks and insect repellent. Good hiking shoes are recommended.

How to get there

Cameron Highlands (Tanah Rata) is accessible by bus from Kuala Lumpar’s Terminal Bersepadu Seletan (TBS) bus station. Buses leave regularly and the trip takes about four hours. From Tanah Rata, you can walk to all of the trailheads.


Langkawi Island

Off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia north west of Penang lies Langkawi Island.

I had all intentions to go relax on the beach for two days here – but turns out there are a couple of mountains on this island.


Mt Machinchang and Mt Raya are great for adventurers.

Mt Raya’s trail is easy to follow – but you have to battle up 4,287 steps to the summit! Plus tackle a whole lot of leeches – make sure you bring insect repellent and cover up as much as possible. The hike takes about 90 minutes each way.

Mt Machinchang is a lot harder and should only be attempted by experienced hikers. The first part is easy going and then you will reach the steeper section – where you will be assisted by a rope lining the track. The hike takes about two hours each way.


The route up is steep, slippery, muddy and there’s a few obstacles such as fallen trees. The ascent is slow going but you will be rewarded hopefully with a view from the top of the island – unless you’re clouded in.

How to get there

Langkawi Island can be accessed by plane from Kuala Lumpar or ferry. Air Asia has regular flights to the island. You can also catch a ferry from Georgetown, Penang. The ferry takes about 2-3 hours depending on ocean conditions.

To get to the trailheads, you’ll need to catch a Grab taxi. The Machinchang hike starts just past the Seven Wells Waterfall. The Mt Raya trailhead starts just past the Panorama Country Hotel and you can see it on the app.


Kinabalu National Park

You can opt to take the two day hike up to Mt Kinabalu, but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, you can spend a couple of days hiking in Kinabalu National Park.

I recommend staying at least a night near the park so you can see Mt Kinabula. Usually cloud cover obscures Mt Kinabula by mid-morning so you have to be early to see it. The sunrise over Mt Kinabalu is particularly beautiful. There’s plenty of guesthouses located just outside the national park.


Hiking trails you can do in the park range in difficulty and length.

The easiest trail is Kiau View Trail, which starts near the park entrance. The trail is 2.3km one way and used to be part of the original trail to the summit of Mt Kinabalu.

My favourite trail in Kinabalu National Park was the Liwagu Trail, and is recommended for experienced hikers due to the trail steepness and obstacles such as fallen trees. The trail is 5.6km one way and follows the picturesque Liwagu River. It’s the longest trail in the park.

You can start the trail near the park entrance (make sure you get a map at the Visitor Information Centre and sign in) and return the way you came, or walk up the road (or take the park transport for 34 MYR return). The top end of the trail entrance starts just before the Timpohon Gate on the right hand side.


Similar to the Liwagu Trail is the Mempening Trail – a 2.5km one way trail that ends at the same point as the Liwagu Trail. For a close up view of Mt Kinabalu – go to the end of the road to the Timpohon Gate, which is where the Mt Kinabalu summit trail begins. Then take the short but steep hike up the Mountain View Trail.


The app is a good way to find the trails and see where you are, however most trails are well marked.

How to get there

To get to Kinabalu National Park, you can catch a Ranau bound bus or  shared taxi from the Padang Merdeka bus station in Kota Kinabalu.

Shared taxis are the easiest way to get there as they will drop you at the park entrance or at your guesthouse if it’s on the main road if you plan to stay the night. Cost of a shared taxi is 25 MYR ($6 USD). Buses are slightly cheaper at 20 MYR.


Bako National Park

There’s multiple trails in Bako National Park and the trail you choose will depend on your fitness and the time you plan to stay in the park.

If you’re only doing a day trip, then the Pandan Kecil and Paku trails can easily be done in 3-4 hours.

The Pandan Kecil trail is 2.6km one way and takes you to a beautiful viewpoint looking over the beach below, and then you can walk down to the beach. Be aware you cannot swim at the beaches of Bako National Park due to crocodiles.


The Paku trail is a beautiful walk through a patch of jungle home to Proboscis Monkeys. The trail is 1.5km one way and ends at a beach fringed by bright green jungle.

Accommodation is available in the park but needs to be booked in advance.


How to get there

Bako National Park is only accessible by boat. To get there, take Bus #1 or Grab taxi to the Bako National Park ferry terminal – it’s about a 30-40 minute drive from Kuching.

The boat to the national park takes about 20 minutes one way. The cost is 40 RM return.

Entrance to the park is 20 RM which you have to pay at the ferry terminal before getting on the boat.

Try and get the first boat out to the national park as the last boat back is at 3pm due to the tide.


Kubah National Park

You have several trail options in Kubah National Park. If you want to do a couple of trails, then the Waterfall Trail and Selang Trail are good options.

The Waterfall Trail is 1.6km one way and ends at a waterfall and swimming hole. The Selang Trail leads off the Waterfall Trail and steeply up to a viewpoint.

If you’re looking for a harder, longer trail, then head out on the Rayu Trail, which can take up to 3.5 hours one way.

Accommodation is available in the park but needs to be booked in advance.


How to get there

Kubah National Park is located a 45-minute drive from Kuching. The best way to get here is by taking a Grab taxi, which will cost 25 RM.

Entrance to the park is 20 MYR ($7 USD).

Things You Should Know

  • Always carry plenty of water when hiking in Malaysia. It can get very hot and humid and you will sweat a lot. At least 1.5 litres of water per person is recommended.
  • Insect repellent, a hat and sunscreen are also essential items. You are likely to encounter leeches in the jungles of Malaysia.
  • National parks in Malaysia charge an entrance fee. The entrance fee is usually 20 MYR ($7 USD) for tourists.
  • The Grab taxi app is a very useful app in Malaysia. You can pay cash to the driver.
  • Consider the time of year you plan to travel in Malaysia as rainy season can make hiking difficult with muddy and slippery conditions.
  • The official language in Malaysia is Malay but English is widely spoken.

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