Owing in part to its vast expanses of rainforest, Malaysia’s wildlife is incredibly diverse. Approximately 361 mammal species can be found within the country, as well as 694 bird species, 250 reptile species, and 150 frog species, earning the classification of being ‘megadiverse.’ But while thoughts of Malaysia may conjure up images of Kuala Lumpur and its imposing Petronas Towers (or, if you’re a keen fan of conservation, the orangutan!), it’s worth noting that the waters here are actually comprised as part of the Coral Triangle. Just a few examples of Malaysia’s incredible wildlife species include:
- Clouded leopards
- Sharks (such as hammerheads, whale sharks and more).
Whether on land or at sea, aiding wildlife conservation in Malaysia is sure to be a memorable and meaningful experience – for you and the whole family, or even if you're a volunteer in Malaysia.
Malaysia’s culture is incredibly diverse, even with the language itself comprising of various dialects. While the country has undergone influence by China, India and Arabic nations, certain traditions still persist and are actively carried out by existing indigenous tribes. While taking part as a volunteer in Malaysia, you’re likely to experience elements of the country’s culture – just some of the things you can look forward to are listed below:
- Cuisine – it’s well-known that one of the best ways to experience a new country is by sampling the local delicacies, and Malaysia is certainly no exception. Malaysian cuisine is world-renowned and is typically a highlight of holidays there. Try a delicious rendang or be brave with a (surprisingly delightful) fish head curry and take note of the ingredients, as you’ll want to make this at home too. Coconut milk, vegetables and a blend of sweet and sour are common staples, too, so there’s something for everybody!
- Art – Malaysian art as we know it is rather a new concept, as up until the 1950s it was taboo to draw people or animals. These days contemporary art is growing in popularly, with Minut Art Social in Uptown Damansara attracting a number of young artists to frequent its halls. Elsewhere, textiles have long-since played a major part in Malaysia’s art culture, with carving, weaving and silversmithing each being commonplace.
- Holidays and celebrations – like most places in Asia, Malaysia is not a country to shy away from celebrating! There are an abundance of festivals taking place throughout the year and across all religions and ethnicities: from Muslim to Christian, Chinese to Malay, people from all walks of life are able to celebrate their own important days of the year. Arguably the most important festival in Malaysia is Eid al-Fitr (or Hari Raya Aidilfitri), aka the Islamic New Year. The occasion is celebrated in different ways around the globe, but those in Malaysia engage in ‘homecoming’ (returning to their native towns) before spending the night before Idul Fitri chanting in mosques. Oil lamps are typically lit up, and some people even decorate with tiki torches! It is also customary for people to take turns in opening up their house to neighbours, entertaining them with celebrations and food. There’s much to learn about Eid-al Fitr, so take some time to research it if you’re heading over to Malaysia in June, when celebrations take place!
Whether aiding animal conservation in Malaysia or taking part on a tour, you should consider putting together an itinerary of the must-see sights that the country has to offer. Just a handful of our personal suggestions can be seen below:
- The Petronas Towers – these two iconic towers are 451 meters tall, and are an iconic part of Malaysia’s skyline. Visit iconic Kuala Lumpur and pay a visit to the tallest twin towers in the world, and enjoy the dizzying highs from the safety of the Skybridge.
- Mount Kinabalu – this mountain prominently stands out on the island of Borneo and, at 4095 meters tall, only the bravest adventures should scale to the top!
- Bako National Park – this is the oldest National Park in Sarawak and is a fantastic place to take in the local scenery and wildlife. You will have the opportunity to visit Bako on the Orangutan and Tribes Tour and on The Great Orangutan Project, or you may choose to pay a visit before or after your time spent on a different volunteer project.
Whether visiting Malaysia's wildlife sanctuaries, diving into the waters around the Perhentian Islands, or joining as a volunteer in Malaysia, there is so much to see in this phenomenal country - if you can't see it all in one trip, we're sure you'll keep coming back for more!