South East Asia has an abundance of national parks, and with virgin rainforest, huge mountains, and clear blue waters perfect for diving, travellers are certainly spoilt for choice! Join me as I examine what I consider to be the top 5 national parks in South East Asia!
Gunung Leuser National Park in Indonesia is part of the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra and is named after Mount Leuser, which at 3,381m is one of the highest volcanoes in the country. Gunung Leuser contains a famous orangutan sanctuary at Bukit Lawang, which tourists flock to in their thousands despite its relative isolation. Most of the park is mountainous, and is home to the critically endangered Sumatran tiger and the Sumatran rhino.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located around 500 miles south of Hanoi, Phong Nha-Ke Bang is a true taste of ‘Wild Vietnam’ and is perhaps best known for its extensive cave system, with over 300 caves and grottoes present (including the largest cave in the world), and its lush green forest that surrounds the caves. The park is also home to macaques and the Asian Black Bear.
Taman Negara is located in the Titiwangsa Mountains in Malaysia, a few hours drive from Kuala Lumpur, and at 130 million years old, is certainly one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world! Meaning literally “Park National”, Taman Negara is a favourite place for explorers and backpackers to enjoy some jungle hiking, and camping overnight is also permitted. Taman Negara is also home to the Malayan Tiger and crocodiles – but you won’t be unfortunate enough to see one!
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a protected area of the Sulu Sea, belonging to the Philippines. It is a well-respected marine and bird sanctuary consisting of two large atolls. These uninhabited islands are now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Travellers from all over the world come here to experience some of the best diving sites in the region, and the park is also the place to spot sharks, whales, and dolphins all year round!
Khao Sok National Park is located in Thailand’s Surat Thani Province, and is formed of pristine virgin rainforest which is older than the Amazon! Khao Sok is very remote, and getting to it is not easy, but it remains a favourite among backpackers, who cannot get enough of its amazing limestone karst formations, and impregnable jungle terrain.
Do you agree with these choices? Which national parks would you have included in your own top 5 list?