Tourism Malaysia


If you’ve watched animation movie Rio (2011) or The Big Year (2011) played by Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, you might have changed your perception about the winged animals prominently featured in these films. Yes, birds are actually one interesting type of reptile, attracting the attention of ornithologists and the casual nature lover alike.

These creatures – some of them rare, nomadic, mysterious, and beautiful – occupy a variety of habitats. They nest in urban parks, while some others hide away in forests. There have been stories of people venturing deep into the jungles of continents for a single satisfying glimpse of these feathered friends.

We may observe them, but they remain “untouchable.” Perhaps that is what makes them such fascinating creatures to us all, and the reason why birdwatching is a passionate pursuit for many, especially among the hipster generation now.

Malaysia, blessed with its tropical nature and greenery, is certainly one of the best bird-watching destinations in the world, with many species easily observable.


Let’s see why Malaysia should be your next birdwatching destination!

  1. After South America, Asia has the second largest concentration of birds in the world, and Malaysia boasts a total of 790 species nationwide in both Peninsular and East Malaysia, plus over 100 species of migratory birds.
  2. Malaysia has 55 Important Birds Area (IBA) covering a total of 5.1 million hectares of mangroves land, forests and parks ( There are 63 species of endemic birds in Malaysia (nowhere else in the world can you find them but here) along with other rare and endangered species such as Silvery Pigeons, Christmas Frigatebirds, Spoon-billed Sandpipes and Helmeted Hornbills.
  3. The migration season for birds coming from Siberia, Manchuria and China to Malaysia starts around September annually, up until early April when it’s time to return to the north. This is the perfect time to observe the arrival of Oriental Honey buzzard, Siberian Thrush and Yellow-rumped Flycatcher after a long flight from home.
  4. The well-known birding sites in Peninsular Malaysia are Fraser’s Hill and Taman Negara which are easily accessible over a 2 or 3 hours’ drive respectively from the nation’s capital of Kuala Lumpur. Meanwhile, over in Sabah, Kinabalu Park, Kinabatangan River and Danum Valley are well known birding destinations. In Sarawak, there are 20 IBAs which are home to 500 species of birds, especially in Bako National Park. Good transport infrastructure allows quick and easy travel between the different birding sites. 

  5. There are several interesting birding routes in Malaysia that each offer different experiences and allow birdwatchers to observe different species of birds. In Peninsular Malaysia there are the Central Route, Central Route Plus and the captivating Northern (Hornbill) Route. These routes cover the crowd–favourite venues such as Taman Negara, home to 350 bird species including Hornbills, Trogons, Barbets and Great Argus. Migratory birds also can be viewed in Langkawi, Kedah and Tg. Tuan, Melaka.
  6. Up north in the state of Perak and just a 2-hour drive from Penang is The Royal Belum Park. The Royal Belum Park is home to an impressive 10 species of hornbills. Some even call it the Hornbill Capital of the World! There is no other place on the planet relative to the size of the area where tourists can find that many number of species of hornbills.
  7. Meanwhile, in East Malaysia there are two well-known routes, namely Borneo (Sabah) Route and Borneo (Sarawak) Route – that covers lowland forest to montane and lower montane which promise many species – such as Malaysian Treepies, Ashy Drongos, Mountain Leaf Warblers or bulbuls.
  8. In the care of skilled and experienced Malaysian birdwatching guides, your chances of seeing your target birds are greatly enhanced. With the right equipment such as potable blinds (camouflage tents), the guide can bring you up close to view the beautiful and vulnerable Malayan Peacock Pheasant and – when the timing is right – even to witness its behaviour during the courtship season!  A well organised birdwatching tour, lasting approximately 14 days, may result in an impressive 200 to 230 species of birds!



Tour Agency: Natural History Tours ( or
Address:        1C, Lot 1392 Jalan Tanjung Rhu, 07000 Langkawi
Email:    or
Contact:         + 6019 5902 300 or + 6012 4870 600

Tour Agency: Ecotourism Conservation Society (ECOMY)

Address:        28, Jalan Spektrum U16/21, Taman Bukit Subang, 40160 Shah Alam, Selangor
Contact:         +6019 3745246

Tourism Malaysia

Hotspots for birding in Malaysia

Hotspots for birding in Malaysia

I have to admit I was not a birder till I bought a 70-300mm zoom lens. But once I could get close to the birds I started to identify them and my interests in birds just grew.

There are many hotspots for birding in Malaysia like Taman Negara, Kuala Selangor, Fraser Hill and on the many islands. If you are an experienced birder you can travel to these places on your own but otherwise many agencies offer organized birding trips in Malaysia. There are bird watching options even in the busy Kuala Lumpur.

Taman Negara is spread over three states – Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang. It is home to 350 bird species. Many types of hornbills can be seen in this region but it usually takes a lot of patience and some luck to spot the birds. Also the chances of spotting anything are more during early morning and late evening as that is when the birds come out. Apart from hornbills there are chances to watch Asia Fairy Bluebird, minivets, woodpeckers, barbets and many others on a visit to Taman Negara. Bird sightings are possible both while trekking and boating.

Kuala Selangor is a town located in the Selangor region of Malaysia about an hour from Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Selangor Nature Park is a paradise for bird watchers. There are four clearly marked walking trails within the park. But if you are new to bird watching having a guide can make the experience so much more enriching. Even experienced bird watchers prefer to go with a guide as they would be more knowledgeable about the habitats of the different birds. Birds, along with many other species in the animal kingdom, are very good at using camouflage. A trained guide can spot them among the leaves or bark which you might otherwise miss. The most commonly sighted birds in this region are herons and storks. Other birds in the area are kingfishers, woodpeckers, barbets, flycatchers. Kuala Selangor also has fireflies by the thousands and tours can be taken to see them in the dark.

The Common Kingfisher at Kuala Selangor. Pic: jack2964, Flickr.

Fraser Hill is an old colonial hill station in Malaysia and is known for its birds and bird watchers. It is home to around 250 species including a few endangered ones like the Malaysian Whistling Thrush and the Mountain Peacock Pheasant. But sighting these birds is a matter of luck and infinite patience. More commonly sighted birds are Asian Fairy Bluebird, Black Crested Bulbul, woodpeckers and many types of warblers.

Loagan Bunut National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo is another birding hotspot. The Lake Loagan Bunut covers an area of 65 hectares. There are walking trails within the park through the dried up lake during particular seasons. However it is strongly suggested to take a guide who can negotiate through the swamps. Birding can be done on boat rides too. Darters, hornbills and eagles can be commonly sighted. The landscape of the national park is in itself quite fascinating and makes for excellent pictures.

The beautiful Loagan Bunut National Park. Pic: norm-digitalfoto, Flickr.

The island of Langkawi boasts a bird park located on the main road across the island. The Langkawi Bird Paradise is a five acre park that is home to 150 bird species and around 2500 birds. Feeding is permitted and photography with the birds is also possible. Hornbills, flamingos, parakeets, mandarin ducks, owls and eagles can be commonly sighted.

There are also some options for bird watching closer to Kuala Lumpur as well. Putrajaya is the administrative capital of Malaysia 25 kilometers from the capital. It is a planned city with large number of water bodies that attract birds. The Putrajaya Wetlands Park is spread over 200 hectares and attract a variety of local and migratory birds like egrets, herons and bitterns.

Finally right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur there is KL Bird Park and it was on my agenda. I was in Kuala Lumpur on business and I managed to see it only on my last day. It was a completely mesmerizing experience. I clicked non-stop and I ended up with so many pictures that I made a stop motion video!

Within three hours I spotted flamingos, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Splendid Starling, Scaly-brested Munia, hornbills, golden pheasants, parakeets of various colors and more. And what would I give to watch that Scarlet Ibis out in the wild! Three hours were not enough but I had a flight to catch later in the day.


The Asian Fairy Bluebird at KL Bird Park. Pic: Mridula Dwivedi.

Tourism Malaysia

1 Day Taman Negara Tour with Lunch at Mutiara Resort

Get back to nature with a day-trip to Taman Negara, Malaysia’s first national park!