Despite popular belief, Malaysia is more than just delightful cafes and bustling shopping malls.
For those of you happy to rough is out or eager to spend days away just surrounded by nature, Malaysia has a plethora of camping options if you’re bored of air-conditioned malls. Few things compare to pitching your tent and spending the night under a clear sky full of stars! Whether you’re looking for a secluded mountaintop enclave or a serene oceanfront retreat, there are some incredible spots to explore.
Some campgrounds may have entrance fees and require booking in advance, so be sure to check their websites before you plan your trip. Read on for some inspo!
1. ABC Camp, Janda Baik
When it comes to camping, Janda Baik always comes up tops. Where else can you go for a wilderness getaway with crystal-clear rivers, lush forests, and a wide variety of camping options? It’s also a quick 45-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur, making it ideal for individuals who want to get away from the city but aren’t keen on a long travel time.
One site that’s worthy of checking out in Janda Baik is ABC Camp, where you can set up camp near the riverbank of Sungai Lurah. Popular activities include river rafting, bird watching, and jungle trekking. Fire up a barbecue at nightfall while you’re at it too!
2. Polumpung Melangkap View Camp Site, Kota Belud
Overnight campouts in the mountains are a dream come true for anyone who loves the great outdoors, especially with a breathtaking view of Mount Kinabalu. Only a 90-minute drive from Kota Kinabalu, the tranquil valley is ideal for relaxing in nature with friends and family, as well as embarking on memorable kayak camping expeditions.
It is common for visitors to set up camp alongside Sungai Panataran to take in the beautiful sight of the river cascading over the rocks. Even on hot sunny days, the water is always chilly because it comes straight from the mountain. At night, overnight campers can gaze up at a million stars as they wind down.
3. Endau-Rompin National Park
Endau-Rompin is a popular camping spot in Malaysia and is home to one of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests. Upon entry, campers and lovers of nature will be greeted by breathtaking waterfalls, fun jungle trails, an Orang Asli (indigenous people) village, and rivers where you can float down on rubber tubes. If that’s not fun for you then we don’t know what is!
There are several campgrounds to select from, such as Batu Hampar, Upeh Guling, Kuala Jasin, and Kuala Marong, but you’ll need a camping permit and your own tent, so do be mindful of that.
4. Mamutik Island, Kota Kinabalu
At Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park’s tranquil and peaceful island, beach camping in Malaysia takes on a whole new meaning. All you need to enter this breathtaking island is a simple gesture of permission from the reception, and you’re all set to find the perfect camping spot.
Be sure to pack some insect repellent and mosquito coils with you. On Mamutik Island, there is a 5-star PADI diving centre with all the necessary equipment you’d need, should you choose to go diving.
Snorkelling is also an option for discovering various aquatic life. Deep in the heart of the island, visitors can undertake jungle trekking and complete a small 400-metre route in about 30 minutes. You can get to this island by boat, which is a mere 40 minutes from Kota Kinabalu’s jetty.
5. Chilling Waterfall, Kuala Kubu Bahru
If you’re in search of a beautiful camping spot, look no farther than the Chilling Waterfall. Located within a reserve, visitors have to pay a small admission fee of RM1 at the ranger’s office. Be prepared to get wet and cross the Chilling river about six times before reaching the main waterfall. While we wouldn’t camping overnight at the upper-level part of the waterfall, we definitely recommend putting up a tent for the day.
There’s also the option to continue climbing upwards to another hidden waterfall. It’s a lot prettier, but may not be an easy trek up for some. There also won’t be a place to pitch a tent up here, but you can explore the area and swim in the chilling pools before heading back down to the main waterfall where your tent is.
Do note that a heavy downpour can cause the river to rise quicker than you can imagine, so be sure to leave the waterfall at the first sign of heavy rain.
6. Tegudon Tourism Village, Kota Belud
About an hour away from the previous Kota Belud campsite, the Tegudon Tourism Village (TTV) has a few defining features. The TTV campsite was conceptualised when local villagers decided to open the riverside as a recreation spot for visitors.
Here at TTV, you can camp next to the river and take a dip in its cold soothing waters whenever you want. Enjoy the view of the majestic Mount Kinabalu, walk across the river on a suspension bridge to the paddy fields, or take a hike to Wasai Waterfall. Camping equipment and huts are available for rental, and local food can be prepared if you order three days in advance.
Address: P/S 291 Tegudon, 89158 Kota Belud, Sabah
Contact: +6013 602 4089
7. Hammocks By The River, Hulu Langat
Been wanting to try camping but not sure where to begin? This campground might be the one for you! Located only half an hour from KL and with essentials available for rent, this place is perfect for beginners who’d like a taste of camping without the initial commitment. Just bring your food and personal belongings for the trip.
You’ll be surrounded by trees providing ample shade and there’s even a river nearby. Note that only adults above 16 are allowed, and they are a pet-friendly campsite. For more questions, drop them a message on their socials or send them a quotation request on their website.
Address: Lot 617, Jalan Sungai Makau, Batu 14 Hulu Langat, 47310 Hulu Langat, Selangor
Contact: +6011 2810 8190
8. Taman Eko Rimba Sungai Pauh, Tanah Rata
Camping in chilly weather? Taman Eko Rimba Sungai Pauh, located in Cameron Highlands, is where you should be headed. You will need to obtain permission from the Jabatan Perhutanan Negeri Pahang to camp here. Basic amenities like a surau, sinks, places to BBQ, and power points are provided. There’s a shallow river that kids can play in, but it can get murky if the weather is rainy.
Make sure not to underestimate the chilly weather! Pack lots of warm clothes, as it can get as low as 14° Celsius at night. Spend your time at Cameron Highlands and come back to the campsite later to cook fresh vegetables and snack on your hand-picked strawberries.
Address: Tanah Rata, 39000 Tanah Rata, Pahang
Contact: +605 491 1384
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on 21st January 2022 and has been updated to include more locations.