Malaysia is known for many great things. People from all around the world visit the country for its luscious forests, beautiful beaches, delicious food, and diverse cultures. But did you know that our nation is also one of the best places in the world to see the stars?
Thanks to its position on the Equator, Malaysia is actually an ideal location to watch the stars of both the Northern and Southern skies.
To those who do not own any special equipment (i.e. telescope), be sure to take a blanket or a camping mat to lie on as this helps avoid neck ache while you stargaze. Besides that, you can also download astronomy apps like Star Walk or Google Sky to your smartphone because these apps will tell you what stars you can see from your current location.
Without further ado, here are 9 stargazing sites in Malaysia that you should visit at least once in your life:
1. Penang National Park, Penang
Formerly known as the Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve, Penang National Park is the smallest national park in the world and it is found in Teluk Bahang – a small town in the northwestern point of Penang Island. As the remote park is far away from the city, it has become a go-to spot for many astrology lovers. Penang National Park is also home to several pristine beaches, as well as a variety of flora and fauna.
For more information, hit up Tourism Malaysia’s website.
2. Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor
Kuala Kubu Bharu (or KKB for short) is a hilltop town with traditional charms from the colonial area. Filled with quaint shophouses, temples, and monuments, the town is a great choice for stargazers who are looking for a short and stress-free getaway as it has little to no light pollution. Furthermore, KKB is easily accessible from Kuala Lumpur via KTM Komuter.
Fun fact: In case you didn’t you, the original town (Kuala Kubu) was actually destroyed by a flood in 1883. That’s why it is called Kuala Kubu Bharu (or Baru, which means “new” in Malay).
3. Padang Pasir Klebang, Melaka
Is stargazing on a desert on your bucket list? Then Padang Pasir Klebang in Melaka is the right place for you! Known as “the white desert” by many, the exotic-looking lot is actually a reclaimed land by Melaka developers. As it is just a 20-minute drive from the state’s city centre, it has become a must-visit spot for tourists.
According to The Smart Local, the perfect time to visit Padang Pasir Klebang is from 5am to 6am as patrons will be able to see the stars and catch the glorious sunrise.
4. Perhentian Islands, Terengganu
Perhentian Islands are a group of coral-fringed islands at the south of the Thai border. While the main islands are Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhentian Kecil, there are a few uninhabited islands (e.g. Susu Dara, Rawa) near Pulau Perhentian Kecil. Besides the clear blue water, the getaway is a stargazing paradise that will leave all aspiring astronomers in awe.
Fun fact: The name “Perhentian” means “stopping point” in Malay. This is because the islands became an assembly point used by merchants who were traveling from Malaysia to Bangkok.
For more info, visit Pulau Perhentian’s website.
5. Pulau Gem, Terengganu
Pulau Gem (otherwise known as Pulau Gemia) is a hidden gem, literally. Located just off the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the small secluded island can be reached by boat from Marang Jetty in Dungun. Although it’ll take some effort to arrive at Pulau Gem, it’s all worth it when you see the sparkling night sky while relaxing by the beach. Besides that, other activities on the island include snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, island excursion trips, kayaking, and many more.
6. Fraser’s Hill, Pahang
Dubbed “Little England” among locals, Fraser’s Hill is another spot to add to your list of stargazing sites. Featuring picturesque hiking trails and perfect spring weather, Fraser’s Hill is also a popular venue for bird-watching. Thanks to its array of resorts and hotel, star lovers are able to observe the Milky Way in the comfort of their cozy accommodations.
7. Canada Hill, Sarawak
Famed for being Shell’s first oil well, Canada Hill has now been declared a national monument. Not only is the hill a historical landmark, the well-known tourist spot features magnificent views of Miri city and the sea. Although the trails are difficult to hike, the hill offers an amazing view of the night sky. Also, be sure to visit the Old Lady and the Petroleum Museum when you are at the top of Canada Hill.
8. Tawau Hills Park, Sabah
Tawau Hills Park (otherwise known as Taman Bukit Tawau or No.4 Gudang) is another popular stargazing spot in East Malaysia. Aside from camping sites and outdoor picnic areas, patrons can choose to stay at the park’s well-managed chalets. Moreover, the retreat has a rugged volcanic landscape, a sulphur hot spring, as well as several deepwater pools and waterfalls (i.e. Air Terjun Bukit Gelas, Table Waterfall).
For more info, hit up Sabah Parks’ official website.
9. Kudat, Sabah
Situated at the tip of Borneo and roughly 190km away from Kota Kinabalu, Kudat is known for its pristine beaches and fresh seafood. As the coastal town has little to no light pollution, Kudat offers stargazers a dazzling view of the Milky Way from mid-February to early October. The sky is so clear that you won’t need any special equipment to observe the stars! And that’s not all, other tourist attractions include the central market, fish market, Sidek Esplanade, and the Kudat Golf Club.
Fun fact: The name “Kudat” comes from the Rungus (a sub-group of the Kadazandusun) dialect “kutad” – a type of coarse grass that grows abundantly in the town.
Got any personal favourite places that you think should be added to the list? Feel free to share with us ;)