At first glance Kuala Lumpur is a multicultural and modern metropolis of skyscrapers, shopping malls, and ethnic enclaves. But this city of 1.8 million people also has a wild side. Here are some of the best places in the area to escape the city and commune with Mother Nature.
Perdana Botanical Garden
Founded in the 1880s, Kuala Lumpur’s oldest public park showcases a variety of flora from all corners of Malaysia, including some 800 species of orchid and hibiscus flower. While popular with locals who come to practice a variety of outdoor activities, the 227-acre (92-hectare) park offers plenty of space to relax amid the greenery.
Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park
Kuala Lumpur is home to one of the world’s largest butterfly gardens, an 80,000-square-foot (7,432-square-meter) space where more than 5,000 live butterflies flit about amid exotic plants and ferns. Learn about the 1,100 butterfly species found in Malaysia or visit the on-site insect museum to get acquainted with bugs and butterflies from around the globe.
KL Bird Park
This spacious aviary outside the city center within Lake Gardens provides a habitat for 3,000 birds representing around 200 species, many of them found only in Asia. Highlights of the park include Hornbill Park, with its big-beaked rhinoceros hornbills, and the colorful World of Parrots. Nature-centric tours of the Malaysian capital often include visits to both KL Bird Park and Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park.
Kuala Selangor Fireflies
One of the world’s most spectacular natural displays takes place in the village of Kuala Selangor after dark each evening. These mangrove forests, situated a couple hours outside the Malaysian capital, are hope to one of the world’s biggest colonies of fireflies, who light up the sky above the darkened river. Visitors can experience this natural wonder on a full-day tour from Kuala Lumpur.
Situated north of Kuala Lumpur, the rolling hills and tea plantations of the Cameron Highlands have provided a cooling escape from the capital for centuries. This popular hill station–the largest in Malaysia–offers many trekking trails, ideal for breathing in the fresh air and exploring the local flora and fauna. Guided day tours to the Cameron Highlands often include a stop at the popular Batu Caves as well.