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Malaysia is endowed with vast numbers of limestone caves. Many are surrounded in folklore and mystery and are home to some of natureís most fantastic and beautiful sculptures. Archeological research has found evidence of early man in many of these cave sites.

Although major expeditions have been carried our by the Royal Geographical Society in London and the British Caving Research Association, many caves are still not fully explored and remain an alluring, enticing adventure for the nature tourist. Repeat visitors marvel at how a cave can change within months as the naturally humid Malaysian weather promotes faster stalagmite and stalactite formations.


The majority of caves are limestone and are above ground level. These include Gua Kelam in Perlis, Gua Tempurung and Kundu in Perak, Batu Caves in Selangor and scattered caves around Lake Kenyir in Terengganu and Gua Ikan in Kuala Krai, Kelantan. Famous caves in Sarawak include the Painted Cave in Niah and Fairy Cave in Bau. The Gomantong Caves is the most well know cave in Sabah


Gua Kelam Perlis
Gua Tempurung Kampar, Perak
Kundu Cave Gopeng, Perak
Gua Harimau Perak
Batu Caves Selangor
Gua Ikan Kuala Krai, Kelantan
Taat Cave, Bewah Cave Tasik Kenyir, Terengganu
Doun Menari, Luas Cave, Gua Telinga Taman Negara, Pahang
Gomantong Cave Sandakan Sabah
Fairy Cabe, Wind Cave, Jambusan Cave Bau, North Kuching,Sarawak
Great Cave, Painted Cave Niah National Park, Miri, Sarawak
Sarawak Chamber, Deer Cave, Green Cave, Clear Water Cave , Moon Cave , Turtle Cave Mulu National Park, Sarawak

Underwater or river caves in the Kinta Valley make up less than ten per cent of local caves and are to be avoided during the rainy season. There are also dolomite and sandstone caves scattered around the country.

Malaysian caves can be divided into two categories: adventure and show caves. Adventure caves which include Drunken Forest Cave and Leganís Cave are caves which remain close to their natural state. Show caves such as Deer, Lang and Clear Water Caves in Mulu National Park, Sarawak, are those which have opened up for public, lights and walkways as well as clearly marked paths and explanatory notes. Show caves are cleaner and easier to access than more challenging adventure caves.


Malaysian caves are home to many exotic living creatures. The most notable are the blind catfish of Loaganís Cave and the Trapdoor Spider of Batu Caves.

The skeleton of a big cat fossilised in the roof of Gua Harimau in Kinta Valley makes an intriguing sight. Perak is also famous for its cave temples. The most well known are Perak Tong and Sam Poh Tong which contain many Buddha statues and religious cave murals.

The Hindu cave temple in Batu Caves have shrines to the Hindu deities and is the site for colourful religious festival of Thaipusam.

The Gomantong Caves near Sandakan, Sabah house thousands of swifts which nest in the two large caverns, producing birdsí nests, an exotic Chinese delicacy.

The Niah Caves in Sarawak have walls which portray unique prehistoric paintings which point to the existence of early Man. Its chambers have hundreds of fascinating formations. The Mulu Caves in Sarawak is one of the longest networks of caves in the world. Although 195 kilometres of cave passages have already been surveyed, this represent just 30% of the estimated total. An estimated four million bats live in this system of caves.


There are seasoned cavers who will be willing to act as guides. They may be contacted through the Malaysian Nature Society and through various nature adventure operators.

Tour operators will arrange packages on request. Most caving expeditions are day trips though a visitor can choose to stay overnight. No overnight camping is allowed in most caves but budget hotels are available around most of the cave districts.

Caving is normally done in the dry season which runs from March to October. Permits may be required when exploring some of the caves. These are available from the respective state forestry departments and cost from RM10 to RM40.


For the recreational caver, all that is needed to explore adventure caves is a reliable guide, safety helmet for protection and a powerful torchlight.

More experienced cavers may want to bring their carbide lamps as well as harnesses, ascending and descending equipment and carabineers if they plan to abseil.

Tropical caves are not as damp as those in Europe and the Americas but they are chilly at times especially during storms and heavy rain. A light jacket is also recommended.

As with all nature adventures, preservation and conservation of stalagmites, stalactites and all cave dwelling creatures are of utmost importance. In caves with known inhabitants, avoid flash photography as the light frightens the cave dwelling life forms.


  • Always go with a guide who can be hired from the National Parks or from caving clubs. Many of Malaysiaís caves are unmapped and not even an experienced caver should go exploring alone. Groups of four are optimum.
  • Although some operators offer cave diving, it is a highly specialized sport and should only be undertaken by professional divers and cavers.
  • Always check equipment before venturing into a cave especially when abseiling.
  • Experienced cavers recommend a maximum of eight hours in a cave at a stretch but most caves take less than three hours to explore.
  • Plan how much lighting you will need. One kilogram of carbide will give enough illumination for approximately six to eight hours.
  • Cavers should always carry back-up torches and extra batteries.
  • Heart patients and those suffering from claustrophobia should limit themselves to show caves where guides take in groups of 20 to 40 people.
  • Cavers should be free from allergies related to limestone and bat guano

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