If the thrill of caving or spelunking – or cave diving – appeals to you, here are some places that you can check out in Malaysia.
1 Batu Maloi, Negri Sembilan
This wet cave is located in the Tampin Forest Reserve in Negri Sembilan. You’ll need to trek through the forest reserve to get to the cave, which comprises a mass of huge rocks about 1km long, with a stream running through it.
Sunlight flows in through gaps between the rocks at certain parts, but there are also areas which are in darkness.
Trek, climb, and crawl through tight spaces between rock crevices. A thrilling part of this adventure is you get to back crawl through a 300cm or so gap under the cave wall that is partially submerged in shallow water.
Another exciting part is freediving (by holding the breath without any equipment) underwater from one cavern into the next. The experience takes less than a minute but can be both exhilarating yet frightening because it is dark and you can’t see where you’re headed.
Water levels vary depending on the season and weather. An experienced guide is required for this adventure.
2 Gua Tempurung, Perak
At about 3km in length, Gua Tempurung in Gopeng, Perak is one of the longest caves in Peninsular Malaysia. It is popular among caving enthusiasts, and is a good introductory caving experience for those who haven’t tried spelunking before.
The cave complex is located under the limestone hills, with many tunnels running from east to west. Visitors can access the showcave part which is lit with walkways. A river runs through the cave complex and there are amazing rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites.
You can also go adventure caving here, of varying levels depending on difficulty. A guide is required for this. Special equipment like headlamps are also needed as the cave is dark. You will need to crawl through narrow passages and shallow water. And you might get the chance to see cave creatures like albino millipedes, crickets, spiders, bats, and more.
3 Gua Kandu, Perak
Gua Kandu is also in Gopeng and is good for adventure caving. You will get to climb (using ropes provided in the cave), crawl, and even abseil. This dry cave is very dusty though, so wear a mask; your clothes will also get dirty.
There are bats – and guano – inside this cave, which was a former hideout for Communists. You can see Chinese inscriptions on the cave walls, believed to be made by them.
A guide is necessary for this caving adventure, which is very dark inside.
4 Mulu Caves, Sarawak
The Mulu Caves is part of the Mulu National Park in Miri, Sarawak. It comprises a series of both showcaves and adventure caves. You can see some spectacular stalactites, stalagmites, flow rocks, and rock corals in the caves.
Clearwater Cave is believed to be the largest interconnected cave system in the world in terms of volume, and eighth longest at 222km. The cave chamber is so big that it is said to be able to hold 40 Boeing 747 airplanes!
It is also home to an underwater river passage. To get to Clearwater Cave, you can trek 4km through the rainforest, or take a boat along Melinau River.
Wind Cave is 15 minutes by boat from Clearwater Cave. You can also go there on foot. It is named after the cool breeze that blows through it.
Deer Cave is a huge showcave, over 2km long and about 90m in height and width. Its name is said to be because of the deer that go there for shelter, and to lick the salt-bearing rocks.
Lang Cave, one of the smallest caves at Mulu National Park, was named after a guide who led a research expedition to the Mulu Caves in the late 1970s.
You might see cave creatures such as bats, swiftlets, spiders, and even small cave snakes.
5 Niah Caves, Sarawak
Located in the Niah National Park in Miri, the Niah Caves are also an archaeological site. Comprising one large cave and several smaller ones, the limestone caves here are said to be tens of thousands years old, and the birthplace of South-East Asian civilisation; ancient human skulls have been discovered here!
The Niah Caves have been known for its birds’ nest business due to the swiftlets that it houses. There are also bats in the caves.
Niah Great Cave, the main cave, has large chambers with high ceilings, and is about 1km long and 0.5km wide.
6 Bewah and Taat Caves, Terengganu
The Bewah and Taat Caves are at Kenyir Lake in Terengganu. You can get there by speedboat from Pengkalan Gawi Jetty.
Bewah, the largest cave in the area, has a 40m entrance. It is an archaeological site, with skeletons and artefacts like prehistoric tools and kitchen utensils proving that ancient civilisations (Neolithic man) once lived here.
The cave is also home to various nocturnal animals, including bats, and insects.
There are intricate stalactite and stalagmite formations.
Taat Cave is unique in that “sometimes you see it, sometimes you don’t”. The cave entrance is completely submerged when the water levels of the lake are high. It is the top cave in a series, and the ones below it were already submerged when the lake was formed.
7 Turtle Cavern and Turtle Tomb, Sabah
Located near Sipadan Island in Semporna, Sabah, these two underwater caves are only for seasoned scuba divers with proper cavern diving certifications. Dives must be led by a licenced cave diving guide who is familiar with the location.
There are many tunnels with dead ends inside. The cave floor is covered by a layer of thick dust, from the many turtle skeletons found here. That is how it got its name. You are likely see the skeletons of other marine life too.