Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and India have the pick of the national parks on the Asian continent owing to the tropical heat of those regions and the associated vegetation and abundance of animal life. In addition, China has close to 200 parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Parks worth noting are India’s Kanha National Park for its wildlife and walks, Japan’s Mount Fuji, Malaysia’s Taman Negara, Indonesia’s Gunung Mulu, Thailand’s Khao Sok, and China’s wonderful Lushan National Park.
Kanha National Park, India Located in Madhya Pradesh not far from Jabalpur, Kanha has often garnered the ‘best national park in Asia’ title owing to its wildlife sanctuary status and fine nature walks. The park is home to tiger, leopard, buffalo, hyena and hundreds of bird species – the barasingha (swamp deer) is one of the rare spectacles of the park. Sunsets from the Bamni Dadar lookout point are particularly humbling.
Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia Taman Negara is synonymous with the outdoors, literally meaning ‘national park’ in Malay and the name conjuring up visions of pure bliss. It lies on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia and became one of the country’s first areas to be designated such status. Taman Negara is one of primary rainforest, rare animals, unending views, snaking waterways and an array of interesting wildlife.
Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Japan One of the world’s most recognizable national parks with Mount Fuji at its core, Fuji-Hakone-Izu is a must see for tourists in the region and a good idea to visit on a weekday during the summer months for fear of being swamped by visiting Tokyoites. Apart from the magnificent Mount Fuji the park is also well known for its hot-spring spas, pristine lakes, fine coastal areas of Izu Peninsula and historic interior attractions.
Gunung Mulu National Park, Indonesia Gunung Mulu National Park has some of the most incredible scenery of anywhere with its stark limestone rock formations and its lush rainforest. The park can be found in Sawarak, Borneo and has already achieved UNESCO World Heritage status, such is its splendor. One of the main features of the park is the Sarawak Chamber, an unbelievably massive enclosed space.
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka Yala National park is one of Sri Lanka’s earliest and most famous parks with its huge collection of birds and wildlife. The park is situated in the southeast of the country across the South and Uva provinces and is loaded with elephant, leopard, sloth, deer, wild boar, small mammals, and over 140 species of birds. The park is best seen in the summer around July and August.
Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Indonesia Sumatra’s Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park is one of the finest in Southeast Asia, especially revered for its ancient rainforest and endangered species. The reclusive Sumatran rhino is chief among these while the rare Sumatran elephant and the Sumatran tiger are also known to live in the park. There are some fine established walks within the park including some serious hill climbing.
Kinabalu National Park - Borneo, Malaysia Southeast Asia’s highest mountain resides in Kinabalu National Park and is what gives the park its name. Mount Kinabalu rises to around 4,100m and is great for trekking and climbing with established routes, easy walking and fabulous views. The park lies in the southeast of Sabah and is also known for its extensive vegetation and wildlife.
Khao Sok National Park, Thailand Located in the south of Thailand, Khao Sok National Park is a fascinating part of the world and is ideal for those into trekking and animal spotting. Hidden in the primary rainforest is an abundance of wildlife, including big cats and bears, while the lake in the center of the park is one of Thailand’s biggest and can be explored by boat. Park accommodation and amenities are very good and it is straightforward to get to.
Lorentz National Park, Indonesia Another of Indonesia’s many famed national parks, Lorentz National Park, located within Papua province, is quite simply huge encompassing an assortment of ecosystems. Designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO, Lorentz rises from the sea and mangrove swamps and reaches right up into montane forest and even alpine areas.
Lushan National Park, China Situated within Jiangxi Province, Lushan National Park encompasses the beautiful Mount Lushan with the Yangtze River to the north and Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, to the east. Mount Lushan is as spiritual as it gets in China with a collection of Buddhist and Taoist temples and lots of nature. The multi-peak mountain itself has a staggering 99 peaks in all, the tallest of which is Dahanyang at a little under 1,500m.
Jim Corbett National Park, India Founded in 1936, Jim Corbett National Park was India’s first wildlife park and is one of the most frequently visited today. The region was well known for its good hunting during the days of British India and took its name from hunter/naturalist/author/ photographer, Jim Corbett. As was the case back then, the amount of wildlife in the park today is astounding and you will likely come away with some great snapshots.