Nature Escapes

Matang Mangrove Forest

"For A Fun Nature Education Outing"

Mangroves offer a different experience than rainforests.

The Matang mangrove forest is a good place for anyone to get a natural education. An easy side trip from Taiping, take the time to explore this coastal habitat that supports waterbirds, fisheries and charcoal production.

Boardwalks take you into the mangrove swamp for close observation of the forest structure. Boat rides along the river at night showoff the sparkling splendour of fireflies.

Visit large kilns where freshly harvested mangrove trees burn into charcoal. Or ask the Forestry Department to provide a nature guide to explain how the mangrove ecosystem functions.

Mangroves are special habitats. They protect the shoreline from erosion and tsunamis, provide shelter from wind, provide habitat for fish and shellfish, serve as stopover sites for migratory birds, and provide natural medicines and wood products.

For over 100 years, the Matang mangrove forest have stood out as a premier example of Malaysia's sustainable forest management. Trees are harvested after 30 years and extracted only with wooden wheelbarrows.

Mangroves are not spectacular, but they are interesting in many ways:

  • Watch Long-tailed macaques clamber about the boardwalk and mangled tree roots.
  • Try to figure out why trees develop leg-like stilt roots and air-breathing roots.
  • Practice your bird and plant photography skills amid the serene silence of the forest.
  • Bring the group or class for an ecological education on the adaptations of mangroves.

Matang Mangrove Forest: Sights and Sounds

"This pristine mangrove and mudflat ecosystem has survived as the largest single tract of mangrove forest in West Malaysia."

Escape To The Great Outdoors Of West Malaysia

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Matang Mangrove Forest: Fascinating Facts

Being next to the sea, mangrove plants evolved to adapt to harsh conditions. On your next trip find and explain some of these marvelous modifications?

  • Roots That Anchor -- To keep strong against water currents, cable-like roots buried in the mud grow deep to hold the trees steady.
  • Roots That Breathe -- With trees submerged in water, hundreds of pencil-thick roots grow upwards to take in oxygen and avoid water.
  • Leaves That Take Out Salt -- Living in salty sea water means that leaves must take out the extra salts for trees to grow.
  • Fruit That Floats -- Fruits stay longer on the parent tree before dropping into the mud or have air-pockets to float until it reaches soft ground.
  • Thick And Leathery Leaves -- To conserve water in hot and salty conditions, some species have thick or waxy leaves for protection.

Matang Matang Matang

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Matang Mangrove Forest: Activities

Matang covers over 40,000 hectares as the single largest mangrove forest in Peninsular Malaysia.

Used for firewood in the past, a charcoal industry began in the 1930s and continues today to supply Japan and local markets. When mangrove trees reach the age of 15, some are cut for poles as thinning-out thick forests allows better growth.

The mudflats and swamps fringing the mangrove forest provide rich habitat for waterbirds, monkeys, otters and shellfish. Tidal water movements flush nutrients into the mud that serve as breeding and feeding grounds for valuable fish and prawn species.

First visit the Matang mangrove forest and read the informative signs along the boardwalks to learn about these special habitats and observe the wildlife. Then check out some of the other mangrove activities in the surrounding area.

Charcoal Production Tour -- Freshly cut trees are stacked and loaded into large baking kilns to produce charcoal. Fires burn for up to 20 days and temperatures reach a superhot 220 ℃ to dry out green trees into black fuel after leaving it to cool for 8 days.

Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary -- A few kilometers at the northern tip of the Matang mangrove forest lies a large wetland swamp where local and migratory birds flourish. Go see the endangered Milky Stork, egrets, herons, kingfishers, bee-eaters, woodpeckers and kites.

Fireflies River Tour -- Nearby communities offer night time boat rides to see the fireflies. One of the simple natural wonders of mangrove forests, these flashing insects amaze visitors with their sparkling displays.

Steam Room (Wap Kayu) -- Using charcoal to heat the water and make steam, there are a few operators offering healthy steam baths to cleanse your skin.

Nature Guides and Tours -- Contact the Perak Forestry Department to organize tours with local guides for ecology or birdwatching and book groups to use the camping and information centre facilities.

Matang Mangroves

Matang Mangrove Forest: General Information


All enquiries for visiting the mangrove forest and any of the other available activities should first be organized with the Forestry Department.

There is no fee for entry into Matang, but all other activities (e.g. charcoal, fireflies) require guides or tour fees.

Matang District Forest Office

Jalan Muzium, 34000 Taiping, Perak
Tel: 05-807 2762/5324
Fax: 05-806 7743

Accommodations And What To Bring

  • Chalets: Regular (RM 30); VIP (RM 50)
  • Camping on platforms available
  • Walking for exercise, outdoor photography, birdwatching at any time
  • Carry binoculars for birdwatching and monkey spotting
  • Guide books to identify mangrove mammals and birds
  • Taxi service available from Taiping

Getting There

  • Take the North-South Highway north to the Taiping exit.
  • Follow the signs for Matang heading west (Maxwell Hill-Bukit Larut is to the east).
  • Pass the Simpang junction and follow road to Matang village.
  • Veer right around bend and continue to go straight until a sharp left turn.
  • Follow the road with forests on each side and look for Pejabat Hutan Kecil, Paya Laut, Kuala Sepetang sign on the right.
  • Turn right and stop at entrance gate to sign forms and get advice from forest rangers.

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