Monsoon season in Malaysia means that even if you don’t care about getting wet, many of the most visited places are actually closed, specially in the East Coast. Right in the midlle of the country, Taman Negara was not an exception.
When I visited Taman Negara National Park, the oldest rainforest in the world, I was really excited to go and do some of the multi-day hikes over there.
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One of the downfalls of not researching much in advance is that when I arrived to Taman Negara I was told that most treks and activities were closed (in my defence, all the other travellers I met were also unaware of this)
Still, this post is not about stopping you but au contraire! if you’re traveling in Malaysia in the rainy season you can still do lots of stuff in different places and Taman Negara certainly deserves to set up a couple of days for a quick visit.
How to get there:
To get to Taman Negara from Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands or other destinations. Take a bus to Jerantut. From here you will have two options:
1: the cheapest, take a local bus to Kuala Tahan for Rm 7. Departures from Jerantut at 8:00 and 15:00
MY HIKING ESSENTIALS
2: the coolest, take a boat!
To take the boat you first get a van to Kuala Tembeling. This will cost you Rm5. At the bus station in Jerantut you will have someone offering you to take you to Tembeling, first they say the rate is Rm10 but make sure to bring this price down.
From Kuala Tembelin you take a 2-hour boat through the Tembeling River to Kuala Tahan which is the gateway for the park. The boat cost Rm45, don’t book any of those packages online for double the price.
You can get to Tembeling and purchase the ticket yourself. The boat leaves at 14:00 to Kuala Tahan. When purchasing the boat ticket you also pay for the entrance to the Taman Negara National Park, which is Rm1 and an extra Rm5 for your “camera license” (phones included on this license)
As you can expect, the boat ride is pretty cool, getting deep into the rainforest you get the chance to see some small villages, cows taking a swim to refresh from the sun and the scenery is just much better than you can expect!
Upon arrival to Kuala Tahan I started walking looking for a cheap place to stay. Asking around I was pointed towards Liana Hostel, I got a room there for Rm20 which I think was the cheapest in town and from the feedback I got from other people I met the facilities were almost the same everywhere.Booking.com
Kuala Tahan is a small village the you can walk around in 15min. It has a number of places to eat and even a couple of mini markets to buy water/snacks if needed.
The entrance to the Taman Negara National Park is across the river and there’s a boat that take you there for Rm1 each way.
As it was late November, with still lots of rains, all the treks and activities were closed. Except the hike to Bukit Teresek.
Most people I saw were with guides. You definitely do not need one. This is a very easy hike and even easier to follow. Also, with guides you go out-and-back which is pretty boring as all the terrain is man-made with wooden steps.
When hiking solo, once you reach the top of the hill there’s a little path almost hidden behind some branches but clearly visible when you get closer. This is when the fun begins!
This path seemed to me a bit abandoned as at parts is had some old wooden steps but they were rotten so it was actually a bit dangerous to use them. But still, you can walk around them.
In this downhill is when I first encountered some leeches. I was with shorts so I sprayed repellent on my socks and was stopping every now and then to check for any “attacks”, I got about five of them when they were climbing through my shoes.
On this second half of the hike is when you get a bit of sense of adventure, that’s when you realise you’re in the oldest rainforest in the world! still close enough to civilisation though so no chance of many animal sights apart from the regular monkeys, lizards, birds and leeches.
When reaching the bottom of the path you can go left back to the village or right for farther hikes. They were closed on my visit but I still walked there for about an extra Km. When it got pretty muddy I retraced my steps.
It took me about 45 minutes to get to the top and about the same to go down. The best thing of doing this counter-clock wise circuit is that at the end of it you arrive to Lubok Simpon which is a swimming area! don’t be afraid for the warning signs mentioning that there may be animals in there, I was in the water for about an hour and it was incredibly refreshing! didn’t see any animals/bugs/leeches at all.
As the hiking options were so limited I took the local bus back to Jerantut at 10:00 (there’s another at 17:00) on the following day after only one night at Kuala Tahan.
If you’re traveling in “the wrong” time of the year as I did, there’s no need to skip this area, you can still get a glimpse of it. Also recommended if you’re travelling for a short time as this could be a good stop in between Kuala Lumpur and the Cameron Highlands (in any direction of travel)
Feel free to drop any comments or questions if you want to go hiking in Taman Negara! 🙂
Check out the rest of my backpacking adventures in Malaysia for more ideas on your next trip!