Taman Negara Travel Guide
Overview of Taman Negara
Taman Negara is a famous national park bordering three states: Pahang, Terengganu, and Kelantan. It was first established in 1938/39 as the King George V National Park, when the sultans of the three states were asked to set aside a piece of land for the creation of a protected area. After independence, it was then renamed Taman Negara.
The park encompasses a total area of 4,343 kilometres squared and is considered one of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests; said to be about 130 million years old. The park is known not only for wildlife sightings but also for their hiking trails; attracting adventurous souls from around the world either for a relaxing day tour or multi-day expedition.
What to Do
Jungle trekking is one of the most popular activities in Taman Negara National Park. The park bears no shortage of hiking trails and has some of the best–and longest–in the country. The longest trail in the national park is the trek to Gunung Tahan, also known as Tenor Trail. It’s also one of the most difficult as it takes seven days and six nights to complete. The mountain is around 53km from the park’s headquarters in Kuala Tahan; where the Tahan and Tembiling Rivers meet. Due to the nature of completing the hike, the hike should only be attempted with a licensed guide and if your fitness level is deemed good enough to attempt it.
Other hiking trails include the hike to Bukit Teresek, Four Steps Waterfall and Lubok Simpon.
Birdwatching is a popular activity you can do at Taman Negara. The park has some 380 different species of birds, which is the highest number in Peninsular Malaysia. Birdwatching areas are in Kuala Tahan and Kuala Terengganu. If you’re planning to go birdwatching, the months of May to August are a good time of the year to do so.
Observing wildlife is also an activity you can undertake. There are several observational towers in the park called hides where salt licks are placed to attract animals. Some of the main hides in the park are Tahan Hide, Tabing Hide, Cegar Anjing Hide, Blau Hide, Yong Hide, and Kumbang Hide. You can easily get to these hides by hiking through the forests along Keniam or Tenor Trails.
Rapid Shooting Adventure
At Taman Negara, you can choose to go rapid shooting. You will board a wooden boat and float down the Sungai Tembelin River, where you will encounter seven different rapids! All participants will be fitted with a lifejacket and since you will get wet, do dress accordingly.
Night Jungle Walk
Another activity you can do is the night jungle walk, where you will walk from the main Wildlife Headquarters to Bumbun Tahan, also known as, Taman Hide. Note: you will need to bring your own torch along.
If you’re looking to relax, Taman Negara has plenty of activities you can do such as feeding fish at Kelah Sanctuary, fishing at Tembeling River and Keniam River, or going on an educational tour of the park’s Interpretative Room. Take note that fishing at Taman Negara is suitable for intermediate or advanced anglers. However, amateur anglers can choose to fish at Tembeling River, which is shallower than the other rivers. Alternatively, some visitors may enjoy a relaxing boat ride along the Tahan River and up to Lata Berkoh: a collection of spectacular cascades.
Where to Go
Orang Asli Village
Visit the Orang Asli Village, an indigenous people that have lived and hunted in the forests of Taman Negara for centuries. The Orang Asli in the park is made up of two distinct groups: the Batek and the Semokberi.
You simply can’t visit Taman Negara without braving the Canopy Walkway, known as one of the world’s longest. The bridge is 530 meters long and suspends 40 meters above ground level, giving you a bird’s eye view of the various flora and fauna as well as the scenic view from up top. It’s located 1.7km from the Wildlife Headquarters and you can reach it within 20 to 45 minutes by trekking or 5 to 10 minutes by boat.
When is the Best Time to Visit
You can visit Taman Negara any time as the weather is warm year round, with temperatures typically going from 30 degrees Celcius to 33 degrees Celcius. Rainy months can affect your hiking plans though so best to avoid hiking in the park from October to December.
How to Get to Taman Negara
If you drive yourself from Kuala Lumpur, follow the main highway via Genting Highlands to Kuantan until you reach exit 819. At Temerloh toll plaza, follow the signs to Taman Negara along route 98. Most people drive directly to Kuala Tahan.
The fastest, cheapest and most convenient way to get to Taman Negara is by bus. Buses depart for Jerantut town from the Titiwangsa Perkeliling Bus Terminal at Kuala Lumpur. Upon arriving at Jerantut town, take the bus to Kuala Tahan Village from Jerantut Bus Terminal, which takes around one and a half hours.
You can choose to sail upriver to Taman Negara, which will take about 3 hours one way. To take the boat, go on a 30-minute bus ride from Jerantut to Kuala Tembeling ferry port. During the ride, keep your eyes open for grazing water buffaloes and macaques. Take note that during the dry season, the boat may not be able to operate due to low river levels.
Take note that there is no direct train to Taman Negara from Kuala Lumpur; you will need to stop at Jerantut. You will need to make your way to Sungai Relau from Merapoh Train Station.
What to Eat
There are plenty of restaurants you can frequent at Taman Negara and many of them offer local cuisine, perfect for visitors who are looking to try some homemade local fare. Head over to Wan’s Floating Restaurant to try out their famous noodle dishes such as kway teow, or to Lia Restaurant to get a taste of the beloved roti canai.
Vegetarian Indian Food
If you’re looking to try other cuisines, there are also restaurants that cater to that. Mama Chop are known for their vegetarian Indian lunches and their menu changes in the evening as well.
Mutiara Restaurant is also a popular international restaurant in the area, serving Western food and one of the few restaurants that serve beer.
Other restaurants in the area are the Family Restaurant.
Where to Stay
There are several budget accommodations in Taman Negara and some of them cater to guests with specific goals in mind. If your aim is to see animals up close, staying at a hide is perfect. One of the most popular hides in the park is the Kumbang Hide, which is far enough from the park’s headquarters but not too far to trek as it takes about 6 to 7 hours to reach.
Other accommodations in the area are the Durian Chalet, Han Rainforest Resort and Xcape Resort.
What to Bring
As you’ll probably be outdoors most of the time, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a cap or hat is recommended for you to bring. If you’re planning to on day hikes, then do pack light to conserve energy. If you’re planning to undertake a multi-day hiking trail, then be prepared to bring the necessities such as trekking poles, sleeping bags, tents, camping cookware, flashlight and a dry bag, among others. It is highly recommended for you to bring a pair of binoculars for wildlife spotting. And do not forget to bring along insect repellent.
What to Wear
Breathable, comfortable and light clothing along with a pair of good trekking shoes will do the trick as most of your days will be spent walking. If you’re opting for other activities in the park such as short treks or watersports, a pair of durable sandals is also a good option.