Taman Negara is said to be the oldest rainforest in the world. It’s estimated to be more than a 130 million years old. It is the home to one of Malaysia’s aboriginal groups called Orang Asli and the Indian elephant, rhinos, tigers and leopards stroll around here as well, but don’t expect to see them here. You have to be really lucky and get deep into the forest, really deep.
Coming from Tioman Islands there is no direct connection to Taman Negara. We managed to get there in the following steps. We took the first ferry from Tioman Island at 6.30 am back to Mersing, where we arrived around 9 am. It is a short walk from the jetty to the buststaion (10 minutes) and after arriving here we had some Tarik Tea and Roti Canai for breakfast. From here we took the 12 pm bus to Kuantan (18 ringgit) and arrived there after 3,5 hours. Just 30 minutes to late to get on the connection bus to Jerentut, therefore we had to wait till the 9 pm bus to bring us to Jerentut (17,5 Ringgit p.p.), where we arrived at 1 am. A long day!
We found a reasonable cheap and good hotel called Sri Emas Hotel and for 50 Ringgit you have a twin room, aircon and a own shower.
The next day we wanted to do the famous boat trip to the village of Kuala Tahan, which is your base for Taman Negara. We arranged a bus + boat ticket at NKS Hostel, just across the street from Sri Emas Hostel for 55 Ringit per person. The bus left at 1.30 pm to Luala Tembeling Jetty. From this point the boat leaves at 2 pm for a comfortable 3 hour “scenic” ride to the city of Kuala Tahan. We really recommend this trip!
There are plenty of little restaurants scattered around town and on the water. Our favorite was Mama Chop where they have good Roti! And where they are quite cheap as well.
We didn’t book in advance so we had to walk around to ask for accommodation. We were one of the last boats to arrive and therefore we had some trouble finding something. We had to ask at several places and ended up at Yellow Guesthouse (what's in a name). Something we don’t regret. We paid 80 Ringgit for a huge room with balcony, aircon and little luxeries like coffee and a tea with a watercooker. It’s clean, the price is reasonable compared to other places and it’s close to ‘town’ but nice and quiet.
There are a lot different things to do in Taman Negara, but they do all involve boat rides or trekkings. You can choose to go on a tour, or be cheap like we were, and do it on your own.
To get to the park, you have to cross the river. Costs are 1 Ringgit p.p. per boatride. And before you’re even allowed to go into the park, you have to register at the HQ and buy a ticket. This is 1 Ringgit p.p., 5 Ringgit for every camera and is valid for as long as you’re there. There are several routes you can follow and we tried some different ones during 2 days.
On our first day we started off by doing the Canopy Walk (5 Ringgit p.p.), a small gangway at about 50 meters high made out of robes and planks. We expected having to wait for a long time since it was really busy in the park but after about 15 minutes we could go up. It’s something that you have to do when you visit the park, but it doesn’t have the wow-factor. It is fun however, when you’re not afraid of heights..
After that, we missed our turn and took a left after the canopy walk (Direction Bukit Indah) and went on a hike we didn’t plan. But we loved it. After 15 minutes we stumbled across a local village of the Orang Asli and took some photos of the happy and friendly villagers, played around a bit with the children en got into a conversation with one of the man living here. It’s amazing how these people can live with so little. The end of our trip was a really nice viewpoint (Bukit Indah, nr 5 on the map) overlooking the river and the forest. In total we walked for about 10 kilometers. Nice workout!
After this workout we deserved a beer and at The Mutiara Resort. They are more then welcome to serve you one for a whopping 20 Ringgit, they know they serve the only beer in town.
We expected day 2 to be a bit more easy in comparison to day 1 because the distance would be much smaller. We walked about 5 kilometers but it wasn’t easier. We went on the Tersek Hill loop and had to climb a lot of stairs. After that, walking down felt more like stumbling and it was hard on the legs. It was a nice walk however and we saw quite some woodpeckers. But next to spiders, lizards and a snake, that was all the ‘wildlife’ we saw.
You hear a lot of stories of people who don’t really like the walks in Taman Negara because of the boardwalk. But this boardwalk isn’t everywhere. As soon as you walk a bit further, you will leave this and really walk in the forest. Taman Negara is really worth visiting. We even stayed longer than planned because we really liked the atmosphere.