Taman Negara National Park

Pahang, Malaysia

Taman Negara National Park in Pahang, Malaysia
Taman Negara is Malaysia's largest national park, located on 4,343km² of primary rainforest with its own mountain range that features the Peninsular's highest summit, Gunung Tahan (2,187m). Sharing its borders with three different states (Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu), the most popular entryway is through Kuala Tahan in Pahang, a small village across the Tembeling River from the park headquarters, closest to Jerantut town (67km away). An immensely popular nature destination, Taman Negara attracts visitors from all over the world, served by a good range of accommodation including budget hotels at Kuala Tahan and a boutique jungle lodge (Mutiara Resort) within the park.

Tourist Guide
While Taman Negara may conjure up images of a remote, ancient rainforest virtually untouched by civilisation, the park is actually well equipped with modern facilities that cater for tourists, including marked jungle trails (some with boardwalks), wildlife observation hides (some with bunk beds), a water taxi service (travel along the river), visitor office with interpretive center, and wide range of budget accommodation at Kuala Tahan (which also has restaurants, sundry shops and a clinic).

Most of the trails can be done on your own (if reasonably fit), though it's better to hire a guide if you're unaccustomed to jungle conditions and safety precautions. Malaria is of very little concern, unless you plan to spend months deep inside the rainforest. Dengue fever is also not a worry, as the Aedes mosquito prefers disturbed habitats near lots of people (eg big villages and urban areas). But watch out for bees and wasps for their obviously painful sting.

The rainforest is a hot and incredibly humid environment (wear thick clothing to your own peril) in day, but freezing cold after midnight. Heavy rainfall is very common at the last quarter of the year, stretching for a few months into the next. Rain can last for a few hours or more, but it is more common to encounter short thunderstorms - still enough to turn most trails into a mud bath. Leeches are abundant further inside the rainforest; prepare salt or suitable insect repellant if you don't want to get your socks caked in blood. While encounters with large wild animals such as elephants, gaur and tigers are rare (if it does happen, ensure a very safe distance), it's much easier to meet semi-tame tapirs, deer and wild boar that frequent the park HQ grounds for easy food from visitors. Squirrels and jungle rodents are also untimid and will approach visitors or raid bags with food, especially those around wildlife hides.
Getting There
  • Kuala Lumpur - Take a bus (Pekeliling terminal, near Titiwangsa Monorail/Star LRT Station) or train (KL Sentral) to Jerantut, then hop on a taxi to Kuala Tembeling for the 2-3 hour boat ride (MYR35) to the park entrance at Kuala Tahan - boats depart twice daily (9am & 2pm, but timing may not always be consistent). Alternatively, you can take a bus or minivan (MYR7-20 per person, but vans need to fill up first) from Jerantut straight to Kuala Tahan. A complete transport (bus & boat) package is available from NKS Office at Hotel Mandarin Pacific, Chinatown (Petaling Street) at MYR75 person, departing 8.30am daily. If you have your own vehicle, take the East Coast Expressway via Karak Highway from MRR2, exit at Temerloh and follow the signboards to Jerantut (120km), and then more signboards from town to Taman Negara/Kuala Tahan (67km). Return to KL in the same manner.

  • Cameron Highlands - A popular transit point for foreign (budget) visitors to Taman Negara, minivan transfer to Kuala Tembeling (boat ride) or direct to Kuala Tahan is available from popular backpacker lodges at Tanah Rata, including Father's Guesthouse and Kang's Traveller's Lodge, and also some tour counters at Tanah Rata's town center, such as Cameron Secrets. These vans usually depart in the morning daily, with tickets costing between MYR60 and 95 per person. Conversely, the boat counter (Han Travel) at Kuala Tembeling arranges minivan/coach transfers to Cameron Highlands.

  • Kuala Tahan - Once at Kuala Tahan, either by car or boat, you need to take a water taxi across the river to reach the park. It costs only MYR1 per person for a one-way trip, and these water taxis are always available (just shout or wave to any pontoon-like boat scurrying around the jetty) from morning till 11pm daily. If you've arrived at Kuala Tahan by car, and wish to spend the night at the park directly, then a large parking lot is available at cheap rates near Woodland Resort. Off the boat, register for a entry permit (MYR1) and camera license (MYR5) at the park office - good for the entire trip duration.
How to Go: Pictorial Guide
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