Took a self-drive family holiday to W. Malaysia during the September holidays, spending two nights each at Endau Rompin National Park (Selai entrance, access from Bekok) and another two nights at Sungai Lembing (40 min away from Kuantan).
The first stop was Endau Rompin National Park. The park has three entrances – two from Johor side, and the third from Pahang – and we entered via the one from the western side near to Bekok town. This town is quite accessible (3 hr drive from Singapore, or by KTM train) and a place to stop for lunch before heading into the park itself (4WD is necessary, arrange with Johor National Parks or through a tour operator):
We left our car at the park HQ at Bekok, and transferred to a 4WD that brought us into the Selai entrance of Endau Rompin. The ride in took about an hour before passing a campsite (mostly locals) and the chalet where we booked our two nights stay (brown two storey building, below left):
Note: this is already the most “luxurious” accommodation available; it is spacious but basic (i.e. has ensuite toilet and shower, but no hot water, no wifi, no TV, no cooking facilities). For even simpler accommodation, try the “jungle huts” (see above picture of the yellow huts).
The activities in Endau Rompin? Basically jungle trekking to waterfalls, swimming or dipping in the refreshing (i.e. very cold) waters, night walk,
fish spa (yup, quite interesting that there are fish in the waterfall pools that will nip your skin), getting leech bites or more like preventing them from drinking your blood (all of us got one or two, which is pretty good considering the many hours spent hiking in the jungle) …
But the highlight was the water tubing, where we steered a rubber tyre down the river and over some small rapids (very fun, very safe, no worries!) for about an hour:
After breakfast on Day 3, we took the 4WD out to Bekok Park HQ (back to our car, good thing no problems at all leaving it overnight there for 2 nights!) to continue our onward journey to Sungai Lembing, a town in the state of Pahang, and near to Kuantan.
We stayed at the Lembing Riverview Resort (also no wifi, although it is supposed to have; the connection was down the whole time we were there). The owner talked us into changing our plans while there (visit Rainbow Falls first morning, then Panorama Hill the second morning) as he reasoned that Rainbow Falls trip would take a longer duration (ending around 12 noon, and may be tiring for us then to continue our 6 + hours drive back to Singapore; Panorama Hill would end by 8:30 am, and we could freshen up before taking a relaxing drive back). We took up his suggestion, paid the RM60/pax for the Rainbow Falls tour, and spent the remaining time exploring the town on foot (its a very small place, but interesting for its scenery and food e.g. the roasted pork).
The walk took us to the two foot bridges (one is known as the longest, the other is the oldest bridge), pass residential areas (almost every house had a 4WD vehicle that catered to bringing visitors to the Rainbow Falls tour!!) …
and finally, to the roast pork place for dinner (opens 5:30 pm, we reach there 6:10 pm, joined the queue (see earlier photos), but soon found that it was already sold out … boo!!). Well, never mind, just walk back into the town centre and eat zhi char (:P yummz)
After dinner, had a “scary” night walk back to our resort (passing two cemeteries, and deserted houses …), and slept early for the Rainbow Falls tour the next morning (5:30 wait for 4WD at lobby!!).
Unfortunately, a huge downpour at 3 am, lasting all the way to 8 am ended any hope of visiting the Rainbow Falls. Instead, we went to the food centre for breakfast, walked around the Sunday street market and headed to Gua Charas. Just 7 km away from town, this is a limestone cave with a sleeping Buddha, and an interesting light ray that shines onto it around 11 am – 12 noon daily.
After hanging around till noon to see the light rays (most other visitors had left by then), we headed back to town for lunch, and “chilled” for the rest of the afternoon. Evening time saw us up on Sunset Hill where the highlight was this huge scorpion; no sunset was visible as it was too cloudy!
The next morning, again at about 5:30 am, we went for our final adventure: walking up Panorama Hill to catch the “sea of clouds” and sunrise.
Really very impressive scenery, and the hike up only takes 40 min (1 hour if walk slowly).
In all, a very interesting trip to W Malaysia, with good (and cheap) food, great scenery and activities, and wonderful family bonding time!
- for the budget conscious, try to arrange the stay at Endau Rompin with the Johor National Park directly (costs RM400-500/pax); doing so through a tour operator from Malaysia costs about RM800-900. Using a tour operator from Singapore would cost much more.
- Self-driving – we had no problems at all, and at Bekok on the day we departed, we also saw many other Singapore registered cars parked outside the Park HQ, with the families waiting for the 4WD transport to bring them into the park itself – try to prearrange this or you may need to wait for available 4WD if they are busy. If you have your own 4WD, then you can drive in with your own transport.
- Bekok train station is near to the park HQ, and is an alternative to self-driving. However, the onward journey will need to be considered carefully (i.e. how to end up at the next destination, like Mersing, or for us, Sungai Lembing).
- Leeches – this is not as bad during dry season, and there are many suggestions of how to deal with it on the internet (including using “leech proof socks”, or using eucalyptus oil). Anyway, it is part of the jungle experience and really quite harmless and painless; only thing is it does take some time for the bite spot to stop bleeding. Direct pressure/putting a plaster works quite well.
- Wifi – if you must have connection, sign up on a data plan, as wifi should be assumed to be not available in the national park area.
- Food – inside Endau Rompin, there is no food available for purchase; we took a full board plan, but we also saw our neighbours (locals) bring their own stuff (wok, bbq pit, food, etc).
- Sungei Lembing – never knew such nice “sea of clouds” could be seen so easily and it also comes with rows of mountain ranges in the background!