Taman Negara is Malay for "national park" and is the largest national park in Peninsular Malaysia. It is famous for its tropical rainforest, birds, and insects.
The dry season runs from February to September, so that is the best time to visit the park. The peak tourist season is from April to August.
By public transport
The river boat leaves from the jetty at Kuala Tembling at 9AM and 2PM for Kuala Tahan. The 60 km journey takes 2-3 hr, and costs RM35.
Or for a cheaper option without the boat, take the public bus from Jerantut directly to Kuala Tahan (2 hr, RM7) at 8AM or 3PM; and back to Jerantut at 10AM and 5PM.
A taxi can be taken directly from Jerantut to Kuala Tahan which will take 1 hr and cost RM70. Ensure that the price is understood prior to departure.
The easiest way to get to the park is through an arranged service from the Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur with 3 companies :
- Ivy Holidays Taman Negara Van Transfer, tour counter in Petaling Street Chinatown (Operating from the ground floor Wisma Selangor along Jalan Sultan), ☏ , , (Petaling street), email@example.com. They offer comfortable, spacious and modern vans that run daily to Taman Negara at 8:30AM from the main entrance of Wisma Selangor (Selangor Building) at Petaling Street. The price is RM90-95 per person which includes the 3½-hour van transfer to Kuala Tembeling Jetty and the 2-hour boat transfer to Kuala Tahan. They also sell day trips, overnight trips, 3-day, 2-night and 4D/3N packages to Taman Negara National Park..
- NKS Hotel and Travel Coach, their Jerantut office at Hotel Sri Emas (There's also an office in KL at the Hotel Mandarin Pacific), ☏ , , , , (Petaling Street). The coach departs from Hotel Mandarin Pacific, going to Jerantut, then change to another smaller bus to Kuala Tembeling jetty, finally take a boat to Taman Negara (Kuala Tahan) from Tembeling jetty. KL (8:30AM) - Jerantut (noon) - Kuala Tembeling (2PM) - Taman Negara (5PM). On the way back the boat starts at 9AM at Taman Negara and you arrive at 4:30PM in Kuala Lumpur Chinatown. for RM95.
- HAN Travel Coach. Same package as the NKS one although the bus goes straight to the jetty. Bus leaves at 8:30AM near The Mariamman Building (behind Mariamman Hindu Temple) Pasar Seni LRT station. The Boat leaves at 1:30PM and drop you off at the Han Rainforest Resort. You can book either of these coaches online - choose a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Taman Negara. RM80-95.
If you have your own transport, you can drive to Kuala Tahan; although you would miss the river boat trip, which is an important part of the experience. Parking is available at the hotels. From East Coast Expressway, exit at Temerloh and proceed to Jerantut. You will reach a T-junction. Turn right to Kuala Tahan - 75 km). The journey is 3½ hr from Kuala Lumpur.
There are plenty of roadsigns so you shouldn't get lost. You will drive across estates of palm oils and winding roads. Beware of cows and buffalos. There is no phone signal in the estates.
Fees and permits
Admission is RM1, a camera permit RM5. If you also want to fish, it is an additional RM10 for your entire length of stay. Permits can be bought at the park headquarters, just across the river from the village in the park, Kuala Tahan.
It is easy to get around without any guide. You can explore the forest on your own. However, if you go into the deep jungle, especially by the Keniam, Tenol, or Tahan Mountain trails, it is better to go with guide, as you will learn a lot about the jungle and reduce the risk of becoming lost or disoriented.
- Lata Berkoh & Waterfall Cascades. A famous spot for swimming in clear and cool water. Beware of strong currents and not stray too far from the bank. You can reach Lata Berkoh by boat ride for RM160. The boat ride itself is a unique experience. You can ask the boatman to turn off the engine (on your way back only) and enjoy the sound and sights of the jungle. It is like being in a Rambo movie. Half way to Lata Berkoh you can stop by the Kelah Sanctuary.
- Kelah Fish Sanctuary. The Kelah fish is a culinary delight of the locals. They are known for their sweet flesh and is absolutely delightful when steamed fresh. You can feed these friendly fishes here with food that be bought from the Rangers. Stand bare footed in the river and watch as they come to nibble at your feet.
- Videos on Indigenous flora & fauna. Shown at the Interpretive Room at 8:45PM daily.
- Tahan Wildlife Observation Hide. You may see some wildlife at the salt lick. It is best to stay overnight.
- Jungle Trekking. Jungle treks of various duration, some up to nine days, are possible. Trekking requires considerable preparations, a lot of water and a guide must be taken on all long trekking journeys. Although challenging, the jungle treks prove to be an equally rewarding authentic jungle adventure.
- Climb Bukit Teresek (Teresek Hill). 334-m-high hill. The trail is relatively easy until the foot of the hill. Then it turns to a moderate climb among ropes and tree roots. Get lucky and spot various wildlife including wild hog, rare birds, scorpians and others. Smell and drink the native Seranti tree, which is similar to a cola. When you finally reach the view point, you will be able to see almost the entire national park.
- Canopy Walkway (at the foot of Bukit Teresek). Walk across the longest Malaysian suspension bridge in the world, at 530 m. Walk across the canopy 25-40 m high, and view the rich and diverse flora and fauna at the summit of the forest. There's no need for a guide to get there. In March 2013 an important part of the walk was closed for renovation. RM5.
- Visit the Orang Asli Settlements (10min upriver from the park entrance). "Orang Asli" means "original people" in Malay. The Orang Asli live a nomadic lifestyle in Taman Negara. Their settlements are found along the trails. Some settlements are accessible by boat. Let them teach you how to make a blow gun and shoot it. Some background: the local travel agencies negotiated with the very shy Orang Asli group to abandon the nomadic lifestyle and settle down next to the river (in face of the canopy walk) so that they are easily accessible. Everyday about 10-15 tourists come to the settlement, and the travel agencies pay them RM5 for each visitor. RM45.
- Night Walking Safaris. View nocturnal plants and animals in an easy hour guided trek from the Ranger's headquarters. See flowers that only bloom at night, water dragons, snakes, glow in the dark fungis, stick insects other weird and wonderful creatures.
- Night 4WD Safaris. A guided drive through a palm plantation to view owls, wild cats, snakes and birds. You could see kingfishers, hornbills, otters, monitor lizards and more. One or more guides will shine spotlights on any wildlife they can find. The tour does not take place in the park, but on the developed side of the river 15 minutes out of Kuala Tahan. This means there isn't a rainforest backdrop but at best palm trees and at worst the remains of cut down palm trees. It is not offered by the park but by private companies such as Han Travel.
- Fishing. It is estimated there are as many as 300 species of fish in the rivers. You may only fish the waters of Sungai Tahan below Lata Berkoh and Sungai Keniam below Kuala Keniam Kecil. Fishing tends to be best in the drier months of February to April and June to August. Permit costing RM10 per rod is necessary.
- Cave Exploration. Gua Telinga (Ear Cave) has rock formation in the shape of an ear. Gua Kepayang and Gua Daun Menari (Dancing Leaves Cave) are some of the few limestone outcrops that you can explore along with animals and insects that live in the caves.
- Shooting The Rapids. Travelling upstream on Sungai Tembeling from Kuala Tahan is an exhilarating experience. One must be prepared to get drenched as the boat has to negotiate 7 sets of rapids.
- Bird watching. There are over 350 species of birds in the park.
- Climb Gunung Tahan (Tahan Mountain). You will need to carry your own food and tent on this 4-7 day journey to the top of the highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia at 2,187 m. There is a slim chance of seeing elephants in the wild. Guides are necessary. Months of physical fitness training is needed before most trekkers would attempt the climb.
- Swimming (20 min from park HQ). You can swim at Lubuk Simpon, the most accessible swimming hole in the park. It is a nice place to cool down after a day jungle trekking, and you can spot some fishes.
There are floating restaurants at the riverside of Kuala Tahan, including Family Restaurant, Wan Cafe, and LBK. These cafe serve local delicacies such as toasted bread with kaya jam (weird but tasty combination of egg and coconut), fried rice, drinks, sandwiches, and soups.
The Mutiara Resort has a restaurant that features bland food for westerners at comparatively high prices.
Outside of Kuala Tahan there are not many restaurants.
There are no bars in Kuala Tahan as it is a Muslim village. Chess Corner, near the Tembeling Riverview Guesthouse is a nice bar style cafe where locals sing songs and play the guitar at some nights. However, this 'bar' does not serve alcohol. There are also several cafes across the Tembeling River which a reachable by a quick boat ride.
You can still buy alcohol from the shop across the Teresek View motel. The alcohol is "hidden" in a separate room near the cashier. Can of beer RM12, small bottle of spirit RM20.
The Mutiara Resort restaurant has a full bar, expensive by Malaysian standards. If your are staying on the village side, be careful not to get stranded after the last ferry.
One local drink you should try is the "Sirup Bandung", which is a blend of rose syrup and milk. It is a tasty concoction to drink after a day's trek.
Apart from Mutiara Taman Negara, which is next to the park entrance, all accommodation is across the Tembeling River at Kuala Tahan. Most are within walking distance of the river and there are many boats to take passengers across to the park entrance. Cost is RM1 per person, per crossing.
- Hides & Campsites, ☏ . Book at the park headquarters. RM5.
- Agoh Chalet, Kuala Tahan, ☏ . Twin room RM50, quad room RM80, family room RM100.
- Durian Chalet, Kuala Tahan, ☏ . 10 chalets. chalet: RM30-50.
- Ekoton Chalet & Dorms, Next to the park entrance at Kuala Tahan, ☏ . RM20-100.
- Liana Hostel, Kuala Tahan, ☏ . Check-out: noon. Basic hostel with 4 bed dorms. The place is clean and has great view over the river from the café next-door. Probably one of the cheapest to stay in Taman Negara. Fan dorm bed: RM15.
- Mutiara Taman Negara, Next to the park entrance at Kuala Tahan (The only accommodation next to the park). Upmarket resort. Wild hogs are a regular sighting and can be seen scavenging for food in the evening. Also features a restaurant. Dorm bed: RM80; room RM300-1,820.
- Park Lodge Taman Negara, Kuala Tahan, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 2-person room: RM50.
- Han Rainforest Resort, Across the river from the park entrance at Kuala Tahan (continue along the road past Woodlands Resort), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 11AM, check-out: noon. No coffee or tea-making facilities, although can request an electric jug. Comfortable rooms, standard hotel-like facilities. RM150-450 if booked online.
- Rippi hostel, Kuala Tahan (up the hill from Mama's Chop floating restaurant on the west side of K.T.). Check-out: noon. dorms-only place with a friendly cat and lizards, mosquito nets, nice sitting for a chat, travel books to read and a guitar teacher if you will, next door is an internet access point. RM10/dorm bed.
- Teresek View Motel, Across the river from the park entrance at Kuala Tahan, ☏ . Fan room: RM60; air-con room: RM80.
- Travellers Home, Across the river from the park entrance at Kuala Tahan. Homestay style accommodation but with new, clean rooms at affordable rates. Owner may be rude. From RM110.
- Xcape Resort (formerly Woodland Resort), Across the river from the park entrance at Kuala Tahan (close to Rainforest Resort), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Standard (fan) and air-con (deluxe) rooms with TV. Has karaoke. Questionable service, pool and room cleanliness standards. RM108-230.
- Nusa Holiday Village (10 min upstream from Kuala Tahan). Upriver in beautiful and quiet surroundings.Few waterfalls and hill trekkings only accessible from there. They have an office at the Jerantut Bus Station to book in advance. Dorm bed: RM15, A-frame: RM55, cottage: RM90, house: RM110; free boat transfer from Kuala Tahan for guests. Isolated from the main park entrance and where most of the trails start. Access is limited because you need to take a boat ride. First boat to the entrance is 8:30AM and last is 6:20PM. Each ride costs RM5 (sometimes they don't charge), they leave from the Nusa Restaurant at the pier..
There is no violent crime in Taman Negara. As anywhere, do not leave valuables lying around unguarded. Beware of theft from hotel rooms and always monitor and secure your belongings.
Wear footwear when outside. If you make a jungle trek on your own inform the park headquarters where you are going and at what time you will be back. People sometimes get lost or disoriented in the jungle.
Leeches are common in the park but are not as dangerous as they are made out to be. They're fairly annoying, although after a few days, you'd get used to them.
Schedule information and boat ticketing is available from the travel booths at the floating restaurants.
Boats run to Kuala Tembling at 9AM, 10AM, and 2PM, costing RM35. From there, you can catch a quite worn-out bus to Kuala Lumpur (RM40), Penang, Cameron Highlands, or other destinations - try not to sit on the bumpy back seats.
A cheaper option is to catch a public bus to Jerantut RM7. From Jerantut, there is air-conditioned bus and train service to Kuala Lumpur RM17 and other destinations such as Cameron Highlands RM23 or the East coast