Explore the world’s oldest tropical rainforest which is 130 million years old at a fraction of the cost of exploring the Amazon. Taman Negara means national park in Malay and has elephants, tigers, leopards, rhinos and a lots of unique flora. It is the sort of place that the longer you put in the more you will get out of it however if you have a tight budget or limited time you can experience a lot in a day. Use the following guide for a better idea on what you can achieve in a day!
Where to stay in Taman Negara?
Rayyan Hostel is the cheapest option but has wonderful views across the river into the park. Here, there are dormitories with shared bathrooms with either fan (RM20) or air-conditioner (RM25).
There are other hostels that charge similar prices and if you arrive and ask around you will be directed. However, during school holidays and weekends it is worth booking as it can get very busy.
If you buy a package of all your activities they will often include camping in the offer ( with all equipment provided).
What to eat in Taman Negara?
On the river there are several floating restaurants and these offer great views and a different experience however the food is pricer here.
Kuala Tahan is the town on the opposite side of the river to the park (and only a few minutes walk from the floating restaurants) are the best place to find good value food. Start your day with a Malaysian breakfast (rice and curry) from one of the many stalls around town which have a buffet of different options laid out. For lunch try a ramly burger (the traditional Malaysian burger) for RM3 and fries for RM4. This burger is quite different from anything in McDonalds- some people love it and others are not so keen and it is very Malaysian. For the evening, head back to one of the restaurants on the main street and order some traditional Malaysian food such as kampong fried rice.
Make sure you top up with bottle water in the town as the rainforest is very humid and the water is a lot cheaper in the town compared to the one shop on the rainforest side.
What to do in Taman Negara?
During the day
You need to pay an entry fee for the park (to aid conservation) RM1 and a fee to use a camera or phone (RM5). You can buy the camera licence at the tourist information at Kuala Tahan and the entry fee over at the park. You should also book rapid shooting and the night walk here.
To get to the park you will need to take a boat over to the park which is RM1 one way, it only takes a few moments and runs from 7am to after the night-walk has finished.
One of the highlights of the park is the canopy walkway (RM5) which is the world’s longest canopy at 530m long and 40m above the ground. It is clearly signposted from where the river boat drops you off. The best time to visit is the morning as they have to limit the number of people on the walk at one time therefore queues can build up.
Another free activity is the hike up to Bukit Teresk where you can get some great views over the rainforest. The trek is about 1.7km and takes about 30-45 minutes to reach the peak at 334m. Here as you are not very deep in the forest you won’t see loads of wildlife but you may be lucky enough to see flying squirrels, deers, hornbills and even a tapir.
In theory there are no leeches in this part of the park however I still manged to get a leech attached to me! Unfortunately, it is hard to avoid leeches but if you are worried wear long trousers, stick loads of insect repellent on ( you will need this anyway) and if you do get bitten let the leech finish and drop off.
In the afternoon, take the boat over to Kuala Tahan and go on a rapid shooting trip ( a long, wooden boat over the rapids) to the Orang Asli who live in the forest. Here you can have a go at shooting with a blow pipe, learn about the unique Orang Asli way of life and have a swim in the river.
At night head back over to the jungle (along with a guide) and experience a night walk where you can experience the erie feeling of not being able to see anything but have a caphony on jungle sounds surround you. In July/August and during new moon periods you stand the best chance of seeing animals at the hide feeding at the watering hole.
You can go to the canopy walkway and Bukit Teresk yourself without a guide. But you will need to book a package for the boat trip and Orang Asli visit and the night walk.
How much does Taman Negara cost?
Can you do Taman Negara in 24 hours for £24?
Food: Breakfast=RM5, lunch RM= 7, dinner RM=10
Drinks ( only water): RM10
Activities: Canopy walk RM=5, River Rapids RM40, night jungle walk=RM25
Extra: Entry fee and camera fee RM=6, boat fees RM2
Total= RM130 which is equivalent to £23.60
*based on £1=RM5.5 which was the rate on July 2016
Taman Negara is great value and there are plenty of other activities to do at Taman Negara such as hiking and camping in the jungle, longer treks and waterfall visits. In one day you can get a taster but if you want to get deeper consider spending a few more days!
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