Things to Do in Kelantan
Taman Negara National Park
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The country's largest national park spans across the states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang
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Shawn_Storm
Portland, OR322 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2013 • Solo
I just did a self guided solo trip to Taman Negara and had a good experience. This review is going to be very long because I am going to include my entire experience (with transportation, lodging, food, exploration, etc). I found it hard to get such details on the internet, so figure I should go ahead and document it here. If this interests you then read on!

I was really excited to visit Taman Negara since I first heard about it. I like jungles and have been to many tropical rainforests all over the world. Since Taman Negara is supposedly the "oldest", I figured I had to pay it a visit. However, despite it being extremely old, I didn't find it that much more impressive than other jungles that I have visited. I kind of expected a jungle wonderland with huge trees everywhere and tons of wildlife. There were some large trees and some wildlife, but it didn't blow my socks off. I have been to other jungles in Asia and Central America that were more visually impressive. With all that said, it was still nice and worth checking out.

I started my journey to Taman Negara in Kuala Lumpur. From what I could tell, most people chose to visit on a tour package. The two main companies that offer such packages appear to be Han Travel and NKS Travel. They both offer nearly identical options at very similar prices. The most popular package is the "3 day 2 night full tour" with meals, lodging, transport, etc all provided. Cost is currently around 350 RM if you opt to stay in a dorm (more expensive otherwise). Note that "3 days 2 nights" really means 2 days of mostly traveling and *1* full day of being at Taman Negara. This might be enough for some people, but I am certain it wouldn't of been enough for me.

The tour offices tried really hard to convince me that I needed to sign up for a package. They insisted that doing it solo without a tour was a bad idea and even "unsafe". I was skeptical, but they almost had me convinced. Luckily I saw another review on tripadvisor that convinced me that doing it myself was totally possible. So I decided to go on my own and steer clear of the packages.

I started my trip in the early morning (around 7am) and took a Light Rail from China Town to the Titiwangsa station and then a very short walk to Pekeliling Bus Station (there are signs that guide you between the two stations on a dedicated walkway). At Pekeliling Station I got an 8am bus to Jerantut. The cost was roughly 17 RM and the bus was very new and nice with comfortable seats and nice cold A/C. The bus was only half full, so I also got two seats to myself (which was great for napping). The ride was roughly 3 hours and we got to Jerantut around 11am. From there I shared a taxi with two other travelers to the jetty at Kuala Tembeling, which cost 5 RM per person (total fare was 15 RM). I had considered just going to Taman Negara by bus the entire way, but I figured a boat ride into the park would be nice.

Once I arrived at the jetty, it became clear that I had been dropped off into the tourist zone. The jetty has two prominent ticket offices belonging to NKS Travel and Han Travel. They both charge 35 RM for a boat ticket and you are basically taking the same boats as the people on a tour package. I tried to find a "local boat", but it didn't seem to exist from what I could see. I suppose most locals just take the local bus (7 RM) instead of a long and expensive boat ride. There is also a small park office at the jetty where you can pay your 1 RM entry fee and 5 RM camera permit.

Note that as other reviews have pointed out, the Han Travel restaurant at the jetty is HORRIBLE. Possibly the worst food I have had on my entire trip. There are a couple local restaurants up the road, but I didn't try them since there was no english menus that I saw and I don't yet know the Malaysian menu terminology.

The boat ride itself took about 3 hours and was somewhat uneventful (I actually fell asleep during part of it). I have taken many epic boat rides in SE Asia, so it was not very exciting to me, but if you have not done such things then it is probably worth it. I was on the NKS Tour boat, so we got dropped off at the NKS Tour office in Kuala Tahan.

Kuala Tahan is a very small town/village which is directly across the river from the actual park. The town has approximately 20 guest houses to choose from, many of which are quite shabby and overpriced. There are a few newer ones with A/C and clean looking rooms, but they all seem to charge 90 RM or more. This was too much for me (and I hadn't found anyone to share a room with), so I opted for one of the cheaper (and funkier) places. I looked at 10 different guest houses and finally settled for Tahan Guesthouse. The room wasn't very clean and smelled a bit musty, but was way nicer than most of the other filthy mold infested guesthouses I had checked out. The owner was super nice and the location was quiet, so it worked out. By the way, you can stay across the river in the actual park at the Mutiara Resort. However, it is quite expensive.

Food in Kuala Tahan is not so great, especially if you are a vegetarian like myself. There are a bunch of "floating restaurants" on the river which are similarly priced and have pretty much the same assortment of basic dishes such as fried rice, fried noodles, vegetables and rice, etc. The portions were routinely small, the quality not very good, and the prices a bit high (4-10+ RM for basic veggie dishes). There are also a few small restaurants scattered about town that aren't any better or much cheaper (at least none that I found). Honestly, the food scene was my least favorite part of visiting Kuala Tahan (especially after the amazing food in Kuala Lumpur). I ate at 7 of the local restaurants and my personal favorite was Mama Chops (which ironically is at the Han Travel office). I also thought the Family Restaurant was ok (and seemed very popular). I hear the fancy restaurant across the river at Mutiara is good, but it was way too spendy for me (20-30+ RM per dish) and didn't seem to have many veggie options.

To get to the park, you must take a 1 minute boat ride across the river (which costs 1 RM), or you can swim across if you are hard core (I saw a few people do this). Getting across is quick and easy (I never had to wait more than a minute or two for a boat).

The park itself is huge and includes a whole bunch of trails ranging from short to very long. The entrance to the park is at the Mutiara Resort and there are a number of easy trails around the entrance. Most of the close in trails are built up walkways that run just above the jungle floor and have stairs where it gets steep. They are very easy to traverse and enable you to explore without "getting your feet dirty" so to speak. Once you venture further out, the trails become basic (but decently maintained) dirt trails (watch out for leeches once you get on the dirt trails).

The most popular nearby attraction is the canopy walkway which is a number of rope bridges connecting platforms high up in the trees. You can walk there (on the raised walkways) which is an easy 1.2 KM each way, or you can also take a boat directly there. It has a 5 RM entry fee and is worth checking out. All the tours go there, so I showed up right before they opened and had the entire place to myself (which was great). However, when I visited, half of the canopy walkway was closed for "maintenance", and I suspect it may continue to be this way for awhile. It is still nice, but not very long and definitely not what is advertised.

Other attractions include the "hides" (raised wooden huts looking over an area that may have wildlife), a number of caves (all quite far from the park entrance), local tribal villages (not sure about visiting these without a tour), and more. It is easy to sign up for various tours in Kuala Tahan, so you can custom tailor your own tour package if desired. It is also possible to simply explore on your own and not do any tours.

I didn't sign up for any tours. Instead, I spent 3 full days wandering around the jungle. I did all the raised walkway paths as well as a few of the longer dirt trails. It can get hot in the mid day, so I would start super early (around sunrise), take a lunch break and afternoon nap, and then explore some more in the late afternoon/evening. I was amazed how few people I saw on the paths (I assume most people were on their tours somewhere else). I really enjoyed walking out into the jungle and simply sitting in one spot listening to the sounds and looking out for animals. There are actually a fair amount of animals to be seen if you are patient, quiet, and look very carefully.

In terms of animals, I saw quite a few including many insects, tons of birds (including the neat looking hornbills), a few snakes and reptiles (including a few large monitor lizards), some barking deer, a couple of wild pigs, and a tapir (which was the coolest animal I saw). Surprisingly, I saw the most animals right at the park entrance hanging out at the Mutiara Resort. They seem to come there for human food scraps, as well as for the big fig tree which is right at the entrance. Also, I observed many tourists feeding the animals (and even petting them!!). The barking deer and tapir seemed just fine with being manhandled, as long as the person was feeding them at the same time. You are not supposed to feed the wild animals, but people do it anyways (which does not mean you should).

There you have it. If you are still reading, I hope this review was helpful to you. :)
Written March 30, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MichaelHuxley
Liverpool, UK266 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2010
Taman Negara is a great place to base yourself for a few jungle treks, wether short day hikes to week long yomps. But it is extremely touristy which tends to ruin the place a bit. The one resort on the place is nice and fancy, but is extremely overpriced and it is not necessary to stay there; it is much better to stay at one of the small, cheap guesthouses across the river. DO NOT get any of the overpriced tours at the visitor centre. You do not need to hire a guide either, not unless you are planning to do the 9 day hike up the mountain (in which case you HAVE to hire a guide). The day hikes are very easy to do on your own, the trails around the main site are easily marked. One of the highlights is the Jungle canopy, yes you will have to queue for it, but it's worth it for the experience.

It is a nice experience eating on one of the many boats along the river, but the menus can be hit and miss (depending wether they have run out of the ingredients or not); unfortunately there aren't many other places to eat unless you count the overpriced and extremely poorly serviced restaurant at the resort. However, when the boats have all the ingredients, the food is great!
Written January 5, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Elysium333
Phuket207 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2011
Taman Negara the national park deserves 5 stars. The vast majority of people running tours, the sour faced people charging a fortune for disgusting food and accomodation deserve less than one star.

I first went to Taman Negara 10 years ago, and went again last week. I booked a ticket with local travel desk ( I think NKS Travel) to get me to the park, which included minivan from Cameron Highlands and then a boat to Taman negara.
1. They tell you pick up at 7am and the trip will take 5 hours. Actually, since they opened a new road the traveling time is only 2.5 hours. Instead of telling you to sleep in and get the minivan at 10 or 11 they leave you sitting in the office waiting for the driver who decides that the real pick up time should be 9.30am. All the staff (who arrive to open the office at 8.30am) then tell you the REAL pick up time. I guess they think its funny leaving everyone to sit for hours early in the morning, hungry and confused.

2. You arrive at the pier (Tembeling) around 12, and watch while other travelers depart onto boats.If you have booked a package that includes boat trip you can wait until 2.30-3pm until their other customers have arrived from KL or wherever. Its hot, so go to the restaurant with internet across the road that serves nice food. Under no circumstances eat ANYTHING from the main pier restaurant in front of the Han tour desk. Its totally disgusting and while it looks like they are cooking, they just serve already cooked food that has been sitting out.

My recommendation - since you spend hours sitting and waiting for tour agencies to collect all their people together, save time and book each stage yourself. Its quicker and loads cheaper. We did literally 5.5 hours of travelling time with an expensive package tour took us a total of 12 hours of waiting and waiting.

The accomodation is terrible. You might as well pay 10 ringgit to stay in one of the backpackers because 160 ringet wont get you much better. We originally booked at Woodland Resort and they tried to give us A WINDOWLESS ROOM for 160 rinngit. I cannot believe that anyone, anywhere would spend days to get to a national park to stay in a windowless room. Their main asset - A CAR PARK. Literally acres of carpark. And the pool is closed, dont believe the website. The whole hotel is a disgrace completely at odds with the national park ethos.
- We stayed in Teresek View for 70 ringit. Had air con and a view of a tree but since it was cool we would have prefered a fan and being able to open a window (but could not as no moskito nets or screen). After one night a tour group came through and we got moved to a fan room at back of hotel, which was a mistake because the sunshine heats up the room so hot you cant put your hand on the window and it becomes a sweat box. So the hot sunny rooms that dont have aircon, you need aircon. In the shady cool rooms that do have aircon you need a fan. Go figure.

The people at Rippi Hostel are really lovely. We didnt stay there but they were friendly, happy, smiley, helpful, generous. They were so out of place with the Austere, judgemental and boring lot that were running the rest of the restaurants and hotels. We went to check out a few different hotels during our stay and I swear the vast majoirty of them dont know the meaning of hospitality or SMILING once and awhile. If they hate tourists so much (which most of them so obvioulsy do) why dont they move somewhere else?

Highlight of the trip - nights in the hide, for sure. We spent 5.30pm to 9pm in Tahan HIde (only 5 minutes inside the park) and we saw: wild pig, wild pidgeon, imperial hornbill, huge monitor lizard, barking deer, two tapir (While they are considered to be extremely shy and hard to see these actually came up to us, and licked my boyfriends hand, so I think people are feeding them. They are like a cross between an elephant and a rhino, totally amazing).

I dont know what these other people in reviews are saying about not seeing animals, but it seems to me that the vast majority of people expect the animals to come and jump out waving flags or something. Maybe these tourists are only happy if the animals are being hand fed by them? In this case I would recommend they vist a zoo.

The night we were at the hide, everyone who went on the package night tour saw nothing, and I am not surpised. We literally watched the animals scatter as the guided tours of 10 people and more came crashing through the jungle, the tourists chatting away. Take a highpowered torch, binoculars and a camera and take a walk by yourself or with one or two other people who know the meaning of "shut up, wait and observe closely".

The boat trip up the river to the park was also really really good. Was glad in the end we did it later in the day., if you can do it around sunset you will see a lot more animals. We saw kingfisher and monkeys three times, and wild pig. Those reading books and chatting to their neighbour, again, saw nothing.

The canopy walk for 5 ringit is the best value tourist thing to do I have probably every seen. It was fantastic. We saw so many animals (we went at sunset) and the length of it was amazing. They have put so much effort into it. The location could be better (I dont know why you have to walk 30 minutes and then still be able to hear the engines on the river). But whoever designed and built it really put effort into it and kudos to the national park guys for keeping it so well looked after (and cheap! 5 ringit for the worlds longest canopy walk in the world's oldest jungle... what a bargain).

Taman Negara is a beautiful park, one of the best I have seen. Dont book anything until you get there and wait and see if you can find a nice local guide who will take you for a walk if you arent keen to do it by yourself . if you book anything package, or anything with groups of more than 4 people, I honestly think you will not enjoy it at all. Also, do all animal watching at sunrise and sunset or at night. Animals dont walk around in the heat of the day.

And forget about beer. At 10 ringit a can you might as well just go hard on the fruit shakes, which are mostly excellent. Also, take pack of cards or some other entertainment because besides looking at animal and jungle there is NOTHING else to do.
Written February 16, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

de109
Stratford, Canada15 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
We did a tour of the place with Han Travel which is pretty much the only company that has services for tourists wanting to visit the national park. Can't actually remember a good thing about it, so I'll just go ahead and list the negatives.

Cons:

-boat transfer to the park happens in a 1920s junkie of a boat (someting like a large canoe) that seemed like it was going to go under at any moment -this adventure lasts 3 hours (on the way there, and again on the way back)
-the tour package is not really a tour; it's a disorganized mess... all based on a confusing system of vouchers
-when we got in at Taman Negara, no one told us how to get to our hotel
-the restaurant we had been booked for (Mama Chop) served the exact meal for 2 days in a row: chicken + rice
-the activities we're a joke; they called splashing around in canoes with paddles white-water-rafting; the night walk had almost nothing to show as the creatures were all hidden (and on top of that, they managed to somehow crowd the route without properly planning the timing of the different groups)
-during the "safari walk" the guides abandoned the group and told us to meet them on the way back; plus we never got to see the biggest flower in the world which is a unique feature of the rainforest in Malaysia because it was "too far to get to"
-very steep and dangerous walkway at the disembarkation point at the park; no help provided with luggages
-"Rainforest Resort" is a cheap motel full of bugs (i.e. intermittent hot water in the shower)
-tour guides were childish teenagers
-overall a disappointing experience
Written September 2, 2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Marc A
Sydney, Australia72 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2014 • Couples
For your best chance at seeing wildlife, make sure you're on the trails early - by 9am things quieten down significantly. A boat ride along the Sungai Tahan is recommended. Also, consider staying overnight at one of the 'bumbuns' (hides). I'd pay the extra RM5 per bed to book the entire hide for myself to avoid noisy neighbours who might scare off the wildlife.

Stick to the flat trails - climbing up a 'bukit' (hill) in sweltering heat & humidity is not a good way to enjoy the rainforest!

Kuala Tahan is a busy little village, so to get away from the noise & other tourists charter a boat to drop you at the trailheads for some of the more distant walks which lead to waterfalls, caves & hides. Make sure you have a map & know how to get back to base. Some people have been left stranded as their boatman didn't return to pick up - I won't pay boatmen until they pick up - that way they are very likely to return on time. Have a backup plan - eg. familiarize yourself with the walking trail back to base & allow sufficient time. Take plenty of water, as well as insect repellent as the biting flies & mosquitos can be diabolical at certain times of the year.
Written March 12, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

WandrinA
Bangkok, Thailand19 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2015 • Couples
This was one of our favorite stops in Malaysia. We had only 2 full days, so we didn't have a chance to do any overnight treks, but the trails around headquarters kept us busy from dawn 'til dusk. To the people who say there is no wildlife, all I can say is that you're not looking. We passed very, very few people on the trails, and the people we did pass were very noisy and oblivious and not even interested enough to stop to look where we were looking unless we said something to them. I sort of wondered what they had come all this way for. Of course, you're not going to find anything bigger than a tapir near headquarters (there is actually one that hangs out at the resort at night because they feed it--great for the tourists spending the big bucks to stay at the resort but not so great for conservation). Even so, there are animals to be seen if you take your time, and a great variety of birds. Unfortunately, you can't cross the river until after 7:00 a.m., but most of our best birding happened in the middle of the afternoon anyway.

The jungle night walk turned up very little (I spotted as much as our guide, including the only slow loris of the night)--make sure you bring a good flashlight if you want to look for yourself. This seemed to be the one thing on every tourist itinerary, as there were many large, noisy tour groups ahead of us. The night safari is not in the jungle, but rather a drive through a palm plantation, and it did turn up a few larger animals (bearded pigs, palm civets, and cats), so I would recommend it.

We saw no leeches (it was quite dry in the middle of April), but the mosquitoes were horrendous. I was covered from the neck down in clothes and Deet, but still they managed to get me. There's no way to avoid them and still hike, sorry. As it was ridiculously hot, most people we saw were shirtless or bikini-topped, and I really don't know how they survived.

If I were to go back, I would take a multi-day trek out into the jungle. Don't skip the boat ride! It's a relaxing trip, even in a bit of rain, and we saw lots of birdlife on the way. Staying across the river from the park is very easy and fairly cheap (we didn't book ahead), and it costs only 1 ringgit and a couple of minutes to take the ferry across.
Written May 6, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Daniel F
Sao Vicente, Cape Verde57 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2011 • Couples
Taman Negara park is very well organized and it is one of the few real jungles that can be explored by yourself without guides.

The lodges inside the park are very expensive, but you can stay at the hostel in village outside for much cheaper.

At the entrance, take a map of the paths, rent sleeping bag, buy food and water and set your way for as long hiking as you feel. There are also tours to jungle tribes and several boat tours. Visiting a local tribe is an interesting tour, but they will not take you very much deep into the jungle, the tribes are in the vicinity when ready to be visited by tourists.
For walking yourself in the forrest, a 3 day stay is pretty good stay for a simple hike across the park following the main path. There are several wooden refuges to sleep with a sleeping bag high and protected from night animals.
The best part of the jungle is of course the night, when everything gets pitch dark and the noises are very loud so you here the animals but are totally blind.

If you go just before the rainy season, be aware of the leeches, loads of them will come up your trousers all the time. Buy RAID or similar at the entrance of the park and spray your shoes, it will stop the leeches to climb your legs ;)
Written August 21, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

James W
Bristol, UK92 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2011 • Couples
The national park is beautiful and the canopy walk makes your heart race but offers spectacular views. Saw a family of wild boar and various wildlife. Did get bitten by leeches though so take a lighter or vinegar so remove them - don't pull them off leaving teeth in and risking infection.
Written January 3, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sandra356
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia10 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2012 • Couples
We travelled with NKS for the 'package' and where verry dissapointed!! To say the least. The package is way to expensive for the overall outcome. Drivers of NKS where ryding like David Hamilton which resulted in more unneeded waiting. On the way back we where tplaced in a minivan with empty fueldrums, so the windows has to be opened to keep fresh air, the speed of the driver almost forced you to close the windows. one passenger was that affraid that she tried to buckle up, with no positive result because of non functional belts. Diners and lunches could easily be bought for less money and the trips where also easily to book. The choisen hotel was not booked in time by NKS (or the wanted to make more profit) so we had to choice for a different resort. Which was, to our oppinion, never been visited by staff of NKS to make remarks towards management in improving there facility. Looking at a recent pricinglist of NKS (which would make also a profit for NKS) we would come up to a total amount which was over 400 MR off and than we took not the lowest pricing while calculating, and not in our advantage.
Íf you have money to spend/waiste do it, if not, go just to Taman Negara and book the tours by yourself with the help of Agoda, Asiarooms or others
Written November 18, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

gerry p
London9 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Read a lot about this place before we went and had a variety of reviews.

Went with NKS in the end and booked it at Mandarin Palace in KL. They are very well organised, evertthing happened on time and as they said it would.

The travelling is tiring, for 55 year olds anyway, but not too much. Boat trip was fun and we did see some wildlife - kingfishers, monkeys, crocodile and buffalo.

Stayed at the Mutiara which was a really good move. The wild pigs under the chalet and the bird life was good. The hotel leads into the walks to the hides and the canopy walk. Chalets were spacious and nicely situated.

We took our meals at the hotel as the floating restuarants were not great. Buffet breakfast and evening meal were really good and the situation of the restuarant was nice.

Our guide for the night walk and the canopy trip was brilliant - he really made the trip for us. Saw some great animals - my first scorpion!

Couldnt fault the organisation of NKS - drivers and guides were good.

They were let down by the floating "restuarant" which was really naff. It had a great position but was run by completely apathetic staff who made no effort to make the place special.

It was like eating in a construction site canteen. No choice, no sweet and no coffee - hardly what i call a meal.

That said everything about the rainforest itself was great - especially the rapids.
Written October 31, 2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Taman Negara National Park - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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