Who says vacations with the children have to include theme parks, zoos or beaches?
We went on a three-night trip to the Royal Belum State Park, with pit stops in Ipoh and Kuala Kangsar, which would be loads of fun for the whole family. You’ll get to introduce the kids to some of the oldest rainforests in the world, see how Orang Asli folk live, eat scrumptious food and go trigger happy (with a camera, of course) at all the architectural and natural backdrops in between!
Here’s an itinerary you can follow:
Day 1: Start from Kuala Lumpur in the morning, and drive to Ipoh for lunch. Check out our story here on what you can do in Ipoh on a budget. After this, head to the city’s Old Town area for cafe-hopping, mural-hunting and shopping before heading off to dinner, then stay the night. You can also visit the Kinta Riverfront Walk so all of you can go cycling along the beautifully landscaped riverside and gardens.
On Day 2: Drive to Kuala Kangsar for a spot of sightseeing around the Masjib Ubudiah rea, where the palace and the Royal Museum are also located, and brunch at the town before heading off to Grik and on to the East-West Expressway, before stopping and leaving your car at the Pulau Banding Jetty. From here you head to your next accommodation, either on a simple boathouse on Lake Temenggor (which forms a large part of the Royal Belum State Park), a chalet at Kem Sungai Tiang (deep within the State Park with basic accommodations) or at the Belum Rainforest Resort (which we personally loved!). Make sure to look into hikes and boat rides (you need a boat to get everywhere) and getting a guide who can take you around inside the park. Head to Royal Belum State Park to get more info.
On Days 2 & 3: You’ll do all your adventure stuff; hiking, waterfalls, salt licks, rafflesia sighting, bird-watching, and so on.
On Day 4: Head home with a pit stop in Ipoh.
Here are some of the highlights of our trip, with more details on what to expect.
Yep, the food’s as good as the name claims. It offers Ipoh-style Nyonya food like asam gulai ikan, deep fried brinjal, Ipoh’s famous, locally-grown bean sprout, asam gulai ikan and asam prawns. The dishes taste home-cooked and are reasonably priced. Our table of nine ate eight dishes for only RM200! Click the link above for directions to get there.
AN EASY WATERFALL HIKE
The hike to the Sungai Kooi (pronounced ko-oi) waterfall only took 20 minutes up an easy trail. There some rocky stretches just before the end point – so tell the little ones to go slow – but we saw a parent bringing his toddler up so it’s an easy walk. You’ll cross the stream at a few points (the water’s only a few inches deep) and hear the intense shrill of crickets and other insects, and, eventually come upon a 50 meter high shower of water that makes it all worth it.
You can find kayaks at Kem Sungai Tiang (your guide should be able to take you there. Our group spent hours in the warm waters before heading on to the boathouse for dinner.
THE SALT LICK
A salt lick is where animals in the jungle congregate, and there’s one within 15-minutes hike from Kem Sungai Papar, where your boat will stop. It’s a basically an outcrop of mineral-rich rocks that wildlife like deer, small mammals and even jungle cats like the clouded leopard, panther and tiger come to lick, to get their, well, mineral supplements, like sodium, calcium, iron, etc! It’s where the predator animals often come to prey on animals like lemurs and the barking deer. We didn’t bump into any animals but the walk was pleasant and the stories the guides told us of animal sightings and how the rangers track wildlife movement with camera traps are fascinating.
THE HOME OF THE JAHAI
The Orang Asli village at Royal Belum State Park that is open to visit by travellers is a mock village and is located on a small island on the lake; the locals don’t actually live there but at another better-equipped village with better housing and a school. This one has thatched roof huts, a large resting pavilion, some chickens, mothers doing laundry and plenty of children (we were encouraged to bring a gift and I brought pens they could use in school) and cats. But, you can speak to the adults, with some help from your guide, about their way of life, their villages and culture.