Getting to Taman Negera is relatively easy these days. All you need to do is to take a bus or a train to a backwater town called Jeruntut and from there, you proceed to Tembeling Jetty where you take a boat ride into Taman Negara.
Like many other ignorant Singaporean travellers, we romanticised train rides and were more than eager to take a train from the Tanjong Pagar Station (S'pore) to Jerantut Station ( M'sia ). The journey quickly dispelled all of our positive feelings. First, it took 9 bloody hours and secondly it was pockmarked by frustrating delays and blackouts. To top it all off, we waited at the train station from 1am to 4.20am on the last day for our train!
Guess that says a lot about efficiency at Malaysian Rail. Well, having said that, I'll recommend that you take a bus from Larkin Station at JB to Jerantut. The journey will cost half and it'll be shorter and faster. The rest of our journey was taken by the guide so we didn't worry about it....
Here's how our journey went:
Singapore->Jerantut ( rail )
Jerantut ->Tembeling Jetty ( guide's van )
Tembeling ->Kuala Tahan /T.Negara ( chartered boat )
1)Bus schedules from Jeruntut Bus Station.
2)Train schdules to Jeruntut
Daily departure from Hotel Malaya, Chinatown at 8am. Cost RM30
The bus makes one stop in Mentakab Mobil petrol station for about 10 minutes and then straight to Jerantut town.
2 choices, bus to Taman Negara (1 & 1/2 hours) or long boat ride from Kuala Tembelling Jetty (3 hours)
By far the easiest way to get to Taman Negara is to take a coach from the Hotel Istana in KL . The bus leaves at 8 AM and arrives at the Kuala Tembeling jetty near the town of Jerantut at about 11 AM. From there you take a wooden boat upriver on a journey that takes about two and a half hours more. The boat leaves at 2 PM, and by the time you get settled in your chalet, you have only enough time sit down for a couple of beers to help beat the heat before darkness settles in.
As you can see, it takes pretty much an entire day just to get to Taman Negara by bus. The return trip is about the same. You leave on a 9 AM boat to get the bus back to KL, arriving there in late afternoon.
As an alternative, if there are enough in your group to make it affordable, it would be a better idea to rent a car and drive from KL to the jetty, arriving earlier and getting the late morning boat departure, leaving the entire afternoon free for exploration. The same can be said for the departure day. By taking the afternoon boat at 2 PM, you have an additional morning to enjoy the park.
The best way to get to Kuala Tahan is by longtail boat. Jerantut is accessible by bus from KL or Kuantan, from there take a shared taxi to Kuala Tembeling.
The boat trip takes approx. 3 hours, boats leave at 9am and 2pm in both directions, the price is around 20 RM.
It is possible to book ahead the bus seats for the Kuala Lumpur-Taman Negara-Kuala Lumpur trip. Of course, to be more accurate, the bus just goes till Jerantut and returns from there.
The travel agency I used was Ping Anchorage and they have their own bus. There is a web site that you can check out if you wish to know more about them and their Kuala Lumpur contact number.
I made my booking at the Seberang Jaya office (near Butterworth). Their office there is on the second floor of the row of shops just opposite Billion Supermarket at Seberang Jaya. It is also behind The Ship (Westrern food restaurant). All locals know that supermarket so there is no problem getting to the office if you aren't familiar with the location.
The bus ticket costs RM50 one way and RM100 return.
The employees are helpful. I was able to phone them to book the tickets first before going directly to the office to pick them up. You can also bank in the money if you aren't able to visit the office soon after booking. They were willing to hold the tickets for a few days for me.
In KL, we waited for the bus at the lower lobby of Crowne Plaza Mutiara Hotel. The taxi driver said it was formerly Hilton Hotel. There are benches to wait in comfort and you can use the hotel's toilets to freshen up if necessary.
The boat schedule from Ping Anchorage, the travel agency that I bought my KL-Taman Negara bus tickets from is as follows:
Kuala Tembeling to Kuala Tahan 09.00 hrs, 13.00 hrs and 14.00 hrs (Sat-Thu)
09.00 hts, 14.30 hrs (Fri)
Kuala Tahan to Kuala Tembeling 09.00 hrs, 14.00 hrs (Sat-Thu)
09.00 hrs, 14.30 hrs (Fri).
But on our trip, we only departed from K.Tembeling at 2.30 pm. On the other hand, we arrived at Kuala Tahan 2 hours later, much faster than what I read.
From 1 April 2007 there is an express bus service from Butterworth bus station (adjacent to the jetty to Penang island) to Jerantut. It will in the future end at Kuala Tahan. The present condition of the road is not good enough for it yet. Actually the bus starts from Kuala Perlis and allows passengers to embark or disembark at Alor Setar, Sungai Petani and Butterworth. After Butterworth, it goes to Ipoh, Bentong, Temerloh and ends at Jerantut .
From Jerantut, you can take the long boat or van (NKS, Green Leaf) to Kuala Tahan. Both cost (RM25). Jerantut is about an hour away from Kuala Tahan by road.
The bus to Jerantut is supposed to be at Butterworth at 10.30 pm but tonight, when I was at the bus station, it came at 11.05 pm. The name on the bus is Kuala Tahan and there is only one trip a day either way right now. The tel.no. of the counter at BW is below.
The return trip (Jerantut-BW etc.) begins at 6.00 pm.
Cost of BW-Kuala Tahan ticket is RM45.00 but at Jerantut. the ticket to BW is only RM37.50. The BW-Jerantut cost more bec the agent wants to earn more. There is no return ticket. You can buy the bus ticket at Kuala Tahan from Pakcik Nor at R & R.
My pal and I boarded the bus at Kampung Piol at 5.30 pm when we got a lift from Pakcik Nor's friend. The bus company is at Kpg. Piol.
The RM50 bus shuttle is pretty standard. Each rows comprise of 4 seats and were adequitely comfortable. We're lucky enough that on the actual day, there's only 9 people boarding it besides us. So 2 seat for our bags and 2 seats for us :).
A view on the boat. Seatings were organised in 2(s) per row. We noted that they were lined with bright coloured life vests for... emergencies?? Nah... I secretly thought inside that, they're more for passegers' cushioning... as a 2-3 hour long ride in seats like this can be rather "numbing".
The cheapest way to go from Kuala Lumpur to Taman Negara is to take the public bus to Jerantut at 5 pm from Kuala Lumpur Pekeliling bus station. Then you can stay in one of Jerantut guest houses and on the next day you can go to NKS office in Sri Emas hotel where you can buy the bus ticket to Kuala Tembeling jetty and the boat ticket to Kuala Tahan. But there is also public bus from Jerantut to Kuala Tahan.
From KL, get a LRT to titiwangsa station. Outside the LRTstation is the bus terminal (pekeliling terminal) for buses to east peninsular Malaysia. Buy a ticket to Jerantut. The trip from KL to Jerantut takes 4-5 hours.
You probably need to overnight in Jerantut because you wont be able to catch a boat to Taman Negara on that day itself.
If you dont have any idea on where to stay in Jerantut, walk around the small town as there are only a few hotels around. Else, you can also wait in the bus terminal in Jerantut and there will be van from hotel fetch you to their hotel (they go around the town frequently).
Get your round trip boat ticket in Jerantut. The boat departs from Jerantut to Taman Negara in the morning.
Alternatively, save all these by booking a package in KL, if not mistaken you should be able to get your package in Istana Hotel
One of the many highlights of a trip to Taman Negara is actually getting there. Buses from Kuala Lumpur take close to 3 hours to get to Kuala Tembeling jetty which is just past the small town of Jerantut. The bus trip itself is nothing inspiring - it is the next stage that will leave you in awe.
From Kuala Tembeling, there is a two to three hour trip up river in a long boat. Shortly after leaving the junction at Kuala Tembeling any motorised traffic noise stops - you are left to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery with just the hum of the boat and the cries of birds breaking the silence. If you are lucky you will see some water buffalo along the way.
Some people choose to take a bus all the way to Kuala Tahan, the village opposite the National Park, but I suggest the boat trip, at least one way, is well worth it.
There are several bus/travel companies offering transfers to Kuala Tembeling. One is listed below.
You can drive all the way to Kuala Tahan across from Taman Negara; you don't need to take the 2-hour river-boat up. The people at Kuala Tembeling Jetty don't advertise the fact that the road is good all the way to the village, and is shown on the road maps. You do not need a 4-wheel drive vehicle at all for this road, as stated on some web sites (it's all paved except for a short stretch of smooth gravel).
You can park in the village for a very reasonable rate, stay there, or check yourself into one of the resorts. There is a small ferry that takes you across the river, between Kuala Tahan and the park entrance, which is also the entrance to the Mutiara Resort. It costs RM 1.
The map shown is very roughly drawn.
Besides boat from Kuala Tahan to Jerantut there is also a minivan each morning at 8:00 (20 RM) and public bus at 7:30 (probably not every day - ask local people; much more cheaper than minivan). The problem may occur in rainy season when road is often closed because of floods, so you can not rely on this option - probably you will have to go by boat.
To get there is not a problem, but for a notice just don't forget: to feel the deep junge life on the way to, take a boat from Kuala-Tembeling...and if on the way back you would thing of avoiding it just cross the river to Kuala Tahan...but don't forget, the boat ride is fun!