Feb 07 2012

Janda Baik: A back to nature retreat from Kuala Lumpur

Published by at 7:42 am under Kuala Lumpur excursions


It may seem strange to visitors from cooler climes, particularly those escaping from the bleakest months of the European or North American winter, but Malaysians spend much of their time trying to avoid the heat. Increasingly, people work, play and sleep in air-con. This is especially true of urban areas like Kuala Lumpur, where temperatures are hot and humid all year round.

Cold snap unlikely.

Cold snap unlikely.

No wonder then that when many KL residents, both local and foreign, go on holiday, they seek out cooler climes. In colonial times, this resulted in hill stations such as Fraser’s Hill and Cameron Highlands. More recently, huge entertainment and accommodation complexes have been built in the mountains, like Resorts World Genting and Berjaya Hills Resort.

Still a rural Malay community at heart.

Still a rural Malay community at heart.

Janda Baik is somewhat of an oddity in that it did not start its life on the planning board. A small group of villages existed in this area long before the first tourists arrived. Despite rapid development over the past decade, it has managed to retain much of its rural, Malay feel.

No shortage of lovely streams.

No shortage of lovely streams.

Quite apart from the coolish climate (about 23-27 degrees Celsius during the day), Janda Baik has a lot to recommend it as an escape from the city. It is undeniably attractive, with crystal clear streams and verdant hills.

Not a bad spot to chillax.

Not a bad spot to chillax.

And it’s a great spot too for outdoor pursuits, principally walking, mountain biking and bird-watching. Last but not least, it’s just 45 kilometres from central KL.

Not exactly frenzied, but still too much development for some.

Not exactly frenzied, but still too much development for some.

Needless to say, all these new tourism businesses popping up, most of them owned by outsiders, is not welcomed by all. Many locals feel the pace of development should be slowed down, to limit environmental damage, and that it should more directly benefit the people of Janda Baik.

A qualified thumbs up to tourism.

A qualified thumbs up to tourism.

The vast majority of visitors are Malaysians, whether on weekend family breaks, activity holidays with friends, or work “team-building” jaunts. This means accommodation — often fully booked at weekends — eating and available activities are primarily targeted at domestic tourists.

Budget international travellers are not the target market.

Budget international travellers are not the target market.

This is well off the beaten track for independent travellers. A final point worth bearing in mind is that it’s all so lush for a reason: it rains a lot!

Rain not an unlikely event.

Rain is not an unlikely event.

Not surprisingly, given the Malaysian love affair with motor vehicles, getting to Janda Baik by public transport is not possible. The closest you can go by bus is Bentong, from where you will have to get a taxi. By far the best option is to hire a car. For detailed instructions of how to drive there, as a well as plenty of other useful info, see the Friends of Janda Baik website.

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