If you are looking for a thrill-a-minute day trip from Kuala Lumpur, then Kuala Selangor is likely to prove a big disappointment. If, however, you just want a pleasant break from modern city life, then this sleepy town by the banks of Sungai Selangor (Selangor River) has a lot going for it. It is relatively simple to visit on public transport, has enough sights to keep you busy for a few hours, without risking an adrenalin-overload, and is compact enough to be easily walkable.
The clunky bus from KL drops you off in the centre of the old town, after a roughly two-hour journey. The surrounding streets are filled with attractive shophouses, in various states of disrepair, and are well worth a leisurely stroll. The old town has a sprinkling of cafes and restaurants, which serve up mostly Malaysian fare, at reasonable prices.
Most tourists come to Kuala Selangor to see Bukit Malawati (Malawati Hill). For hundreds of years, the hill’s strategic position, overlooking the Straits of Malacca, ensured its military importance. Now, little remains of its historic fortifications. But it is still well worth a visit, not least for the silver leaf monkeys who call it home. Compared to macaques, they are extremely chilled out, but however tempting it may be, please do not feed them as this encourages dependence on humans, interferes with their social structures, and may not be the best diet for them.
Bukit Malawati also boasts two small museums with erratic opening hours (both free to get in), a British-era lighthouse, and last but not least, great views, particularly at sunset. The vast majority of Malaysian tourists use a car to visit the hill, but walking is a more interesting option. The circular path starts just near the back of the Chinese temple, and wends its way round the hill, before descending again in front of the lighthouse. The whole walk takes less than an hour. Remember it’s hot — so drink plenty of water.
At the bottom of the path, turn left to go back into town, and right, for the Kuala Selangor Nature Park. Run by the Malaysian Nature Society, the park (4 ringgit admission) is a great way to spend a few hours. Although it only covers 800 acres, it shelters an abundance of flora and fauna. The park has a number of well-marked trails, which you will for the most part have to yourself. It also offers accommodation, including A-frame huts without bathrooms (30 ringgit a night), and larger huts with bathrooms (60 ringgit). It’s wise to book ahead on weekends and school holidays. Insect repellant is a must.
A day in Kuala Selangor will be enough for most people, but it does have a number of good value hotels. The pick of the bunch are the Malawati Ria Hotel (60 ringgit for a standard double and 70 ringgit for a superior double), and the new, surprisingly stylish, Zande Motel (70 ringgit for a windowless double and 100 ringgit for a larger double with windows). Several eateries are open for dinner, but do not stay open late. The only place you are likely to get a beer is in one of the Chinese restaurants.
How to get there
Selangor Omnibus runs a direct bus (number 141) at least once an hour between KL and Kuala Selangor. In KL, it leaves from Medan Pasar, by the clock tower, about 200 metres from Masjid Jamek LRT station. The last bus back is scheduled to leave Kuala Selangor at 19:45, but get there with plenty of time to spare, just in case. The fare is 7.30 ringgit. Alternatively, regular Cityliner buses link Kuala Selangor to Klang, which is well connected to Kuala Lumpur. By road, from central KL you need to head towards the North-South Expressway (E1), following signs for Sungai Buloh, where you take the Federal Highway 54 to Kuala Selangor.
Kuala Selangor Nature Park
Jalan Klinik, Kuala Selangor
T: (03) 3289 2294
Malawati Ria Hotel
15 Jalan Raja Jalil, Kuala Selangor
T: (03) 3289 1268
48A-50A Jalan Raja Jalil, Kuala Selangor
T: (03) 3281 1048
By Pat Fama.