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Top Mountains to Climb in Malaysia that’re Suitable for All Fitness Levels

Singapore is home to various hiking trails as well as our beloved Bukit Timah Hill, but for those that are raring to climb an actual mountain — our little red dot regrettably doesn’t have much to offer. However, why not make a quick trip across the causeway to our neighbouring country of Malaysia, who has plenty of mountains for you to choose from?

Here are four mountains in Malaysia — that aren’t located too far from Singapore! — that are a great starting point for beginners:

1. Gunung Datuk

E-lyn Tham

Tucked away in Negeri Sembilan, Gunung Datuk is a mountain that’s perfect for beginners. Standing at just 885 metres tall, trekking up and down Datuk will take up about two and a half and two hours respectively. To get to the starting point, descend a path from the carpark, and cross a stream via a bridge. The climb up is a pure test of stamina, comprising a rather steep incline with not much flat ground!

Once you emerge from the jungle, you’ll be faced with a couple of gigantic rocks with steel ladders along their sides. Make your way up and be treated to a panoramic view at the top, which is particularly magnificent at sunrise. 

Distance from Singapore: Approximately three to four hours.

2. Mount Ophir

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With a height of 1, 276 metres, Mount Ophir (or Gunung Ledang) is the highest mountain in Johor. There are four trails available; the Lagenda/Sagil trail is the most popular, taking about four to five hours one-way. The trail starts with a gradual incline but gets more exciting towards the top; you’ll encounter the KFC (Killing Fitness Center) that comprises a number of ropes and ladders, as well as a rock face, which you’d have to scale with ropes. 

A limited number of climbing permits are issued each day — do register for yours in advance. For a day climb, the cut-off point for reaching the summit is 2pm; any later, and your (mandatory) guide will have to turn you back. Fun fact: Many climbers use Ophir as their training ground for Mount Kinabalu!

Distance from Singapore: Approximately four hours.

3. Gunung Lambak

With a height of 510 metres, the hike up and down Gunung Lambak will take an approximate total of three to four hours. The trail starts off easy via concrete road, followed by a jungle trek clearly demarcated by steps and railings, and finally, a steep last section, where you’ll be making your way up steps made out of soil and a tangle of tree roots. 

Catch a breather at the summit, enjoy the view, and make your way down the same way you came up. Alternatively, you can continue towards the second twin peak and descend via another route. 

Distance from Singapore: Approximately two to three hours.

4. Gunung Angsi

Ravenblack7575, Flickr Creative Commons

Located not too far from Gunung Datuk, Gunung Angsi is an 824-metre high mountain that’s perfect for a day trip. You can ascend the mountain via Bukit Putus or Ulu Pendul, with the latter being more challenging. 

Both trails are clearly marked, with gorgeous views of the town of Seremban at the top. It’d take about two and a half hours on average to reach the summit, with another two hours to descend to the base. The way up consists of a series of inclines, with stretches of flat ground in between. There’s a viewpoint approximately 10 minutes before the summit, followed by a root-lined slope that you’d have to climb using ropes.

Distance from Singapore: Approximately four hours.

Amanda Quek

If you’d like, you can combine your mountain adventure with a trip to Malacca, where you can spend a night at Jonker Street; or with a night in Kuala Lumpur, depending on which mountain you’ve set your sights on. For adrenaline junkies, head to Gopeng in Perak, Ipoh, where you can explore the Tempurung Caves and try your hand at Waterfall Abseiling. Alternatively, head to the Kota Tinggi Waterfalls for a splashing good time!

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Some tips to keep in mind: always dress appropriately, with long socks to prevent leech bites if your route includes river crossings. These will also help to prevent mosquito bites! Bring at least one and a half to two litres of water with you, as well as a trash bag for all your rubbish. Arm yourselves with proper hiking shoes that have a good grip, and bring along some snacks (we call this ‘happy food’; avoid chocolates, sweets or gummies are preferred) to motivate you — and others around you! — along the way. 

E-lyn Tham

If you’re attempting a sunrise hike, you’d have to make your way up the mountain in the dark. Do equip yourself with a good headlight and torchlight! If this is the first time you’re doing that particular hike, it’s best to do it in the day. Otherwise, make sure you have a guide or that you’re with someone who has done that particular hike before. 

So why not make a weekend out of it, and combine your mountain climb with a little R&R along the way? The climb up may be gruelling but once you’re at the summit, you’ll feel right on top of the world!

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