Weekend Hike at Gunung Datuk

Gunung Datuk is my first hike ever and is also one of my favourite hike. Situated in Negeri Sembilan, it is relatively accessible from Singapore. Its difficulty is comparable to Mt Ophir and Gunung Belumut, and although it is nowhere as tall as Mt Ophir (884m vs 1,276m), the views are so much more rewarding. On a clear day, you can even see the western coastline of the Malaysia peninsular!

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View to the east – You can see the coastline as well as the north-south highway!

Three reasons why it is one of my favourite hike are:

  1. It is a good workout. Even though it is only 884m, the trail is rather steep and the 2-hour hike can be strenuous. At the summit, you’d have to put your guts to the test as you climb rickety ladders to the top of some huge boulders.
  2. The view from the summit is one of the best I’ve ever seen amongst all the hikes I’ve been in Malaysia. The view from other taller mountains (e.g. Mt Ophir) is often blocked by the clouds. On the other hand, the summit of Gunung Datuk are huge flat boulders where you can have a picnic while enjoying the unobstructed panoramic view.
  3. It is -rather- easily accessible from Sg, and you can pair the trip with a stopover in Malacca and irresistible Peranakan food! Yahoooo~

How to get there? 

After researching all the various alternatives, I’ve figured the overnight train is the best way if you want to maximise your weekend. Yes, it is a little tiring to go on an overnight train followed by a hike after a week of hard work. But hey! Trust me, when I say it’s worth it! Here’s how we made our way to Datuk and then to Malacca:

Fri

  • 11:40pm – 03:40am: KTM 44-Shuttle: JB Sentral – Gemas (MYR21)
  • 04:30am – 04:59am: KTM EC9220: Gemas – Tampin (MYR16)

Sat

  • Arrive at Tampin at 5am, walk to Jalan Pasar for breakfast (map). There’s a coffeeshop selling wanton mee, and some stalls selling kuehs and congee. Walk to the end of the street and there’s a guy selling charsiew and roasted pork. BUY IT. DO NOT HESITATE. 
  • 20min taxi from Tampin town to Gunung Datuk (MYR40 / Taxi: +60123614751)
  • 7am: Start climbing!
  • 9am: Reach summit! YAY!
  • 12:30pm: Leave Gunung Datuk for Malacca (1-1.5hr) (MYR 110)
  • Overnight in Malacca

Sun

  • Home Sweet Home

About the hike 

The location of the entry point to the trail can be quite misleading. Upon arrival at Gunung Datuk carpark, you will see a giant Keris (a knife) replica. Behind the Keris is the toilet and shower facilities. The trail head is actually before the Keris. You will see a path like this before the carpark:

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Go down this slope…
trail-2
And you will see this (dried up) river. Cross the bridge and follow the trail into the forest.

Soon after, you will walk past a ranger’s office, which was closed when we were there (too early, perhaps? But we were asked to pay 5RM each on our way down). We took 1hr 45mins to ascend. The trail is more steep at the beginning and there were areas where there was rope for you to hold on to. Be careful of loose rocks and slippery path during wet weather. Do also look out for the iconic giant tree, although it’s kinda in a blind spot for those ascending (we only noticed it on our way down too!).

As you near the summit, the path gets easier. But really, the challenging part of climbing Gunung Datuk just began! The summit of Gunung Datuk is characterised by huge boulders and to get to the top, you’d have to climb the ladders that are tied to the rocks with rope. The longest ladder is about 4.5-5m and it’s shaaakkkyyy. The landing area is also very narrow and crowded with people waiting for their turns.

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The first ladder. It’s almost horizontal, so no big deal.
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The second ladder. This ladder is almost 5m tall and it does get a bit shaky in the middle! Not to mention that the landing at the top is really narrow so you have to be quite agile. Definitely not for the faint-hearted!
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The last two ladders to get to the summit. If you’re not comfortable, you can also just rest among the boulders, from where this photo was taken. The last time I’ve been at Datuk is probably a good 8 years ago, and I noticed they’ve replaced the rusty steel ladders with these new ladders. Good to know that there’s some maintenance work going on.

Once at the top, it is a breath-taking, unobstructed panoramic view of the area. Standing at the top with my arms outstretched, feeling the wind in my air and the world at my feet, that’s one of the best feelings ever, and probably explains why I fell in love with hiking.

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Picture time at the summit! #messyhairduncare
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“There’s no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverly Sills

Bring along your lunch so that you can grab a bite while enjoying the scenery. You can also choose to camp below the boulders but water supply is an issue so you’d need to bring sufficient water. I have camped at Datuk a few times and the night view and the sunsets are just as beautiful. The hike down took 1hr 30mins and there are toilets and showers at the base.

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