Michael: This is our story about our trip to the world’s oldest jungle, Taman Negara. It is located in Malaysia, only about 240 km from Kuala Lumpur.
Short History – Taman Negara
The jungle is now a National Park that was established in 1938 by the English Kingdom and was originally named “King George V National Park”. After Malaysia got its independence in 1957, the park was renamed to National Park (Taman Negara) of Peninsular Malaysia.
This place is a hotspot for biodiversity. There are more than 3000 species of plants and about 150 species of mammals, including the very rare Malayan Tiger and Clouded Leopard. In addition, there are 80 species of bats and 30 species of rodents, not to forget about the countless species of insects.
The area itself is estimated to be about 130 million years old and is one of the oldest tropical jungles still standing today. It is also listed on UNESCO as an unconfirmed World Heritage site.
We started early morning from Kuala Lumpur and jumped on a bus that took us to the closest town. This place is called Jerantut and from there, we took a van to the Kuala Tembeling jetty from where the riverboat leaves.
We did not actually plan to go with a tour agency, but when we arrived at Jerantut bus station, there was a guide, who told us it is our best option and it was only about 10 ringgit more to go with him. So we made a choice to go with him to make it easier for us. He took us to their office where we made all the park fee payments and the boat payments and then they took us to the jetty.
So we get in the boat and start the 3-hour journey. At this moment it is good to notice that you should use the toilet at the jetty before you enter the boat because it is a journey with no stops, some of us might have had a few problems because we did not go to the toilet before…
We finally arrived at Kuala Tahan which is the village on the other side of the river from the Jungle. This is where we stayed for 3 nights. We chose a budget room in Taman Negara Travellers Lodge* which cost about 13€/night.
The village is quite small and has developed through tourism, you will mostly find restaurants that sell burgers and other Western foods. Luckily there are also some local restaurants who offer more affordable and local food. We preferred these.
The first morning we got up early. We headed to the Jungle to find out what there is to be found. The first feeling and sound of the place were breathtaking and you could really feel the old energy of the trees. Our first mission was to get to the Canopy Walkway, which has been the most famous tourist attraction. We hiked for an hour only to figure out that the thing has been closed for almost a year. This was due to some irresponsible human behavior and bad condition of the structure.
So we decide to hike to Teresek Hill instead, the closest and easiest climb in the area. This was a quite long hike uphill and the place itself was only an opening in the canopy where you could see the jungle from above.
We did not want to get back the same route so we decided to go with the trail that went down on the other side. This was a much more adventurous trail than the one we came up with. There were no stairs and it was pretty steep at places but luckily there were some ropes that we could grab when the terrain got more difficult.
When we finally got out of the jungle and back to the village we were pretty exhausted but really satisfied, what a magical and wonderful place this jungle is!
The following days
We did the same thing the next morning as the day before and headed out to explore the unknown, only in the other direction. This time we also found a nice beach where it was possible to swim in the river. There were signs that you should not enter the river if you have any open wounds because of the bacteria in the water. I went for a swim and it was really refreshing after a hot and sweaty day in the jungle. No bacteria for me! We repeated this for the next few days.
The best thing I found out was that hiking in this ancient forest really made me feel good, physically and mentally! To trek the uneven terrain, not knowing what the next bend or hill would reveal was the best feeling ever. And there is some magical feeling about old trees that I just can’t explain. I suggest everybody should visit any forest as a regular thing to keep up your overall health!
And yeah, I almost forgot! Filming wild animals in the jungle is really, really difficult! You see them and hear them, but there is no time to set up the camera before they are gone. All the respect for animal photographers, it’s nearly impossible!
Transport Prices & How To Get There
The bus ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Jerantut cost us about 18RM (about 3,90€) and
the van + boat to Kuala Tahan (including National Park fees + photo license) was 55RM (11.80€).
You need to pay 5RM (1,10€) for a camera license for taking photos in the jungle, even if it’s just your phone. You also need to bring this permit with you all the time when entering the National Park because there are rangers who might check for this.
It’s also possible to get to the jungle by bus but the river scenery is well worth the price and the extra time. The bus cost only 6RM (1,20€) and takes about 2 hours. We took this trip when we got back to Kuala Lumpur.
There are also many tour operators in Kuala Lumpur that make all-inclusive trips there. Starting from a day trip that cost about 200RM (43€) to several days in the jungle that cost about 150RM (32€) per day.
Naura Roomstay* – New building a little bit outside of the village and here you will have complete privacy and it is right next to the river.
Mutiara Taman Negara Resort* – The only 4-star resort in the area and the only one that is actually in the National Park area. This is the place if your budget can handle it!
For me, this jungle was quite special. This was the first location where I really decided to try my best in making videos. And in my opinion, it really paid off. The reason we even went to this jungle was that our Indonesian visa was ending so we flew to Kuala Lumpur and we had 5 days before we were going to Thailand.
We did not want to spend this in the city so I started to look for other options. And this is what I found. I think you really should visit Taman Negara if you have a few extra days to spend when traveling via Kuala Lumpur. This is a place you are going to remember forever.
Oh, and we actually did a night walk in the jungle also but the footage was not that good… Let’s just say that it was more than just interesting to get the feeling of a totally dark jungle. Go find out for yourself!
Ko Lanta, Thailand – a paradise island located on Thailands Andaman coast. It is actually not just an island, but an island district that belongs to the Krabi province. This place is packed with natural beauty like white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, mangrove forests, limestone rocks, and some tropical rainforests. And not to forget what’s under the ocean surface, a lot of fish and colorful coral reefs! What more can you ask for?
Short history: The Island district was founded in 1901 and it consists of 4 different island groups: Mu Ko Lanta, Mu Ko Klang, Mu Ko Rok and Mu Ko Ngai. The name was officially changed to “Lanta” in 1917 and has since been called that. The main island for tourism is Ko Lanta Yai which always and still is the most populated island in the area.
The first people who settled down on Lanta was the ChaoLay (Sea Gypsies) who mostly spend their time on the sea. Then came the Thai-Muslim people and finally the Thai-Chinese. All these groups still live on the island and have developed their own cultural ways. There are over 500 years of recorded history of all the groups living in peace and harmony and that’s why Lanta today is a charming multi-ethnic community.
All the people here share a common warmth and welcoming vibe and that’s locally known as “the Ko Lanta charm”.
Next, we are going to tell you all the different activities and things you can enjoy while visiting this amazing island.
1. Rent a scooter and explore the island
This is probably the best way to see a lot of the island beauty in just a few days. There are scooter rentals in almost every corner (even some restaurants rent out their own scooters) so finding one should not be difficult. The price is usually around 200 baht (about 5,50€) per day but if you want it for an extended period you should always try to bargain a better price, as with everything in Thailand.
Make sure you get a proper agreement of the deal you make and check the condition of the scooter before you put your name on the paper. If there are some scratches or marks on the scooter, you better take pictures of them so when you return the scooter you can show that it is in the same condition as when you took it out. Remember to bring your passport or a deposit for the time of rental, this is just a guarantee for the owner that you are going to bring the scooter back. Drive safely, on the LEFT side, and wear a helmet!
2. Visit Koh Lanta Old Town
This small town is located on the east side of the island, while most of the “happening” is on the west coast, this is a relaxed traditional small town. The sea-gypsies were the first to settle in this town and later on, when the Thai-Chinese arrived it became a port of trade. This was the main town back in the days but after more and more people arrived in the north and west of the island and Saladan (main town nowadays) was born, the Old town got its name. Before it was just called Lanta town.
When you visit the place now it feels like going back in time, it’s mainly built of wooden houses. It is very relaxed with some shops and restaurants for tourists but there are no big crowds here. It is actually one of few remaining traditional Thai towns in the country. There are still some remaining Sea-gypsies on the south side of the island but it is highly suggested to leave these people alone and don’t take any photographs.
The best things to do in the town is just walking around and admire the magical old feeling, do some shopping and have some good food at a restaurant on top of the water build on wooden stilts and just enjoy!
3. Go on a snorkeling day trip
There are many different tours to choose from and every one of them has a little bit different schedule and program. The most popular is the 4 island trip and the day trip to Ko Rok. If none of them is interesting to you, you can always rent a longtail-boat for yourself and visit the islands and beaches you like. The second option is more expensive but with a lot more freedom to choose when or where to go (this might be a better idea because of the massive tourism on the organized tours).
With the organized and scheduled tours, you don’t have a choice but to go with the flow and do what the tour guide says, and there are many other people doing the same thing. Either way, you will see some really impressive limestone islands rising up from the sea and some very beautiful beaches. The snorkeling is also very impressive with a lot of fish and different corals. Highly recommended to do a trip, one way or the other!
4. Party and enjoy the nightlife
Ko Lanta is not really famous for its parties, like the neighbors Phi Phi and Phuket, but there are still some pretty good party possibilities on a smaller scale. You can find a party every day if you like, but it is also very easy to not go out. In general, Lanta is a pretty silent place during the night with a few exceptions. The places are, to name a few:
Funky monkey – A karaoke bar that is open every day and there is always something happening, they also serve good food here. Pangea beach bar – Party on Tuesdays and sunset party on Sunday, located right on the beach with no other bars around so it’s a quite good place for parties. Ozone beach bar – Party/disco on Thursdays, some laser light and techno music for the more “fast people”.
There are several other bars on almost every beach but these are the main attractions that are located on Long Beach. Check out street signs or flyers that are handed out on the beach for more specific parties. The famous “Thai bucket” is included in every single party if you like to have some more alcohol at once. It’s cheaper to buy drinks this way but beware that you will get very drunk very fast when drinking these so be careful. Enjoy!
5. Eat delicious Thai food
Thai food is some of the best this planet earth has to offer, and it’s affordable too! Rice is the main ingredient in almost every dish, plain white rice as a side to many dishes or then there are several different types of fried rice too.
There are several different curries to try like Green curry or Panang curry. Pad Thai is one of Thailands national dishes, fried rice noodles with egg and shrimp and is a must try if you visit Thailand. There is also a big variety of fresh seafood that the many restaurants cook in their own brilliant way, often barbequed with some delicious sauce added after.
Soup is another specialty of Thailand and there are two soups that rise above the other, Tom Yam (spicy and sour) and Tom Kha (smooth coconut milk soup) to which you can add the protein of your liking: chicken, beef, seafood or shrimp. As a dessert, you should definitely try Mango sticky rice or the traditional Banana pancake.
Whatever you eat, you will love it! Be brave and try some new things and you will find some amazing flavors!
6. Visit a viewpoint spot
There are several viewpoint spots and restaurants around the island, some are located inland and others on the coastline. If you are a sunrise lover you could visit some on the east coast and if you are more the sunset person, just choose one on the west side. The east side has more island and coastline views when the west offers a faded view of the Phi Phi islands and the wide open Andaman sea.
7. Try some Thai massage
Thai massage is famous for being one of the best massages in the world. The quality is really good with the experienced older ladies and the price is more than okay, 300 baht (about 8€) for an hour and they will twist you in so many different positions that you will feel like reborn after. The best massage places are usually located close to the beach where you can hear the ocean breeze, so comforting!
8. Visit Mu Koh Lanta National Park
This park is located on the southern tip of the island and extends out to the nearby islands where the 4 islands day trip also takes place. This is a place with unspoiled nature and a lot of wildlife. There are a lot of monkeys, lizards and other small animals native to Thailand. You have to pay a park entrance fee, 200 baht (5.50€) per person and an additional 20 baht (0,60€) if you bring a scooter.
There is a nature trail that is about 2km long that lingers through the jungle and has some breathtaking views. It is pretty exhausting and a lot of steps so remember to bring a lot of water with you. Then there are also two beaches, one that is very rocky and another sandy. In between these beaches are some big rocks with an old lighthouse on it with again some really nice views. You can spend a whole day here or just visit it quickly, up to you but worth it anyways.
9. Go to a Thai boxing event
This is another thing Thailand is famous for and it can get pretty brutal on a “fight night”. Many foreigners also go to Thailand just to train and fight the locals so there might be some interesting fights. They usually arrange it one or two days a week and tickets are sold in advance or at the “arena”. It’s usually around 800 baht (about 22,30€) for a normal ticket and even more for VIP tickets. If you are a fan of fighting then this will for sure be entertaining. There is a lot of advertising prior to events so you better check the surroundings or ask a travel agency to hook you up with tickets.
10. Enjoy a fire show at the beach
After the sun has set and the beachgoers has left for the day it is time for the local “firemen” to step in. Almost every beach has some restaurant or party where there will be fire performances performing with different equipment. These guys are really talented at what they do! It’s a really nice extra when dining next to the dark beach and a perfect situation for some long shutter photography. After the show the “firemen” will go around the restaurants and ask for a tip from people who liked what the did, this is how they get paid.
11. Relax at the beach and enjoy the calm waters
There are about 20 different beaches on Ko Lanta so finding one that suits you and your needs should not be that hard. The most popular and most developed are Klong Dao Beach and Phra Ae Beach (Long Beach). Here you can find a lot of restaurants and beach bars, but also some pretty quiet places along them because of the size of the beaches.
Klong Nin is another fairly long beach that’s not overly developed yet. For more private and undeveloped beaches you should head more south and visit Nui Bay beach, Klong Chak beach or Bamboo beach. Remember to bring water and some sunscreen because it’s hard to find some shade on many of these beaches.
12. Go scuba diving
Scuba diving is very popular at Ko Lanta and there are very many spots you can go diving on. There are scuba diving shops on nearly every beach and they all have PADIor SSIcertification so they are safe for everyone. Best way to find the scuba shop you like is to just walk into one and ask around, where they are going to dive in the next few days and different requirement criteria they might have.
If you are a beginner, this is also a good place to start because of the price level in Thailand is one of the lowest in the world and the sea currents are pretty nonexistent in the area. Many dive shops also have a swimming pool for beginners where you train to know all your equipment before you enter the ocean.
13. Take a tuk-tuk ride
This is the second best option to get around the island, after the motorbike. These motorbike modifications are a specialty to Asia and this part of Thailand. They are very convenient, you can find them almost anywhere and they are fairly cheap. Especially if you go out partying this is the best option for you to get around. Drunk driving (if you have rented a scooter) is just stupid and should not be done in any circumstance! The tuk-tuk rides are also a good way of supporting locals directly because they work for themselves.
14. Try horse riding on the beach
On the more popular beaches, there are also some horse riding possibilities. The price is about 1000-1200 baht (about 30-35€) for 1-2 hours. This tho is a little bit controversial because of the hot climate when they do the riding during the daytime. If you still want to experience this thing it is best to do during sunrise or sunset to ease out the stress on the animals. It is also possible to take a jungle route instead of the beach if this seems more interesting.
15. Mangrove kayaking
There is a lot of mangrove forest on the North side of the island and again there are many companies doing day trips there. You get to see the inside of the mangrove forest and how this ecosystem works. The tours are working with the ocean tide – the best time to go is when it is high tide and the ocean fills up the floor of the forest. The price is about 1000 baht (about 30€) for a half day trip. If you are not interested in kayaking there is also the possibility of taking a long tail boat tour thru the mangrove but these don’t go that deep into the forest because of the size of the boat.
16. Visit Khlong Chak Waterfall (if it rains)
This waterfall is also a part of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park but is a little bit apart from where the park entrance is. To get to this waterfall you need to hike about 25 minutes through the lush jungle. The path is not so good and you might find a bit difficult to find without a guide.
Luckily there are a lot of tours made to this waterfall but you should only go there if it has been raining. The tour has been disappointing for many who hike there in the dry season only to come up to an almost dried up waterfall. The waterfall itself is only about 7 meters high so it’s not that spectacular. On the way back there is also a possibility to hike to the Klong Chak cave which is a small cave with massive roots growing through the rocks.
Where to stay on Ko Lanta?
Are you going to backpack or maybe spend your honeymoon here, no problem, we got you covered! Here are some of the best places to stay on Ko Lanta in every price range!
Dreamy Casa offers nice air-conditioned rooms right next to the main street on Long Beach for a reasonable price.
Lanta Happy Hill is surrounded by greenery and lush gardens and the walk to the beach takes only 5 minutes.
Lazy Days is a beach bungalow style resort right next to the beach. Location is perfect with everything you need for a vacation.
SER-EN-DIP-I-TY offers air-conditioned rooms in a quiet area just next to Long Beach.
Siam Lanta is a bestseller in Ko Lanta, the resort has a swimming pool and is surrounded by jungle.
The Houben – ADULTS ONLY offer some villa-style accommodation with stunning views.
Alanta Villa offers spacious villas built with natural materials and every villa has a private pool. The natural choice!
Lanta Casa Blanca has one of the best location ratings on the island and the resort has it’s own private beach area.
5 -Star travel:
Rawi Warin Resort and Spalocated on the west side about half way the island. This is a quiet place with all the luxury you could possibly need!
Layana Resort & Spa – ADULTS ONLY is on Long Beach and is still surrounded by tropical greenery with a view over the sea, with world-class service of course.
Pimalai Resort & Spa which is rated no.1 on trip advisor as travelers choice. It is located more south than most resorts and has complete privacy and excellent service!
That’s it from us at BEMBALYFE! Hope you enjoyed the article and found it somewhat helpful. Have you ever been to Ko Lanta and done something we didn’t cover here, please let us know in the comment section below.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. – Steve Jobs
Huh, it has been quite a week! Although for outsiders, our life may look like a relaxed travel life but it’s not like that all the time. We are not just lying by the pool and enjoying some beer or cocktails. We are working and trying to develop our things all the time and it’s really stressful a lot of times.
Today I woke up in the morning before seven, did some yoga and the rest of the day I sat in a restaurant with my laptop and tried to figure out how the hell I could make some things work properly. My patience and electronics are not the best combination!
Regardless of that, the week has been rewarding. I have lots of pictures from the week so this post is more about pictures and less text.
Our office changes daily. Sometimes it is a beautiful place with a sea view and sometimes MC Donald’s! We were at Koh Lanta National Park which is the most southern point of the island. It costs 200 baht (5,60 euros) per person for foreigners and another 20 baht (0,60 euros) if you’re bringing a motorbike.
We also visit Koh Lanta Old town! There were cute little shops.
One other day we went on a (pretty horrible!) snorkeling trip with other tourists. Horrible because we are not huge fans of tourist trips… The trip was “4 island trip” which included 2 snorkeling stops, a “cave swim” where we swam 80 meters with life jackets (Michael was like I don’t need it but the guide forced him to put it on haha! It was a funny situation) through the dark cave. With a hundred other tourist! Last stop was a lunch break on a peaceful beach, Koh Kradan which was very beautiful and peaceful.
After Koh Lanta we took a tourist boat and went to a Koh Jum where we spent one day. We didn’t know that there was no ATM on the island, and we had not much cash, so we were forced to leave after one night.
Koh Jum was so nice and a really calm island. We were pretty sad that we had to leave only after one night. We stayed at Coral Bay resort which was very nice with clean bungalows and friendly stuff. Michael turned 32 when we were there, what would be a better place to be on a birthday?
If you’re wondering where to stay at Koh Jum, we highly recommend this. You can book your stay here*
We didn’t want to go on a tourist boat anymore, so we took a local boat which was 4 times cheaper than a tourist boat and the trip was very nice. Locals are super friendly and things work easily with them without any confusion!
From Koh Jum we went to Krabi town for one night. We stayed at Sleep Easy which was clean and nice hostel owned by an Aussie dude. One night costs only 16 euros which is not bad in that area. We had a private room because we don’t want to stay in dorms with all our electronics.
In the evening we went to the night market. I love night markets! We ate grilled seafood and of course – banana pancakes! Huh, it was super sugary for me cause I don’t eat desserts very often. Okay, I think it’s super sugary for everyone!
From Krabi Town, we took a local bus, or more like a pickup truck with seats in the back, to Ao Nang where we are currently. We stay atAo Nang Bamboo resort and we stay here for 6 days. We have a cute little bungalow and this place is overall nice and quiet with a pool! This place is a couple of kilometers away from the beach, away from all the tourist hassle, so we rented a scooter so we can drive around easily.