Climbing Mount Tahan: Malaysia’s Toughest Trek
Climbing Mount Tahan Malaysia - Mountain Stats
- #6 Highest Mountain in Malaysia
- #1 Highest Mountain in Peninsular Malaysia
- Gunung Tahan
- Endurance Mountain
Climbing Mount Tahan Malaysia - Natural Form and History
Natural Mount Tahan Malaysia - Natural history
This 100 million year old mountain is a part of the southern most reaches of the Himalayas, the Tahan Range in the Tenasserim Hills. Mount Tahan is located within the Taman Negara National Park, in the midst of the world’s oldest rainforests. The mountain has much to offer in terms of nature with its exotic wildlife, bountiful rivers, beautiful orchids and even the world’s largest flower, rafflesias.
Natural Mount Tahan Malaysia - Climbing history
Despite the many failures by early explorers, the first successful summit was recorded in 1899 by a member of the Cambridge Scientific Expedition. Although at the time he was thought to be missing for several days, he returned, albeit severely ill. The locals have stories of how climbing Mount Tahan has been an adventure since ancient times, when a Sultan of Pahang had ordered his men to fetch him “magic stones” from the summit. The men never returned and were said to have gotten lost in the gorges of the mountain.
Natural Mount Tahan Malaysia - Current status
Today, despite its popularity amongst climbers, Mount Tahan is considered to be a tough trek, so it is popular for people looking to really get into the wilderness and test their stamina.
Climbing Mount Tahan Malaysia - Climbing Experience & Itinerary
Climbing Mount Tahan Malaysia - Climbing Experience
Mount Tahan isn’t a climb for beginners, but this shouldn’t deter you into considering this a climb only for advanced climbers. Summiting Tahan just requires climbers to pay attention to their physical fitness levels. The trail offers a mix of flat and steep sections, with plenty of ridges, river crossings, slush and ravines to keep things interesting.
Climbing Mount Tahan Malaysia - Trail options
You get to choose a trail out of the 3 options available depending on your time constraints and physical fitness. The longer, classic trail will take you over a week to complete while the shorter trail brings you back to the starting point within 4-5 days. The other option is basically a combination of these two options whereby you’ll be using one trail to go up and the other to come down.
Climbing Mount Tahan Malaysia - Support facilities
Guides and porters
Food & water
Climbing Mount Tahan Malaysia - Safety & Accessibility
The best time to climb is during the dry season from March to September. The weather in Malaysia is typically equatorial so expect temperatures averaging 24°C during the day and 15°C during the night. Mount Tahan is closed for trekking during September-October due to high rainfall.
This trail is rather adventurous with many river crossings, dense patches of jungle and plenty of slopes. During the first three days you’ll experience 3 distinct sections of the climb. The first day isn’t too steep of a climb but the 4th and final river crossing of the day may have you waist-deep in water. The second day is a much steeper climb with just one river crossing. Be aware of the intertwined tree roots along the way and take advantage of the guide ropes and side railings. The final stretch isn’t as steep as the second day climb.
It is recommended that you stick close to your group and guide to avoid getting lost.
Snakes and insects: This is a real threat and even more reason to avoid wandering off, away from your group.
Permits, Fees, and Regulations
Foreign travelers must file a report at the local police station before proceeding to the park entrance at Kuala Tahan or Merapoh to acquire their permit. A permit will be handed over once the fee has been paid, a guide has been hired and the baggage check has been completed.
Police & Ambulance: 999 (112 from a mobile)
Fire & Rescue (Bomba): 994 (112 from a mobile)
Tourist Police Hotline: 03 2149 6590
Getting there and away
The nearest airports to the Taman Negara National Park are in Ipoh, Terengganu and Kuantan. However, Merapoh is 244km away from Kuala Lumpur so you could always take the train, bus or a 3.5 hour taxi/car ride. The bus from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Baruh stops at the Merapoh station. If you want to take the train, go south to Gemas from Kuala Lumpur and then get on the “Jungle Line” to Tumpat.
If you’re going in a group, expect to pay at least around $650USD. Costs may rise depending on whether you’re traveling solo or in a group. Remember, guides are mandatory either way.
Climbing Mount Tahan Malaysia - Special Tips
Tips for amateur climbers
Fitness and endurance levels are the most important factor that may affect your climb (rather than technical skills). Be sure to get fit well in advance to attempting Tahan. Be sure to get good wet-weather camping gear, and to wear in your hiking boots.
Tips for advanced climbers
If you’ve already set your mind on spending about a week on your Mount Tahan summit, consider taking the combination route as opposed to the shortest. This way you’ll get to enjoy an all-round experience of the trek up one of the toughest peaks to summit in the region.
Tips for women
There aren’t any threats to women in specific, however you may want to take the local culture into consideration when deciding on attire for your visit.
Tips for responsible / safety-conscious climbers
This trek takes you into some remote areas. You will need to be self-sufficient when it comes to your food, water, first aid, and emergency equipment.
Tips for trail runners
The Mount Tahan Climbathon took place in January 2018 where a hike that takes a minimum of 4 days was attempted to be completed in 12 hours. Keep an eye out for other events like these.
Tips for nature lovers
Taman Negara is Malaysia’s largest protected conservation area, boasting rich lowland forests, with over 200 tree species per hectare. During your trek, you’ll see rivers, ancient trees and exotic flora, including the world’s largest flower, rafflesia.