Bintang

Facts

Elevation: 1,862 m (6,109 ft) Prominence: 1,566 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerKurang Tinggi Province: Peninsular Malaysia
Google Earth: kml Other names:  
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Gunung Bintang (‘star mountain’) is the highest peak in Kedah and is part of a very large mountain range stretching north all the way from Gunung Bubu south of Taiping. The main trail to the topstarts in Sedim Recreation Park, Kulim (roughly 125m above sea level) and it takes most hikers 7 hours to reach the summit and around 5 to descend again. It is usually hiked in two days with one night camping but really strong hikers could just about complete the trek in one long day 13 hours return trip with daypacks) if they set out pre-dawn (or indeed if your guide is willing hike at night in time for first light at the top).

The first 3.5km follows a cement track which is often blocked by fallen trees before the proper trail begins at the end of the cement.

The mountain is filled with wildlife including elephants and sun bears (‘beruang madu’) and most hikers see lots of prints in the mud. Leeches are also common on this mountain.

From Sedim, allow an hour to Camp 1 river crossing (large camp area), 30 minutes to the second river and then a further hour to Camp 2 which is near a waterfall and steep terrain. Watch out for deep holes in this area. Fron there it’s another 60-90 minutes to the proper start of the forest trail and another 90 minutes to Puncak Bunian. In another 90 minutes you will be at Anak Bintang where you should see the true summit which lies about 45 minutes away.

The summit has good views and the usual signs. It is also only one of two peaks in the Bintang range to have a ‘beirut’ (surveyor’s metal tripod) at the top – the other being Gunung Inas (1,801m).

Occasionally hikers trek via Bintang South (1,560m) from Sebonton, Perak, but this is apparently quite overgrown and would require at least one extra day. There is also a trail up from the southwest at Mahang which meets the main trail from Sedim at Anak Bintang.

Practicalities

Getting there The trailhead is about 450km from KL, so it’s much easier to fly to Penang. Bukit Mertajam is the closest train station. By car or motorbike, follow signs for Sungai Sedim and then Tree Top Walk.
Accommodation Chalets available at Sedim Park. Many hikers choose to stay in Kulim.
Permits Required from Pejabat Hutan Daerah Kedah Selatan in Kulim, although this process is far from easy unless you live locally or have your guide arrange it on your behalf. RM10 per person.
Water sources None available except stagnant water about 1 hour before Anak Bintang so be sure to take sufficient supplies with you.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall Average precipitation (rain/snow) in Penang, Malaysia

Location

2 thoughts on “Bintang

  1. Well, the super-fast trail runner Mykhailo made it to the top earlier this month in just 3 hours and 24 minutes! Apparently the first 3.5km is asphalt so that’s easy. Higher up, not possible to run! Anyway, that definitely means it is doable as a dayhike for the fit who set out at first light. Mykhailo almost stepped on a snake and ‘heard some strange voices’!

  2. This was going to be my first hike on the Malay Peninsula (after a disastrous start in August when the Tahan trip I joined was so appallingly managed that I quit before it properly started!) It is just about doable in a weekend from Penang, and could be hiked in one long day by really fit hikers if you set out at first light. Coming from Jakarta on the direct AirAsia flight is doable, but you need one night camping and to have transport arranged.

    Anyway, I was given a contact number for a hiker I thought lived in Penang but it turned out he was actually based in KL. Bakh was his name. Seemed knowledgeable about the mountains and was keen to hike Bintang. I gave him the dates of the two weekends I would be in Penang and later the same day he said he and his friends from KL wanted to join for the December weekend. This seemed promising, but with nobody from Penang going, it was going to be hard and expensive for me alone to get from Penang airport to the trailhead. Indeed, it soon became clear that they didn’t want to or couldn’t pick me up on the main road but expected me to meet them at the trailhead which is obscure and remote and would be really difficult getting back to the airport in a rush from.

    A few days passed and he sent another message saying we would meet at the trailhead at 3pm and not reach the summit until 9pm. They would all be car-sharing from KL. Nice for them. Quite why we would want to wait until 3pm to start the trek was not clear, but it sounded like from this originally being my plan that I suggested, this Bakh fellow had then arranged an itinerary to suit him and his friends from KL – a plan that was totally inconvenient for me, the person who originally mentioned doing a trek up this mountain. When I said as much, he said his hands were tied as he was in the middle between me and his friends in KL!

    Well, all I can say is that once again the hikers of the Malay Peninsula have astounded me with their incompetence, selfishness and rudeness. I told him to forget it, that I would hike Bintang in January and that is still my plan.
    So I got in touch with a local guide for Gunung Bintang, Mimo, to say I would not be joining the other group as the itinerary was totally inconvenient for me and that I would like to do it in January. I asked him how much the price would be and he said ‘guide RM200 per day’ plus RM50 for food and transport from airport RM180 and permit RM10. So about RM640 in total! Crazy prices and of course RM200 is around double what you should pay someone for walking up a hill. Quite why guides expect food costs to be paid for is a strange one. It’s not like they would not be eating if they were just staying at home!

    Anyway, after a bad week, I swore at this guy. He then said ‘normal Malaysia rate guide internasional double harga…. I dah kasi u malaysia rate RM200 tu’ which rough translates as the local price for a guide is RM200 and foreigners normally pay double (i.e RM400 per day!!!!) but I am giving you the local price. Lovely. I swore at him again and told him I would mention him on my website. He then threatened to ‘viral’ me as he had a scan of my passport. ‘I blh viral u’ or ‘I boleh viral you’ for those that can be bothered to write full words, i.e I will tell other hikers in the Malaysian hiking community about you. Haha. What a complete t**ser. So, Mimo not recommended.

    There you are…. More rip offs and racism and incompetence in Peninsula Malaysia. I would like to think I have just had a bad start…. Third time lucky, perhaps?

    Anyone in the Penang area who fancies hiking this mountain in January please get in touch, assuming you don’t want to try to empty my wallet or think it’s ok to charge me double because I was born outside Malaysia. All I’m trying to do is go for a hike…. Shame about the people who make this such an enormous and unenjoyable task to arrange it.

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