Rembau

Facts

Elevation: 884 m (2,900 ft) Prominence: 638 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerSpesial Province: Peninsular Malaysia
Google Earth: kml Other names:  
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Photos

Bagging It!

Gunung Rembau is the highest part of the large mountain range southeast of KL and Seremban. This hilly area stretches tens of kilometres from Seremban all the way down to Tampin in the south. The most popular hikes in the area are the easy Gunung Angsi (825m) in the north and Gunung Datuk (705m) in the south. The highest peak in the range is the much less popular Gunung Rembau (884m) which can easily be combined with a trip to Gunung Datuk.

In truth, Gunung Datuk is not really a mountain of its own but a large outcrop of boulders on the higher slopes of Gunung Rembau. It is popular enough for there to be a car park and a couple of small cafes at the trailhead and at weekends you can expect to meet over a hundred other hikers. Named after ancient village chiefs who used to have meetings here, there are now several metal ladders making access to the highest boulder pretty easy although not ideal if you suffer from vertigo.

The trailhead is just 20 minutes from the town of Tampin, so that is the best base and you can easily find a Grab or taxi to take you to the foot of the well-known mountain. From the car park (100m), drop down slightly on the right, cross a small cement bridge over a stream and then register at the registration booth (90m). Note that you need to sign in and out so remember to do so on your return. Some folk camp near the top of Datuk so they can enjoy the sunrise (around 7am) but it is not necessary given how short the trekking time is.

Given how popular the trail is, it is very easy to follow and single hikers should not worry too much, especially on weekends when there are usually over 100 other hikers. Fit trekkers should be able to cover the steep 2 kilometres in 90 minutes – 2 hours. The trail leads via a small un-named resting spot (270m) and eventually you reach a flat area (690m) where locals camp or eat their lunch and take photos next to a sign with the incorrect elevation of 885m written on it. To the left is the impressive jumble of boulders that is Gunung Datuk peak (705m) and you can be perched on the top in just 2 or 3 minutes. The view is pretty impressive in clear weather and you may be lucky enough to see the western coastline.

Behind you, you will see higher forest, and this is Gunung Rembau, the true highest point of the range which the erroneous Datuk signs take their elevation figure from. If 100 hikers are at Datuk, you can bet that 1 or 2 at most will bother to continue to Gunung Rembau, which lies around 1.5km away (in a straight line). Below is a small cave beneath the boulders which would certainly provide a bit of shelter should it start raining.

From the camp and lunch area at Datuk, follow the minor forest trail on the right of the sign. It is narrow given how few folk hike here but fairly easy going and you should be at an unmarked junction (850m) with a ribbon tied round a tree in just over 30 minutes. This is a very important junction. For Gunung Rembau be sure to take a left and drop down slightly before ascending again. In 10-15 minutes from this junction you will be at a very small clearing which has a couple of signs and a small square cement base in the ground. This is the top of Gunung Rembau and the highest peak for many tens of kilometres.

Whilst there is no view here, the forest is pleasant and you have a good chance of spotting birds such as hornbills and other wildlife including siamangs which don’t often venture near Gunung Datuk due to its popularity with humans!

Had you taken the right turn at the unmarked junction, you would have found yourself heading towards Gunung Gagak (807m) which is the second highest here (unless you count Gunung Angsi which is several tens of km further northwest). A trek known by local hikers as Trans Naning continues beyond Gunung Gagak to Gunung Tampin north and south (726m and 728m respectively) before dropping down via Bukit Tampin (560m) where there is a telecommunications tower and Tampin Recreational Forest.

This full day out (supposedly 11-12 hours for average hikers) is around 21km in total and requires a very early start and is not recommended at all to solo hikers due to the length and remoteness. That the trail ends in Tampin means finding transport back at the end of the trail is not a problem (as it might sometimes be at Gunung Datuk) but as you are supposed to sign out at the Datuk entrance, it may be advisable to do it in the opposite direction or at least phone the ranger responsible for Datuk in advance to check.

If you are returning the same way, from Rembau peak back to the unmarked junction takes just 10 minutes, from there back to Gunung Datuk takes a further 30 minutes, and most fit hiker can be back at the car park from there in just over 1 hour meaning under 2 hours total for the descent. Allow around 6 hours total including breaks and photo time for the return hike which is a fairly straightforward trek suitable as an introduction to hiking in Malaysia.

Bagging information by Dan Quinn (February 2019)

Practicalities

Getting there Rembau or Tampin / Pulau Sebang is the closest train station but at present the Rembau station does not appear to be active.  For those heading south from KLIA, Nilai is the closest station to the Airport but is seemingly not used for intercity. Consider using Kajang or Seremban stations rather than heading into KL city first. From those flying in from elsewhere and on a tight schedule, there is a night train which leaves Kajang at around 0040 and arrives in Tampin / Pulau Sebang around 0200 (in 2019).
Accommodation Several hotels available in Tampin.
Permits RM5 per person at Gunung Datuk entrance. Sign in and out required so check first if doing the Trans Naning.
Water sources One stream near the start of the Gunung Datuk trail, but various stalls also usually open near the car park.
Travel insurance We recommend World Nomads insurance, which is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities including mountain hiking.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall Average precipitation (rain/snow) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Location

One thought on “Rembau

  1. Managed to get a bargain promo flight with KLM from Jakarta to KL for a nice start to a weekend of bagging both Rembau and Ophir / Ledang. The flight was perfectly on time and the pilot was excellent – you really felt in safe hands. The stewardesses were a bit rude and graceless, a reminder of western brusqueness that you rarely encounter with Southeast Asian staff. The food…. Weird. An unidentified hot thing with the phrase ‘tasty warm’ written on it. That and nothing else. Very odd.

    Originally a couple of other hikers had joined this weekend of hikes and one of them had a car which meant a much easier arrangement for all, especially in Malaysia where it can be difficult getting to remote places without spending a fortune on taxis. From KLIA I took a Grab to Kajang station – RM73 including toll. The driver’s family was originally from the island of Bawean in East Java. Took around 40 minutes or so. It isn’t cheap but it saves going into KL which is useful if you want to get down to Tampin on the 1242am train (arrives in Tampin just after 2am).

    Well, Kajang train station appeared deserted and closed. I was quite concerned. Thankfully there were 3 others on the platform so it did seem like the train was due. The time came and went and there was no info on the info screen about a delay. The train finally arrived over 20 minutes late.

    After the time waiting in the very soulless atmosphere of Kajang station after midnight, all the colour came flooding back into reality when I boarded the train and found the affordably priced food car. Only RM21 to Tampin, also known as Pulau Sebang. Just over an hour, booked in advance online.

    One of the main issues in walking around Malaysia late at night is the number of stray dogs milling around. There was one near Tampin train station, so rather than risk trouble I found a guy to drive me the short distance to my hotel. Quite a long day starting at 5am in Jakarta and ending at 230am the next morning in Tampin.

    The next morning, it was easy to find a Grab car to cover the short distance of 14km (17 minutes) to the Gunung Datuk car park and trailhead. It was very busy, with cars parked further down the road and either side of it. One spot is quite pleasant, a grassy strip from which you can see the huge boulders at the summit of Datuk. Water buffalo like roaming around here.

    Knowing it would be difficult to get from here down to Tangkak later (for Gunung Ledang the next day) I offered the driver RM100 to pick me up at 330pm and take me straight to Tangkak. He was happy with that.

    The hike to Datuk was very pleasant indeed, with hikers of all ages, some running back down after presumably having watched the sunrise. I was at the top in 1 hour and 25 minutes. Loads of others meaning a bit of a queue to get onto the very highest little boulder. Pleasant views but too hazy to see the coastline.

    I then carried on alone towards Rembau peak. Just 2 minutes away from the Datuk camp spot and photo area it was almost silent again in the forest. I had originally planned to do the Trans Naning with the other hikers who pulled out, but doing such a long trek alone is not a great idea. I’m not sure how you’d be able to anyway, seeing as you are supposed to sign out back down at the registration hut afterwards – and they may send a search party out for you if you fail to do this!

    Luckily, I met 3 other hikers coming down from either Gagak or Rembau and they told me turn left at the junction for Rembau peak. Very important information – there is no sign there so it is easy to miss Rembau peak entirely.Lots of siamang calls, quite beautiful. I was at the peak in about 45 minutes from Datuk and back down again in another 30. A nice addition to the Datuk trail.

    Not having a proper estimate of how long this would take, I was back down at the trailhead about 2 hours early. So I dried my clothes in the sun and waited. A couple of drivers offered me a lift but I declined, waiting for my Grab guy as planned. As it got closer to 330pm, most cars had left (this seems to be a morning activity) and I started to worry if declining the offer of a lift was a great idea. By 330pm, my Grab driver had not arrived so I accepted another offer from a kind hiker who dropped me at a nearby bus stop where I immediately got on a local bus to Tampin. Back in Tampin I got back online to find that the Grab driver had turned up, but 10 minutes late! Typical. I told him I still wanted to get to Tangkak so he came and we set off there. It took around 1 hour to cover the 60km.

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