- Elevation: 1,448 m (4,751 ft)
- Prominence: 892 m
- Ribu category: Spesial
- Province: Peninsular Malaysia
- Malaysian state: Perak
- Range: Banjaran Bintang
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: Formerly known as ‘Maxwell Hill’.
Bukit Larut – or Maxwell Hill, as it was originally known – was founded by the British as a hill station at least as early as 1884 (1870 according to one local sign at the foot of the hill). It was primarily used as a retreat to avoid the hotter and unhealthier climate down below near sea level and also as an observation post for local tin-mining activity. It got its original name from the administrator of British Malaya, George Maxwell, in the early twentieth century and was officially renamed as Bukit Larut in 1979.
Unlike some other hills stations of Malaya such as Bukit Kutu, Bukit Larut was extensive and has also actually been well-preserved so many of the old buildings used as vacation houses are intact and even used as guesthouses sometimes. The buildings were renovated after local government discussions in 1997. Some of the trees that were planted here during the colonial era seem to have done very well over the decades and it makes for a very photogenic and fascinating area. Taiping is well-known locally as being the wettest place in Malaysia, receiving around 230 inches of rain per year, so best take a raincoat even if the weather forecast looks promising. Bukit Larut is also the location for the annual North Face Malaysia Mountain Trail Festival.
At present the 12-kilometre single-track road to the telecommunications towers beyond the centre of Bukit Larut is undergoing infrastructure improvement work but normally it is possible to pay for a seat in a regular timetabled jeep or 4WD from the base of the hill on the edge of Taiping as far as Bukit Larut ‘Stesen’ (1,036m). It is hoped that the road will be ready for vehicle use again in 2026 but until then visitors will have to walk all the way up from the start. There are some alternative paths in the forest lower down, but these are often overgrown due to lack of use and only cover part of the way to Bukit Larut, so it is actually easiest to simply follow the road, even if it is harder on the soles of your feet. The forest here is also notorious for the number of leeches it hosts!
The trailhead is at the edge of Taiping and is a popular place for local joggers, especially early in the morning when you may even find it difficult to park your car in the main parking area by the entrance and restaurant (45m). The road leads up via numerous Pondok, namely Pondok 1 (234m), Pondok 2 (296m), Pondok 3 (357m) and Pondok Watermelon (421m) which is a brightly-coloured rest area with a continually-running tap for joggers and hikers to fill their water bottles.
The next major landmark after Pondok Watermelon is Tea Garden (650m), which in 2023 is the farthest you are allowed to hike without a permit and guide. There is nothing left of the tea plantation now but the large building is impressive. The road crosses over a couple of streams (674m and 748m) before finally reaching Pondok 4 (855m). More streams follow (900m) before Banglo Permai View (986m). This is just prior to the junction (988m) for the old Hindu temple. The road then snakes round past the lookout (997m), Maxwell Hill Rest House (1,021m) and reaches Bukit Larut ‘Stesen’ (1,036m) which is the centre of what remains of Maxwell Hill and is also the point that the 4WDs usually drop people off and pick them up.
Beyond the centre of Bukit Larut is a junction (1,075m) for Sri Kayangan and then a collection of old rest houses including Speedy’s Chalet (1,137m). The track continues up the mountainside and eventually you will see the first telecommunications tower (1,316m) on the right. Shortly after that is the junction (1,348m) with the trail for Gunung Hijau. If you continue straight along the road you will simply meet a locked gate at the higher telecommunications tower. Taking a left, however, is where the jungle trail properly begins. It may only be a short distance from the access road to the peak of Gunung Hijau, and with only a fairly small descent in-between (down to 1,293m) but this place is notorious even after dry weather for the sheer number of leeches that are here!
Gunung Hijau summit is a humble grassy area and does not offer any incredible views. It is ultimately a bagger’s peak more than a tourist atrraction of its own. But given its close proximity to Bukit Larut it is a nice option for the adventurous.
Fast hikers should have made it to the top of Gunung Hijau in about 4-5 hours, but the descent is a little quicker at 3-4 hours. Once the jeeps are back in action you could feasibly hike from Bukit Larut to Gunung Hijau and back in around 3 hours but you will almost certainly still be required to have a permit and take an official guide with you.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (August 2023)
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- Name and location: Pak Budi, Surabaya, East Java.
- Contact details: +62812xxxxxxxx, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.instagram.com/budi_mountain_guide/
- Review from previous client: “Budi was a brilliant guide for our September 2023 trek up Gunung X and I would definitely recommend him to other tourists“, John, USA.
- Getting there: Very accessible, lying on the edge of Taiping which has a train station and regular buses to and from KL and Penang.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Bukit Larut (Gunung Hijau) information pack can be downloaded here.
- Accommodation: Plenty of hotels in nearby Taiping. It may be possible to stay in one of the old bungalows at Bukit Larut.
- Permits: You can register and pay for an e-Permit online from the Forestry Department of Malaysia website. A Perak guide is required for Gunung Hijau, but you can go as far as the Tea Garden on your own simply by registering on the day at the foot of the hill. When Bukit Larut re-opens to the jeeps then it will be a much easier trip.
- Water sources: The best spot is probably Pondok Watermelon (421m) where a tap is left running. The highest streams are at an elevation of around 900m, though you may be able to find a tap at Bukit Larut Stesen.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall