- Elevation: 1,512 m (4,961 ft)
- Prominence: 1,227 m
- Ribu category: Kurang Tinggi
- Province: Peninsular Malaysia
- Malaysian state: Pahang
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none.
The starting point for Gunung Tapis is less than an hour from the city of Kuantan, in the pleasant tourism-friendly town of Sungai Lembing, home to one of the world’s largest underground tin mines. The mines are closed now but there is an informative museum in the town.
Until 2022, most hikers needed 2 days for this trek, with one night camping at the foot of the mountain and using the traditional route from the southeast. Reports suggested around 8 hours to the top, so presumably around 6 hours back down. Yet there is now a much shorter trail from the east which allows the mountain to be conquered in just 3 hours, and around 2 hours back down.
However, a 4WD is absolutely required to find either of the trailheads on a complex and often confusing network of criss-crossing logging roads at the foot of the peak. It takes around one hour to make the journey from Sungai Lembing to the new trailhead, and there are plenty of drivers available though you are recommended to book several weeks in advance not least in order to get the forestry permit for your hike. You should also check that your driver knows the correct starting point for the shorter trail, as otherwise you may end up navigating what is now tougher terrain with your vehicle stuck in thick mud and needing to be towed out with a bulldozer! It is a rather sad sight to see the deforestation on the lower slopes but perhaps increased numbers of trekking groups will help encourage the preservation of what remains.
The new trail is a short, steep forest trail with ropes in some places as needed leading directly to the top. The 4WD will usually stop at around 685m above sea level. Follow the muddy logging track up the hill before entering the forest (740m). The trail itself is clear and the forest is full of bird life. As you get closer to the summit, especially beyond a small rest area (1,340m) some panoramic views are possible in clear weather and you should also be able to spot pitcher plants on the higher slopes. Elephant dung is allegedly a common sight on this mountain.
The summit is a small open grassy area with the usual summit signs and a damaged metal beirut looking in rather poor condition now. If you are lucky with the weather then there are grand views to be had from here yet as most hikers will not reach the top before mid-morning it could well already be hazy. It is not common to camp at the top, presumably due to the lack of a nearby water source. Strong hikers can be back down at the logging road in just 2 hours, where hopefully your 4WD and driver are waiting for you!
The old trail begins on a different section of old logging trail in 2022 affected by landslides, with key places en-route being Camp 1 Waterfall (120m), Camp 2 (230m) and Camp 3 (570m). Water is available at or near all three. A fourth camp called Camp Permatang (1,170m) is higher up but no water is available so it is rarely used for camping anymore. Bear in mind that a guide for the new trail might not know the old route and that the old route may be much more overgrown as the newer, shorter trail becomes the standard route.
South-west of the peak of Gunung Tapis, on the same range, is the currently obscure Gunung Tiga Beradik (1,397m). And on the edge of Sungai Lembing town itself is the very popular Bukit Panorama (Panorama Hill). Bukit Panorama is only 271 metres high and can be hiked via cement steps in just 45 minutes. It is a place many tourists go to to witness the sunrise, usually starting at 6am so that they are at the top before 7am.
Bagging report by Dan Quinn (June 2022)
For a high quality PDF version of this and other trail maps, please download from our Trail Maps page.
- Getting there: The nearest town is Sungai Lembing which is about 4 hours from KL by car and 40km from Kuantan. The nearest airport and bus station is Kuantan. There are plenty of hotels in Sungai Lembing.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Tapis information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: You can register and pay for an e-Permit online from the Forestry Department of Malaysia website.
- Water sources: Available as far as the waterfall (590m) just beyond Camp 3 on the old trail. Not available on the new trail so be sure to come prepared.
- 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