Hutan Lipur Gunung Pulai
Duration: 3 to 4 hours
In Malaysia, other than visiting the crowded Penang and touristy Melaka, why not stop by Johor to chill out? Really, Johor isn’t so bad itself when it comes to hiking. They have a really famous blue lake! Initially, we wanted to go Gunung Panti, but at the last minute, we decided to switch to Gunung Pulai, Kulai instead.
Gunung Pulai is a 646-meter high hill near Johor Bahru. Although it is called a gunung, which means a mountain, it is not exactly high enough to be qualified as one.
One of the highlights of this mountain is the Pulai Waterfalls. You can find the waterfall at the base of the track itself, hence no climbing or hiking is involved. In February 2020, the Gunung Pulai was closed for two weeks because they discovered rat urine infection. Exercise caution when you’re at the waterfall and pay close attention to signs.
An entrance fee of RM3 per car will be charged.
How To Get To Gunung Pulai
Plan your transportation well before hiking Gunung Pulai:
- Drive: Hit up the keywords ‘Gunung Pulai Recreational Forest’ on Waze or Google Map and you should be able to find your way there. RM3 parking fee will be collected.
- Uber/Taxi: If you’re taking an Uber or a taxi, it’s best if you arrange for the driver to come back and pick you up about 4-5 hours later as it is pretty hard to find any around.
- Bus: Take a bus from JB Sentral to Kulai Terminal and then hail a taxi or grab to Gunung Pulai.
We dressed really casual when we went. Other people were wearing all sorts of gears and had walking sticks. We couldn’t help but started thinking if we were underdressed?
It was the school holiday, but there were only a few hikers in the morning. One thing though, the air temperature around us was 24 degrees due to the heavy rain the day before.
The gates that opened up to the hiking path was shut, so we had to enter through a small gate on the right. Only authorized vehicles can drive up as the end of the road is a communication tower.
The Jungle Track (Hutan Pelajaran)
Traveling up, we were half-beat by the steepness of the road. The steep came so abruptly and stayed constant all the way up. At the end of the crossroad, you will have to choose either left or right. Take left for flat tarmac path and right for the jungle trail. As soon as you enter the jungle trail, you won’t find anymore signs to help you navigate your way around. Red ribbons are tied to small trees as well. Follow them to stick to the main track and avoid smaller tracks that are not well-marked.
The jungle track can be like an obstacle course as you need to pull yourselves up with the ropes they prepared and hurdle through fallen tree trunks. Not only that, the climb gets pretty steep too! For that reason, make sure you bring enough water to hydrate yourself!
You may feel lost because there are no signs to tell you whether you are close to the end. As soon as you see humongous boulders at one point, just keep moving forward and you’ll connect back to the main road in the end. After feeling slightly lost for hours, seeing the tarmac road through the loose branches and leaves was the happiest feeling ever.
The Tarmac Road
The tarmac road was worse. It was so steep that the journey going back down hurt our feet.
We had to take off our shoes and walk barefooted because the shoes were hurting our feet. There were areas for us to refresh ourselves with the water flowing down from the hill. I washed my arms as well as with the mud that stuck onto my hiking boots with icy water. It was oddly satisfying. Not only that, you can see a few mini waterfalls along the scenic trail route too!
Going down was way quicker, but not as quick as you may think. It took us an hour. We greeted and were greeted by many hikers on our way down. Everyone there was really friendly!
The summit is a guarded communication tower that has been fenced off. Even so, there are parts where you can see the forested hill tops of Johor and Kulai near the tower, but nothing too mind-blowing. However, if you are so bold as to cross the restricted area, the guards will not hesitate to blow their whistles at you.
In A Nutshell
Gunung Pulai is best visited on weekends when you have more time to spare to hit your weekly hike quota. Visit the Pulai Waterfalls at the base of the track to freshen up yourself but don’t drink the water! Expect to spend about 3-4 hours round trip for the hike, and more if you’re stopping by the waterfall!
Remember to lather sunscreen as certain parts of the tarmac road are exposed to sunlight. On the contrary, the forest path is rather shaded, though it can be quite strenuous to climb and hard on knees during descend. Make sure you bring enough water to last you for a few hours!