I have rarely managed to make the kids walk in the city more than three blocks without resorting to bribery or blackmailing. But there is magic in the forest – or jungle – and the whiny city children turn into mountain goats that skip along the paths and climb over rocks eager to see what’s behind the corner. We knew to expect a fun day trip when we started off towards the Chiling waterfalls – friends have raved about them for years. In the end of the day my six-year old daughter proclaimed this was the best day ever. She does have a flair for the dramatic but we all agreed it was a fun day-trip out of the city.

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What makes this waterfall so special is actually the route there. You need to cross the river six times and every crossing is a bit different. Some are shallow with a soft sandy bottom, some rocky with strong current, and one – that proved a bit difficult with those with vertigo – is on a fallen tree trunk. The deepest crossing was waist-high for the kids (and it’s been very dry) so everyone is bound to get wet. The path is easy to follow, and the crossings are clearly marked:

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For the first 15-20 minutes the path is fairly flat with few muddy puddles. We started off wearing trainers but changed into our snorkeling shoes at the first river crossing – they proved to be perfect footwear for this trip. People seemed to wear (soaking wet) trainers, kampung adidas or crocks, or even flip flops. The river bed is rocky and the current a little strong at places, so I would not recommend flip flops. You’ll also need to climb up and down rocks and roots of trees along the way and need to watch for your toes and ankles.

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Soon after the last crossing the sound of the waterfall – and people – gets louder and after one more steep climb you see the water gashing down to a rocky pool full of weary trekkers cooling down, with some daredevils jumping off the sides into the pool.

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The pool at the waterfall was a bit too crowded for our liking so we backtracked a bit and found a quiet spot by the river to sit down. The kids could have stayed here all day trying to catch fish. The river is some sort of fish sanctuary – we don’t quite know what that means but the river is full of fish! Other than fish we saw loads of colourful butterflies, but no bugs to my son’s disappointment!

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We were pleased to see the river and the surroundings clean and people collecting and carrying back their rubbish – although it looked like it then gets thrown on the roadside just outside the entrance.

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It took us just under 1,5 hours to reach the start of the trail from KL, along the road leading to Fraser’s Hill. You cannot miss the entrance – the sides of the road are full with parked cars for a few hundred metres. After the gate you need to walk for a few minutes to get to the office to register and pay for your entrance fee of 1RM/person. The falls are only open Friday to Sunday. We got there at about 10.30 AM and many were already heading back. It was pleasantly cool near the river, but the last 20 minutes on the way back were pretty hot going at 1 PM. The signs at the start of the trail say no food is allowed but most people had brought a picnic.

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Tips for visiting Chiling Fish Sanctuary and Waterfalls:

  • Wear quick-drying, comfortable clothes – you will get wet.
  • Your shoes will get wet: wear sports sandals, reef shoes or other suitable footwear.
  • Take drinks and snacks. Cold drinks and local snacks and food can be bought by the rangers’ office.
  • The walk took us about 45 minutes each way with fast-running 6 and 8 year olds and fit grandparents.
  • The path is absolutely not stroller-friendly. You can carry babies in a carrier, but there are a few tricky parts with steep climbs on rocks, over fallen a fallen tree etc.
  • Remember to check yourself out at the registration office after your return.
  • There are toilets by the office. Bring toilet paper.

For smaller kids not quite yet ready for the hike, try the stream at TTDI park or the waterfall at FRIM.

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