Famous for seafood and the fireflies, Kuala Selangor is just about an hour’s drive from KL, hence perfect for a short half-day outing.
We drove directly to the bottom of Bukit Melawati, a small hill housing an old lighthouse and a museum, plus a few remains of the old fortress scattered on the slopes. On the weekends you can take a cute truck-cum-train to the top of the hill.
As soon as we got off the train, somebody pushed burlap sacks full of vegetables into our hands and the resident troop of Silver Leaf monkeys surrounded us in a quickly tightening circle. In a split second the monkeys had their hands in the bags, and the sellers appeared to request payment.
Both the kids and us found the monkeys quite intimidating, but many families seemed to quite enjoy monkeys sitting on their heads.
The museum was just about to close but we had a quick look inside this small, free collection of old things from the Sultanate of Selangor, the fortress and the area.
Seafood in Kuala Selangor
We made a beeline back to the tram, past the monkeys, and headed for dinner by the riverside. We randomly chose the River View restaurant and as we were there well before sunrise, got to choose the table with the best view over the river. Along the riverside there are loads of restaurants to choose from.
We will always remember this as the place where our little one learned to appreciate the art of cracking open the crab. She diligently used the tools provided and made sure every claw and joint got cleaned and eaten up.
Most seafood available was fried, which was a shame. But the food was alright and service fairly quick, coconuts sweet and beer cold – all the boxes ticked for a satisfying seafood dinner.
Fireflies in Kuala Selangor
You can take a firefly tour from different points, some leave from near the riverside restaurants. We decided to try out the tours offered by the Firefly Park Resort, a short drive out of town. The tours start running around 7.45pm and first boats leave when they are full. The boats here are fiberglass electric ones, that fit roughly 10 people.
The firefly colonies start right outside the jetty, so the boat just glided slowly along the riverbank and the trees that were glowing like Christmas trees with fireflies blinking in sync. The boatman didn’t give us any information. The kids got restless after the first five minutes, and to be honest, I would have been ready to go back much quicker, too.
Before getting on we were told to be quiet and not use a flash. We tried to keep the kids still but felt like giving up after hearing the loud laughter and chatting from the other boats. The flashes of the cameras are apparently harmful for the dwindling firefly colonies, and we really wish the boatmen would rein in the badly behaving tourists.
- We arrived just before the first boat left, so didn’t have to wait in line. By the time we got back, there was a longish queue, so you may end up waiting for a while.
- There are lots of mosquitos on the landing area, so come armed with spray. On the boat we didn’t get bitten much.
- Check the conditions before you set off: you can’t see the fireflies during full moon or when it rains.
- The price was RM16 for adult and RM9 for child. Residents get the same price but it is more expensive for non-residents – there were some disgruntled tourists in front of us.
- For more info check the Firefly park resort’s Facebook page.
Kampung Kuantan Firefly park comes recommended by readers. They operate smaller row boats, that only fit four people.
We have also taken a firefly tour in Cherating with Hafiz – read about it here – and warmly recommend that one if you want to learn about fireflies and nature in general. The Kuala Selangor fireflies are a nice addition to a small road trip, and of course lovely to watch but you need to do your own research on the creatures.
My understanding is that the bigger boats for firefly viewing are not recommended because the wash from them is causing erosion of the riverbank. Kampung Kuantan firefly sanctuary is better because they use little row boats seating 4 which have less impact and means you aren’t bothered by noisy neighbours. You also get really close to the fireflies as the boats can go right up to the bank. The queues can be long but there are information boards to read while you wait about the lifecycle of the firefly and the conservation work done to return the riverbank to a habitat suitable for fireflies.
I would also ask that people going to Bukit Malwati make sure they only feed the silver leaf monkeys with leaves and fruit. I find the number of tourists feeding them bread, biscuits and crisps etc really distressing. This is NOT a suitable diet for them. Macaques are omnivores and their digestive system can cope better with a range of different food stuffs but leaf monkeys really can’t.
Thanks Antonia for the information! We’ll try Kampung Kuantan next time – I will add that info into the post above, too!
Hi! I know you went a few years ago, but do you know if babies and toddlers are able to go on the boats to see the fireflies? The photos I’ve seen from doing online searches only show adults with lifevests on. We have a 2 year old and 4 month old….
Good question Jenny and best to check with Firefly Park Resort for example?