Royal Belum in the state of Perak, together with the adjacent Semenggor forest complex, is one of the largest rainforests in Malaysia. The majority of Malaysia’s tigers live here, as do wild elephants. This trip looks like a great treat for the family! Since we can travel interstate again, why not head up north and explore?
Where to stay in Royal Belum
We wanted to be right on the water and somewhere quiet and close to nature. There are houseboats on the lake, but we didn’t fancy the idea of being cooped up in a boat. There aren’t many options for accommodation, so we booked a two-night package with Belum Eco Resort. This package included all meals, activities and accommodation.
The owner, Steve, and his friend, a wildlife veteran who was to be our guide, picked us up from the Banding jetty. We were all duly impressed when we saw our ride into the resort: a houseboat! The staff had picked up a delicious lunch for us at the jetty and we moored at a quiet bay to enjoy it on the boat. We then hopped on the speedboat to check out a rafflesia site. However, to our disappointment we missed the bloom by a few days.
After a good 30-minute boat ride we arrived at Belum Eco Resort. It sits on a tiny island in the middle of the lake.
The accommodation is in very simple bamboo huts, that all have a toilet and shower in the back. They accommodate comfortably two people, so we had two huts between our family. Electricity is only on at night, so you can use the ceiling fan at night if needed.
We didn’t spend time in the hut during the day, but I imagine it would be very hot if, for example, you had a toddler that still naps. Between activities we lounged at the common area playing cards and enjoying the cool breeze from the lake.
The meals are served in the open lounge area, with lovely views across the lake – and the abandoned fish farm, a white elephant type of development project, we were told. We had simple local food throughout our stay, and the vegetarian mum and kids’ dislike of spicy dishes were both catered for. Kids loved the friendly dogs!
In the evenings we watched documentaries about the Belum-Temenggor Complex and had a go at their karaoke equipment. We also took out the canoes, and swam in the lake from off the houseboat. All equipment is getting a bit worse for wear, but it did the trick.
We paid about RM2000 for our 2-night stay at the Belum Eco Resort. It may seem a lot given the rustic accommodation, but the price included all meals and activities and we had a very private Belum experience, being the only guests on the little island! We enjoyed the quirky resort and our off-grid stay, but do have a look at other reviews before booking to make sure you know what to expect. If you are up for something different, go for it!
Friends recently stayed at the far more luxurious Royal Belum Rainforest Resort, right by the Banding bridge. They thought it was lovely and modern, with spacious family rooms and a pool with a great view. They also helped them to arrange trips to the lake, and canoes for rent.
There are also lots of operators who run houseboats, but according to our guides most of them don’t pay much attention to environmental issues and are partly to blame for the lake’s deteriorating state.
What to do in Belum rainforest
- See the rafflesia – Belum is one of the best places to spot this curious plant. The rafflesia site has some steep steps, but the climb is very short and even young kids can do it with little help. We were glad to see the site cordoned off with fences, the plant is apparently very delicate.
- Go bird watching. Belum is home to all 10 of Malaysia’s magnificent hornbill species!
- If you are lucky, you can spot some wildlife. There are salt licks that attract animals like sambar deer, tapir, wild boars and more. You can read more about the wildlife in Belum here.
- Hike to a waterfall. We did this hike with the kids. After a short boatride from the resort, we hiked about 30-40 minutes on a trail with rocks and tree roots to climb and rivers to cross, before arriving at the cooling waterfall, where we had a picnic lunch.
Getting to Belum-Temenggor
We drove from KL to Pulau Bindang, where you can park your car if staying at Belum Eco Resort.
Belum Rainforest Resort is right by the road. We made a pit stop at Lost World of Tambun, stayed overnight in Ipoh and continued on to Perhentian Islands via Kuala Besut – a great road trip!
Top tip: make sure to stop at Titiwangsa rest area for a quick meal or just the view! Also keep your eyes peeled on the stretch before the rest area; this is where apparently people sometimes spot elephants.
Read about visiting Taman Negara here.
We paid for our stay at the Belum Eco Resort. Opinions, as always, are our own.