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Gunung Datuk, 850m Negri Sembilan

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

My last trip aboard was probably 13 weeks ago. I miss traveling and all the fuzz, buzz, anticipation, psych and gratification and memories that bundle along with it, and occasionally a jet-lag. Now that the internal borders in my country is open, I feel like a bear awakening from a long winter's hibernation. I am hungry, curious, and eager to discover/rediscover my backyard!

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Gunung Datuk, Rembau 855m

Gunung Datuk, a mountain in Rembau Negri Sembilan, 1 half-hour away from Kuala Lumpur can be a brisk but steep hike with glorious views of the Straits of Melacca and the Rembau plains, and the mountain range of Negri Sembilan.

Starting point: car park area of Gunung Datuk Recreational Forest

Hike Duration: 5 hours..... could be 6 hours if you are planning on a picnic up at the peak. It is doable in 3 hours back & forth depending on fitness level.

End Hike: Backtrack

Hike Difficulty: 3/5 although some part is rather steep! A hiking stick can help especially on descend and during rainy weather. 2km to the peak and 2km back.

Scenery Rewards: 3/5

Toilet Facilities: Available and arguably the best maintained!

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Sea of Clouds at the Peak of Gunung Datuk

What to bring

1. Basic first aid ...... in this new normal, hand-sanitizers too!

2. Walking stick

3. Raincoat and Poncho ( you will be able to find them at any convenience store or Daiso shops for about RM6.00) it is best to have them with you trust me!

4. Head-Torch, if you start before 7am

5. At least 2l of water, pack lunch, snack

6. Change of clothes..... never know when it pours!

7. Good pair of hiking shoes is absolutely necessary

8. Gloves, in the jungle you never know what you touch or grab on to that may create a reaction to your skin.

9. Check the weather forecast

10. Leech, there has been leech casualties, best to come prepared!


Note: The trailhead officially opens at 8.00am, and the entrance fee is 5RM.

Start hike to Check Point 1

Cross the stream and head up the metal staircase to the entrance booth. Register, pay for entry.

The first part of the hike is hardcore. It starts with steep gradient ascent on rocks with the help of ropes. Although I find the trunks of trees more helpful but please be careful with the thorny palm trees!

This arduous 65 degree climb over some loose and slimy, slippery boulders is approximately 500 meters. It is the most difficult part of the hike!

After the rocky climb, you will arrive at CHECKPOINT 1

Tip: Just as you enter on the right side there are 2 Merbau trees by the steam that stands about 40-50m tall, so majestic and huge! Towards the entrance booth, in there is gigantic Tualang tree with huge buttress. It is believed that if you are lost in the jungle, knock on the Merbau trunk as it will reverberate and travel afar.

Don't miss: Gigantic Merbau trees with huge buttress by the stream near the entrance

Very soon after you have passed the entrance booth, you will arrive at the 'stairway to heaven'. It is arduous, steep and rocky and becomes a scene of Modor form LOTR in low light, and turns into a waterfall when it rains!

Part one: Rocky terrain

Checkpoint 2

The trail eases from rocky terrain to tree roots and the ascent continues for another 1300m. Half way between you will arrive at Checkpoint 2.

Part 2: Root terrain

Peak 884m

The hike up is rather straight forward! In approximately 20 minutes from checkpoint 2, you will approach some gigantic boulders and will reach a clearance. The flat plateau would be a good place to erect camp. To your left, there will be another flight of metal stairs, steep and dramatic to lead you to the real peak at 884m with that magnificent view!

Worth taking note, legend has it that Hang Tuah, a legendary Malay warrior has left his footprint on the huge boulder on Gunung Datuk! It is right at the edge so beware if you want to compare the size of your foot with his!! There are several indentations on the rock, you can imagine which one belonged to him!

Birds at the peak! That looks like a footprint!

As we were caught in the rain hiking up, most of us who did not bring a raincoat were drenched, while the others, wet! There were some strong winds at the peak and many of us were chattering and begging for a cup of hot drink! Luckily, we had supply in our group and it was the most satisfying hot drink in a long while..... or you could store your alcohol fix in your hip flask and roll down the mountain incoherently!

You can find this strange tree behind the big rock at the peak!

Flora & Fauna

Gunung Datuk is situated in the state of Negri Sembilan, in a county in Rembau. The name is believed to be derived from the many Merbau trees at the foothills of the mountain. In 2019 this tree was officially declared as the national tree of Malaysia.

Not far from the entrance, stands a huge Tualang tree with nails hammered onto the trunk to assist climbing for honey collection by the indigenous tribes in the past.

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The mighty pokok tualang, some standing at 40-50m tall. Note the nails hammered on the trunk!

The honey from the tualang tree is believed to be the most precious with medicinal value. Click on the link below for more information on the tualang tree.


Return Leg

It took us about 3 hours to complete the very slippery, muddy, gooey, rocky descend. After the downpour, the earth had turned into a muddy, sticky, yellow-brownish mix that had no grip but is as slippery as an eel! It is times like this when the use of the hiking stick is gratifying!

After the very muddy part....the rocky section was just as slippery and wet. Just take it slow on the descend!

There is a public toilet where you could shower and freshen up at the entrance after the mud fight you had!!

Hungry as Bear

A grueling hike like this one definitely entitles a feast, unfortunately by 1400 in a small town as Rembau, most restaurants were sold out. However, from a good tip, we managed to try out this popular dumpling 'pau' shop, renowned for its PETAI PAU.

Petai (bitter bean) is an indigenous bean that grows in the jungle. To have this bean cooked in balacan (shrimp paste) chili in a pau is a major mismatch you would think.... until you taste it! Don't miss it!

Along the trunk road leading out to the highway, there will be many makeshift stores selling the fruits of the season. It happens that June/July is the durian is truly rewarding to stop and burry those fingers into that King of Fruit for they are finger-licking good!

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Kampung, D24, Fox King...... among the species of Thorny King!


This forest reserve is especially popular among the Negeri Sembilan, Melaka hikers especially during the weekends. If you are coming from Kuala Lumpur, it is always advisable to embark early, so that parking and trail up to the mountain is less congested. As the trail is rather straight forward, I see many hikers peaking at 7am to enjoy the sunrise. (although it faces west)

This time My Back to Nature hiking club organize the permits for us and we are truly grateful for the convenience and the trouble they went through and also their efforts to develop this sport! As we are still adjusting to the new normal in this period of the pandemic, we try out best to keep social distancing, temperature check, no sharing/ touching as much as we can!

As Malaysia opened up on April 1st 2022, activities are resumed back to normal. But the entrance fee of 5rm remains!

Alternatively, go check out the vlog of Gunung Datuk..... on a sunny day from an aerial view

The cliche is that life is a mountain. You go up, reach the top and then go down.” – Jeanne Moreau

Date visited: 21st June 2020 Happy Father's Day, revisited 19th April 2022