This story about the Gibbon Retreat Bentong is written by one of our contributors, Fazlin. Some parts of the article may have been edited for length and clarity.
Holidays in dense, thick, million years old tropical rainforest is usually an adult affair, so to speak. But that’s old-school thinking. With the rise of numerous family-friendly eco nature resorts in this country specifically along the spine of the Malay Peninsula, the Titiwangsa Range, kids being in the jungle should be a normal, everyday thing.
The Titiwangsa Range or Banjaran Titiwangsa which separates the east peninsula from the west, originates from southern Thailand and ends somewhere in Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan. Numerous holiday spots arise from this range notably Royal Belum in Perak, The Shorea, The Dusun in Jelebu, Kuala Kubu Bahru in Selangor, Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands, Fraser’s Hill plus a number of eco-resorts in Janda Baik, Raub and Bentong in Pahang.
Gibbon Retreat in Bentong, Pahang, is a relatively new place for nature lovers seeking to run away from the hustle-bustle of city life. Opened in 2019, it is still in its soft launch phase where accommodation prices are 50% less than the official published rates once they launch fully. Therefore, better take advantage of the half-price discounts now while it last and bring your kids along! Your kids will definitely enjoy Gibbon Retreat because:
1. It’s so near to the capital
Let’s be honest, kids hate the long drive. “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” is not a question your children will annoy you with as Gibbon Retreat is only a mere 35 minutes’ drive from Kuala Lumpur/Selangor. Who says KL folks need to travel far to enjoy the rainforest?
#HHWT Tip: When you see the MRSM Bentong building by the side of Karak Highway, you’re almost there.
P.S. Check out The Waterway Villa in Bentong, Pahang too!
2. The ‘Tree house’
Gibbon Retreat promotes their accommodation or as they call it ‘dwellings’ as low impact chalets and glamping to emphasize the minimal impact they have on the environment. There are only 3 types of chalets (1 unit for each type) here:
- a) Treetop chalet (30 feet above sea level amongst gigantic rainforest trees)
- b) Bentong view chalet (Bentong Town is visible from the vantage point of your chalet)
- c) Rock chalet (the cooling chalet where the rocks of the rock forest will filter the harsh sunlight)
For the more adventurous, there is an additional of 3 glamping tents plus a camping deck that fits 8 people. With a limited number of accommodations, crowds will never be an issue here.
We came solely for the treetop chalet. Come on; name me a kid (and adult) who doesn’t love staying in a ‘treehouse’. With unobstructed views of the forest and sky, you can sit here all day staring at the green lush, starry skies and sunrise. Railings and barriers around the treetop chalet are secure enough for the safety of your family.
#HHWT Tip: Always go for the treetop chalet. Head and shoulders above the rest.
P.S. Love nature retreats? You'll love these nature retreats in Pahang!
3. Be A Chef
There are no restaurants here but all dwelling units are equipped with a portable gas stove, toaster, fridge, kettle, microwave and cooking utensils/cutlery. No issues of halal food here, as you’re the one preparing it! If you’re the overly cautious type, you can bring your own utensils, plates, bowls and cooking pan. Whatever it is, it is the time for you to bring out the Chef Wan in you and your children.
#HHWT Tip: Breakfast will be bought for you by the retreat worker from Bentong Town. Choices are usually of Nasi Lemak, Fried noodles or fried rice vermicelli, all with fried eggs and all taste excellent. Guaranteed Halal by the retreat helper (Jason, when we stayed there).
4. Go camping! Sleep in a tent
Although there is a raised mattress bed that sleeps 4 adults in each chalet, you can add on a tent with a camp bed placed outside your chalet if you think sleeping on mattresses is too mainstream. Good idea for beginner campers/children.
If the sound of the jungle at night is too scary for you guys, can always abandon the tent and go inside your chalet back to that comfy mattress.
#HHWT Tip: It is BBQ-friendly here. A BBQ stove is provided at the common area. Just bring your own charcoal and off course chicken, lamb etc to enjoy a full camping experience.
P.S. Check out these 8 ideas for an escape from KL!
5. Go jungle trekking (+ Hiking)
The quintessential activity when you’re in a jungle – go trek it! There are self-guided hikes which are of easy-medium level as you stroll along Sungai Mengai up to the Lentang Forest Reserve. Guided hikes, which must be pre-booked are graded as medium/hard and must be accompanied by the retreat’s guide at all times.
We took one of the easy self-guided hikes with our 7-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl and everyone came back happy! Those without kids can also enjoy mountain biking here.
#HHWT Tip: Bring any child carrier backpack (Deuter etc) especially if you have infants with you. Mosquito repellents and long tracksuits/sleeves are must-haves too.
6. Rock pond & waterfall
Swimming is a must isn’t it with kids? Fret not, the main attraction here is the cooling and relaxing rock pond.
After that sweaty jungle trekking, what better way to cool yourselves than an hour or two in the all-natural rock pool. Always remember to keep an eye on your kids at all times when swimming.
#HHWT Tip: The “tree-friendly canopy bridge” leading to the rock pond is an Insta-worthy spot for photographs!
7. Appreciate the wildlife
Get that binoculars of yours ready as a number of wildlife, be it plants, birds or animals can be definitely found and seen.
During our 2 nights' stay, we encountered numerous species of lizards, squirrels, birds, some huge trees, the long-tailed macaque and the white thigh surili a monkey endemic to South East Asia. According to the workers here, gibbons can easily be seen but luck was not on our side during our side.
#HHWT Tip: As mentioned, binoculars are handy as animals can be quite far away. Telephoto lens is a must for photographers!
Useful tips for other travellers
- Have a first aid kit with you. Anything can happen in the jungle although Bentong Hospital isn’t far away.
- Bring your own praying mats/attire with a Qibla direction app installed in your phone.
- Since this is a private property, there a few of dogs guarding this place. Let the helpers know if you don’t want the dogs anywhere near you. We were okay with the dogs and dogs are clever enough not to step a foot anywhere near your chalet.
Gibbon Retreat Bentong
Address: Gibbon Retreat Bentong, Lot 17799 Sungei Semantut, 27600 Bentong, Pahang.
Contact No: +60 11-3602 3507
Find more of Fazlin's travel adventures on his Instagram @phalinn and Flickr page.
P.S. Have you been travelling around Malaysia? Want to share your tips and stories to help Muslims travel better? Email us at [email protected] or send us a DM on Instagram.