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Top 5 outdoors activities in Johor, Malaysia

Johor isn’t only about visiting shopping malls in Johor Bahru, stopping off at Legoland, and breaking a journey between KL and Singapore. Johor state is actually huge, bordering Malacca in the north, and there are plenty of outdoors activities available. This includes fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities and a world class National Park in Endau Rompin. Unfortunately, Malaysia doesn’t always do a great job of advertising its National Parks and other attractions, so here is a list of the top 5 outdoors activities in Johor, Malaysia:

Endau Rompin National Park

Endau Rompin National Park

If you have at least 2D1N, Endau Rompin National Park is by far my top rated outdoors activity in Johor. Endau Rompin National Park borders Pahang state, and so is in the far north of Johor. However, the extra time and effort required to get here will be rewarded. The feeling of remoteness and genuinely being deep within the rain forest meant I preferred Endau Rompin even over Malaysia’s premier national park, Taman Negara (although that is also well worth visiting). Although 2D1N in Endau Rompin is possible, 3D2N is preferable and gives you the highest chance to spot animals. One of our highlights was seeing gibbons here, and also fresh evidence of elephants being present not far from our campsite.

You can read more about my experience in Endau Rompin via Peta gate and how to book the trips. Note that the initial prices quoted by hte parks office include tents, food, and vehicle transfer from the nearest town. If you have any of these items already you can use your own and ask for a reduction in the price. A guide is mandatory.

Kota Tinggi waterfalls

Kota Tinggi waterfalls are a popular hiking route. Note that these are different from the Kota Tinggi Waterfall Resort (which shut down in early 2019). The easiest version of the hike takes approximately an hour to reach a small waterfall and pool where it is possible to swim and relax.

The more interesting and challenging hike goes beyond this first waterfall, climbing steadily past six or seven spectacular cascades to a caldera-like summit. It is possible to camp at the summit or return the same day. Camping, thanks to the height, is a much more pleasant temperature than at sea level, and I would thoroughly recommend it.

Pulau Kukup

View from the observation tower on Pulau Kukup.

Pulau Kukup National Park and the nearby Tanjung Piai National Park make a good day trip with the opportunity to sample some delicious seafood for lunch. Both parks feature relatively short boardwalks through mangroves with a good opportunity to see wildlife. Kukup has a five storey observation tower with spectacular views over the rest of the island, while Tanjung Piai’s claim to fame is being the most southerly point in mainland Asia. Given their proximity to each other Johor Bahru (approximately 90 minutes), they are worth a visit for some comparatively easy outdoor activities. Read more about visiting Kukup National Park and visiting Tanjung Piai Natioinal Park.

Gunung Ledang (Mount Ophir)

View from the summit of Mount Ophir / Gunung Ledang

Gunung Ledang is without a doubt the hardest hike on this list. The climb is unrelentingly steep, and in sections even has ropes and ladders to assist you. One saving grace is the beautiful forest which covers the mountain from base to summit and keeps the hot sun off your back.

Climbing Gunung Ledang is normally done in a day, but the logistics of starting so early mean it is a good idea to stay at the nearby hotel the night before. You can read more about when I climbed Gunung Ledang.

Gunung Panti

The view from the campsite atop Gunung Panti

Gunung Panti is a prominent hill in the Kota Tinggi region. It is visible from some distance thanks to the distinctive shape – it’s summit drops off sharply with a large cliff. The hike up Gunung Panti can be completed in a single long day, as done as an overnight trip by camping on the summit. I have climbed it several times and always camped at the summit. The views over the forest canopy, particularly at sunset and sunrise, are spectacular. The height also means a more pleasant temperature for camping, and depending on the season you may even need a warm jacket. You can read more about camping on Gunung Panti in my trip report.

Do you know of other excellent outdoors activities, hikes, and parks in Johor or Malaysia in general? Why not leave a comment below?

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Top 5 outdoors activities in Johor, Malaysia
Johor isn't only about shopping malls - there are excellent outdoors activities and National Parks - if you know where to look.
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