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Royal Belum

Royal Belum


Named after the noise emitted from the “stick grasshopper” (belalang ranting) and estimated at more than 130 million years old, Belum is said to be the oldest tropical rainforest in the world, older even than the Amazon.

Located in Gerik, in the northern most corner of Perak, and a part of the larger Belum-Temenggor Forest reserve encompassing 117,500 hectares of jungle, it was declared as the Royal Belum State Park by HRH Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah on July 31, 2003. Fondly known as Royal Belum, it is indeed a prized national treasure.

Royal Belum or the Upper Belum area, which requires a permit from the Perak State Parks Corporation to enter, is reserved more for conservation and research purposes. However, eco-tourism is promoted here, albeit in a controlled manner.

 Royal Belum


Nolee Ashilin Radzi,  State Executive councillor for Tourism, Health and Culture

Nolee Ashilin Radzi,
State Executive councillor for Tourism, Health and Culture


We are just two months away from Visit Malaysia Year 2014 (VMY2014). The year ahead will be one of the most challenging, as we try to meet our goals. But it will, without doubt, be an exciting time.

The public may be wondering how well-prepared we are for VMY2014. At the state-level, since two months ago, we have established a Secretariat for Tourism and Culture, made up of representatives from both Federal and state government agencies, local authorities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in tourism in Perak.

Under this Secretariat, where the main committee is under the Tourism Ministry, there are a few portfolios, including Promotion, Events and Projects. A second meeting will be held in due time, where we will be hearing the different points of view from our members.

The main objectives of this Secretariat are to coordinate the state’s tourism industry players, to identify, promote and market our various tourism products, to audit these products regularly to ensure that they continue to be relevant and that standards are maintained.

Of course, these are just some of the issues that we need to take care of. Perak enjoyed a successful Visit Perak Year 2012. As for VMY2014, although we are maintaining our target of 5 million tourist arrivals, we are working doubly hard to break our record of 5.8 million visitors last year.

In this issue of Perak Tourism Newsletter we are featuring the Royal Belum. This untouched tropical rainforest which is over 130 million years old is just one of Perak’s top tourism products of international repute.

We hope that with this guide, your visit to the Royal Belum will be most productive.


Applying for a permit

As mentioned, everyone who enters Royal Belum is required to obtain a permit from the state park authority, which costs RM10 for Malaysians and RM20 for foreigners. Other charges may apply.

Malaysians need to provide their name and MyKad number, while foreigners provide their name and passport number instead. A permit can be applied directly from the office of the Perak State Parks Corporation in Gerik or over the internet at their website: www.royalbelum.my.

Those who take up a tour package from a licensed tour operator or nature guide will have this handled for them. Permits require 24 hours to be processed. Therefore, visitors are advised to apply for a permit in advance.


Pg2Getting there

Driving from Ipoh, take the North-South Expressway, exiting from Kuala Kangsar. From there, get on the trunk road to Gerik and continue north-east until you reach Pulau Banding. The jetty here (GPS Coordinates: N 05° 33.110’ E 101° 20.834’) is the gateway to Royal Belum. This trip from Ipoh to Pulau Banding jetty takes approximately 3 hours.




The state park authority manages four camp sites, namely Sg. Tiang, Sg. Kenarung, Sg. Papan and Sg. Kejar Camp Site. Accommodating some 25 to 80 people per camp, basic amenities are provided at these camps. Do bring provisions to cook your own meals.

Generally, Royal Belum is free from the usual distractions such as television, telephone and internet. So, be prepared for a real retreat.

A speedboat ride from Pulau Banding jetty to these camp sites, across Temenggor Lake, takes approximately 20 to 40 minutes.

Those who prefer to stay off-camp may do so at RM2 per person, to be paid to the state park authority. Camping equipment is not provided.



Like a “floating hotel” and equipped with modern amenities, including a karaoke room, a houseboat can accommodate up to 20 people at any one time. Houseboat-living has been popular here only some four years ago. The houseboat cruises around Temenggor Lake, stopping at various spots for guests to participate in local activities, particularly fishing.

Rental for 24 hours of a houseboat goes from RM1800, depending on its amenities and level of comfort. Currently, there are about ten houseboats for rent.


Pg2dIndigenous community

The indigenous people that call Royal Belum home are from the Jahai tribe, the main sub-ethnic group of the Negrito. There are three villages here with a total population of approximately 800 people; Sg. Tiang, Sg. Kejar and the most advanced village, Aman Damai.

For a small fee, visitors to Kg. Aman Damai get to enjoy a slew of aboriginal activities like blow-piping and dart-making. They can also watch or even participate in the tribal dance, sewang. Shopping is also possible here, as there is a stall that sells local herbs.

Get thrown back in time at Kg. Aman Damai, though visitors are expected to contribute at least RM1 per person to the village fund.




Bird-watching is a popular activity here and the bird to watch is the hornbill. There are a total of 57 hornbill species in the world, with 25 found in Asia. Royal Belum is only one of two places in Malaysia where ten species of hornbills, two more than in Borneo, can be found. The two most sought-after species are the Plain-pouched and Great Hornbill, one of the world’s largest hornbill species.

The peak season for hornbill-watching is from July to September.


Flora & Fauna

The lush forest of Royal Belum is home to more than 3000 species of flowering plants, including the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia. It’s no secret that one of the main reasons visitors come to Royal Belum is to check out this parasitic flower. Three species are found here; Kerrii, Cantleyi and Azlanii.

As it takes nine months for a Rafflesia to fully bloom and the flower lasts only five to seven days, depending on the amount of rainfall, it takes a lot of luck for tourists to see one in full bloom. The largest recorded Rafflesia found here is the Kerrii, with a diameter of 90cm.

Some trees and plants have been labelled but a good nature guide will point out the ferns, plants, fungi, insects and other life forms that are only found here.

Flora & fauna



Royal Belum’s Lake Temenggor is a paradise for anglers because of the famous snake-head (ikan toman). Officially, there are a total of 30 fish species here.

The “catch and release” policy is practised here. Four species of fish, namely sebarau, kelah, tengas and temoleh, are prohibited from being taken out of Royal Belum.

Each angler is only allowed to take three fish out of this protected area. All boats leaving Royal Belum will be inspected at the state park control post.


Sg. Kooi Waterfall

While there are quite a few waterfalls in Royal Belum, the Sg. Kooi waterfall stands out among them. From a height of 50m, the gushing water does not cascade but showers down. Hence, it is also known as the “shower waterfall”.

Lately, there have been operators conducting waterfall abseiling here, which is fast becoming a popular adventure sport. This, however, is not for the faint-hearted.

Sg. Kooi Waterfall


Covering a total land area of 117,500 hectares, Royal Belum is paradise to adventurous trekkers, any time of the day.

One may trek along the Perak River or deep into the woods for that rather elusive Rafflesia flower, but a guide or ranger is required for safety reasons.

Trekkers know that both day and night trekking bring different experiences, as nocturnal animals become active only when night falls. Lucky trekkers may even spot an animal or two. The seladang, Sumatran rhinoceros, elephant and Malayan tiger are just some of the larger mammals found in Royal Belum.


Sg. Ruok Fish Sanctuary

Sg. Ruok Fish Sanctuary-2

This fish sanctuary in Sg. Ruok is one of the top visited places in Royal Belum.

The fisheries department and the state parks authority are breeding various species of freshwater fish here, especially kelah and tengas to preserve and promote aqua-tourism. Therefore, fishing along this stretch of the river is strictly prohibited.

The waterfall here is also top on the list for picnickers, who take the opportunity to feed and also swim with the fishes.

web pics for ptn23


Natural Salt Licks

Salt licks are mineral springs or grounds that contain sodium and other essential nutrients such as zinc, magnesium and calcium, where wild animals, particularly herbivorous mammals, come to obtain minerals their body requires and to aid the digestion of food. Consider a salt lick a pharmacy for animals to get their dose of supplements.

There are 12 natural salt lick areas in Royal Belum, but only a couple of them are open to visitors, so as not to contaminate them. One that visitors can get up close to is Sira Papan, just a short trek from Sg. Papan Camp Site.



For further information on Royal Belum, contact Perak State Parks Corporation information centre at tel: +605-791 7858. Office hours are Mondays to Fridays from 8am – 5pm, with lunch break from 1pm to 2pm, except for Fridays from 12.45pm – 2.40pm.

Those who prefer the convenience of a guided tour can also contact the above number for suitable licensed nature guides or operators.



22-23 Nov – Cleanliness campaign on health, tourism and quality of life at Pulau Pangkor.

28-31 Dis – Perak Tourism Fiesta at Ipoh

For further information, contact: 05-208 3600 (ask for Tourism Perak).


Royal Belum – Older than The Amazon



It is unfortunate that 13 years into the new millennium, cleanliness is still an issue that continues to haunt us and thus is a cause for concern. It is not enough to just keep our homes or the streets clean, but we have to make a conscious decision to also save and protect the environment as a whole, before further damage is done. In fact, it is the collective effort of everyone to ensure that we do not destroy Mother Nature. I am disappointed that quite a number of our tourist attractions have already been marred due to littering caused by careless visitors. Littering is an act that not only disrupts civil society, but if plastic bags were washed into the sea, turtles could mistake these bags as jellyfish, their main source of food. Trash is a hazard, whether on land or sea. Coral reefs, which have taken thousands of years to form, are threatened, or even destroyed altogether by pollution or human activity. Many people do not realise that a seemingly harmless touch could kill the corals. Worse is when a boat anchors on the reef ecosystem instead of using a mooring buoy. On the home front, a simple reduction in, or better still, elimination on the use of chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers, would promote a healthier ocean environment. This is what we can change, so why not start from now? As Royal Belum State Park is featured in this volume of the Perak Tourism Newsletter, let this serve as a good reminder to all tourists and tour operators, to be responsible in preserving natural treasures in Perak for the benefit of our future generations. A well-kept, clean and beautiful Park is what they want to inherit from us. While research on the rich flora and fauna is highly encouraged, we have to follow the guidelines, as stipulated by the authorities, when we visit the forest. Let us just take photographs and leave only our footprints behind.

The enchanting Sg Kooi Waterfall

The enchanting Sg Kooi Waterfall


The Enchanting Beauty of Royal Belum

Royal Belum State Park in northern Perak, estimated at 130 million years old, is much older than that of the Amazon and the Congo. Gazetted as a State Park on May 3, 2007, it covers an area measuring 117,500 hectares encompassing over 90 per cent of the Belum Forest Reserve. It is now known as “Royal Belum” after being bestowed the royal title by HRH Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah in July, 2003.

It is said that the name “Belum” originated from the noise emitted from stick grasshoppers (belalang ranting) that sounds like “Belummm, Belummm…”


One of the ten species of Hornbills

One of the ten species of Hornbills

So, what is there to do or see in Royal Belum?

According to Dato’ Hj Abdul Karim bin Osman, General Manager of Perak State Park Corporation, the agency that oversees the Park, visitors MUST check out the Rafflesia, the largest flower on Earth. While this flower is found in tropical rainforests throughout Southeast Asia, the Rafflesia is an iconic symbol for Royal Belum.

A “normal” Rafflesia flower has five petals but recently, a flower with ten petals, measuring 40 cm in diameter was discovered at Sungai Gadong. It was definitely the first of its kind in the world.

Another attraction for visitors is the Sungai Rouk Waterfall, which is not any ordinary waterfall. This is where various species of local freshwater fish are bred specifically to promote aqua-tourism. Popular species are Kelah, Tengas and Temonggeh.

The Jahais of Kampung Kejar Hilir

The Jahais of Kampung Kejar Hilir

While on the subject of waterfalls, Royal Belum has quite a few to offer. The most unique is the Sungai Kooi Waterfall, with a height of 50 metres. The water does not cascade but showers down!

Those who prefer to check out the wild animals in Royal Belum are recommended to visit the salt lick. There are 12 areas where wild animals would come by to obtain their salt nutrients. The famous licks are Sira Papan, Sira Damar Siput and Sira Rambau, to name a few.

Fish frenzy in Sungei Rouk

Fish frenzy in Sungei Rouk

On the other hand, those who prefer a simpler life are invited to experience the Sungai Kejar or Sungai Tiang Tourism camps. These camps are located some 30 minutes by boat from Pulau Banding. Facilities provided, besides the camping sites, are community sheds, bathrooms, toilets, kitchens and barbeque equipment.

Those who opt for Sungai Kejar Tourism Camp should also visit the Kejar Hilir Village, a village of the Orang Asli Jahai. This isolated tribe originated from the Austroasia group, similar to Orang Asli Temiar found in central Peninsular Malaysia.

A trip to Royal Belum is not complete without watching the birds, especially the hornbills. Ten species of the bird are found here. In fact, bird-watching is a popular activity, although it takes a lot of luck to spot specific species of the birds.

Royal Belum is indeed an experience of a lifetime. Explore all that it has to offer personally. Be blown away by the thousands of species of flora and fauna that make the forest their habitat. Today’s guide is a good starting point.

Incidentally, a permit is required to enter the State Park. This can be easily handled by tour operators registered with the Perak State Park Corporation. For more information, contact them at 05-791 4543 or 05-791 7858 during office hours.

That Will Remain In Your Memory Forever

One can go anywhere on the man-made lake by boat manned by a park ranger. You can also get all the information you need from the same park ranger.

One can go anywhere on the man-made lake by boat manned by a park ranger. You can also get all the information you need from the same park ranger.

The buttress of a tree believed to be over a century old

The buttress of a tree believed to be over a century old

Kenarong Camp one of the many camp sites built to provide a village ambiance for visitors.

Kenarong Camp one of the many camp sites built to provide a village ambiance for visitors.

A model Orang Asli village at Sg Tiang

A model Orang Asli village at Sg Tiang

A tapir enjoying a mouth-wash at a salt lick

A tapir enjoying a mouth-wash at a salt lick

One of Royal Belum’s many picturesque sights.

One of Royal Belum’s many picturesque sights.

‘Royal’ Belum


It was with great interest that I read your front page article, “A Tropical Retreat Fit for a Prince”, in Issue 117 for as you may recall you published a review of my visit to Temenggor and the same Island over February and March last year. Furthermore, my friends and I also revisited the island and spent time in Royal Belum over the last Christmas period. It was therefore very easy to mentally share the Prince’s adventures in Northern Perak – until I discovered, with some mixed feelings, that the whole thing was an April Fool’s joke existing only in the mind of the author.

I have to say that the article was so well written that I fell straight into the trap you set. I would like to think that this was not because I was naïve, but because of my secondary interest in the article, the Prince himself, who I met on a few occasions while serving in the Royal Navy. He is a man for whom I have great respect. I remember him particularly as an outstanding helicopter pilot, who, during the Falklands war, deliberately put his life at risk to decoy missiles away from our ships. I was therefore very interested to hear his views of Temenggor and Royal Belum, when compared to mine, as reported in my review.

Here I believe the tone of your article was exactly as I would have expected him to respond – with justified and forthright expressions of regret about the litter at Pulau Banding jetty and the ugly government works in the Orang Asli village. Similarly, he would not have minced his words about the indiscriminate logging and destruction of the rainforests. Nonetheless, even though these were not his words, what saddens me is that, in reality, these blemishes on our landscape are still with us one year after I highlighted them. Surely, it is about time the, “powers that be” do something, at least about the litter and continued logging?

According to your author’s imagination the Prince ended his interview with the words “Whatever happens you must preserve your treasures – Belum and Temenggor.” I have no doubt that, as the caring man he is, this would have been his stance if he had actually visited us. Would anyone have listened? I doubt it, for a year ago I ended my review somewhat differently asking the people of Perak to do something to stop all these problems decimating our environment by supporting the relevant NGOs and employing democracy. It seems my pleas fell on deaf ears.

What is wrong with the society we live in? Don’t we care about the future of our world?

Ian Anderson