A Guide to Gunung Pulai: The Best Hiking Trail in JB

A Guide to Gunung Pulai: The Best Hiking Trail in JB

Shoppers and foodies know that Johor Bahru (JB) is a paradise for them, but do you know that nestled within our neighbours from across the borders is Gunung Pulai, a haven for hikers as well? 

Image Credit: Kai Gan 

Gunung Pulai (Gunung is Malay for “Mountain”) stands at 654 m above sea level and is just 90 km away from Singapore. A popular recreational location amongst locals as well as for Singaporeans, the hike up and down Gunung Pulai is five km each way and takes four hours in total.

How to get to Gunung Pulai via public transportation

Gunung Pulai, located in the Kulai District of JB, is slightly more than an hour drive from the JB checkpoint. Here are some ways you can take to get to Gunung Pulai from Johor Bahru.

Public transport

To get to Kulai from Johor Bahru:

Image Credit: Joshua

Board the bus from JB Sentral towards Kulai Terminal.
Bus services:

  1. Bus BET1

Operates from 6.20AM-10.40PM daily, with a 10-20 minutes frequency.

  1. Bus 777B

Operates from 6.30AM-10.40PM daily, with a 15-30 minutes frequency.

  1. Bus 7B

Operates from 6AM-10PM daily, with a 15-30 minutes frequency.

From Kulai to Gunung Pulai:

You can either take a Grab or regular taxi into Gunung Pulai. Do note that although you may be able to get a Grab in, that may not be the case to get out. This is due to the bad reception there, which means you may be unable to use the app. Hence, you might want to consider driving in yourselves or paying the driver you hired to wait for you. Or else, you can also try hitching a ride from fellow Singaporeans!

Image credit: Chongkian

Things to see and do at Gunung Pulai

Image Credit: The Southern Xplorer

The hike up to the summit of Gunung Pulai will reward you with a panoramic view! Along the way, you’ll be surrounded by flora and fauna, and the occasional cheeky monkey.

Pulai Waterfall

Image Credit: Viki Tan (bottom of the waterfall)

Gunung Pulai Recreational Park is also home to their very own waterfall, where locals and visitors alike enjoy dipping themselves in the water. However, it’s not very well-maintained, so do remember to take care of your own rubbish to help preserve the beauty of what the Pulai Waterfall has to offer!

Summit of Gunung Pulai

Image Credit: Nazri A. Wahab

The hike on the paved road will take about 2 hours to reach the summit, but it is restricted from entry as there is a telecommunication tower located nearby. Standing tall at 654m, the peak is noticeably cooler, and Gunung Pulai is always cloud-filled during early mornings and when the clouds are low during rainy weather.

Although visitors are prohibited from entering the summit, the viewing spots around it are unblocked and still deliver stunning sights. This is possibly the closest from Singapore you can get for an azure-framed view from the top!

Image Credit: Wong Py

While panting up the rather steep hike, don’t forget to look up to admire the streaks of light streaming through the leaves of the surrounding trees.

Accommodation at Gunung Pulai

Although many people visit Gunung Pulai for day trips,  there are also hikers who choose to camp in the recreational park overnight.

Camping

There is a campsite at the side of Pulai Waterfall, for visitors who wish to avoid the crowd at the main waterfall. It is a good place for you to take a break, relax, and soak in the peacefulness of Malaysia’s nature. However, there can be insects and even leeches lurking around, so do be careful if you intend to camp there!

Hotels and Homestays

There are hotels located nearby Gunung Pulai, in the town of Kulai if you intend to stay over, and can easily be booked online.

Castello Hotel Kulai

Image Credit: Castello Hotel 

Want to stay in a luxury hotel at an affordable rate? Look no more! After a long day of hiking, Castello Hotel Kulai is a great option as a luxury budget hotel for you to rest at. The prices start from RM135 onwards per night, inclusive of hotel taxes and service fees. It is also very near to Aeon Shopping Mall, so it makes it even more convenient if you’re still up for some shopping after your hike. 

Location: No. 93 & 94, Jalan Kenanga 29/7 Indahpura, 81000 Kulai, Johor, Malaysia

Contact: +607-662 2658

Email: [email protected]

Carlsun Hotel

Image Credit: Booking.com

If you’re looking for a budget hotel, Carlsun Hotel is one of the top choices for you! They offer a variety of room sizes, well-equipped with basic amenities. Prices start from RM72, inclusive of hotel taxes and service fees.

Location: 2, Jalan Pancasila Taman Pancasila, 81400 Saleng, Senai, Johor, Malaysia.

Contact: +607-595 5168

Email: [email protected]ail.com

E-Homestay Kulai

Image Credit: E-Homestay, Kulai

If you’d like to experience local living, E-Homestay Kulai is a good choice. All rooms are equipped with basic amenities such as a television set, a private bathroom, and a common rest area. Free local breakfast is offered every morning as well. Prices start from RM138, inclusive of hotel taxes and service fees. However, do note that this homestay only accepts cash payment, so do prepare enough loose cash if you intend to stay with them!

Location: No. 336, Jalan Tropika 10, Taman Tropika, 81000 Kulai, Johor, Malaysia.

What to eat near Gunung Pulai

Anggun Cafe

Image Credit: DLTR 2019

Kak Ita, who owns Anggun Cafe, makes simple but yet comforting food that you can reward yourself with at the end of a tiring hike. Anggun Cafe at the foot of Gunung Pulai serves warm local fare such as soft and fluffy roti canai, fragrant nasi lemak, fried bee hoon, and other simple dishes. Her homemade chilli paste is also a must-have paired with her simple but homely food. Anggun Cafe opens from Monday to Saturday, from 6 am to 12 pm.

Restaurant Chao Shan 潮汕海鲜餐厅

Image Credit: 潮汕海鲜餐厅

Restaurant Chao Shan, located at Kulai, is known for their reasonably priced Teochew dishes. The founder cum chef has over 20 years of experience, and dishes like the Teochew style Hor Fun, and Orh Nee (taro paste) are highly recommended.

Location: 48, Jalan Kenanga 29/3, Bandar Indahpura, 81000 Kulai, Johor, Malaysia

Operating hours: 11AM-3PM and 5PM-10PM daily

Restoran Sze Hwa Bak Kut Teh

The Bak Kut Teh at Sze Hwa located at Kulai is known for its fresh and homely fare. Although there are many other “Sze Hwa” outlets selling Bak Kut Teh, it all originated from this humble shop at Kulai.

Location: 2, Jalan Seruling 1, Taman Sri Kulai Baru 2, Johor

Operating hours: 8AM-1PM and 2PM-9PM daily, except for Mondays

忠誠榴槤園 Zhong Cheng Durian Farm

Image Credit: 忠诚榴莲园

Calling out to all durian lovers! Labelled as the closest durian farm from Singapore, the durians from Zhong Cheng Durian Farm are very popular amongst both locals and Singaporeans. The annual durian season is from May to August, and peaks in July. The ripe durians fall naturally and collected in the morning. Visiting and enjoying fresh durians in a farm will definitely be a memorable experience that is hardly experienced in Singapore!

Location: 817, Jalan Merpati 6, Taman Sin Sawit, 81000 Kulai, Johor, Malaysia

Tips to stay safe when visiting Gunung Pulai

Image credits: David Mark

  • Visit the washroom before you start on your hike

Hikers and visitors are advised to visit the toilets at nearby petrol stations or at the one at the start of the hiking trail (albeit being part of someone else’s house, it is open for the public to use). Tip: taking consistent sips of an isotonic drink will help to keep you hydrated throughout the hike better.

  • Do ample research

Read up on which trail you intend to embark on Gunung Pulai and its estimated length and duration to and fro. This will help you to stay aware of your progress during the hike. The main gate is also locked when it rains, so do check up on the weather prior to your trip to Gunung Pulai to avoid any disappointment.

  • Keep your family and friends informed of your whereabouts

Prior to starting on your hike, ensure that there are people who are aware of your whereabouts and your estimated time of return,  in case of emergencies, they will be able to look for you.

  • Be careful!

The hike up Gunung Pulai can get pretty steep, and may assert a bit of pressure on your knees and feet. Hence, you can bring along a trekking stick to alleviate the pressure asserted on your knees when going back down. Moreover, the reception there is bad, so do bring along a map or GPS system with you that you can use in case reception gets cut off.

Fun fact about Gunung Pulai

Did you know that Gunung Pulai has an interesting historical background linked to our sunny island, Singapore? In the early 20th century, when the British developed the water supply scheme for JB and Singapore, Gunung Pulai was identified as a suitable choice because of its large water catchment area.

The 1961 agreement that spanned over 50 years allowed Singapore to tap on water resources from Gunung Pulai and a few other rivers, up to 325 million litres of water a day at that time!

Today, things have changed a lot and the agreement with Gunung Pulai has expired. Nonetheless, this mountainous site remains close to home and carries a special heritage link with Singapore which is one of the main reasons why you should visit!  

About Author

Cheryl Tan
Cheryl Tan

The best memories are created through spontaneous adventures, hence Cheryl is always on-the-go to try new things and see where it takes her from there. On stay-home days, she enjoys reading lifestyle articles on topics such as skincare and travel itineraries with a hot cup of tea. Otherwise, she likes to visit museums, dance, and spend time with family and friends.

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