Escape the heavily worn tourist track in central Malaysia and indulge in an authentic experience with welcoming locals in Jerantut – you will love the laid-back pace of this town.
After an amazing five days of trekking and experiencing the gorgeous Taman Negara’s dense rainforest – together with mosquitoes, leeches, and salt – sadly, it is time to head south to Jerantut.
The bus trip from Taman Negara to Jerantut through central Malaysia takes around three hours, so just a quick jaunt really.
The bus drops us off about two kilometres from the outskirts of Jerantut and off the highway.
From this point, it isn’t long before another minibus collects and takes us to our hotel’s door – amazing!
This is quite a strange set-up though as on purchasing the tickets, this second part of the journey was not mentioned. Expecting a straight-through trip on only one bus and to be dropped off at the bus station in Jerantut, Asia is always a surprise and there is always a new experience around the corner.
What to see
Typically, many travellers pass through Jerantut to get to the Taman Negara National Park or only stay overnight to catch their next connection elsewhere, as Jerantut offers a good train and bus infrastructure. Catching a bus back to Kuala Lumpur from Jerantut is also easy.
I may be wrong, but this town seems to be heavily Chinese-influenced with many Chinese restaurants also gracing the main drag. People are super friendly here, which makes visiting a pleasant experience. This town doesn’t see many tourists staying for any length of time.
Accommodation on offer is great value, service is very good, and the delicious authentic food in this town is excellent value…what more does a traveller need?
Jerantut is a place to rest, recuperate, and enjoy great inexpensive food.
Where to sleep
The Wau Hotel is clean and comfortable and at RM90 for a double with air-conditioning (vital), private bathroom, toiletries, and a basic breakfast – great value.
The owner is extremely hospitable and friendly, even arranged for his friend to take us to the train station at no cost. This hotel is in China Town, which is a great location as this is only a fifteen-minute walk to the bus station and a twenty-minute walk to the train station, so nice and central.
I much prefer this area of Jerantut as this has a more ‘local’ feel than around the bus station area, which is also quite busy. The people in Jerantut are amongst the friendliest and accommodating in Malaysia so far…
It’s a shame that this town is used as a one-night stopover only and everyone is in a hurry to get to the jungle.
My thought is that the guide books and reviews don’t really do Jerantut justice, as it is the sincerity and friendliness of the locals that really make this town. This makes up for not many sights in the town. It isn’t always about what you when travelling. More often than not, it’s about the people you meet and the wonderful experiences you share, regardless of the country in which you travel.
Where to eat
The Blue Sky Food & Beverage (24 Jalan Sungai) is an excellent place to eat (no alcohol served) and very inexpensive. The chicken Mee soup is delicious.
The restaurant’s owners Steve and his wife hand-make amazing Mee (noodles) before your eyes – so you know what you are eating is very fresh – then cook the noodles in a wonderful chicken soup.
This is the only restaurant around that makes Bak Kut Teah (“meat bone tea”), which basically is meaty pork ribs simmered for hours in a complex broth of herbs and spices. Simply scrumptious and not expensive at the Blue Sky.
The owners go out of their way to be hospitable. As an example, small local treats are served up for free so that we can try something new on each visit – very kind.
Also very kind is whilst we waited at the train station for the train to leave Jerantut, Steve arrives with a couple of parting gifts. Definitely not expected and very humbling.
Jerantut hosts many good and cheap Chinese restaurants and roadside stalls…
…offering Malay and Chinese cuisine along the same road as the Wau Hotel. Try a couple of these, you won’t be disappointed.
Tips: When ordering a coffee or tea in Malaysia, ask for the hot drink without sugar as typically, the drink is made with sweetened condensed milk plus lots of added sugar. If ordering a fresh juice, a lot of sugar is also added – a couple of generous tablespoons but sometimes more – so you may also want to hold off on the sugar for juices.
Often when on the road, it’s hard to find somewhere to drop off laundry. Guide books no longer mention this necessity for travellers on the move more than a week or two, or for long-term travellers. Perhaps travellers no longer need to wash their clothes?
Pusat Dobi Pelanggi (PT7578, Jalan Kuantan) is reasonable for washing and drying your clothes. The charge is by the kilo weight.
I’m not sure if this is the cheapest in town but when it’s sweltering outside, the desire to hunt for the best price wanes, replaced with the desire to sit in air-conditioning and sip on an ice-cold beverage.
Our laundry is returned in good condition and smelling very fresh, especially from the foul scent after treks in the sultry Taman Negara jungle, so no complaints.
After a short stint of a couple of nights in Jerantut and meeting very friendly locals, decide to keep moving and head north-east on the 8-hour journey by train to Wakaf Bharu, followed by more travel to Kota Bharu.