I Hiked Some of Malaysia’s Most Impressive Waterfalls — Here’s How You Can, Too

Just outside Kuala Lumpur are some of Malaysia’s most spectacular waterfall hikes. Here’s how to explore them.

<p>Kovzzz/Courtesy of Mowgli Venture</p> Lata Iskandar waterfall, in Perak, Malaysia.

Kovzzz/Courtesy of Mowgli Venture

Lata Iskandar waterfall, in Perak, Malaysia.

The verdant forests that surround Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, feel neglected, and in a sense, they are. Early one morning last June, I walked along a path inside Templer Park with Kovin Siva, the founder of Mowgli Venture, an adventure-travel company. “We have beautiful waterfalls, but they’re not visited often because the trails have become overgrown,” Siva told me.

Malaysia is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, but preserving its nature sites has not been a national priority, leaving many hiking trails in disrepair. Siva, who organizes day trips and overnight excursions throughout the country, as well as in Indonesia, believes tourism can help: “Inviting the public helps us protect our forests.”

While there are famous falls a few hours outside the city (like Lata Iskandar, a multitiered cascade in the verdant Cameron Highlands), for a taste of Kuala Lumpur’s wild side, choose from these trails, all a short drive from the capital.

<p>Kovzzz/Courtesy of Mowgli Venture</p> Lata Renyok waterfall in Kelantan, Malaysia.

Kovzzz/Courtesy of Mowgli Venture

Lata Renyok waterfall in Kelantan, Malaysia.

Lata Medang

This 6.6-mile hike begins near a village that is home to the Orang Asli, Malaysia’s Indigenous community (Orang Asli means “first people” in Malay). Take the suspension bridge across the Pertak River, then follow the banks of the Sungai Luit as you make your way toward the tiered Upper Medang Falls.

Templer Park

Wildlife-spotting opportunities abound in this forest reserve. Early-morning hikers are greeted by the sounds of gibbons and hornbills; if you’re lucky, you might spot the tracks of a black leopard. The shortest walk, which takes less than an hour, goes to the pools at the foot of the falls, while a longer, more strenuous route ends at the top, overlooking the jungle. 

Ulu Yam

This 2.7-mile route passes four falls, meaning there are plenty of places for a refreshing dip, and is close to the famous Batu Caves — an important pilgrimage site for Hindus.

More Trip Ideas: 15 Best Waterfall Hikes in the World

<p>Kovzzz/Courtesy of Mowgli Venture</p> Lata Cuit waterfall in Kelantan, Malaysia.

Kovzzz/Courtesy of Mowgli Venture

Lata Cuit waterfall in Kelantan, Malaysia.

A version of this story first appeared in the April 2024 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "Into the Mist."

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