Calling all adrenaline junkies and nature lovers, do you have a thirst for adventure? What are you waiting for? Strap on your life vests and helmets and get ready to conquer some turbulent rapids.
White water rafting has been increasing in popularity over the years, and lucky for you, Malaysia is blessed with many fine rivers that cater to this water sport. Some rivers will take you through Orang Asli (aborigines) settlements while others will flow past limestone caves and prehistoric archaeological sites.
Of course, white water rafting is no easy feat. This thrilling adventure can also be dangerous and among the common injuries include getting hit by a paddle, dislocating a shoulder, foot entrapment, and sustaining cuts. As such, all white water is graded using an international system.
The following grades range from safe to life threatening:
- Class 1 – Few or no obstructions
- Class 2 – Novice. Mild rapids; suitable for children
- Class 3 – Intermediate. Larger rapids, requiring a little more skill but with little real danger
- Class 4 – Advanced. Powerful rapids, needing more advanced techniques
- Class 5 – Expert. Turbulent rapids
- Class 6 – Extreme and very dangerous
Don’t know where to go white water rafting in Malaysia? You’ve come to the right place as we’ve listed down some of the best rafting spots in our country.
1. Sungai Jeram Besu, Pahang
As mostly class 1 or 2 rapids with only 1 class 3 rapid, Jeram Besu (Besu Rapids) is an excellent introduction to white water as it is suitable for rafting, kayaking, and canoeing. Located on Sungai Lipis, Jeram Besu is roughly 6km from the town of Benta. The run here is shorter than most rivers, so it’s best to combine your trip with fun outdoor activities such as flying fox, 4-wheel drive adventure, and caving.
If you’re interested, there’s also the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary (National Elephant Conservation Centre) nearby. You and your family can feed, bathe, and safely ride on elephants while you’re there.
- Address: Lot 1937, Jeram Besu, Mukim 27300, Benta, Pahang, Kampung Jeram Besu, 27300 Sega, Pahang
- Contact: 09-3230230
- Class: 1-3
2. Sungai Tembeling, Pahang
Located in one of the world’s oldest Tropical Rainforest, Taman Negara National Park, visitors will need to take a boat to Sungai Tembeling. The excitement will be on the river but take a moment to admire the scenic view of the surroundings. While you’re in the area, sign up for a visit to the Orang Asli villages, or canopy tours and jungle trekking.
- Address: Taman Negara, Gerai Majlis Daerah, 27000 Kuala Tahan, Pahang
- Contact: 017–210186/ 013–333 9798
- Class: 1-2
3. Sungai Padas, Sabah
Sungai Padas has been hailed as Sabah’s most popular rafting destination. Located in the interior of the southwestern part of Kota Kinabalu, the adrenaline rush excursion covers a distance of 9km of this 200km-long river. It holds 7 exciting and tough rapids that has amusing names such as Headhunter, Scooby Doo, and Merry-Go-Round. Do note that this class 3-4 rafting is physically challenging and hardcore. For those who want something safer, we recommend 2 other locations in Sabah – Kota Kinabalu’s Sungai Kiulu or Ranau’s Sungai Liwagu.
- Getting there: River Bug Asia provides transportation services
- Contact: 019-820 4921
- Class: 3-4
4. Sungai Itek/Sungai Kampar, Perak
Unlike many other rivers, the water source comes straight from the mountains, which makes it more predictable for organisers to plan white water rafting activities. The river in Gopeng provides a fantastic introduction for beginners to enjoy the serene beauty of a gentle paddle through lush rainforest. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the location from Ipoh.
- Address: Jalan Sungai Itek, Pekan Gopeng, 31600 Gopeng, Perak
- Contact: 019-662 2929/ 019-229 5757
- Class: 1-3
5. Sungai Selangor, Selangor
For KL-ites who don’t want to travel too far to experience a splashing good time, Kuala Kubu Bharu is just a mere 1-hour drive away from the city. There are at least 10 sets of rapids throughout the duration of the rafting run. Passengers will be instructed by guides on what to do. Don’t worry, the simple instructions mostly consist of forward and backward paddle.
Those visiting Kuala Kubu Bharu town can also enroute to other nature destinations such as Chilling Waterfall, Frasers Hill, and Raub.
- Address: Kampung Paya, 44000 Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor
- Contact: 019-384 9691
- Class: 2-4
6. Sungai Nenggiri, Kelantan
If you’re interested in exploring Malaysia’s richest archaeological caves, then Gua Musang is the place to be. The river here in Ulu Kelantan will take you through virgin jungles and some historical caves (namely Gua Cha, Gua Chawan, and Gua Jaya). Since the only route to the caves is by river, it has been relatively left undisturbed.
A package deal would include checking out these caves, wildlife, and a visit to the Orang Asli village in addition to rafting.
- Getting there: The place is accessible from Gua Musang Town/Gua Musang Railway Station
- Class: 1-2
7. Sungai Sedim, Kedah
Sungai Sedim is located in the Gunung Inas Nature Reserve, Sedim Recreation Park, which is also near Karangan town. In case you didn’t know, the river is the only location in the north-west states that allow people to carry out white water rafting and kayaking. There are up to 24 rapids within a 16km run, so prepare yourself for some major excitement!
If you’re still interested to explore this lush rainforest, there are more spectacular activities to try out. Mountain trekking, nature walk, bird spotting, paintball, and flying fox are available. Alternatively, you could take part in the longest Tree Top Walk in the world, which stands at 925m.
- Address: Hutan Simpan Sungai Sedim, 09700 Kulim, Kedah
- Contact: 019-4546485
- Class: 1-4
8. Sungai Loh, Terengganu
Situated approximately 80 minutes from Cherating and 60 minutes from Awana Kijal Resort, Hulu Dungun’s Sungai Loh offers customised activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Step into the unspoiled Bumbung Raja Nature Reserve and you’ll be surrounded by nature sights and wildlife sounds.
Aside from riding some wild rapids, visitors will get to explore the Big Cengal Tree. It has a diameter of 16.35 meters, about 13 persons grasping hand to hand circling the tree. We can already imagine ourselves hugging the giant tree together and doing a kumbaya.
- Address: Jalan Kg Pasir Raja, 23000 Dungun, Terengganu
- Contact: 03-2093 5973 (Red Ribbon Days)
- Class: 2-4