**We’re in the midst of Malaysia’s Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) due to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic; and because we cannot fly out of the country at the moment, many Malaysians are planning holidays within the country. It’s an unprecedented time to be a travel blogger, so I’m taking the opportunity to write more about my beloved country. Read more about my Malaysian travels here.
This post is on the day trip that I made to the small town of Bentong last year (pre-pandemic). Only about an hour’s drive from the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur; it is famous for the durian, local ginger, and as a quick foodie getaway out of the bustling city.
The town of Bentong is located in peninsula Malaysia’s biggest state of Pahang. I would say that it is the gateway to the eastern part of the peninsula — as you’d pass the town just before the start of the East Coast Highway (from the west) that leads to the eastern states. I grew up in the capital of the Pahang state in Kuantan; and Bentong town has always been one of the food and rest stops during my road travels to and from Kuala Lumpur.
Bentong is also the name of the district — and includes the popular hill resorts of Genting Highlands and Bukit Tinggi. The area is dotted with lots of durian orchards that you can visit for a taste of the world’s smelliest (and most delicious) fruit; or if you wish, a stay for the night. My day trip however, is mainly focused on the Bentong town area and the nearby waterfalls.
The best way to get to Bentong is by car, because certain attractions like the waterfalls and some restaurants are located a little further away from the main town centre; and you can also have the option of stopping by the hill resorts or the durian orchards. Alternatively, you can also get to Bentong from Kuala Lumpur by bus.
I visited Bentong with two of my girl friends, Abby and Diana. We started our drive from Kuala Lumpur early in the morning. Our plan was to have breakfast once we arrived in Bentong. The town was pretty packed with visitors because it was a Sunday; so we parked the car just before the start of the Bentong Morning Market street — and went hunting for food!
Breakfast at Hooi Ji Wantan Noodles
Breakfast was at Bentong’s famous Hooi Ji Wanton Noodles at the Yuen Kee Kopitiam. The place was packed and we couldn’t find a seat — and ended up sharing a table with an elderly couple. We ordered the popular dish; and also had a shared plate of ‘Yong Tau Fu’ from one of the many other stalls in the restaurant. I have to say that despite the noodles being springy and the dark sauce satisfyingly flavorful; I’ve actually tasted better char siu (Bbq pork) elsewhere. So the wanton noodles here didn’t really impress me as much as I expected. My bowl cost RM4.50.
Bentong Morning Market
The Bentong Morning Market only opens on Sunday mornings, and starts as early as 6am. We went to explore the market after breakfast. It takes up the entire long stretch of road across the Bentong town centre, and is actually made up of local vendors setting up their stalls right in the middle of the street. They sell everything from local produce, fresh meat and food; to clothes and household items. Some of the famous local items to look out for while shopping along the morning market are the Bentong ginger, Bentong Soy Sauce, tofu-puffs, as well as home-baked sweets and pastry. I decided to buy back a huge piece of ginger that was as big as my face!
TAK Ice Cream Corner
Eventhough it was only late morning — the weather that Sunday was mercilessly hot and humid. After walking back and forth along the stretch of market; we decided to cool down with some icy cold treats at the TAK Ice Cream Corner. Located near the market; the hole-in-a-backstreet-wall drink shop serves everything sweet and frozen. From ice bowls like ice kacang and ABC, to fruit juices and ice cream. Between us, we shared a bowl of the TAK Special ‘fruit jelly ice’ for RM5.20, and a huge glass of chendol (with an ice cream on top) for RM4.50.
Bentong Street Art
After cooling down, it was off for more exploring around the Bentong town centre. We heard that the town has some street art to look out for, so we decided to hunt for those! We found a side street that is decorated with these 3D interactive murals; and had such a fun time taking pictures. The drawings mainly feature the things that Bentong town is known for — ginger and durian.
Lunch at Lemang To’Ki
And then it was time to eat again… for lunch! This time, we left the town centre and drove a little further out to Lemang To’Ki. It’s a very popular restaurant among the locals and domestic travelers; and is known for their lemang (glutinous coconut rice cooked in a bamboo stick). We could see them cooking the lemang over the fire, and it comes in different sizes that cost RM10, RM12 or RM13 per stick. However, we opted for the set meal (with a much smaller cut of lemang), with either chicken rendang or beef rendang for RM5 per set. Other than the lemang, the restaurant is also known for their ayam bakar (fire-grilled chicken) that is served as a whole leg for RM7.50 — which we also ordered. I absolutely loved my meal!
Now, if those specialties doesn’t tempt you — Lemang To’Ki also sells other local delights like nasi campur (mixed rice), nasi lemak, fried rice, lontong (rice cakes cooked in banana leaf) and char kuey teow (noodles), amongst others.
We were stuffed by the time we were done with lunch. So it was time to head to the next attraction to chill for a bit — the Chamang Waterfalls. The waterfalls is located about a 15-minute drive out of the Bentong town centre, and is a popular picnic spot during the weekends. Entrance to the waterfalls cost RM3 for Malaysians and RM10 for international visitors. There is a carpark available, as well as public toilets and changing rooms. It is pretty safe to play and swim at the base of the falls — and this is where you’ll find the picnicking families. Further up the waterfall is slightly more dangerous; as there are swift flowing waters, slippery rocks, and whirlpools. Reports of serious accidents are not uncommon, so thread with caution.
We spent about an hour or so at the Chamang Waterfalls, lying by the rocks and dipping our feet into the cool waters. It’s was nice as the natural foresty surroundings and the flowing water made the area a little more cooling and refreshing.
Later on in the afternoon, we left the waterfalls and headed back to the town centre of Bentong. On the way, we dropped by one of the many roadside durian stalls (that can be found along the Bentong stretch) for the most delicious fruit in the world! There are a couple of places in Malaysia that are known for supplying the best durians to the nation; and one of it is Bentong. The area is famous for their orchards, and the wide variety of durian it produces during the durian season. While at this random durian stall, we ordered one ‘Musang King’ and one ‘Teka’ variety — and had a wonderful durian experience, as always.
Kow Po Ice Cream House
Now, durians are known to be a heaty fruit (having too much always gives me a sore throat); so what else better to cool our bodies down than some ice cream. So we went back into the Bentong town centre for a treat at the Kow Po Ice Cream House. It is amazing how one of the most famous restaurants in Bentong is this ice cream place… and is therefore always packed with customers. Tour buses stop by here too!
Kow Po Ice Cream House has been around for more than 40 years, and made its name with its home-made traditional ice cream. The ice cream has got this old school taste (that reminds me of my younger years) — and I’d say it has more of the ice, than the cream. There are a variety of flavors to choose, from chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, to coffee and banana. I only had a single vanilla scoop on a cone for RM3.50; but if you’d like to dine in, you can also order scoopfuls of different flavors on a plate. They serve other icy desserts and light snacks too.
And ice cream ended our trip to Bentong. It was evening by the time we left town — and the road out into the highway to Kuala Lumpur got pretty congested. I guess everyone was leaving at the same time we were… so I’d suggest that during your visit, you either leave town slightly earlier or later at night. All in all, I really enjoyed my fun day trip to Bentong — just a simple, no frills, stressless, do-as-we-wished, eat-as-much-as-we-want getaway out of the city.