Summary: Gunung Gading is the park where you can see the biggest flower in the world. Here is a description of how to go there on your own, what can you expect, what to bring, and all you need to know.
$1=RM (MYR) 3,21
Even if you’re not a botanist or if you think that taking a day trip just to see a flower isn’t worth it, remember that this is not just any flower, but the biggest flower in the world. In other words, it is something unique, and that makes you think twice. I wasn’t very enthusiastic at the beginning, but this visit turned out to be a must-do in Sarawak.
If you have money and don’t want to bother with public transportation, you can take a day tour, which will cost you RM 210 pp. We decided to go there on our own, as in Malaysia public buses are good and it is easy to travel around this way. We ended up saving RM 300, which was worth the effort.
To go to Gunung Gading you have to take a bus to the town of Lundu. The bus leaves from the Sentral bus station, which is located outside of Kuching, “just after the airport,” so you have to take a taxi (RM 25/30) or a bus to Kuching Sentral. It takes between 20 to 30 minutes to go there—probably a little bit more if you take the bus, depending on traffic. A friend kindly took us there so we didn’t have to take a taxi.
The first bus to Lundu is at 8:15 am and costs RM 12 one-way, and the ride takes two hours. Make sure to be there at least 15 minutes before the bus leaves. We bought our tickets at the counter.
Below is the timetable:
Depart from Kuching Sentral
8:15 am, 11:00 am, 2:00 pm and 4 pm
Depart from Lundu
8:00 am, 11:00 am, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm
Once you arrive in Lundu you have to take a taxi or a van to go to the national park. Check if there are other people in the bus who are going to Gunung Gading so that you can share the taxi with them. That’s what we did. The taxi cost RM 15. When we arrived at the park, the taxi driver agreed to come back and pick us up when we’d finished. The last bus for Kuching is at 4:00 pm.
We paid RM 20 pp entrance fees. We then hired a guide. You don’t have to, but it is better to take a guide who will lead you straight to the flower (unless you want to search for it in the forest). The Rafflesia is usually not very far from the HQ, but it is not on the trails, so I don’t know how easy it is to find it alone. We shared the fare for the guide (RM 30) with the same people from the bus and taxi. The guide we had was very nice and gave us interesting information about the Rafflesia. We then went to see the flower, which is quite amazing actually. We took many photos and stayed a long time admiring the flower, which was kind of stinky. Our guide also gave us information about the forest itself, which is a primary forest. She also told us about the species of trees, plants and mushrooms. She even showed us a beehive inside a tree and let us listen to the noise of the bees inside the tree. This was AWESOME.
There are seven waterfalls in the park but you can’t swim in all of them. Everyone told us that we should go to waterfall 7, which was the best. It took us about an hour to reach it. The trail is not very difficult, but it is still a trek and is not like walking in the street—the trail goes up and down. Make sure you have water and snacks (we only had water and this was definitely not enough). Waterfall number 7 is indeed beautiful. We refreshed ourselves in the water, which gave us some energy back after this tiring walk. The pools are not very large to swim in, and the water is quite cold. However, as we were sweating a lot, it was delightful, so we soaked ourselves and washed our clothes too. Watch for the bees, as a lot will gather around you. Try not to freak out—they are harmless until you kill one.
The way back was easier because we took our time and already knew the way! We stopped several times on the way to enjoy the forest and came back to the HQ, where we discovered another natural pool.
We shared the taxi to Lundu and the one in Kuching with the same people (we had agreed to do so in the morning). We were back in Kuching around 6 pm.
The whole tour cost us RM 134. A friend took us to Kuching Sentral in the morning. We then shared all the taxis and the guide with other people. If you’re totally alone and don’t find anyone to share the transportation with (which is unlikely), this would cost you RM 164.
●You have to bring snacks with you FROM KUCHING. We didn’t find any grocery stores or supermarkets in Lundu as we thought we would. There are only coffee shops and restaurants. We had food there when we came back from the national park but we badly missed snacks while trekking. It was a mistake going without any food. They don’t sell anything in the national park—they only provide toilets.
●Take good walking shoes and insect repellent.
●Be sure that you are on the bus in advance as sometimes buses leave before the scheduled time.
●We wouldn’t go to the last waterfall, so that we would be able to spend more time in the forest just sitting and enjoying being there, because after having done that kind of trekking a lot we found that when you walk in the forest you don’t enjoy it as much as if you just stay at some point. It is also better if you want to spot wildlife.
●We would take food with us and have a picnic in the forest instead of trekking.
●We would go and swim in the first waterfall or the pool near to the HQ rather than going to waterfall number 7.
●Spend more time with the guide and the stinky flower.