Gunung Pulai is a real mountain hike through the Malaysian jungle, easily doable as a fun day trip from Singapore.
Gunung Pulai Hiking Trail Map
Get the route by downloading the .gpx or .kml file below. For navigation with Maps.me on your mobile phone, simply download the .kml file and open to add it to the Maps.me bookmarks.
This walk starts from a road on the west side of Gunung Pulai. You can park on the edge of the road – it’s a small fee to drive in. To drive here from Singapore (either Woodlands Causeway or Tuas Link) takes 40 minutes to just over 1 hour once you’re on the Malaysian side.
If you don’t have a car, you can take a Grab once on the Malaysian side or catch a bus from JB Sentral bus terminal to Kulai and then take a Grab from there. The bus takes around 1 hour, and the final Grab about 15 minutes. We stayed overnight in Kulai so we could get an early start on the next day on the mountain. However, you could also stay overnight in Johor Bahru where you can find both cheap and luxury hotel options.
If you do take public transport, you have the adventurous option to hike right over Gunung Pulai Mountain Range from the west to the east side, and then take a shorter Grab (about 30 minutes) back to Tuas Link or the Causeway.
If you don’t have a car and don’t want to rely on public transport and/or Grab, you can charter a private car with a driver* for the day. They will pick you up from where you live in Singapore, drive you across the border and wherever you want to go for the day before returning to Singapore.
Tips for Gunung Pulai Hike
- Early mornings are a good time to enjoy this walk to avoid the heat of the day and be back in Singapore by late afternoon.
- You don’t need a permit to walk up the track, but you need a permit and guide to hike along the trails through the jungle (see Permit Box below).
- Take plenty of water and snacks. It’s hot work and you sweat a lot. With no water on the trail, carry at least 2 litres per person.
- The trails are steep and the mud can be very slippery when wet. In bad weather, use the paved road.
- It makes more sense to walk up the trails and down the road.
- We combined this hike with a heritage walking tour around Johor Bahru on Saturday. We stayed overnight in Kulai, though there are more accommodation options in Johor Bahru, and did this hike on Sunday before returning to Singapore (after the inevitable quick shop!).
- For a weekend in Johor, check out our Walking Trail around Johor Bahru. Or discover other great hikes on our Singapore Hiking Page.
Gunung Pulai (Mount Pulai)
From the road, head upwards towards the gate. Before the gate, instead of trudging up the paved road, we headed right and up the steep path through the jungle. We kept on this trail all the way to the top. There are markers on the trees and posts on the ground, so it’s not that hard to follow.
Gunung Pulai Permit
If you just walk up the paved road to the top of Gunung Pulai, you do not need a permit. However, if you want to hike on the smaller trails through the jungle, you officially need a permit and a Forest Mountain Guide (in Malay a Malim Gunung Perhutanan, or MGP). In reality, most people hike without a permit or guide, but it’s best to be safe. An online system is currently being developed to book, but for now you have to contact one of the following people via Whatsapp for a permit:
|Name||Puan Khairunnisa binti Mayang|
|Phone||+607-2242211 / +6019-9065994|
|Name||Puan Noriziana binti Mat Ropi|
|Phone||+607-2242211 / +6011-11972257|
You need to submit the application at least 3 days before the hike. Permits cost RM10/30 for citizens/non-citizens. For more information, email [email protected].
Whether you have a guide or not, it is highly recommended that you have an offline map such as Maps.Me that shows your position and the location of the trails. If you do get lost it would be hard to find yourself again without this.
You can also join the trail through the jungle after walking 1 km up the road. It’s then signed on your right and you should see the distance markers. Taking the road initially misses out on some climb since the road heads around a small hill, while the jungle path heads right over it.
After the first marker which says 0 metres distance, it’s then a steep climb up. A few hundred metres later, the path becomes less steep and you’ll find yourself on a ridge. After a brief respite of relatively flat walking, you’ll soon reach the final steep section up to the highest ridge at the top of Gunung Pulai mountain range. There are some large muddy ‘steps’ here with ropes to help, but the ropes are not needed since each ‘step’ is quite flat and it’s not that difficult.
Gunung Pulai Peak
Once you reach the top ridge you’ll really notice that the land drops away steeply on either side. Head left along the path at the top, and you’ll soon reach the unexpected top. It’s unexpected because huge granite boulders appear out of nowhere. Because the very top of Gunung Pulai is closed to the public, this point is the unofficial peak (though it’s not quite the highest point you’ll reach.
There are some views from the granite boulders, though there are better views slightly further along the ridge. You’ll walk through some green ferns and on the left a small clearing at the edge of the ridge lets you look over the tree-covered mountain ridges below.
Continuing further along the ridge, you’ll soon reach the paved road. Head upwards and you can hike about 600 metres further before you reach a no-entry trespassing sign. From here there are some views, but there’s a better viewpoint nearby.
To reach the better viewpoint head slightly back down the road and left up to some transmitter towers. Head along the path at the edge of the fence and just around the fence corner, you’ll reach a lovely view and a Malaysian flag. From here you can see all the way down to the outskirts of Johor Bahru.
Hiking Back Down Gunung Pulai
The safest and easiest way down is to take the paved road. It’s quite quick, especially compared to climbing upwards on the trail through the jungle. You’ll soon end up back at the road and car park at the bottom of the mountain.
Alternative Route Down
If you didn’t drive but came by public transport (i.e bus & Grab), there is an alternative route down that leads to the east side of the mountain, from where it’s possible to get another Grab back to central Johor Bahru. This route is explained below.
Adventurous Route to the other side of Gunung Pulai
This route down was fairly adventurous, and only for those with hiking experience. Please see the WARNINGS below. Maps.Me or some other map on your phone with GPS is essential in case you get lost. The path is fairly well marked, but there are a couple of route choices and it’s much more remote – there are fewer people to follow, especially in the beginning.
This longer route is 13 km with 680 metres climb. It’s quite a lot tougher than heading back down the same way because it involves climbing a second peak when you’re already tired! It’s only an extra 100 metres up or so, but it feels a lot further. Make sure you have enough water.
There are some lovely views on this route, actually better than the normal hike. It’s also nice to wander by yourself in the middle of the jungle and listen to the sounds of monkeys and birds. We were extremely lucky and even saw a Raffles Banded Langur!
Alternative Route Brief Description
From the viewpoint at the edge of the transmission towers, the path heads down from the next fence corner along. It doesn’t look altogether promising but this is the correct trail. Confirm with your phone GPS and map. The route heads mainly downwards with a few smallish uphills, before a much longer and tiring climb to another peak. Make sure to head left to the viewpoint, a great point for a snack and a refreshing break.
From this viewpoint, continue heading down, down, down and checking your map every so often. There are some minor stream crossings, and eventually you reach a fence with a gap in it that leads out of Gunung Pulai Recreational Forest and into an overgrown palm oil plantation.
The Blue Quarry, or Tasik Biru
Continue along by the fence and you’ll soon spy the emerald-blue quarry on your left. Be very careful when taking photos of the quarry – it’s not Singapore – there are no barriers between you can a very long drop. The cliff edges are unstable so keep way back.
There’s a very steep and sometimes slippery path right down by the quarry, or head back out to find a gentle track that eventually winds its way down to the bottom and meets up again with the steep path. Both ways come out in a muddy flat wasteland area and you’ll soon reach the gravel road on the other side.
Grab won’t be able to reach you here, so you must head further out onto the main road. Either follow the gravel road, or head through the flat gravel area ahead of you, opposite where you met the road. You need to head left through the middle of here and you’ll come out at some form of grassy park with a car park on the left. From here, or the road just nearby, a Grab can find you and take you back to Johor Bahru.
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WARNINGS for the Alternative Route
Firstly, this route is not that well-travelled, especially between the top of Gunung Pulai and the top of the secondary peak to the east. There won’t be any people to help you if you have an accident. After that, you will see some local hikers who climb from the east of the mountain range only up and back from this secondary peak. Make sure you have Maps.Me, or another app that shows the trail and your location on it. Check regularly to make sure you stay on the trail.
Secondly, the lower part of this trail near the blue quarry is technically out of bounds and you are trespassing. The several local hiking groups we saw didn’t seem to care about this, but one group did tell us we were technically trespassing. There is a sign about this (mostly in Malay with some English) when you leave the forest just before you reach the road at the bottom.
Thirdly, after you leave the jungle you will first arrive on a dirt road. Grab drivers find it extremely hard to get here, I’m not even sure if public cars can drive here. You must walk 1 km further, through a slightly strange gravel pit area along some dirt trails to reach a car park. This is where many hikers park to start the hike. From here, you can easily order a Grab.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to hiking Gunung Pulai. To explore the nearby city, check out our Johor Bahru Walking Trail, or travel further afield to explore Malacca or Kuala Lumpur. For other hiking ideas check out our Singapore Hiking page.
FAQs for Gunung Pulai Hike
Gunung Pulai is a mountain located in Johor State, Malaysia, roughly 25 km northwest of central Johor Bahru. It’s roughly 40 minutes to 1 hour’s drive from the border with Singapore.
The hike up and back down Gunung Pulai from the western side takes roughly 4 – 5 hours. It’s about 9.3 km in distance with 570 metres of climb.