If you’re going to try to do a self-guided walk up to the Bukit Kiara summit, you will definitely get lost. This popular hikers destination and “green lung” of Kuala Lumpur has many labyrinthine trails that constantly diverge or are not blatantly obvious. I have tried to do this hike on my own several times now without success. I was only able to finally get to the summit recently by doing the trail with a hiking group.
There is a pretty big parking lot on Changkat Abang Haji Openg. At the point where the road narrows, there should be this yield sign with a handmade “Batu” sign stuck to it. There is a trail entrance to the left of this where you will have to duck under a car barrier. The path is still paved as you pass a covered structure, but will quickly turn into a jungle path.
This beginning part is easy, with the trail being flat and easy to see. At some points, you may notice painted markers on the trees. There will be several forks in the road to start, and we mainly stuck to rightmost paths. You should still see civilisation on your left side. There will be a tiresome but not too difficult climb, but after this, it flattens out for a time.
Trees marked with spraypaint
Take the narrow path between a cluster of boulders. There may be this skinny tree that has fallen over the small valley of the trail – continue under it.
At this fork, notice the green paint around the sapling on your right. Stay to the right path, and you should see more identical markers on trees.
Eventually, you should see this patch that forms the beginning of a rock path. Take a left at the next fork.
We took the right at this point, and it became a winding trail up the hill, culminating into this small ascent with muddy footholds. Turn left when you get to the top of it, following the green paint.
After roughly fifteen minutes you should get to this makeshift rest spot where the track opens up and there still may be this mound you can sit on. Once you’ve had a drink, proceed up the hill and turn right at the first fork.
The rest of the trail until the peak is level and uncomplicated. Soon you should come across this cool bamboo grove, where the bamboo has grown so long that it sags under its own weight and creates a tunnel. Keep going straight and keep to the left.
Within a minute, you should see a sign that reads “Twin Peaks.” Stay on this well-worn bike path, enjoying the brightening sun as the canopy opens up. We saw a few monkeys during this stretch, including this unusual species with a black face.
Within five minutes you should see this sign: you’ve made it to the top of Bukit Kiara! With no trees for shade, you’ll be baking up here but try not to rush yourself. You may see some pretty flowers that can only flourish here in the abundant sunshine.
If you want to reliably get back to your car, simply backtrack the way you came. We kept on the track from the summit, taking a roundabout route down to the parking lot. I won’t even try to describe the route we took, as the hike organiser chose a course that is impossible for me to retell, even with pictures. It turned suddenly onto unclear paths, rejoined the main road randomly and turned off from it onto almost hidden trailheads. Even with the hike markers, many of the others in the group took wrong turns and got slightly lost.
If you didn’t drive here, then you will have no need to return to the parking lot at TTDI. You can be adventurous and attempt to find an alternate way down. Use spur of the moment decisions at road forks and see where you end up or try to follow the trail maps on OpenStreetMap that seriously look like a mess of spaghetti. This area is so well travelled that you won’t be completely lost and alone, subsisting on grubs until someone finds you days later. Of course, the most foolproof route is to follow the wide, paved Changkat Abang Haji Openg road all the up to or down from the summit, but where’s the fun in that?
If you made it back to Changkat Abang Haji Openg, there will be much-needed food and drink vendors waiting for you. If you finished the hike where you started at the “Batu” sign, go a little further up where the road narrows and you will find them there. Most popular was a truck selling coconut water in whole coconuts for RM5, and a soy milk and sweets truck. These two will likely be reliably present, but we also had an auntie selling cut fruit and a man selling hot sauce and curry paste from their car boots. However, while we were drinking our coconuts, these two packed up and drove away even though it was only 10:30 am. I guess they couldn’t compete with the coconut guy.
Whether it’s your first time or you know it like the back of your hand, Bukit Kiara is a hike you can do over and over again. There must be hundreds of permutations in the trails that you can take. If you don’t know where you’re going, Bukit Kiara could chew you up and spit you out on the eastern border of Mont Kiara, Sri Hartamas or the edge of TTDI. The summit is just a small part of the hill, with only several paths leading to it, encouraging exploration of this vast green lung. For those who want a more casual walk, the main road has resting gazebos, maps and exercise stations.
My only complaint is that, for a park this size, it desperately needs public bathrooms! I don’t have a problem doing my womanly business in nature, but Bukit Kiara is so popular. There are just too many people on most trails, and there are not enough flat, shielded spots where one can relieve their bladder.
Opening Hours: Open 24 hours
Duration: 2 – 2.5 hours (round trip)
Parking: Yes (free)
Washroom On Site: No