Once the site of government homes and then an unofficial landfill, Tapak Taman Tugu was saved from commercial developers who probably wanted to put another crappy mall on the spot. Instead, it was converted to a 66-acre public park and conservation site with almost 5 kilometres of trails.
By partnering with the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), over a thousand trees in Taman Tugu have been marked for preservation. More trees, including indigenous species, are being planted on-site within nurseries to eventually be moved into the main forest area.
This park is so clean that it’s hard to believe that not long ago it was a dumping ground. Over 150 truckloads of trash have been cleared away from this site since its conversion. With its well-marked trails and low difficulty that even children can enjoy, this is a favourite spot for many Malaysians to enjoy nature.
How To Get Here & Parking
Taman Tugu is the green space directly above the Perdana Botanical Gardens. If you’re taking a Grab, the official website says to put “Taman Tugu Nursery” as your drop-off location. However, this doesn’t come up in Grab. Instead, I recommend that you can set your destination point as “Tugu View Cafe.” It’s just a short walk from Tugu View Cafe to the main entrance, or you can ask your driver to take an extra fifteen seconds to drop you off at the Taman Tugu entrance once you’re in the car.
Parking is free at the Taman Tugu Nursery parking lot from 7 am to 6:30 pm. Make sure to leave on time, because they threaten that there’s a RM50 fine for leaving after 6:30 pm. The nursery car park is a big lot, but if it’s full, there are lots at the eastern edge of the site at Padang Merbork (5-minute walk) and Lake Gardens (15-minute walk). These lots may not offer free parking, however.
The nearest metro stations are Bank Negara and Masjid Jamek stations, but these are seriously far away. You’ll be walking for at least 30 minutes next to busy highways before reaching Taman Tugu.
Admission Fee & Hours
Entrance to the Taman Tugu Conservation Site is completely free. They do accept donations at a table near the parking lot, but they by no means beg or guilt visitors into donating by constantly calling attention to it.
The hours of operation are 7 am to 6:30 pm, with the last entry at 5:45 pm. At 6 pm, a whistle will sound across the park so you know to get moving to the exit.
There is the main trail (marked in green and yellow on the map) that is just over 3 kilometres in distance. This should take around an hour to an hour and a half to complete if you don’t stop to rest. You can read my dedicated post on the Taman Tugu trail for extensive detail on what to expect during the hike.
The nursery trail is only 1 kilometre long. I haven’t walked this yet, but I will update with an informative post on the nursery trails in the future.
The toilets are at the nursery parking lot. It looks like an ugly concrete building from the outside, but honestly, these are the best toilets I’ve seen in a Malaysian park system. There are no fees at all to visit Taman Tugu, so I don’t know where they got the funding to upkeep such a nice public toilet.
There were four stalls in the women’s – no squatters, all sitting style. Each toilet was in its own enclosed room with the walls and door extending to the floor and ceiling for maximum privacy. Inside the stall was clean, dry and with no mysterious smell. There was no toilet paper in the stalls, but there was a well-stocked dispenser in between the second and third stall that you can gather beforehand. The large communal sink has surprisingly good water pressure. The soap dispenser was full and the soap inside it was, for once, not watered down.
After a jungle hike on a sweltering day, what is the only thing anyone would want? A shower! There were also two roomy shower stalls in the women’s (I’ll assume the men’s has the same). If you bring a towel and a change of clothes, you can end your visit to Taman Tugu with a refreshing rinse.
Food & Drink
Next to the parking lot there is a small souvenir desk set up where someone dressed as security might be tending it. This security guard/souvenir merchant/park guide is truly a multitasker. He’s got everything you might want on a long nature walk: sanitizing hand gel, mosquito repellent, and a small fridge with a limited selection of drinks including coconut water, 100 Plus and iced Milo on this day. Also occupying prime real estate at his tent were novelty Taman Tugu souvenirs. There were water bottles, hats, eco bags and t-shirts for adults and children. They actually didn’t look half bad and would make a decent keepsake. The donation box is located here if you want to support the conservation efforts at Taman Tugu.
For proper makan, you’ll need to leave Taman Tugu. Halfway between Taman Tugu and Tugu Negara (the National Monument), there will be a simple outdoor food court. This is less than a five-minute walk from the main entrance. Google maps has it pinned as “Tugu View Cafe,” but don’t get your hopes up, there’s not much of a view to be had. This is a very simple eatery where you can get basics like ayam goreng, curries, and veggies from metal trays. Drinks are ordered from a table at the back. Though there’s no obvious menu, they seemed to have a variety of juices (I got iced lychee for RM3.50) and the usual mamak beverages on offer. Everything is paid for at one cashier desk.
From this food court, there is a narrow alley with stairs leading down to the National Monument (next to a small communal sink). Descend the first flight and there will be a no-frills convenience store where you can buy branded juices, sodas and iced coffee from their fridge.
The Taman Tugu map also shows that there are some food stalls back up Jalan Berjasa at the Lanai Kijang entrance down the unnamed road, but I didn’t check this out. However, I would recommend just getting food at the Tugu View Cafe. It’s more reliably open for business and the ambience is also nicer (as nice as an outdoor food court can be, anyway) since you’re not eating directly next to a road. On this day, there was also a busking band providing pleasant tunes. There was enough variety at Tugu View Cafe that you could probably find something you want to eat and the reviews on Google seem good.
When To Visit
The Taman Tugu trails are an easy walk for people of all fitness levels. I’ve heard that this place can get very busy on weekends. Many Malaysians flock to this site to get their weekend exercise.
If you’re desperate to avoid other humans on the trail, the obvious recommendation is to come on a weekday. However, I’m going to assume that you’re not a shameless slacker and that you have an actual full-time job that only leaves you with weekends for your leisure time.
You can try what we did and plan your visit for a long weekend. A long weekend is when many KL denizens take a vacation out of the city or go back to the kampong to be with family.
On a regular weekend, an overcast day may scare off the crowds. It’s not such a good idea to go during heavy rain. Not only is it unpleasant, but you may be stuck waiting anyway as security may restrict entry until the storm has passed. However, if you manage to slip in before the rain hits, you can walk the trail as normal since no one is going to kick you out once you’re inside. You’ll be a little wet, but it is highly unlikely you’ll have to dodge other hikers in this situation. Savour the solitude and that jungle rain sound.
You can also try going early when the park opens at 7 am. I doubt any families or casual weekend warriors will wake up that early to hike through Taman Tugu.
Official Website: http://tamantuguproject.com.my/en/