Pumbaa: Timon, ever wonder what those sparkly dots are up there?
Timon: They’re fireflies. Fireflies that, uh… got stuck up on that big bluish-black thing.
Pumbaa: Oh, gee. I always thought they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away.
Stars have always been a point of interest throughout human existence. They’re glimmers of hope through dark periods, a form of divine presence, a reason to believe in magic. In earlier ages, voyagers crossed turbulent oceans and marched miles across dry deserts trusting the stars to lead them.
And till today, stars have not lost their significance. We still find them setting the mood in cheesy romantic movies and referred to in modern music. How did that Coldplay song go again? Look at the stars, look how they shine for you.’
Unfortunately, urbanization in modern times means city dwellers don’t really get too much time wishing upon a star. Heavy light pollution has obscured our night skies and made it almost impossible to get any hint of a sparkle. Despite being ever-present, stars are not as prominent as they were before.
Our saving grace is: if we put enough effort into travelling a little further away from the cityscapes, we stand a good chance of being greeted by the billions of stars that linger over us!
Oh, but where should you go? Worry not, just read on. That’s why you’re here right?
Let us be the light that guide you to the stellar spots for Stargazing in Peninsular Malaysia.
Or as Timon calls it, fireflies that got stuck up on that big bluish-black thing.
1 – Broga Hill, Selangor
Lookout point at Broga Hill as the sun dips
What’s stargazing without a little hike? Broga Hill stands at just 400 metres high and is one of the best places for recreational outdoor outings. However, its popularity usually stems from its sunrise view more so than a stargazing haven. That’s good news! As now you know there won’t be as much people crowding the peak for a peek at the stars. It does get cold in the night though, so you may want to pack up a sweater to curb the chilly night. Headlamps to navigate your way up are also hugely recommended especially if you are trekking in the evening where it can get dark pretty quickly.
There have been people who camp overnight, so that’s an option you should definitely look into. Just remember to always pick up after yourselves and not leave any litter lying about. Respect the hills and don’t spoil the experience for other hikers!
2 – Semenyih Dam, Selangor
Milky Way over Semenyih Dam | Photo by Hakiim Mislam
Okay okay, so I know many of us couch potatoes won’t be too keen on hiking. And at night too! (I can totally relate). Well don’t throw your plans out the door just yet. The Semenyih Dam doesn’t require trekking through the forest, but it does take a little bit of a drive especially if you’re around the KL City Centre or the Petaling/Subang Jaya regions. The road goes up winding and hilly roads, so make sure you’re prepared for that.
Once you’ve reached, you’ll be met with a beautiful lake surrounded by trees. Since Semenyih Dam is immersed in the city, there’s no guarantee that the Milky Way will reveal itself. But if your lucky stars are out then you may find it streaking across the sky above silhouetted undulating hills.
3 – Kuala Kubu Bharu
Starry nights in Kuala Kubu Bharu | Photo by Hafidz Abdul Kadir
Kuala Kubu Bharu town remains one of the more popular spots among stargazers. Just 45 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur, many have revered the location as an ideal getaway from the city due to its remoteness and antique vibes. Since the hilltop town is somewhat isolated, it shouldn’t be too difficult finding a place for some astrophotography.
If you are looking for a specific area, you should definitely check out the Sungai Selangor dam. There’s a lookout point which overlooks the entire body of water, but you may still find it worthwhile to drive along the lengthy stretch of road in search of better angles. Or else, just drive around the town and chase down the stars!
4 – Mersing, Johor
Streaks of the Milky Way at Pulau Mawar | Photo by Gin Tay
Next up on our list is the coastal town of Mersing, Johor. Oftentimes, many people just visit the town as a departure point to Pulau Tioman and Pulau Rawa. But don’t get on that ferry just yet! This quaint town has a lot to offer, especially for stargazing.
Branching just out of Mersing is a small island named Pulau Mawar. From what we gathered, people will often park their cars at Mersing Beach and make their way to the island. It requires about 10-15 minutes of walking, after which you’ll need to cross a trail covered by bushes and trees. A little bit of a trek, but it takes you to a lesser light-polluted area where the stars shine brighter.
If you’re not quite up to the hassle, making do with Mersing Beach itself has also proven to provide some stellar night shots.
Reminder: you’re at a fishing town, so don’t neglect that hearty seafood dinner before you go!
5 – Perhentian Island, Terengganu
Stars and crashing waves | Photo by Klaus Waibel
What comes to mind when you think of Perhentian? More often than not, it’s the pristine blue waters. And who can argue with that? Perhentian Island has been famous as a diving and snorkelling paradise.
But on a clear night, you’ll be able to catch the glimmering stars that hover over the island. There are a few building and resorts, but nothing severe enough to dilute the scenery. It’ll just be you, the stars, and the crashing waves.
To get to Perhentian, you’ll need to reach via a speedboat where you’ll be riding on choppy waters. So for astrophotographers hauling along your gear, ensure that your luggage is packed safely!
After you’re settled, just wait for night to ease in and point your cameras to the dark skies!
6 – Chuping, Perlis
Stellar shots at Ladang Tebu Chuping | Photo by Fakrul Jamil
Quite possibly one of the lesser known areas for stargazing is in the town of Chuping in Perlis. The town itself holds 22,000 hectares of plantations, consisting mostly of rubber estates and sugar cane plantation. The hefty amount of agriculture means there’ll be miles and miles of plantation fields stretching over the horizon, with minimal skyscrapers to interfere.
And minimal skyscrapers = minimal light pollution, the perfect ingredient for an epic stargazing adventure!
Admittedly, we’re not too familiar with ins and outs of Chuping, but Ladang Tebu Chuping seems to be quite a spot to set yourselves up for a good night of astrophotography.
7 – Cameron Highlands, Pahang
Milky Way above Cameron Highlands | Photo by Hakiim Mislam
It’s impossible to reach for the stars, but you can get closer to them by heading upwards to the hills of Cameron Highlands!
Preferably, drive away from the populated spots such as Laban Rata and Brinchang. Those are the busiest areas and you’ll probably find yourself fruitless if you tried. Best to head out on your own and find a dark spot away from town.
Based from what we’ve read, the roads leading to the Boh Tea Estate and Bharat Tea Plantation seems to be ideal locations. Your only obstacle would probably be finding a spot to park your car, and in doing so you’ll need to be aware of moving vehicles.
Once you’ve got that out of the way, the sky is yours to pull-off those Nat Geo-worthy photographs.
Keep in mind that you’re in the highlands and your surroundings may be shrouded in mist! So along with a thick sweater, remember to pack a good amount of patience. You may need it!
8 – Gunung Chemurung-Berembun-Langsir (Gunung CBL), Terengganu
Shimmering lights on the Gunung CBL route | Photo by mastura_yuza
This is more of a hiking expedition than it is a stargazing spot. The route on Gunung CBL will take you across three different locations that will bring the stars closer to you. People often take a 3 day 2 night or a 2 day 1 night climbing trip while camping at the campsites along the way. The trek first takes you to Chemurung Waterfall, then to Gunung Berembun, and finally to Langsir Waterfall.
It’s a proper nature immersion getaway from city that will bring you deep into nature’s belly and grant access to the best sights of the star-filled sky.
It’s best to avoid the monsoon seasons as the river crossings tend to be dangerous during that period, plus to also avoid potential mudslides. There are only limited permits to hike given our per day, and you’ll have to brace through hours of hiking each day, so make sure you’re at a reasonable level of fitness before you decide to undertake this climb.
There are tons of other stargazing spots in Malaysia which you should definitely uncover. We’ve yet to even touch on the spots you can find on our East Malaysian cousins!
Have you been to any of this spots? Or think we’ve missed out on your favourite stargazing spots? Let us know so we can check it out! 🙂