Most people would not have heard about the sleepy town of Batang Kali. Locals may have seen it marked on a signboard, along the route to Genting Highlands. Some have heard of the 1948 Batang Kali Massacre, where 24 innocent villagers were killed by Scots Guards during the Malayan Emergency.
Located in Hulu Selangor, Batang Kali is close to another town called Ulu Yam. Together they share their authentic Hokkien culture, as well as natural attractions like waterfalls and forests between them.
It was only a couple of years back when Tek Eng Seng, a business owner born and bred in Batang Kali, realized that there was more he could do to introduce the beauty of his hometown, while helping villagers find a different source of income after retirement.
Two years on, it is as if the sleepy town and the surrounding area has stirred, thanks to Eng Seng and his team of local guides. Here are 10 things to see and do in Batang Kali.
1. Visit an organic guava farm
Bet you haven’t seen guavas as large as the ones in this guava farm! Each weighing an average of 1 kilogram, this Taiwanese hybrid is high in Vitamin C and other nutritional goodness, more than normal guavas.
The farm is run by Mr Ho and his sons, who started this local business after moving from Johor to Batang Kali. After showing how guavas are cared for and harvested, you will be treated to succulent, crunchy slices of home-grown guava. If this gets you hooked, you can buy some straight from the farm.
2. Get yourself some local honey
Within this guava farm, there is also a bee farm. Honey is known for its numerous health benefits, and here you can get local honey close to the source.
3. Marvel at beautiful orchids
Did you know that Batang Kali is home to the second largest orchid nursery in Malaysia? World of Phalaenopsis is filled with “Moth Orchids” in a spectrum of vibrant colors, which would definitely tempt the photographer or Instagrammer in you. Apparently, this orchid species is relatively easy to care for and can usually last between 4 to 6 weeks.
4. Wander around the Hokkien village
Since there is a primarily Hokkien Chinese community here, Batang Kali is one of the few places in Malaysia where you can experience authentic Hokkien culture, tradition and food. Walking around the village lets you soak in the laidback, kampung atmosphere.
Here’s an interesting fact: there are five main roads in Batang Kali, each named after a local landmark, such as the school, the shop houses and the temple. It is the only place in Malaysia where the roads still carry their original Hokkien name, created by the villagers themselves.
5. Visit Fu Chuan Miao
From the main road, you can see an ornate arch at the entrance, leading towards the main temple of Batang Kali. Set against a lush backdrop, Fu Chuan Miao has been frequented by locals for years. The open air area is mainly used during festivals, but usually the temple is as quiet and peaceful as the village.
6. Learn to make Loh Mee from scratch
Batang Kali is also known for its signature dish: Loh Mee. This yellow noodles dish served in a thick, starchy gravy, and loaded with meat, vegetables and egg. Traditionally, this piping hot dish is taken with a bit of vinegar, which adds a distinct savory taste.
This dish is so ingrained in their culture that Eng Seng claims every family in the village knows how to cook it! You can easily find a restaurant to indulge in this hearty meal here, but what better way to go local than to make it yourself? Under the guidance of a local, you can learn how to make the noodle from scratch – and it feels more fulfilling when you finally tuck in.
7. See how traditional crackers are made
Sesame crackers (“Mua Lao”) and rice crackers (“Lao Guei”) are traditionally presented as wedding gifts. Nowadays, these crackers can be enjoyed any time of the year. Run by the third generation of the Oh Family, Swee Lan Food Industries has been boasting handmade crackers since 1923. With a local guide, you can go behind the scenes to see how these popular delights are made.
8. Dip into the hot spring
After a long exploration of Batang Kali, visit the humble Hulu Tamu Hot Springs for a dip in the pool. There are actually two different hot springs here. One is owned by the government, while the other is privately-owned, and is more beautifully decorated. Locals believe that the water can ease rheumatism and skin ailments, but most people just come to relax.
9. Visit the Buddha Sakya Tharig Centre
This lesser-known monastery is a curious sight in Batang Kali. Its architectural design and stupas somewhat resemble Thailand, but the monks here practise Tibetan Buddhism.
10. Splash in Sungai Sendat Recreational Park
If you have time to make a detour, you can go to the Sungai Sendat Recreational Park, which is located in Batang Kali Forest Reserve. There are several forest trails, and a waterfall where locals have picnics or go for a swim.
Getting to Batang Kali
Batang Kali is roughly an hour by car from Kuala Lumpur, via B23 Jalan Hulu Yam Bharu – Batu Caves. If you are taking the KTM Komuter, alight at KTM Batang Kali.
To explore Batang Kali like a local, book an experience with Tek Eng Seng, the local expert at LokaLocal. His itinerary covers most of these activities, and you get to see how cultural and vibrant one small town can be.