Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary / Sungai Chiling Waterfall Travel Guide

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Sungai Chiling Waterfall
Sungai Chiling Waterfall

Few people refer to this place as Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary even though it is the official name. The more common names used are “Chiling Falls”, “Chiling Waterfall” and “Sungai Chiling Waterfall”.

It is not surprising, though. Hundreds of locals come here during weekends to see the waterfall. Many of those who are on the way on Fraser Hill make a stop here as well.

Chiling Waterfall does not get a lot of attention from foreign tourists. If you are traveling in Malaysia and you wish to visit an offbeat attraction, this will be it.

It is the Selangor State Fisheries Department’s responsibility to manage the fish sanctuary. The purpose of the sanctuary is to protect a species of fish called mahseer (ikan kelah in Malay). Also, the surrounding forest is a gazetted permanent forest reserve. Thus, you must not do anything that may damage the fish sanctuary and its surrounding when you are here.

Visitors need to trek along Chiling River and cross it six times to reach the waterfall. The path to the waterfall takes visitors through a lush forest with many flora and fauna to see. It is an easy trek but you can expect fallen trees where you need to lift yourself over them.

The river crossings bring the most fun as the water stays chilly all the time, even during the afternoon. On top of that, there are always large shoals of fish in the water. Watching them pouncing on fish feed will double the excitement. Crossing the river is only challenging if you encounter strong water currents. As long as you have a pair of steady feet and strong balancing, it will be easy.

After 30 to 45 minutes of trekking, the 80-meter waterfall will come into view. From far, it looks like a narrow and straight curtain hanging over the rocks. Yet, the roar the water creates as it smashes the rocks below is like a warning to keep your distance. The most daring thing that most will do is to take a dip or swim in the natural pool it created.

You can relax and cool yourself down in the refreshing river water. After that, you can take all the time you need to admire the beauty of the waterfall and its surrounding nature.

Other than hiking to the waterfall, you can also camp, have a picnic or set up a barbecue at the campsite.

Attraction Type

Nature

Name in Local Language

Malay: Santuari Ikan Sungai Chiling / Air Terjun Sungai Chiling

Gallery

Getting There and Around

If you are planning a visit here, your best bet is to drive or take a taxi from the nearest train station.

The entrance to the fish sanctuary sits beside the road leading to Fraser Hill. You will see it not too long after passing by Selangor River Dam (Empangan Sungai Selangor in Malay).

Entrance to Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary
Entrance to Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary

From the wooden arch at the entrance, you need to walk for about 10 to 15 minutes to reach a huge land clearing. This is where you will find the ranger’s hut, ticket counter, and camp site.

This short walk is a nuisance for those who intend to camp here. If you have a lot of food and camping gear to carry to the campsite, you will need to take many walking trips to your car. This is because there is a boom gate at the entrance that prevents vehicles from entering.

By Car

Driving is the most convenient way to reach the fish sanctuary. Also, it allows you to explore nearby towns such as Kuala Kubu Bharu, Fraser Hill, and Ulu Yam.

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If you have a driving license but not a car, consider renting one from either Avis or Hertz.

Your drive is going to bring you onto hilly countryside roads. First off, your GPS device will guide you onto the North – South Expressway. You should then exit at Bukit Beruntung. After the exit, you will soon find yourself heading towards Fraser Hill.

You are near the fish sanctuary when you see a huge water catchment area that looks like a gigantic lake on your left. This “lake” is actually the Selangor River Dam.

About 5 to 10 minutes after the dam, you will cross a small steel bridge. After the bridge, you can see the parking area for the fish sanctuary on your left.

The car park should be full and you will find many cars parked by the side of the road if you reach after 10:00am. To get to the entrance, continue walking along the same road from the steel bridge. It will only take about 5 minutes to reach the entrance.

By Train and Taxi

KTM Komuter Train at Kuala Lumpur KTM Station
KTM Komuter Train at Kuala Lumpur KTM Station

Kuala Kubu Bharu KTM Station is the closest train station to the fish sanctuary.

You can reach the station by taking a KTM Komuter train that is heading towards Tanjung Malim. From Kuala Lumpur, you can buy a ticket and board the train at KL Sentral or Kuala Lumpur KTM Station.

After getting off at Kuala Kubu Bharu KTM Station, you need to hail a taxi to take you to the fish sanctuary. Unlike the city center, unlicensed private hire cars outnumber taxis here.

These drivers are not supposed to ferry fare-paying passengers using a private vehicle. Yet, the lax enforcement of this law makes it possible for them to earn a living this way.

It doesn’t matter if you are taking the unlicensed private hire cars or if you are lucky enough to get a taxi. In both scenarios, you will need to negotiate your fare. These drivers either don’t have or don’t use a meter. They have the bargaining power because of the limited supply of transportation options here.

The fare to go from Kuala Kubu Bharu KTM Station to Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary should be around RM15 to RM25.

Things to Note

  • Bring an extra set of clothes to change because you will get wet from the river crossings.
  • Wear a pair of shoes with good grip for the river crossings.
  • If you are visiting in the afternoon, put on sunscreen lotion to prevent sunburn.
  • Do not leave any valuables inside your car.
  • You can leave inexpensive belongings such as spare clothes at the ticket counter.
  • Use a waterproof bag to store belongings that you will be bringing with you to the waterfall.
  • Follow the signs provided to ensure that you are not lost.
  • Do not cross or swim in the river during or after a heavy rain.
  • Rangers may disallow visitors from trekking to the waterfall during rainy seasons.
  • Move slowly when crossing the river. The rocks on the riverbed can be slippery and sharp.
  • Assist children and elders to cross the river, especially if the water is at their waist level or higher.
  • The water levels can be deep in certain areas around the waterfall. Be extremely careful when you are near it, especially if you do not know how to swim.
  • Don’t leave your rubbish behind.
  • Fishing is a prohibited activity at all areas within the fish sanctuary.

Key Attractions

The 3-level waterfall is the biggest attraction here. That is why many people refer to this place as “Chiling Waterfall” or “Chiling Falls”.

Aside from the waterfall, locals also come here to camp or to have a picnic with their friends and family.

Sungai Chiling Waterfall

Chiling Falls from Far
Chiling Falls from Far

It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to walk from the ticket counter to the waterfall.

The waterfall has three levels, but the public can no longer access the two upper levels. The Fisheries Department made this decision because the upper falls are prone to accidents. The water currents there are stronger, and getting up there involves a steep climb. Falling from the slope into the second level of the waterfall can be fatal.

You can still have lots of fun at the base of the waterfall. Dip your feet into the icy cold water or have a swim with the fishes.

If you are more daring, you can jump off a huge rock near the waterfall into the plunge pool. To do this, make sure you are a good swimmer because the plunge pool is deep. If you are not, make sure there is someone who is a good swimmer around. In case you cannot find your footing after landing in the water, he or she must be able to pull you out.

There are plenty of shaded spots around the waterfall where you can chill. Those who brought light food can lay out a mat by the side of the waterfall or the river to have a picnic.

Some spots near the waterfall can get infested with bees during certain times of the year. Keep an eye out for them when you are choosing a spot to settle down.

River Crossings

Aside from the waterfall, people also rave about their experience with the river crossings.

You need to cross the Chiling River six times to reach Chiling Waterfall.

The hanging bridge which is also the first river crossing.
The hanging bridge which is also the first river crossing.

The first crossing is the easiest. All you need to do is to cross a hanging bridge. This is the only crossing out of the six that does not get you wet. Only four people can cross the hanging bridge at one time.

The muddy trail leading to the second river crossing.
The muddy trail leading to the second river crossing.

After crossing the bridge, you need to walk on a muddy path for about 10 to 20 minutes to reach the next river crossing. The muddy path has countless water puddles. Don’t worry about dirtying your footwear here because they will get drenched later anyway. When you are on the way to the next crossing, always keep in mind that the path should run in parallel with the river. If there is an instance where you don’t see the river or hear the gush of its water, you could be on the wrong path.

Blue signs are in place to mark the start and end of every river crossing so do look out for them before your cross. Also, you should always make sure the current is not too strong, and the water is not too deep.

Second River Crossing
Second River Crossing

The second river crossing will get your shoes and feet wet. It is an easy crossing as the water level is just at about half of your calf. Don’t bother taking your shoes off because walking on the riverbed barefooted is painful. There are pointy and slippery rocks everywhere.

The delightful part of every river crossing is the large number of fishes in the river. They are not scared of humans at all. Some of them might even nibble on your feet.

It does not take long to arrive at the third crossing. The third crossing looks like the second, except that it will now be easier because you know what to expect.

There are two ways to cross the river for the fourth time. You can either cross the river like how you did for the second and third crossing, or you can cross it using a giant log.

The huge log at the fourth river crossing that became a makeshift bridge.
The huge log at the fourth river crossing that became a makeshift bridge.

The giant log is a fallen tree that became a makeshift bridge which you can use to cross the river. The idea of it sounds scary, especially for someone with a poor sense of balance. In fact, most will get shaky legs when they get up on the log. Yet, those who have crossed it will tell you that it is actually stable enough to support up to two people.

You can cross using the makeshift bridge by sitting down and then inching your buttocks towards the opposite end if you have poor balancing.
You can cross using the makeshift bridge by sitting down and then inching your buttocks towards the opposite end if you have poor balancing.

Deep and merciless rapids flow under the log with loud gushes. It will be disastrous for anybody to lose balance and fall. Thus, if you are unsure about your balancing, take your time when you are on the log. If need be, sit on it and inch yourself towards the other side using your buttocks. Else, you can always cross the river like how you did at the second and third crossing.

After four crossings, the fifth crossing might not look that exciting anymore. However, depending on the time of day and water level, the water at the fifth crossing is the clearest. The water is so clear that you can almost see every single grain of sand on the riverbed.

The sixth river crossing, which is also the deepest.
The sixth river crossing, which is also the deepest.

The sixth crossing, which is the final crossing before the waterfall, is the deepest. The water here reaches the waist of an adult. The rise in depth does not imply slow and clumsy currents at all because it is so near to the waterfall. This is the crossing where you need to hold your bags above your shoulders so they don’t get wet. When you are crossing, make your footing is strong enough before you take another step.

After the sixth crossing, you will see the majestic waterfall behind a small veil of trees.

Camp Site

Like the idea of camping by the river? Then you should bring your friends or family members here. Before you do that, make sure you have the permission from the Hulu Selangor District Fisheries Office or the Selangor Fisheries Department. You can contact them at these phone numbers.

The campsite is in front of the ticket counter. You can set up your tent in such a way that its entrance gives you a good view of the river. Despite the nice view, make sure your tent is not too close to the river. Flash floods might happen during rainy seasons. When the water rises, the last thing you want is to have your tent in its way.

At the campsite, you can have a picnic or set up a barbecue. You can also go down to the river to bath or have a swim. Just don’t forget that fishing is not allowed.

Opening Hours

Open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 8:00am to 6:00pm.

Visitors cannot hike towards the waterfall after 3:00pm. This is because the journey to the waterfall can take up to an hour each way.

Admission Fees

RM1.00 per person, including children.

The ranger might collect an extra RM3 for every plastic bag or food container with food inside. The RM3 is refundable if you can show your food waste to the ranger. The idea of this charge is to discourage people from leaving their trash behind at the waterfall.

Aside from paying, you need to register yourself too. Once you made it out from the waterfall, you need to go to the ticket counter again to note down the time you got out. Doing so assures the rangers that nobody is stuck in the forest or at the waterfall.

Ticket Counter at Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary
Ticket Counter at Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary

Camping Fees

To camp in the vicinity of the fish sanctuary, you need to get a permission from the Hulu Selangor District Fisheries Office or the Selangor Fisheries Department. You can give them a call at these phone numbers.

The fees to camp within Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary is RM4 per tent.

On top of the fees, you will need to pay RM50 to RM150, depending on the size of your group, as a deposit. You will get the deposit back once the rangers made sure that the campsite is clean before you leave.

Contact Information

Telephone

Hulu Selangor District Fisheries Office: +60 3 6064 1214
Selangor Fisheries Department: +60 3 5519 0169 / +60 3 5519 0170

GPS Coordinates

3.5943467, 101.7353851

Facilities

  • Toilets
  • Prayer room
  • Rest huts
Toilet and Prayer Room
Toilet and Prayer Room

Parking

The fish sanctuary does not have a car park for the public within its compound.

After driving past Selangor River Dam, you will cross a small steel bridge. After the bridge, there is a small parking area to your left. You should be able to see it because even if you are early and there is no car, hawkers would have started setting up their stalls at the parking area.

Only those who arrive early can get a spot here. When it runs out of space, you can park your car on the roadside as most visitors do. If you are doing this, make sure you remove all the valuables from your vehicle.

Travel Blog Mentions

There are many “chilling at Chiling” blog posts online, but these are the most interesting ones that we think are worth your time.

Visitors Having Fun in the River
Visitors Having Fun in the River

Fashionista’s Escapades: Sungai Chiling

Fareiny Morni from Sarawak shared her experience of visiting Sungai Chiling in January 2016. From her photos, you can see how clear the river water is. Her friends had a mini competition to see who can hold the longest in the water without getting washed away. Sounds fun, but always remember to be careful!

Sungai Chiling Waterfall 2nd Visit @ Kuala Kubu Bharu

Interested to find out how the upper falls of Chiling Waterfall look like? Read this blog post by Bear Lew. It was her second visit to the waterfall, and on both occasions, she ascended to the upper falls. She also shared where to have pre-hike breakfast and post-hike lunch.

West Malaysia: Below Fraser’s Hill

This blog post by Ronald Orenstein illustrates a different side of the fish sanctuary. Instead of highlighting the waterfall, Ronald wrote about its flora and fauna. These include flowers, pitcher plants, butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies. It provides an interesting perspective of the fish sanctuary and we think you should read it!

Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary on Pinterest

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Wayne Liew
Wayne fell in love with traveling and every aspect of it when he traveled to Singapore in 2013. He is a newbie when it comes to traveling and he loves chatting with other travelers to learn from their experiences. Are you a traveler? Let's connect!

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