Kuala Sepetang is a fisherman’s town, and the place exudes a certain kampung-chic that other sites in Malaysia can’t match. This is because Kuala Sepetang was one of the earliest oil palm plantations in Malaysia, and for this reason, kampung-life here has evolved with the introduction of new technology. Nowadays, Kuala Sepetang has become a hotspot for seafood lovers, nature enthusiasts, and local historians who want to get off the beaten track.
The mangrove-lined coast of Kuala Sepetang, which extends all the way north to Kuala Kurau, the lovely fishing village, is well-known to people. The Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve, which features a boardwalk that passes through these dense mangroves and allows you to observe these trees and their roots up close, is the best method to go on foot about this fantastic ecosystem. You’re likely to see local birds and other creatures like mudskippers, common inhabitants of these mangroves.
Kuala Sepetang is one of Malaysia’s most significant charcoal-producing regions. The mangroves provide excellent wood for cutting and burning, with around 1000 hectares of local mangroves cut each year to supply it. To ensure it is preserved, the same amount is replanted in a 30-year cycle, all under the supervision of Malaysia’s Forestry Department.
For that, you should visit Khay Hor Holdings charcoal factory, which has been handed down by generations and is now run by Mr Chuah. On free tours, visitors can observe the giant brick kilns where the various stages of charcoal production from drying to burning are demonstrated, including rows of chopped mangrove woods waiting to be thrown into the kilns. If you come at the right time, you could witness workers loading more wood onto trucks in front of the plant.
You won’t realize how close you are to the sea until you reach this famous bridge that spans Sungai Reba, a minor tributary of Sungai Sepetang. This is possibly Kuala Sepetang’s most beautiful location, providing a magnificent view of how the local homes cling to the water where hundreds of fishing boats are moored like floating cars. There is also an old ferry station that is now covered with a corrugated iron roof, allowing you to visit at any time of day.
The Port Weld Scenic Bridge leads down into the Chinese section of Kuala Sepetang, known as Kampung Seberang. It’s a beautiful network of tiny streets that can be travelled on foot or by motorbike. The waterfront is dotted with old homes, which are still entirely constructed of wood. On the waterfront, old houses are next, alternating with Chinese shrines. Some homes are built on stilts, and some have been converted into lovely homestays.
The charm of visiting here is to walk about and watch the local Chinese elders recline on their porches and spend an afternoon noshing in one of the many homes converted into coffee shops. At the very least, you’ll have a pleasant hour meandering around these back lanes. Still, it may be considerably longer if you’re able to communicate with locals who are always interested in talking to visitors who take the time to engage with them.
Apart from the Chinese village of Kampung Seberang, there is also the Malay established village, Kampung Menteri, slightly outside of the main town. Developed next to a bend in the estuary where egrets and other birds come through among the mangroves, Kampung Menteri is bordered by Malay homes and is the major prawn fishing and collecting site. You may go here to watch them at work with their day’s catch. You may also buy fresh prawns from them for a reasonable price.
Kuala Sepetang was formerly the vital Port Weld during British Colonial Periods. It served as the final terminus of the Taiping-Port Weld railway line, which opened in 1885 and was Malaya’s first railway. The old railway station sign, printed in English, Malay, Tamil, and Chinese letters, stands proudly in town today. You can still see remnants of the railway track as well. There isn’t much else left; nevertheless, it’s an essential historical memory to visit in Kuala Sepetang.
The Koperasi Nelayan Kuala Sepetang, formerly the Port Weld train station warehouse from 1885 and is still accessible today, is located near the wooden Terengganu Fishermen Cooperative.
Kuala Sepetang’s major pastime is to go on one of the numerous boat cruises offered. Most people go on a regular tour of Kuala Sepetang’s most notable sights on the water. Six people are the minimum number for one boat, and each boat costs RM28 for the signature two-hour tour that includes a visit to a floating fish farm, watching eagles feeding, and driving up and down the coastal mangrove area. You may also converse with the crewmen if you have your group customizing your trip.
One of these boat trips is well worth taking if you have never been to Kuala Sepetang before since it allows you to get a feel for the water aspect of the region and learn more about the mangroves that surround it.
Don’t miss out on seeing this museum built by Ngah Ibrahim, who held the title Orang Kaya Menteri Paduka Tuan. The exhibits cover topics such as the politics and history of Taiping and Kuala Sepetang before the British takeover of Malaya. The cost of entry is entirely free, so you’re encouraged to go and get your dose of history during your journey to the city.
An “eagle feeding” is included on every Kuala Sepetang boat tour: a boon for wildlife photographers. It simply entails boatmen throwing chicken skin into the sea to attract eagles. This isn’t the sort of tourism activity that could be considered sustainable, but it does take place and is widespread. You’ll undoubtedly get some excellent photographs out of it, however, exercise caution if you plan to do anything similar in the future.
The waters off Kuala Sepetang are a fantastic location to view Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins. The ideal time to observe them is just before sunrise, so don’t be led astray by tour operators who claim otherwise. The most excellent approach to seeing the dolphins is staying at one of the lodgings for the night and going on an early-morning excursion. Khairul of Kuala Sepetang Ecotourism is a recommended local guide. His tour costs between RM450 and RM650 for a group of 3 to 10 people (RM150 per person).
Kuala Sepetang, an intriguing fishing village located in one of Malaysia’s most important coastal mangrove areas and is an ever-growing tourist hub. A trip here will undoubtedly make you want to stay longer and explore more.