A tale of Bentong and 3 eco-resorts in Pahang for the nature lover in you.
Urbanites often crave for weekend getaways to escape the hustle and bustle of the cities where they spend most of their time in. In the case of Kuala Lumpur, the people are notorious for travelling far and wide for an escape, including driving all the way to Penang for some cendol or heading down to Johor Bahru for mee racun. Although food remains the main reason for Malaysians to plan a quick trip, occasionally a real getaway to unplug from it all is good for the mind and body as well.
Bentong, a historical small town in Pahang, is famous for its markets and fresh produce, due to the vast acres of farms and plantations that surround it. It also serves as a gateway for both Fraser’s Hill and Genting Highlands, two of the most-renowned holiday spots for Klang Valley residents. However, did you know that Bentong is also a good starting point before heading out the various eco-resorts that flank the busy little town?
Before we get to our eco-resort picks, let’s go on a quick run through of what is there to see and do in Bentong town before heading off to your retreat. As most eco-resorts are located far away from town or a restaurant, the resorts expect guests to be self-sufficient and cook their own meals, which is of course part of the experience of disconnecting from the ‘world.’ So in case you are not driving in with your groceries, it is prudent to stop by one of the many marts or markets either to get the ingredients or some food before your drive up.
The Bentong Market opens every morning from 5 AM to 10 AM without fail, and offers a wide range of goods, from vegetables and poultry to fruits and dried sundries. Encompassing street stalls as well as a building, the market is a must-visit to get your hands on some amazing fresh produce and fruits.
Even more impressive is Bentong Walk, the Saturday night-only Bentong extravaganza that brings people of all walks together in the name of fried goodies and street art. Essentially a night market, with the incorporation of art and youth activism, the bazaar has now become a cultural event of the town.
1. Casabrina Vacation Villas
Located in the lush jungle of Raub, Pahang, Casabrina Vacation Villas stands out for the privacy and tranquillity it offers to guests who come to experience luxury in nature. Comprising two luxurious Balinese-inspired villas named Amertani and Aranya decked in picturesque infinity pools, the 6-room-only getaway provides an immersive experience – trees surround the accommodations at almost every turn, each greener than the one before.
Founded by retired high-roller and qigong-enthusiast Felix Tee, the resort attains its Balinese charm from Indonesian architect Anak Agung Yoka Sara, who designed it to be in perfect harmony with the natural environs. Born out of Tee’s desire to live surrounded by nature in his retirement years, Casabrina offers guests various option for them to take it easy, including unadulterated private time at the villas and spa sessions. For anyone who wants to explore the nature around them further, jungle trekking and white-water rafting are also possible.
A staunch supporter of organic living, Tee fully utilises the nature around him – he makes juices out of the fruits in his land and bought from the local markets, he uses his vast land to practice qigong and completely stays away from any form of modern medicine. Incessant cough? Fresh ginger juice three times a day should do it. The best part, he is more than happy to share all the tried and true benefits of the Nature with all the guests who stay in Casabrina. All you have to do is ask the secret to his health!
*The banner image is taken from Villa Amertani.
From Bentong town: 25 minutes
2. Caravan Serai
Much like the namesake ‘caravanserai,’ this little escapade is for those who seek out some adventure while staying within the comforts of a traditional bed and breakfast. That is not to say Caravan Serai is for the weak, for even the most rugged of travellers is sure to find something of interest in this gem of an eco-resort not far from the main road.
Focusing on the idea of ‘glamping’ – glamorous camping or the more comfortable variety of the pedestrian activity – Caravan Serai offers Deluxe Safari Tents that come with a bed, air conditioning/stand fan and an attached bathroom; clearly a far cry from traditional tents. There’s even a river-drawn swimming pool right in front of selected tents, for a quick dip that’s just a zipper away.
The more luxurious offering, though, is the Caravan Suite, a Balinese-inspired mini-villa situated far away from the camping ground, allowing guests to embrace nature in privacy. Apart from the aforementioned pool, other on-site amenities include the Keratong Riverside Restaurant, which serves steamboat, barbeque meals as well as breakfast.
The eco-resort also offers some great outdoor activities for guests to take part in, such as ATV rides and volleyball. However, the main highlight is the Nature Walk, a guided trek through the plantations and jungle that surround the resort grounds, leading to a stroll in the shallow stream that runs across Caravan Serai. Definitely a must try.
From Bentong town: 20 minutes
3. The Plantation Project
One of the hardest to reach locations in the list, The Plantation Project is found deep in the greeneries of Karak, Pahang, past oil palm and rubber plantations, as well as a former quarry. Embracing a wholesome state of being with the nature around, the accommodations feature an open concept – devoid of walls that separate you from the immediate foliage of durian trees. This of course translates to sleeping in mosquito nets which guard you from some of the fauna you may never encounter outside of the area.
Built for families seeking some quality time, the stay options at The Plantation cater to large groups of guests, with fully equipped kitchen, dining room, and living room. In line with its eco-friendly stance, no air-conditioning or water heater is provided, leaving visitors at the mercy of nature, so to speak. Even the charming swimming pool draws its water from the river that runs not far from the resort.
Due to its place in the middle of Karak wilderness, various nature-based activities are available for guests. A must-try is the river tubing, a fun communal activity in which partakers just float down the river on a large tube following the current, under the caretaker’s watchful eyes. Bon fires could be requested too, while night time brings forth a sky full of stars – if the weather allows.
From Bentong town: 40 minutes
Wait no longer and head to Bentong for your own jungle adventure today!
Latest posts by Vimal Palasekaran (see all)
- No Bowling Shoes Needed: The Bowling Club @ The Intermark Mall - 21 December 2018
- Afro-Caribbean Flavours in the Heart of KL - 21 December 2018
- Datuk Sulaiman’s Treasures - 14 December 2018