WINNER THIS WEEK in Ulu Legong, Kedah
Open 24 hours, it is a popular spot with natural hot springs. The entrance fee is RM3 (adult) and RM1 (child).
You can dip your feet into the hot pool. If you can stand the heat, you can even immerse your whole body. But be warned: The water is very hot, so it is not advisable to jump in at once. Dip your feet first and slowly get used to the temperature.
Over the years, the local authority has done a great job in sprucing up the place and equipping it with good public amenities while visitors care enough to leave the place as clean as they find it.
There are five pools. The main pool is the hottest and no one ever takes a dip in here as steam can be seen rising from it. You can even boil eggs in it. It is also the source of the hot spring water supply for the other pools. There are two for adults, one for children and one for female visitors who want privacy. Temperatures range between 30°C and 60°C.
Apart from it being relaxing, people with ailments and skin problems come here for therapeutic treatment and to take advantage of the healing properties of the water which has a high sulphur content.
For those who want to stay overnight, there are several types of accommodation including chalet and dormitory. Early booking is a must to avoid disappointment. Or bring your own tent and pitch it at the camping site for a small fee. A number of homestays are available at Kg Desa Keda near the park.
Don’t come in the afternoons because during the day, the water is very hot and you can’t do much except dip your feet in the pool (if you can stand the heat). You can let children play in a small stream running through the park. There’s a playground too.
School holidays and public holidays are not recommended as the park is usually overcrowded. Do come on Saturday and Sunday as these are working days in Kedah, so hopefully not many locals will be there.
Avoid wearing skimpy swimming suits as the park is located in a traditional village. Wear shorts, sarong or long pants with T-shirts.
There are food stalls inside and outside the park offering things like banana umbut curry, tapai pulut and cendol. They are tasty and cheap. Nasi lemak costs only 50 sen a packet and a bowl of laksa is RM2.50. In Baling itself, there are more choices and during fruit season, it’s a durian feast as locals operate fruit stalls on the roadside leading to the hot spring.
The only things you can buy are snacks and miscellaneous items in Baling. But drive for about one hour from Baling and you will reach the border town of Betong where you can shop for Thai fruit and other cheap goods like household and food items as well as bags and clothes.
The park is in the shadows of the towering Gunung Gadung that separates Malaysia from Thailand. Massive limestone hills give a formidable character to the park. The adventurous can trek for five minutes to Lata Gading Waterfall, a lush green area where plants including herbs thrive but there are wild animals too.
You can visit an Orang Asli settlement, climb Gunung Baling or enjoy the cool waters of Sungai Angkat. Hire a local guide if you wish to explore the jungle and caves or climb the hill. Ask for details at the ticket counter of the hot spring park or call 04-473 2284 to make advance arrangements.