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Hiking Bukit Shahbandar Recreational Park: Multifaceted and Never Boring

More and more tourists are seeking places that locals frequent rather than the usual tour destinations. They want to try activities that locals normally do. The "live like a local, think like a local" mantra gives them a deeper sense of authenticity in their travel experience. If you are one of these tourists, you might want to try Bukit Shahbandar Recreational Park.

Bukit Shahbandar Recreation Park is located along Tutong-Muara highway Bandar Seri Begawan around 20 minutes distance from downtown. This park is a favorite among local hikers, bikers and health buffs. Since it has facilities like play areas for kids, mazes, ample parking space, food stalls and restrooms, it is also popular for family picnics.

Hiking is no doubt the most popular activity here. Both beginners and hard-core hikers will find the trail very interesting. One can choose a trail that can be finished within 30 minutes or as long as 3.5 hours depending on your energy level. Do note that the trail has lots of ascends and descends through a scenic forest with the highest elevation being 867 meters although most of the terrain is 459 meters and below. In total, the original outer trail is around 3.4 km but there are shortcut  that you can take if you don't want to do the whole trail.

Though shorter, these shortcuts could get really steep so better be sure you have the stamina. Bring lots of water when hiking here as the stores are only located at the park entrance. Once you hit the trail, you are at the mercy of nature and on a scorching day, you will definitely need lots of water to stay hydrated. Also make sure to wear proper hiking shoes.

Before you start the trail, make sure to take time to analyze the site map so that you don’t get lost and you can plan which way to take depending on the time you want to spare for this particular activity. It also helps that you look for the concrete posts erected in certain sections which could guide you to the next route as they indicate the distance it takes to the next post. Also, there are huts located in key areas, nine (9) of them, thus, the original outer trail is commonly called “ the 9 pondok trail”. Pondok is the local word for “hut”. Some hikers also call it “9 hills trail” although the hills are not very distinct so counting along the way could leave you confused.

The first section of the trails involves steep ascend but thanks to concrete stairs, you will not easily get frustrated and chicken out. As you go deeper, you start noticing the lush vegetation. It’s a hiking trail in nature with heavy dose of fresh air. What you will like about the “9 pondok trail” is that it has many faces. You go through concrete stairs, and then be transported to a dirt trail through pine trees and then to a section naturally eroded by rainwater showing the reddish nature of the soil and then there is this area with lots of moss plants before hitting the highest elevation.

At this point, take time to rest by a big hut that could accommodate a big group, the view from here is really nice. One can see the expanse of the forest in and beyond the recreational park and the sea from afar on the other side. It will be mostly descend from here and the one will go through a section where you feel like walking through a tropical rainforest and then back to a section with lots of pine trees before you arrive back at the starting point. That makes the hiking trail of Bukit Shahbandar Recreational Park special because it is multifaceted and never boring. You might originally plan for a short 30-minute hike but end up doing the whole 3.4 kms trail and not notice it because you enjoy every second of the stroll.

If you are in for more challenge, there two (2) new extended trails which when added to the original trail totals 10 kilometers from start to finish. As a bonus, there are two (2)lakes on your left from the entrance where you can leisurely stroll or simply sit next to and let the tranquility of the place take all your stresses away.