Sekeping Serendah: Tips for First-Time Visitors + (Very Special) Bonus Tip!
I celebrated my birthday at a special little place called Sekeping Serendah a few days ago and had such a wonderful time, I didn't want to leave. The retreat is located deep in the forests of Serendah, where you're encouraged to leave your mobile phones and laptops behind to lose yourself in nature. The basic concept, according to the management, is it's "a little better than camping." I, however, much prefer the term "glamping" (glamour camping). Assuming you've already read about the retreat and what it offers, I wanted to share a few useful tips for those who are considering visiting Sekeping Serendah for the first time.
1. Book Your Rooms Early
I can't stress enough that the retreat is so unique that it gets booked up very fast. The best time to book Sekeping Serendah is at least a month prior to your stay. If you're lucky, you'll get the room you want and on the date you wish to stay. Otherwise you'd have to make some compromises. And remember that rates are hiked up during the weekends and there is a surcharge during public holidays, so plan well ahead.
2. Rooms With Best Privacy
Perhaps this is subjective but I'm sure there are a lot of people who want a little more privacy during their stay and I figured I'd offer some thoughts. The place is surrounded by plenty of foliage, trees, shade and bushes which shield each room from prying eyes, but there are definitely very small windows of opportunity for perving eyes (I had a squirrel that stopped and stared while I was in the shower) especially since some toilets and showers are open and outdoors. I can't speak for all rooms types but I found that the most private rooms seem to be the Glass Sheds (both 1 and 2) and Glass Boxes (1 and 2, although passers-by on the concrete path have full view of the balcony, but not into the rooms). I suggest checking out their layout plan and check out the room photos before making your reservation.
3. Know Your Way There - Even When You Think You Already Know
An important thing to bear in mind is that Sekeping Serendah is so remote it's almost as if it's not meant to be found. If you've never been to the area, don't be a smarty pants - the winding roads and narrow trails (you'll pass by native villages) to the retreat still tend to lead you astray. Both Google Maps and Waze do not have the exact location. My advice is to download this local map provided or find it using these GPS coordinates on Google Maps. If you call them for directions, they will offer to send you the same map via WhatsApp.
4. Drive Your Own Car
The retreat offers a pick-up service from Bangsar for RM80 one way for 1 to 4 people, but the best way to get there is by driving there yourself and there's a reason for this. The retreat has no restaurant and only provides basic necessities during your stay which includes a fridge, cutleries and cooking utensils. So if you're staying for 2 nights or more (which I recommend), you'll need to arrive with a good supply of food and beverages. So in case you didn't bring enough, you can always drive yourself 15 minutes out to town to restock.
5. BYO Food and Drinks
Exactly that. The caretaker makes a trip to town every day (check with him what time he leaves because it varies from day to day) and is happy to take a list of groceries to buy for you, but he won't be bothered with your request for your favorite brand of snacks or bottle of wine, or care too much for your preference for chicken thighs rather than wings. He'll likely come back with different kinds of sausages, chicken wings or whatever they could get their hands on. Bigger room types like Warehouse or Sheds will have its own kitchen but the smaller Glass Boxes will only have the outdoor BBQ pit (please check the website for the exact amenities that come with your rooms). To be safe, always prepare, pre-marinate and pre-pack all your foods if possible. Bring lots of fruits and water.
6. Bring Entertainment
Aside from light jungle trekking and swimming at their 2 amazing pools, there really isn't any entertainment there aside from your partner or friends. And bear in mind, there will be very little or no cellphone and Internet connection there. So should it rain on your party during your stay, you're stuck in your rooms with little else to do. Bring cards, a guitar, music players, a book or a few ideas for a game to help pass time.
7. Find The Other Swimming Pool
You don't see this on the layout plan but there are two swimming pools at the retreat, not one! The first one is near Glass Shed 2 (on map) and the second one is in front of Warehouse 2 (not on map but it's not hidden!). Good to know: the two pools have different depths; the second one is considerably deeper and better if you really enjoy swimming like I do.
8. Bonus Tip: How to Get The Entire Place to Yourself!
Well, kind of, for a couple of hours at least. On our last day, we had a little snafu with our driver who was supposed to come and pick us up when we checked out. Well, that didn't happen. But I'm really glad it didn't because we got to experience something quite special because of it.
Here's the deal: every day, there is a constant stream of people checking out (at 12pm) and checking in (at 2pm) from the retreat. In between this 2-hour window, depending on the day of the week or even your luck, almost the entire place will be empty and free for you to explore. In our experience, the whole place was deserted except for Timber House 1 so Sekeping Serendah became our little private playground.
During this time, we had the pools to ourselves and because the whole place is designed to be (almost) completely open-planned, we were also free to explore the other accommodations (the massive Warehouses are a stunner!) while the caretakers go about tending to housekeeping before the next wave of guests arrive.
So check out but don't leave just yet. Wait for the other guests to leave and when they do, feel free to feed your curiosity, inspect the finer details of your surroundings and bask in the privilege - just be respectful of the caretakers while they work and they are happy to still have you around or even talk to you for another couple of hours.
So there you go. Hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did. If you have questions you'd like to ask me about Sekeping Serendah, do ask away in the comments!
Featured image: sekeping.com