Birdwatching at Fraser’s Hill

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Fraser's Hill Birdwatching

Fraser’s Hill is synonymous with birdwatching in Malaysia. Visitors from all over the world flock here to experience one of the best lower montane birding locations in Southeast Asia. A diverse array of species, easily accessible birding spots, and a cool climate mean birdwatching at Fraser’s Hill is a must for anyone interested in birds and nature.

This article aims to provide relevant information to birdwatchers visiting Fraser’s Hill, especially first-time visitors and beginner birdwatchers. I will update this article from time to time as I post more articles related to birdwatching at Fraser’s Hill.

Article updated in June 2024 with new information.

Information on Birdwatching at Fraser’s Hill

Fraser's Hill map
Map of Fraser’s Hill

Fraser’s Hill is a relatively compact area; consequently, most locations can be accessed easily by car from the town centre. Alternatively, you can also explore Fraser’s Hill on foot. Indeed, on my first trip here, I walked around, enjoying the cool climate while looking for birds!

IBA sign Fraser's Hill
Fraser’s Hill is internationally recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA).

Located at an altitude between 1200m – 1400m, Fraser’s Hill is pleasantly cooler than the lowlands; indeed, morning temperatures can be as low as 15 degrees Celsius. It is important to note that the weather at Fraser’s Hill can change quickly; therefore, it’s a good idea to bring along clothing to keep warm and/or dry.

Mosquitoes and biting insects are generally less of an issue here than in the lowlands; however, bringing insect repellent is still a good idea. Leeches are usually only present along jungle trails, typically after rain showers.

Fraser’s Hill can get quite crowded during weekends and events (i.e., the bird race); therefore, a weekday trip might be preferable to fully enjoy Fraser’s Hill’s tranquillity and charm.

How is the birdwatching experience at Fraser’s Hill?

Birdwatching here typically involves a lot of walking! Fraser’s Hill is connected via an extensive road network, meaning you can walk along any road and look for birds. The bird encounters are usually small groups of mixed species (‘bird waves’) foraging along the roadside trees, often at eye level. These ‘bird waves’ typically contain between 2 – 5 species, but sometimes more can be present. When you encounter a bird wave, it can get quite chaotic! Trying to identify the species as they are flitting all around you is truly one of the delights of birding at Fraser’s Hill.

Like most places, bird activity is highest in the early morning and late afternoon. Having said that, you may see birds still actively foraging around midday. I think the period between 1 pm and 3 pm is the least productive; however, what you experience may differ.

Generally, the roads are relatively flat, with gentle upslopes/downslopes; consequently, walking around here is relatively easy and suitable for most birders. Several roads are steeper; for example, the Jeriau Waterfall Road and the New Gap Road, so plan accordingly. Birding along the jungle trails certainly involves more physical exertion; therefore, these trails are only suitable for the more adventurous. 

If you’re keen on photography, several feeding stations dotted throughout the Hill provide great views of many highly sought-after species. For example, the ever-popular Malayan Partridge feeding station is at Jalan Richmond.

When to go Birdwatching at Fraser’s Hill?

Birdwatching at Fraser’s Hill can be done year-round; nevertheless, the rain will be more prevalent during the wetter times of the year (Northeast Monsoon, Nov – Feb). Most of the sought-after bird species here are residents and can be seen year-round. Some additional species will migrate here for the winter, such as the Mugimaki Flycatcher and the Siberian Thrush. 

I personally prefer to visit from March to June. This period coincides with the spring migration and the breeding season for some species. I will also usually avoid school and public holidays, as the Hill can get quite busy during these times. Having said that, there is usually something good to see at Fraser’s Hill, regardless of the time of year.

Birdwatching Locations Around Fraser’s Hill

It’s possible to go birding anywhere on Fraser’s Hill; however, several locations deserve mention and are listed below. I will update this list with links to the relevant articles detailing these locations further.

  1. Jalan Mager/Richmond, Jalan Lady Maxwell, Jalan Valley and the Telekom Loop. These are Fraser’s Hill’s most popular birding locations and are easily accessible from the town.
  2. The Gap, Old Gap Road, Jeriau Waterfall Road, and New Gap Road. These locations are located at a lower elevation and provide opportunities to see birds not typically present at Fraser’s Hill proper.
  3. Jungle trails such as Hemmant and Bishop trails. These provide more adventurous birding options and can be quite productive, especially for secretive species.
  4. Jalan High Pines and the abandoned Jelai Resort area. Typically less visited, these spots can produce some really exciting finds. For example, Jalan High Pines has recently (May – June 23) hosted three Himalayan Cutias, to the delight of birders and photographers!

Birds of Fraser’s Hill

Fraser's Hill Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo
The Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo is one of many bird species that can be found at Fraser’s Hill.

The main attractions of Fraser’s Hill are undoubtedly the birds! Click on the links below to access my articles highlighting the birds that can be seen around Fraser’s Hill. I will update this list as I post additional articles.

  1. Birds of Fraser’s Hill – Part 1. This article showcases the Red-headed Trogon, Long-tailed Broadbill, Speckled Piculet, Bay Woodpecker and the Brown Wood-Owl.
  2. Birds of Fraser’s Hill – Part 2 highlights the Green Magpie, the Silver-eared Mesia and the resident flycatchers of Fraser’s Hill.
  3. Birds of Fraser’s Hill – Part 3. The Malayan Partridge, Silver-breasted Broadbill and Malayan Laughingthrush receive the spotlight here.

Public Facilities around Fraser’s Hill

The main town is centred around the famous Clock Tower; there is a police station, post office and health clinic here. There’s one convenience store (open until 10 pm) near the police station and one ATM machine at Shahzan Inn. Souvenir shops can be found at Shahzan Inn, Puncak Inn, the food court and near the Clock Tower.

Public toilets are located in the town, the food court area, near Allan’s Water and at the Paddock (only accessible when the Paddock is open).

Clock Tower at Fraser's Hill
The iconic Clock Tower at Fraser’s Hill town centre. You can see the post office on the left, the clinic on the right, and the police station immediately behind the tower.

Food options at Fraser’s Hill

There are several eateries located throughout Fraser’s Hill. These include (but are not limited to):

  1. Arzed Restaurant – Located at the food court, this restaurant is open every day from 12 noon to 9 pm. The food here is quite good at reasonable prices. This place is popular; hence, it gets busy during weekends or events.
  2. Memory Cafe and Laundry – Also at the food court, next to the souvenir shop. It opens from 8 am to 10 pm (closed on Tuesdays); therefore, you can have breakfast here. The food here is pretty good, with western and local options. The English breakfast is especially good value for money. Additionally, there is a laundry service located here!
  3. Cattelya Restaurant and Cafe – new name for the Puncak Inn restaurant. Good food at reasonable prices. Excellent location. Opens from 12 noon until 10 pm, daily.
  4. The Gentry Conveniently located in the town centre, this recently opened mid-range restaurant serves English cuisine. Open for breakfast. Good ambience. Formerly the Mimi Strawberry restaurant. 
  5. Kedai Makanan Hamzah – Located next to the mosque, this restaurant opens from 6.30 am to 4.30 pm (except Mondays). The roti canai is popular, and the nasi lemak is quite good.
  6. Glasshouse – Located near Shahzan Inn, this unique establishment has become quite popular with visitors. A café styled shop, it serves cakes and hot drinks and is open from 10 am to 6 pm (except Tuesday and Wednesday). 
  7. There is a food stall just before the road going down from Fraser’s Hill. This place sells good banana fritters and nasi lemak; however, it only opens on weekends/holidays.
  8. Restaurants at Shahzan Inn or Ye Olde Smokehouse.

Accommodations at Fraser’s Hill

Fraser's Hill Puncak Inn
Puncak Inn is conveniently located right in the town centre, nestled among lush greenery.

For visiting birdwatchers, the main options are:

  1. Puncak Inn Hotel – This budget hotel is conveniently located in the town centre and is often fully booked during weekends or events. From my personal experience, this hotel is acceptable for a one-night stay. While the rooms are cosy and clean, the toilets are small and often mouldy (presumably due to the humidity). Some rooms are equipped with a fridge. Some rooms require you to climb several flights of stairs (there’s no elevator here). The breakfast is only average and starts around 7.45 am.
  2. Shahzan Inn – This is a bigger establishment but still has reasonable room rates. The rooms are much bigger than Puncak Inn, with bigger bathrooms and a balcony. I’ve had decent experiences staying here; however, negative reviews by others pop-up occasionally. The breakfast is decent and starts at 7 am. Of note, this hotel is currently undergoing renovations as of June 2024. Nevertheless, the hotel is still open for business and the rooms available are newly renovated. The newly refurbished rooms are excellent. 

Both hotels have in-house restaurants, and room rates usually include breakfast. Wi-Fi is adequate, but only in the lobby areas. 

Fraser's Hill Shahzan Inn
The white building complex on the right is Shahzan Inn. This view is taken from Puncak Inn.

Alternative options include (but are not limited to):

  1. Puncak Inn and Silverpark Apartments – These places offer apartment-styled accommodation catering to larger groups.  
  2. Stephen’s Place – Located at the Telekom Loop (Jalan Peninjau), this hotel is often noted as birdwatcher-friendly. Located quite far from the town; therefore, this place is only suitable for those with personal transport.
  3. The Pines Resort – Another place offering apartment-styled accommodation. Like Stephen’s Place, this hotel is quite far from the town.
  4. Ye Olde Smokehouse – Based on traditional English Mock Tudor architecture, this place offers well-appointed rooms in an English countryside setting.

Additionally, you can stay in some of Fraser’s Hill’s iconic colonial era bungalows; however, this is usually only suitable for families or large groups.

Getting to Fraser’s Hill

This is easy if you have your own (or rented) vehicle. Simply search for Fraser’s Hill using Google Maps and Waze (or similar navigation apps). It takes about 2 hours to drive from Kuala Lumpur. The road up is winding and narrow at parts; however, several stops along the way (such as The Gap) are excellent for birding!

It is possible to do a day trip here from nearby cities; indeed, Klang Valley birders often do this. It would be best to leave home early to reach Fraser’s Hill in the morning. Most day visitors will leave well before sunset, as the road down from Fraser’s Hill can be tricky after dark.

Remember, Fraser’s Hill has no petrol stations; instead, the nearest stations would be in Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB) or Raub. The convenience store sells petrol in small bottles; however, this is usually only practical for motorcycle users.

As of 2023, there are limited public transport options to Fraser’s Hill. For those without a car, getting a taxi from some major cities (i.e. Kuala Lumpur) or from the train station at KKB is possible. If you take a taxi, make sure you discuss your return trip with the driver beforehand. Getting the driver’s contact number is also a must.

Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race

This ever-popular event usually takes place in the middle of the year. It is a two-day event where teams from all over the world participate and try to win by spotting as many bird species as possible within a 24hr period. This race has been held annually since 1988, skipping only the recent pandemic years. The event’s most recent (35th) iteration concluded in June 2024. You can find out more about this event by accessing the following links:

  1. Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race 2023 and the list of winners.
  2. Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race 2024 and the list of winners.
  3. The official Fraser’s Hill Bird Race page on the Tourism Pahang website.

Conclusion

The information provided here is mainly based on my experience birdwatching at Fraser’s Hill over the years. I hope this article will benefit anyone wishing to visit this amazing birdwatching destination.

For more information on Fraser’s Hill, click on the links below:

  1. Fraserhill.info has plenty of additional information, including details on the Bungalows.
  2. Wikipedia has a good description of the history of Fraser’s Hill
  3. The official Fraser’s Hill page on the Tourism Pahang website.
  4. For other activities at Fraser’s Hill, check out the things to do at Fraser’s Hill page from our sister site.

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