Tuesday, 11 May 2021

[Travel] Overnight Stay @ The Sticks, Kuala Kubu Bharu - an eco off-grid retreat

Right before this recent MC0 3.0 lockdown, I managed to go on a much-needed staycation @ The Sticks, Kuala Kubu Bharu.

The Sticks is an off-grid eco-retreat/glamping site located in Kuala Kubu Bharu, just about an hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. Surrounded by lush forests and located right next to a river, it is the perfect site for one to take a step back, unwind and relax. Mobile data is almost non-existent/weak there too unless your network service provider is Celcom.

I've been keen on visiting The Sticks for quite a while but was however rather hesitant due to the rather high price point (rate begins from RM200+ per person per night, depending on the type of room, more profoundly known as tendoks, and dates you choose). 
View from the verandah/balcony I stayed in 

I was having the blues and was yearning to go on a vacation somewhere, probably from the prolonged lockdown, and interstate travel seems to be impossible anytime soon. And with that...I decided to go ahead and book a two-night stay at The Sticks in end of April. 

I have to say, it was worth every single cent I paid and The Sticks greatly exceeded my expectations.

Getting There & Check-In

The Sticks is located in Kuala Kubu Bharu, close by to Sg Chilling waterfall (The entrance to Sg Chilling waterfall is only 200m away!). Navigating there is straightforward - there's no clear signage but you'd see a makeshift open car park space on your left side about ~300m after Waze announced you have arrived at your destination if you're driving from Kuala Kubu Bharu town - this is your cue to turn in! 

Note that there is a roadblock in between Kuala Kubu Bharu town and The Sticks (during our visit in April 2021, where interstate travel is not possible and the road heading to The Sticks will eventually lead you to Fraser Hills, Pahang if you keep going forwrd) so do have your booking confirmation slip downloaded beforehand & ready to show the police, in case internet connection is weak on the way there.
Parking lot - there is someone manning the parking lot and you are required to register your vehicle's details upon arrival 

From the parking lot, you're required to first check-in by scanning MySejahtera & have your temperature checked, then follow the path where the Malaysian flag poll is.

You'll have to walk down about 400m of stairs. The Sticks recommend guests pack soft duffel bags instead of trolley bags for this reason - going down these stairs is still okay but don't forget you'll be using the same pair of stairs up when you're leaving! As you walk down the path, the sound of the river gets louder and louder...
And lo and behold - the beautiful river
You'd have to cross a suspension bridge to get over to the other side of the river where The Sticks is located at.

View upstream from the suspension bridge - the river upstream is much calmer and seemingly shallower, whereas the water is seemingly deeper downstream (just realised that I don't have a photo of it!) 
After crossing the suspension bridge you'll see the Hut by the River (which is available for day-trips booking only) on your right, and the entrance to the Riverside Tendok on your left.
Follow the path up and you'll reach the Dewan, which is the common hall where all meals are served, and where guests will gather first for check-in & briefing.
Check-in starts at 3pm but guests are allowed to arrive as early as 2pm to enjoy the surroundings. We arrived at 3:00pm and were seemingly the last guests for the day to check-in - most have opted to arrive early it seems.

You might meet their resident doggies and meow there - who were really friendly & seemingly accustomed to guests! 
You'll be invited to your designated table during your stay and served a welcome drink - Serai (lemongrass) drink! Your table is fixed throughout your stay to minimise movement and exposure of guests at the Dewan during their stay at The Stick
After that, you'll have a short briefing about the do's and don'ts and the SOPs from the staff. After the briefing, you'll be brought to your tendoks. 

Our Tendok

As of the time of writing, there are only 8 tendoks guests can choose from for overnight stay at The Sticks. The rooms are called Tendoks because they are a combination of a tent and a pondok, which is the Malay word for a hut. Do book as early as one month ahead if you want to ensure your tendok of choice is available! 

Each of the overnight tendok comes with en-suite toilets, hot water shower and bed, comfort at its best! Each tendok has its own unique feature and highlights, and I had fun deciding which tendok to stay in! I was initially drawn towards the Riverside Tendok as it has its own private access to the river, but decided to settle for The Nest tendok instead as we were drawn towards its balcony/verandah. It is the Tendok that is closest to the Dewan, yet I find that it offers the most privacy as: 

1. It is facing outwards towards the river 
2. The constant lapping of water, which muffles any conversations 

I've read some reviews saying that the tendoks away from the river are quite close to one another and conversations can be easily heard, especially at night when it's quiet. There are a few tendoks on the path leading down from The Nest tendok but they are only available for day-trip hire. 
Our closest neighbour - The First Tendok, which is only available for day-trip booking at the time of writing, was unoccupied during our stay

I also appreciate the close distance to the Dewan, as we can easily make our way back after dinner at the Dewan - the area is completely pitch black (less some lamps here and there) so it does feel kinda scary having to navigate back in complete pitch dark.
The Nest as the sun is about to set

The Nest at night
My favourite thing about The Nest Tendok is the balcony/verandah, which overlooks trees & the river below. We spent most of our time here at the balcony/verandah, sipping tea and wine (self-brought) 
Some reviews mentioned that the sound of the river is "too loud", but to me, it just feels as though it is perpetually raining. I find the sound from the river soothing if anything :)

The view changes at different time of the day - in the morning, you can see sunlight trickling in 

And the formation of shadows in the morning 
Having a cup of coffee at our verandah/balcony

And of course, a bottle of wine :p

The tendok was spacious and comfy - it comes with two mini, but powerful ceiling fan (which you may or may not need, since it gets quite chilly at night), two bottles of drinking water (refillable - just bring it to the Dewan and they will replace a new bottle for you), glass cups and a storage box with lock. 

The Sticks do not provide hairdryer and water kettle in the room. That's because The Stick is off-grid and they do not allow the use of high voltage electrical equipment. So please, do not bring your own hairdryer! Phone chargers or laptop chargers are fine though. And if you require hot drinking water, you can always obtain a hot water flask from the Dewan to be brought back to your room.
View from the double bed in the morning - note that you can roll down the windows 

The toilet too was clean and spacious - I especially like the view from the toilet (don't worry - it is overlooking a cliff so no one will be able to peep in)

The hot water shower is powered by gas - have only seen this at the lodge around Kinabalu area in Sabah before this. 

Some important note to consider if you're interested to book The Nest - if you're noise-sensitive you might want to consider the other tendoks that are away from the river, as some people may find the noise of the river too "loud".  Also, take note that as this tendok is located right next to the river, the humidity level was exceptionally high (didn't help that it was raining too!). If you're wearing 100% cotton t-shirt, you might find that your t-shirt feels perpetually damp because of the high humidity.

The electricity supply will be switched off at The Stick between 9-10pm, and the place will rely entirely on reserve. So guests are advised to use electricity sparingly at night
We are encouraged to leave the lights at the verandah/balcony on when we head out for dinner though - as bugs/insects will be drawn outside rather than try to get into your room :p 

Food & Drinks

All bookings are inclusive of meals during your stay. For one night stay, the price is inclusive of half board meals - which is  x1 dinner and x1 breakfast, whereas if you're staying 2 nights, your half board meal consists of x2 dinner, x2 breakfast, x1 lunch and x1 tea time. 

Honestly, I think the meals were the biggest highlight of my stay. The food portion was huge and there are different varieties of food served every day (if you stay for 2 nights>, perhaps you might have a different opinion though!). All meals are served in the Dewan, at your designated table. You may opt for special arrangement (eg: having a birthday cake, a bottle of champagne, or even arrange a dinner at your very own verandah/balcony at The Sticks with an additional fee)

You may also pay RM37.50 extra per pax to convert your half-board meals to full board (add tea time on the day of arrival and lunch on the day of departure). 


Dinner at The Sticks is either steamboat or BBQ - since we stayed for two nights, we got to taste both. The winner was the BBQ dinner, hands down. 
We were served some fries, fried rice and coleslaw in enamel bowls when we sat down. The staff sprawled a long piece of banana leaf on our table and served a few cuts of beef and chicken, hot & fresh from the grill. 

I thought, ok wow, good stuff. Beef was flavourful and tender and the chicken was juicy and tender. 
Then the staff came back and plopped more food onto the banana leaf - grilled fish, prawns, pumpkin, garlic bread and corn. 

Note: this portion is intended for just two people. 

I found everything to be delicious - the seafood was fresh, I loved the beef & chicken the most, and the fried rice was rather yummy too (coming from someone who is not a big fan of rice here!)

On top of that, they'd serve a serving of fruit to each guest at the end of the meal.

We had the BBQ dinner on our first night and I remember just feeling absolutely stuffed and satisfied. On the second night, we had a steamboat which was okay. I'm not really a fan of steamboat so I won't. say much here :p

Clear chicken-stock soup base was used. It was nice to have steamboat at night I guess, because it does get a little chilly at night, especially if it has been raining.
The spread of food for steamboat - from seafood to chicken fillet, chicken meatball, assortment of mushroom, tofus, noodles, veggies, fishball and eggs.

Tea Time

On day two, we had pisang goreng (banana fritters) & french toast for tea. The pisang goreng was one of the best I've ever had - crispy on the outside and the bananas were so sweet! 


Lunch served at The Stick is typically a home-cooked meal, served in enamel tiffin carriers.
I had so much fun opening the tiffin carrier - discovering what is inside each of the compartment. 
Again - this is for two person - we had stir-fried leafy green, deep-fried mushroom, vegetables in thick egg sauce, chicken curry, nestum prawn, rice and mangoes!


During dinner time, staffs at The Stick will go around table to table asking for our breakfast order - so that they can serve us our choice of breakfast as soon as we get seated in the morning. Guests can choose from a choice of continental breakfast (Yoghurt & muesli and fruit) with eggs cooked in your choice or English breakfast (eggs cooked in your choice, mushroom, baked beans & beef/chicken sausage)

There's also a breakfast station with cereal & milk (choice of coco-crunch, honey stars & cornflakes) and bread with various spread. 

Coffee & tea, drinking water, and alcohol?

You may go to your table and have coffee and tea (note: kopi-o and black tea bags!) provided at any time of the day. Same goes for drinking water. You can even bring the bottle back to your room (but remember to bring the empty bottles out for refill and before check-out!). 

The Sticks sell alcohol beverages too, albeit at a higher price (a can of Tiger was about RM12 if I'm not mistaken). If you bring your own alcohol to be consumed at the Dewan, you are required to pay a corkage fee, however, if you consume it in your own tendok it'd be FOC!
To control the movement of guests and ensure the Dewan doesn't get overcrowded, guests are encouraged to plan their meal times and write down the time slots they'd like for their mealtime.

Our designated table 

Things To Do

1. Do little - Sit back. Enjoy nature. Do nothing. Immerse yourself in the beautiful surrounding, and enjoy the fresh air. 

Laze around in the hammock on their grounds.

2. Play some board games - there are some for guests to lend at the Dewan. Chess was the popular choice and was always in use

3. Read a book. Bring your own books, else, there are a few copies of books at the Dewan as well). 

4. Go hiking. There is a short-ish trail which you may do for free, without a guide but you'll need. to inform the staffs beforehand and they'll lend you a walkie-talkie just in case you need it.

Did not go hiking during our stay but I did spend some time in the river, which is item no 5!

5. Have a dip/Go tubbing at the river
I spent quite a bit of my time at The Sticks by the river. The water was clear and cool - when it is not raining that is. 
You may also lend a tube for free, be careful not to lose it or you'll have to pay RM50. The water upstream is much calmer and shallower, and we were recommended not to go downstream, as it's a rocky areas.  

"There are too many phones there already!", the staff told us. (an indication that many people slipped and fall...and unfortunately loosing their phones too while venturing to that side of the river)

It was raining a couple of hours prior to this photo was taken. We were happily enjoying the river when suddenly, we notice that the water level was increasing.
And within a couple of minutes, this happened.

The staffs warned us about this during the briefing - if the water starts turning murky, and/or it has been raining a couple of hours ago, stay away from the river. The river starts from Fraser's Hill and swells up when it rains up there at Fraser's Hill - it'd take a few hours for the water upstream to flow to where The Sticks is located, and you wouldn't want to be caught by the river when this happens!

6. Have a walk around the compound
There were plenty of butterflies around - even Raja Brooke's butterfly! (Not in picture)

And be careful not to step on this giant millipede that might cross path with you! (They're harmless - don't worry) 

Took the opportunity to just check out the other Tendoks further away from the river.
The Sticks Retreat Layout. Source: The Sticks website

The first tendok we came across on this end of the compound was Opera House, which is hidden behind the bushes & plants here in this photo.
The path to the left leads to Bamboo House & Serengeti Tent, which are slightly more "hidden" and farther away from the rest of the tendoks on this end. The path on the right involves more flight of stairs up.

The Ara
The Euca


Verdict: 10/10 recommended!

My experience was nothing less than amazing. The price point is definitely on the higher end, but you don't need to worry about anything during your stay at The Sticks :) Meals are provided and I've got to say - the meals are fantastic and well worth your money. The staffs were friendly and helpful and I've got to give an A+ for their social distancing SOP.

If you're in search of a quick nature getaway from KL, do check out this place :) (if interdistrict travel is allowed!)

The Sticks
Lot 213 Jalan KKB-Fraser's Hill, 
44000 Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor

Instagram: @thesticksguide

Check out my blog posts about other eco off-grid retreat:

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