Within the past few years when Malaysians were all stuck in the country and unable to travel abroad, we seemed to have discovered more and more cool spots in our local vicinities to chill out at with family and friends. Among all the beautiful destinations that have gone viral on social media, you may have also spotted the wide, multi-tiered waterfalls popping up multiple times on your news feed.
Also known as Alor Lempah, Ampang Pecah has been dubbed Malaysia’s mini Niagara Falls by the locals. But contrary to its name, this place is not located anywhere near Ampang.
So, what exactly is Ampang Pecah? And does it really live up to its reputation? Read on to find out.
Ampang Pecah is a man-made reservoir that was originally built in the 18th century for the use of tin miners in the area. Spanning across the width of the Kubu River, it measured 1.6 kilometer long and 91.4 meter wide.
However, on 24th October 1883, this dam unfortunately broke, causing a major flood that submerged the entire town and its surrounding areas. The tragedy had claimed 33 lives including that of a British magistrate and district officer, Cecil Ranking. Almost 40 houses were swept away, and the town’s main source of income, tin mining, was severely affected.
For a while, the administrative center of Hulu Selangor had to be moved from Kuala Kubu to Rasa while the former slowly recovered from the deadly disaster.
Efforts were made to rebuild Kuala Kubu in 1931 and it was soon reopened as one of the administrative centers of Hulu Selangor, taking on the name ‘Kuala Kubu Bharu’ to replace the old Kuala Kubu.
The broken dam continues to be called ‘Ampang Pecah’, which literally means broken dam. And today, locals frequently visit this place to have a picnic on its banks and a dip in the water.
Best Time to Go to Ampang Pecah
Due to its recent rise to popularity, the gazebos and shaded spots on Ampang Pecah river banks can be taken up fairly quickly, especially on the weekends and public holidays.
To avoid crowds, visiting on a weekday is better. We went there on a Wednesday, arriving in the heat of the midday sun (because none of us were willing to wake up early), and there was no one else around. We had the whole place to ourselves.
The only downside was, all of the food stalls we saw along the river were closed. I’m not sure if they’d open later in the evening or only on weekends.
If you plan to visit during peak seasons, it is best to start your journey as early in the morning as possible to secure the best spot. Moreover, it does get scorching hot at midday.
How to Go to Ampang Pecah
Ampang Pecah waterfall is situated along the Selangor River in Kuala Kubu Bharu, which is just a little over an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur.
Currently, there is no public transport that can take you directly to the waterfall. The nearest train station is Kuala Kubu Bharu, and from there, you can take a Grab to Ampang Pecah. However, it may be more difficult to get a ride from the waterfall back to the station.
The best way is therefore to go by car. On navigation apps, there are two options to get there. You can either type in ‘Ampang Pecah (Old Dam)‘ or ‘Alor Lempah‘. Both will take you to the same waterfall but on different sides of the river.
We first chose Ampang Pecah but later discovered that the Alor Lempah side had a wider parking space and picnic area, so we got back in the car and drove there instead.
What to Expect at Ampang Pecah Waterfalls
When my friends invited me to Ampang Pecah waterfall, I didn’t do any research or look at any pictures of the place. So, I was a little surprised when I arrived. And truth be told, I’m not sure whether it was a pleasant surprise or not.
On the one hand, I was low-key glad I didn’t have to do any hiking to get there, unlike most other waterfalls in Malaysia. But on the other, when I picture a waterfall, I’d expect it to be chilly and surrounded by more trees and greenery.
I wish there had been more shade, for instance. The river and waterfall were completely exposed to the sun, and the grass and pebbles were really hot beneath our feet as we
walked hopped about to get to the water.
The river banks on both sides were grassy and had plenty of space for your picnic mats. There were even a few gazebos, if you prefer that. On the other side of the river, we spotted a row of food stalls, but they were closed.
We also saw some rubber tubes and floats for rent, but they were piled up inside a hut and covered with tarp. On that same hut was a sign saying “Changing Area”. I assume they’d probably be available on weekends. There were no toilets.
Is It Safe to Swim in Ampang Pecah?
We visited Ampang Pecah waterfall during the dry season, so the currents were mild. The water was pretty shallow, with the deepest part coming up to just above our knees.
Apparently, it can look even more impressive after rain when the water volume is much higher. But that can also make it more dangerous.
There is no lifeguard in the area, and depending on when you go, the place can be deserted.
So make sure you exercise caution when swimming and always keep an eye on young children.
Can You Camp in Ampang Pecah?
Yes, it is possible to pitch your tent in Ampang Pecah and camp there during the day or overnight. However, do note that there are no toilet facilities in the area and nobody selling food on weekdays, so plan accordingly.
Is Ampang Pecah Worth Visiting?
Yes, if you don’t expect a ‘real’ waterfall surrounded by a tropical rainforest, or anything like the Niagara Falls.
In my opinion, Ampang Pecah is a cool and unique hangout spot. Where else in Malaysia can you have a picnic or swim in an abandoned water reservoir? Its location that is not too far from Kuala Lumpur and is easily accessible by car makes it the perfect destination for those who aren’t too keen on hiking deep into the forest.
But to call it Mini Niagara Falls would be a gross overstatement, almost to the point of hilarity. Maybe the idea was to take it as a joke. I think Ampang Pecah is beautiful in its own right, without having to be compared to others.
Have you been to Ampang Pecah waterfall? What did you think about it? Share your experience in the comment section below.