English | Bahasa Malaysia
* This article was originally published on Ummi Goes Where? in 2021.
For many months during the pandemic, we Malaysians were not allowed to cross state borders. But the good thing was, we got to spend more time exploring our own vicinity that we had previously taken for granted, in favor of faraway destinations.
This time around, with the addition of two new people to our group, we went to Sekinchan.
Sekinchan is a beach-side fishing village in Sabak Bernam, Selangor — located about 100 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur. Apart from fresh seafood, Sekinchan is also famous for its sprawling paddy fields, covering a total area of 180 square kilometers.
Being one of the major rice producers in the country, it is home to a number of rice factories, some of which allow the public to visit and learn about rice production.
A few years ago, Sekinchan was featured in a romantic Hong Kong drama called Outbound Love and again in a local Chinese series called “The Seeds of Life“. As a result, what used to be a quiet fishing village is now garnering more attention from people all over the country. But don’t worry — the beauty and authenticity of this place is still very much preserved.
Only a 1.5-hour drive from the capital city, Sekinchan is one of the best day-trip destinations from Kuala Lumpur.
Best Time to Go to Sekinchan
The weather in Sekinchan barely varies at all, with temperatures ranging from 21ºC (70ºF) to 32ºC (90ºF) and a chance of rain throughout most of the year.
However, if you’re visiting Sekinchan, chances are you want to see the rice fields in all their lush glory.
Rice is planted twice a year in Sekinchan — in early March and early September. From mid-March to May, and from mid-September to November, the plants would have grown and the rice fields would be at their greenest.
On the other hand, if you want to see golden fields, go in the middle of May or the middle of November when the plants are mature and ready to be harvested.
Harvesting begins in June and December, so you might want to avoid going during this time, unless you specifically want to see the harvesting process. Between January and February, and July and August, the fields undergo a clean-up and resting period, during which they’re nothing but muddy plains.
Depending on the season and the weather, the harvesting schedule might vary a little. It’s a good idea to check with your hotel before going.
How to Get to Sekinchan
Going by car is the best way to get to Sekinchan, as it also makes it easier for you to travel around town. From Kuala Lumpur, take the LATAR Expressway and exit at Ijok – Kuala Selangor – Sekinchan.
By Public Transport
Take the SPT Sabak Bernam Express bus from Pudu Sentral, Kuala Lumpur (formerly known as Puduraya Bus Terminal) to Sekinchan Sentral Bus Terminal. Please check with the bus company or booking apps for the latest fare and schedule.
From the Sekinchan Bus Terminal, you can either hire a taxi to travel around Sekinchan, or rent a bike at the rental shops. Some hotels also provide bike rental services for guests and non-guests.
If your hotel is located near the main road, it’s possible to ask the driver to drop you off at the nearest junction and you can walk the rest of the way.
Things to Do in & Around Sekinchan
The day before our trip, we had made a booking for a tour in Kuala Selangor, a nearby town (about 28 kilometres away) where we would be feeding eagles, watching fireflies, and looking for bioluminescent microorganisms in the river. The tour would start at 5 p.m.
Since we had a couple of hours to kill after checking in at Padi Box Homes & Cafe, we decided to go to the nearby Paddy Museum.
1. Visiting the Paddy Museum
It only seemed fitting to learn a little about rice fields, considering that we were staying in one. At the museum, we learned about the entire process of rice production in Sekinchan, from the sowing, harvesting, dehulling, and all the way to the final product.
It really was an enlightening experience to discover more about our staple food. Plus, we each got a free packet of rice!
2. Eagle Feeding
After the museum, we made our way to Kuala Selangor for our next activity: eagle feeding.
We bundled ourselves up in life jackets and went on a passenger boat that was a little too big for the 6 of us, but the extra space proved to be a blessing, as we got to move around freely to take pictures.
Somewhere at a wider part of the river, the boat slowed to a stop. I didn’t see exactly when our guide scattered out the food, but the birds suddenly came like vultures.
At first, there were only seagulls (or some kind of white birds I don’t know the name of), but soon we saw an eagle swooping towards us. Then, out of nowhere, several others came, and before we realized it, there were at least 20 of them hovering low and snatching food out of the water.
The eagles kept their distance while the hundreds of white birds were close enough we could have touched them if we reached out with our hands. It was amazing how they didn’t crash into each other, flying so close together.
3. Seeing the Blue Tears
We had approximately an hour and a half before our next activity, so we went to have dinner at a nearby restaurant. Due to a small accident at the restaurant (the young waiter tripped and dropped all our food on the floor), we were delayed by about 30 minutes.
As a result, we had to join another group for the boat ride to see the bioluminescent microorganisms, a.k.a the “blue tears”. Each participant was given a small net attached to a long pole, and when we reached the location, the tour guide told us to put our nets in the water. As our nets disturbed the water surface, we could see tiny blue spheres glowing in the ripples.
Some of us got curious and turned on our phone flash lights, but as soon as we did, the blue tears disappeared. Upon closer inspection, they looked just like sand but with the texture of jelly.
Since they were not visible when there was light, we were unable to take any photos of them. All I can say is that they were quite fascinating to watch and play with, but don’t expect anything as impressive as what you see on the tour brochures.
4. Watching Fireflies
Next on our itinerary was firefly-watching. This time, it was just us again — the bigger group that we had to join earlier was already done with their tour.
I had done this activity years ago but on a much smaller boat that could only fit 5 persons including the guide. Read the full experience here:
The advantage of going on a smaller boat was that it was quieter (so we didn’t scare away the fireflies) and we got to come closer to the tree branches. The guide was also able to explain to us more thoroughly about the insects.
However, although the boat was larger this time, there were just the 6 of us, so the guide was still able to entertain us all when we each wanted to try holding a firefly in the palms of our hands.
Our tour package cost RM45 per person for the three activities. We booked with D Tours.
Alternatively, you can also book tours on online platforms such as Klook:
5. Visiting the Sky Mirror (Sasaran Beach)
Another place you can visit in Kuala Selangor that can be included in the tour is the Sky Mirror — also known as Malaysia’s Salar de Uyuni — a “mystery island” that only emerges for a few days a month. During this time, the shallow water at low tide reflects the sky so perfectly and creates many delightful photo opportunities.
However, a visit here has to be timed carefully based on the tide schedule. Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t right during our visit, so we had to skip that.
6. Taking Pictures at the Rice Fields
The next morning, Dila, the avid photographer in our group had gone out at 8 a.m. to get the best light for pictures at the paddy fields. The rest of us weren’t so motivated and thus continued snoozing under our comfy blankets.
It was only at 10 a.m. that we all came out of our hiding, but by then the sun was already high up in the sky, almost as if it was 1 p.m.
So, here’s a little PSA: make sure you bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with SPF 50 or more when you go to Sekinchan because it can get unnaturally hot very early in the day.
Do take care not to trample on the rice fields in order to get your perfect shots. Remember that those are people’s hard work and source of sustenance!
7. Cycling Around Town
Cycling is really the best way to explore the village and rice fields in Sekinchan. The roads are quite well-maintained and the lack of traffic makes it safer and more enjoyable.
Bicycles are available at rental shops in town and at some hotels. We rented ours from our hotel for RM10 for two hours (RM10/hour for non-guests).
8. Going Down Memory Lane at Ah Ma House
Ah Ma House (which means Grandma’s House) is a unique attraction in Sekinchan, featuring household items of another era, including things like old grandfather clocks, gas lanterns, and rotary phones. Millennials like me would be able to recognize most of the items, but I imagine it might totally astound Gen Z’s.
Besides showcasing antiques, Ah Ma House also sells homemade cookies and crackers that are sure to invoke memories of your childhood.
9. Chilling Out at Redang Beach
Located only 5 kilometres from Sekinchan, Redang Beach (not to be confused with Redang Island) may not be Malaysia’s best beach, but it still provides a beautiful landscape for pictures, or for those who simply want to soak in the scenery while lying on a hammock.
Food and drinks are sold on site, including coconut water, ice cream, and sugar-cane juice. Take advantage of the windiness and play a kite (also sold at some of the stalls on the beach).
10. Making a Wish at the Wishing Tree
Within immediate vicinity of the beach is a peculiar-looking tree that seems to be all covered in red. If you look closer, you’ll see that the red things are actually ribbons hanging off all its branches. These ribbons hold people’s wishes.
To make a wish, get a lucky red ribbon from the adjacent temple (with a small donation), write down your wishes and your name, and then toss it up to the wishing tree. The ends of the ribbons have been tied with coins to ease this process.
Try to get your ribbon as high up on the tree as you can. Legend has it that the higher it lands, the more likely it is to get your dream come true. There is one condition though: you have to keep your wish a secret!
11. Visiting the Fishing Village
The main fishing village in Sekinchan is called Bagan, located along the river, southwest of town. To see the village at its liveliest, go in the early morning when the fishing boats go out to sea, or in the evening when they return to the seaport and unload their catch. At other times of the day, the village can be very quiet.
In Bagan, you can find a lot of seafood restaurants and buy seafood products to bring home. There’s also a boat-building factory where you can see boats being made and repaired.
12. Visiting Nan Tian Temple
Sekinchan’s two main industries — farming and fishing — are both highly weather-dependent. Therefore, you will see many Chinese temples and churches in the village, where the locals pray for calm ocean and bountiful harvests.
The main Chinese temple is the Nan Tian Gong (Nine Emperors God Temple), which was first built in 1984. You can climb up to the second floor of the temple tower to get excellent views of the rice fields.
13. Learning about Swiftlet Farming
In the Chinese community, bird-nest soup has long been considered a rare delicacy. Dubbed “the emperor’s soup”, it is a luxury health food that — in ancient times — was reserved only for the emperors and elites of China.
While in the past, bird nests could only be harvested from deep inside caves, today’s bird-nest farming experts have developed a modern technique called swiftlet farming. A “swiftlet house” is built to imitate the environment of a cave to attract swiftlet birds to nest and breed. This new method produces cleaner bird nests and eliminates the dangers of traditional bird-nest harvesting.
Swiftlet farming is a fairly new industry in Sekinchan, with about 350 units of swiftlet houses having been built in the middle of rice fields. You can take a look inside these structures to learn more about swiftlet farming.
14. Touring the Khind Galleria
Khind-Mistral Industries Ltd is a local manufacturer of electrical and electronic appliances. Having been around since 1961, the company is well-known for their durable and high-quality products.
At Khind Galleria, visitors can see a showcase of products manufactured by them from the day of their inception till today. Opens at 9 a.m. – 5 pm. Admission is free.
15. Hiking Bukit Malawati
Bukit Malawati is a hill near Kuala Selangor that overlooks the Straits of Malacca and has a lighthouse as well as the remnants of the Kota Malawati fort.
Originally built in the 1700s to protect against Dutch invasion, the fort was renamed Fort Altingburg when the Dutch successfully captured it. It was later recaptured but eventually destroyed in a war.
Bukit Malawati is also famous for silvered leaf monkeys and long-tailed macaques. Other attractions on this hill include a tram ride, a royal mausoleum, and a museum.
16. Trying Out Local Food
Being a fishing and farming village, it comes as no surprise that Sekinchan is abundant with fresh seafood and local produce. So, don’t forget to try the local delicacies when you’re here — which brings us to our next question:
What & Where to Eat in Sekinchan
1. N16 Bus Cafe
The N16 Bus Cafe is quite possibly the most iconic establishment in Sekinchan. Set inside an old school bus that has been renovated into a cafe, it sits on top of a freight container that acts as the kitchen. The air-conditioned dining area provides a temporary respite from the unforgiving heat outside, so that you can enjoy your coffee and the views of paddy fields more comfortably.
If you’re into quirky, one-of-a-kind places, then this should be right up your alley. The N16 Bus Cafe is located right next to Padi Box, where we were staying, but unfortunately, it was closed during our visit.
2. Pearl-Rice Cendol at the Paddy Gallery
Cendol is without a doubt one of Malaysia’s best desserts. The cold creamy concoction of coconut milk, palm sugar syrup, sweetcorn, red beans, and rice flour jelly is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
But what makes the cendol at the Paddy Gallery special is the addition of another ingredient: pearl rice (a sticky, short-grained type of rice, similar to sushi rice). Apart from cendol, the Paddy Gallery also sells ice-cream, rice crackers, tapioca chips, and banana chips, among many others.
3. Mangoes at Mango King
Rice is not the only agricultural produce of Sekinchan. Mangoes are another. You can get mangoes at the stalls along Sekinchan main road, but if you crave for something more (like the sweetest and most satisfying mango smoothie you’ll ever taste), then you need to head over to Mango King — a small shop located in the midst of paddy fields, just down the road from the Paddy Gallery.
Other than the heavenly smoothies, Mango King also sells snacks and other beverages.
Unless you’re vegetarian or allergic, it would be a shame to visit Sekinchan and not try the seafood. Sekinchan has too many seafood restaurants to mention and there are both halal and non-halal options available.
On our way back to Kuala Lumpur, we stopped by at Faridah Mentarang Bakar to try the local specialty: the mentarang (duck mouth clams). Bigger than mussels, the duck mouth clam has a mild taste and is a must-try in Sekinchan. Another unusual dish we tried for the first time was grilled horseshoe crab (belangkas bakar).
5. Coconut Shake at Sekinchan Coconut Farm
Just when you think there are no more interesting things to do in Sekinchan, here comes the Sekinchan Coconut Farm. How do you feel about sipping on some velvety smooth coconut milkshake while enjoying the breeze under the cool shade of coconut trees?
The coconut farm is only open to visitors on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Other items on the menu include pandan coconut water, coconut cookies, coconut candy, coconut pudding, waffles, fried chicken, prawn crackers, herbal eggs, rainbow roti canai, popiah (spring rolls), oden, dumplings, rojak, sweetcorn, seasonal fruits, keropok lekor, and nasi lemak.
How Long to Spend in Sekinchan
It is possible to visit Sekinchan on a day trip from Kuala Lumpur. If you start early and the weather is great, there’s a good chance that you will be able to see most — if not all — of the attractions in Sekinchan within one day.
However, I would highly recommend staying in one of the homestays in Sekinchan, so that you get to wake up to the green splendor of the rice fields. If you’re planning to visit Kuala Selangor and do all the tours as well, then it is definitely a wise decision to stay for at least one night.
Where to Stay in Sekinchan
Sekinchan is not short of unique accommodation options. Currently trending are hotels that are made of recycled freight containers, like the one we stayed at:
Probably the most famous container hotel in Sekinchan, this eco-friendly accommodation looks pretty both inside and outside. Each of the containers is painted a different color to reflect its fun and whimsical vibe. They made me think of candyfloss!
The interior is also tastefully decorated and the space so well-utilized that you forget you’re actually inside a freight container. Padi Box is located in the midst of paddy fields, which allows you to see the greenery right from your bed. From RM118/night for a Standard 2-Pax Room.
Read the full review: Padi Box, Sekinchan — Container Hotel Amidst Rice Fields
While Padi Box is rainbow-hued, Farm Ville Cafe & Homestay is all red and black, contrasting beautifully with the green of the fields. It’s just a short distance away from Padi Box, so we made a quick stop there on our morning ride.
Also featuring freight containers as their building structures, this homestay is equipped with a swimming pool with a slide, a trampoline, a BBQ area, a ping pong table, and karaoke system. From RM98/night for a Deluxe Twin or King Room.
Yet another container hotel in the middle of rice fields, Villa Chee seems to want to blend with the surrounding, thanks to its bright green facade. This accommodation has a garden and a swimming pool on its terrace, and some of the rooms come with private balconies. You can also have BBQ on the rooftop. From RM205/night for a Superior Queen or Deluxe Room.
Container hotels not your thing? Prefer something more conventional? Check out other hotels and homestays in Sekinchan here.
I can’t believe that in all my years in Selangor, I had never visited Sekinchan, especially considering just how many attractions it has got to offer. As I haven’t yet managed to cover them all, it seems like a repeat trip is in order.
Again, here are a few reminders for those of you who plan to visit this place:
- Sekinchan can be very hot, and even more so if you’re not used to tropical heat. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and bring your sunscreen/hat/sunglasses, preferably all three.
- Timing is everything when you visit Sekinchan. So, make sure you check the harvesting schedule before you go. If you’re planning to do the Sky Mirror, check the tide schedule as well.
- Sekinchan can be a little weekend-centric. Going on weekdays means less crowd, but don’t count on every shop to be open.
- Be respectful — do not trample on the poor rice!
Have you visited Sekinchan? What did you like most about it? Share your experience in the comment section below.