LOCATED some 50km away from Kuala Lumpur, Sepang district is the first place visitors to Malaysia will see upon arriving at the KL International Airport (KLIA).
Regarded as a young district as it was only formed in the mid 1970s, Sepang is expected to attract some five million tourists for Visit Sepang Year 2020, bringing in an income of RM5bil in tourism revenue.
The best way to explore Sepang is through the district’s free bus service.
A round trip on any of the four routes will give a quick insight into Malaysian life, covering food courts, rustic village roads and some residential areas.
The free bus service runs seven days a week from 6am to 9pm at a frequency of 45 to 60 minutes and there is free Wi-Fi on board.
The main interchange at KLIA and KLIA2 can take you directly to either the old Sepang town, a dragon fruit farm, the district’s court house or a roadside stop-off to the beach.
The Sepang International Circuit is the first venue that comes to mind at the mention of the district.
Best known for the Formula One (F1) Malaysian Grand Prix races, which took place from 1999 to 2017, the race circuit continues to keep a busy schedule with the annual Motorcycle Grand Prix, World Touring Car Championship and Endurance World Championship. Last year, 169,827 fans watched the Grand Prix.
The Bagan Lalang beach festival, a two-day event held annually sometime in August or September, sees activities like fishing competitions, tug of war matches, sand castle constructions and wau-flying displays.
During low tide, Sepang’s only beach turns into a wide sandy flat stretching out as far as the horizon.
This phenomenon introduces nature lovers to the intertidal zone, a microclimate with the capacity to support organisms capable of adapting to harsh, extreme environments. Visitors can see entire armies of small orange crabs moving across the sandbanks, hairy crabs mating in shallow waters and sea anemones waving their tentacles in the gentle waves. Locals like to dig in the soft mud here for clams.
Between 6am and noon and from 7pm onwards, big waves are a common sight.
The water level is highest during full moon as well as the first and 15th day of every month in the Chinese lunar calendar.
The beach experiences its highest astronomical tides from August to December.
Listed as a top attraction on the Visit Sepang 2020 calendar, it is estimated that 5% of the expected five million visitors will opt for a cruise package along Sungai Sepang.
Fringed by thick mangrove forests and stretches of mudflats, visitors have enjoyed clam hunting and sighted crocodile footprints as well as a variety of other wildlife while travelling on the river.
Anglers can also rent rowboats at a daily rate.
Those looking to get their hands on fresh mussels can put in their request with one of the boatmen. They know where the best farms are located.
The latest attraction is night stays on raft houses built right in the middle of the river. Arrange-ments can be made with operators to have daily meals delivered to you.
Another highlight is the ferry service which takes motorcyclists and pedestrians across Sungai Sepang to Bukit Pelanduk, Seremban.
Dragon fruits are closely associated with Sepang, the same way durians are synonymous with Raub in Pahang.
Visitors will find plenty of these fuschia fruits at roadside stalls in Kampung Batu Satu, where as many as 30 farms grow them.
Adventurous gourmets can try sampling dishes such as fried rice and buns made from part of this fruit.
So big is dragon fruit farming, that landowners are renting out plots and even plants to newbies who want to try their hand at farming.
These are usually small plots, about 0.2ha to 0.4ha, and rates start from RM100 per month. Rental for fruit plants start from RM1 per tree.
For want of a good place for yoga and morning runs, the Cyberjaya Lake Gardens features a tranquil pond with water lilies.
A boardwalk running through a wetland marsh draws birdwatchers who have spotted the likes of crimson and purple-throated sunbirds.
But serious birdwatchers should go to Paya Indah Wetlands in Dengkil, as it is an ecological paradise for about 200 species of flora and fauna.
While entrance is free, the park also features recreational fishing (fees apply) and live feeding sessions of the park’s three resident hippopotamuses, 57 crocodiles and tortoises.
The 3,100ha wetlands, which comes under the purview of the Wildlife and National Parks Department, was formerly a used tin mine. Rehabilitation work to transform it into wetlands began in 1998.