A FUSION of rich cultural heritage blanketed by beautiful landscapes, all a mere 45-minute drive away from Kuala Lumpur. Negri Sembilan offers a backdrop of picturesque serenity, which makes it a favourite among many who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Famous for its Minangkabau-styled architecture, characterised by buffalo horn-shaped roofs (a carry over from the state's first inhabitants from Sumatra), Negri Sembilan has lots to offer. From hot spring theme parks to laid-back beaches, a wooden palace and ostrich farms, there is something for everyone.
Thanks to its relative proximity, Port Dickson is the all-time favourite beach retreat for Klang Valley residents seeking respite from city life. Apart from swimming, it offers a wide range of water-based activities, such as kayaking, jet skiing, windsurfing and fishing.
Touted as the playground resort of Negri Sembilan, miles of its sandy beaches are fringed by shady casuarina trees, palms, and the intricate, aboveground root formations of the Banyan tree.
Teluk Kemang is the most popular beach in Port Dickson, famous for its water sports, water scooter and kayaking. Food stalls, rest houses and camping sites are sprinkled along the shore.
Located 15km from PD town is the Blue lagoon – a secluded cove at the foothill of Cape Rachado (Tanjung Tuan), ideal for swimming, boating, wind surfing, water skiing or just lazing on the beach.
At Kota Lukut, 7km from Port Dickson, stands the fort of Raja Jumaat, built by the renowned 19th century Bugis warrior in 1847 to control the area's lucrative tin trade.
Another relaxing stop is the Cape Rachado Lighthouse. Visitors can climb up the spiral staircase of the 140-year-old fully functional lighthouse for an amazing view of Sumatra's coastline. Legend has it that Hang Tuah acquired his strength and knowledge by meditating at Cape Rachado, and even left his footprint on a boulder.
Not far from the lighthouse lies the mysterious village of Pengkalan Kempas, wherein lies the 15th century tomb of Sheikh Ahmad Majnun, whose epitaph tells the story of how he fell while fighting to save a princess.
Beside the tomb stand three elaborately carved megaliths of unknown origin and use. Locals call them batu hidup (living stones) as they believe the stones grow over time. The place also boasts of the “ordeal stone” – an ancient lie detector for a person under interrogation. The stone allegedly reacts to falsehood by closing upon the liar's fist.
Wet World Resort (Air Panas Pedas)
Located just off the North-South Highway on the main road to Rembau, the hot springs at this water recreation park were discovered by local cattlemen whose grazing cows recoiled in fright when they stumbled onto hot water. It is also said that the Japanese camped here during the occupation, using the hot water to treat their injured comrades.
For the brave and adventurous, two giant slides that twist and turn high across the pools will definitely catch their fancy. If that isn't your cup of tea, try floating leisurely down a man-made canal on rubber “doughnuts”.
Sri Menanti Palace
One of Negri Sembilan's oldest landmarks, the Old Palace in Sri Menanti is one-of-a-kind. Built entirely of hardwood timber with neither a nail nor screw, its long black balcony and wooden pillars are carved with intricate gold flower motifs.
Designed by local craftsmen and carpenters, work began in November 1902 and was completed three years later. From 1908 to 1931, this was the residence of Yang di-Pertuan Besar Tuanku Muhammad.
Other attractions available at the palace include the royal carriage as well as horse rides at the prototype Sri Menanti Minang house with its sweeping roof peaks shaped like buffalo horns.
Cultural Handicraft Complex
Located 200m off the Seremban-Labu interchange, the Taman Seni Budaya is modelled along the lines of traditional Minangkabau architecture. It is a collection of majestic wooden houses showcasing handicrafts and historical artefacts. Established in 1983 the complex houses the State Museum Board headquarters, State Museum, Negri Sembilan House, Top Spinning Court and Istana Ampang Tinggi.
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Jelita Ostrich Farm
Situated just 9km from Seremban town, the farm also boasts the one and only ostrich race track in the Pacific Rim Area. A guide briefs visitors on some of the origins and workings of the ostrich industry. Visitors will also be taken to a breeding pen where you can even stand on the eggs, or feeding the birds off the palm of your hand. For excitement, have a go at riding the birds bareback!
Tampin Recreational Park
Situated in a valley, the Tampin Recreational Park is home to a variety of animals, including birds, long-tailed monkeys, porcupines, swans, peacocks and ducks. The park is a favourite with schoolchildren, who can approach the animals at close range. Apart from a suspension bridge which spans the ridge, visitors will find a fish pond, a basketball court, an aquarium and children's playground.
Seremban Lake Gardens
Just a stone's throw from the town centre, this beautifully landscaped garden is the perfect place to unwind. Concrete benches overlooking a lake allow visitors to sit back and enjoy the scenery and breeze. There are also jogging tracks and tree-lined pathways that cater for the more energetic. Typical to most Malaysian public spaces, one side of the lake is spotted with food stalls.
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