What to see and do in Negri Sembilan
OVER the years, the Negri Sembilan government has introduced several measures to promote its tourism destinations and it intends to do even more to increase the number of tourist arrivals.
Despite having the finest beaches south of Kuala Lumpur in Port Dickson, the state’s tourism revenue is still low, which has prompted the new administration to do even more to attract tourists.
Unlike its neighbours which attract tourists from all over the world, the bulk of tourists visiting Negri Sembilan are locals who usually make day trips to ecotourism destinations still unknown to many outsiders.
Many others come to the state to sample its popular dishes such as the spicy Minangkabau staple dish masak lemak cili api, nasi padang, Hakka mee, handmade traditional cakes and curry chicken bun.
Apart from Port Dickson, there are a few places which attract tourists by the busloads such as the 150-year-old Then Sze Koon Temple, the Cheng Koo Temple which houses the 9.1m-tall Kuan Yin statue (said to be the tallest in the country) and the Nilai 3 Wholesale Centre, said to be the largest in Malaysia.
Accordingly, the Negri Sembilan government has vowed to look at the bigger picture to get more tourists to come to the state.
Mentri Besar Aminuddin Harun, who also assumed the tourism portfolio last May, said his administration will focus more on promoting homestay programmes, water sports, traditional dishes such as the popular Javanese cuisine nasi ambeng, local cultural dances as well as its heritage trail to pull in the tourism ringgit, among others.
“We need to diversify and look at more ways to get tourists to come to Negri Sembilan.
“One way to do this is to promote our homestays like the one in Desa Pachitan, our traditional dances under the Colours of Negri Sembilan banner and watersports events such as snorkelling, fishing and jet skiing,” he said.
Aminuddin said the local community can also play a role in promoting tourism and benefit from it by organising activities such as batik painting and dining while sitting cross-legged on the floor (makan bersilo), as well as selling local dishes such as nasi ambeng.
Nasi ambeng – often served in a platter for a small group, especially during weddings and festive occasions – is a popular dish that consists of steamed white rice, either chicken or beef curry and spicy fried coconut flesh or meat flakes.
Aminuddin said since the state has many homestays, it is only practical that they are promoted as they would.
Many of these homestays are also located near popular eco-tourism destinations which lack proper lodging facilities.
Prior to this, the state government had introduced the korban and aqiqah programme during the Hari Raya Aidiladha celebration to attract Muslims from Singapore.
The programme was a success as tourists were not only able to participate in the programme, but also able to experience life in a traditional Malay village.
Aminuddin said his administration would also promote the heritage trail in Seremban so that tourists could visit some of the older buildings in town.
These include grand and stately colonial buildings built more than a century ago, the King George V secondary school, the Ban Joo Lee building which was once the district police station, Masjid Jamek Seremban, the Lit Sent Gong and Tam Gong temples as well as the Sei Yap Association and Fui Chew Association buildings.
Other interesting places to visit in Seremban include the Sri Bala Thandayuthapani Hindu Temple built in the late 1890s, the Church of the Visitation (1899), Wesley Methodist Church (1915), Sri Selva Vinayagar Temple or Chettiar Temple (1922), the Virgin’s Temple or Kanni Kuil built atop Victoria Hill, the State Mosque (1967) which has unique architecture, state museum and cultural complex.
There is also the Tuanku Ja’afar Royal Gallery, which houses exhibits on the former state ruler who reigned for 42 years as Yang-di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan.
To achieve its target for tourist arrivals, the state administration can also do more to promote other supposedly under-publicised tourism destinations in the state.
These include Lata Kijang, which is among the highest waterfalls in the country as well as Jeram Toi, Jeram Tenggek and Jeram Gading in Jelebu.
The state is also home to Gunung Besar Hantu, which is rich in its biodiversity and among the cluster of mountains located at the tail-end of the Titiwangsa Range. It is also reputed to be among the highest peaks in Peninsular Malaysia.
Gunung Datuk, Gunung Angsi, Gunung Telapak Buruk and Gunung Berembun are also popular with local tourists, who usually make day trips to trek up the hills.
The state also has recreational parks such as Bukit Maloi, Ulu Bendul, Pasir Panjang and Tanjung Tuan as well as the Sungai Menyala edu-ecotourism centre and Pedas Hotsprings which if properly promoted, can be another source of revenue for tourism.
Sculptures of the ‘eight immortals’ greet visitors to the Then Sze Koon Temple in Ulu Temiang, Seremban.
Built in 1900, Masjid Jamek Seremban is believed to be the oldest mosque in the state and among the oldest in the country.
The goods sold at the Nilai 3 Wholesale Centre come from all over the world such as these artificial flowers from Japan.
A crowd enjoying a fireworks display at the Church of the Visitation in Seremban.
Aminuddin says his administration will promote the heritage trail in Seremban so tourists can visit the older buildings in town.