In the Footsteps of Hang Tuah

Hang Tuah duelling with a Majapahit Warrior.

The name Hang Tuah is one that keeps cropping up as one travels around Malaysia. He is a historical folk hero but some question whether he ever really existed. Perhaps like Robin Hood, his legend may be based on a real person but his supposed exploits have been embellished with fantasy over the centuries.

Hang Tuah's well

According to the information at his burial site, he was said to have migrated as a child from Bentan (Indonesia?) to Melaka in the early 1400s. He grew up in the village of Kampung Duyung a few miles outside of Melaka city, where this well, claimed to have been dug by Hang Tuah himself, can still be seen.

Tak Melayu Hilang Di DuniaAs youths, Hang Tuah and his friends/relatives Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir and Hang Lekiu became accomplished practitioners of silat, Malaysia’s highly effective form of martial arts. The gang used these fighting skills to fend off pirate attacks and resist incursions from Siam, thus gaining recognition and gratitude from Sultan Mansoor Shah of Malacca (1456-1477) who appointed Hang Tuah as Laksamana (Admiral) and Shahbandar (Harbourmaster).  Malacca prospered during this period and Hang Tuah was said to have coined the phrase ‘Malays will never vanish from the face of the earth’.

Gunung Ledang (Mt. Ophir)

Illustration: Tim Lai

One colourful tale recounts how Hang Tuah, by this time an old man, was commanded by the Sultan to seek Puteri Gunung Ledang’s hand in marriage. The princess laid down conditions that her dowry must comprise a (40km long) golden bridge from Melaka to the top of Gunung Ledang (Mount Ophir) , seven trays of mosquitoes’ hearts, seven trays of germs’ livers, seven jars of virgins’ tears and a bowl of Raja Ahmad’s blood (the Sultan’s son). Needless to say, he was unable to comply.

Hang Tuah and his friends became entangled in various insidious intrigues at the palace. Hang Jebat ran amok, slaying several officials, before Hang Tuah was ordered by the Sultan to kill Hang Jebat. Hang Tuah himself was, by some accounts, murdered by his own brother Hang Kasturi though other versions have Hang Tuah dying of old age.  Hang Kasturi and Hang Jebat’s tombs can be found in Melaka as described on my Malaysia Traveller website.


Here are some of the other places I have visited in Malaysia associated with Hang Tuah:

Hang Tuah's Mausoleum at Tanjung Kling

Hang Tuah’s Mausoleum is located at Tanjung Kling, just outside Melaka.

At the peak of Gunung Datuk in Negeri Sembilan is an indentation in the rock said to be Hang Tuah’s footprint.

At the peak of Gunung Datuk in Negeri Sembilan is an indentation in the rock said to be Hang Tuah’s footprint.

One of Hang Tuah's 'footprints' can be found at Cape Rachado (Tanjung Tuan)

Another ‘footprint’ can be found at Tanjung Tuan (Cape Rachado), Melaka’s enclave near Port Dickson.

Gunung Nuang vs. Datuk vs. Angsi

Three of the most popular peaks to climb in the KL area are Gunung Nuang, Gunung Datuk and Gunung Angsi.  How do they compare?

  • Height. Gunung Nuang is easily the highest at 1439 metres (ranked 86th highest mountain in Malaysia) compared to Gunung Datuk at 884m (ranked 220th highest) and Gunung Datuk at 824m (241st highest).
  • Actual Metres Climbed.  The Nuang trail (via Hulu Langat) starts at about 200m so the net distance climbed is 1239m but there is a nasty false peak and a series of undulations on the ‘never ending road’ which probably take the actual metres climbed back up to around 1400m. The Datuk trail starts at around 80m and is more or less straight up all the way so the actual distance climbed is about 800m. I expect the Angsi trail (via Ulu Bendol) starts at around the same altitude so the actual distance climbed would be in the region of 740m.
  • Distance Walked (Up and Down).  Again Nuang is easily the longest distance, more than the other two put together. For Nuang the distance is 19.2km, which incidentally is even longer than the distance walked to climb Mount Kinabalu (17.4km). The distance walked for Datuk is 9.2km and Angsi is 9.8km. (These heights and distances are my estimates but if any reader has more accurate GPS measurements I would be pleased to revise my figures).
  • Time Taken to Climb. My hiking speed is probably that of someone of average fitness. My timings (for climbing up only) were: Nuang 5 1/2 hours, Datuk 2 hours, Angsi 2 1/2 hours. Coming down should be quicker for most people.


  • Difficulty. None of the climbs are particularly difficult but Nuang, due to the long distance and greater height, requires the more dogged endurance. Datuk has some metal ladders near the summit that have to be scaled but they are not as scary as they look.  Angsi has some large sandy boulders that can only be climbed with the help of ropes which the park authorities have left in place.
  • Views/Scenery. All three hills have similar terrain and vegetation, i.e. thick jungle. At the summit, I think Datuk has the best views because they are unobstructed by trees. The view from Nuang’s peak is partially obscured by trees but great views can be seen from a couple of clearings. Being the highest mountain Nuang has the most far reaching views if the visibility is good but because it takes so long to climb you are unlikely to reach the summit before midday by which time it might be starting to cloud over. Of course you could camp half way up and complete the climb at dawn if you wish. Angsi’s peak is also partly obscured by vegetation but good views can be seen through gaps in the trees.


  • Fees. You are supposed to register and pay a fee before commencing your climb. Nuang RM1, Datuk RM5, Angsi RM5.
  • Leeches. These are likely at all three mountains, depending on the weather/season. I encountered leeches at Angsi but not at the other two.
  • Drinking Water. Trekking in Malaysia’s humid conditions is thirsty work. I took 3.5 litres along to Nuang, 1.5l to Datuk and 2l to Angsi and in each case it was just enough.
  • Access. All three mountains are easily accessible from Kuala Lumpur and can be climbed in one day (Nuang) or a half-day (Datuk & Angsi). Nuang is in Hulu Langat, Selangor and is less than an hour’s drive from most parts of the Klang Valley. Datuk and Angsi are in Negeri Sembilan and can be reached in 1 or 2 hours drive from KL  depending on your location.


I would recommend you climb all three but if I have to chose between them my order of preference would be:

  1. Datuk
  2. Nuang
  3. Angsi

More Information

Please read my reviews of each mountain on my Malaysia Traveller website: