Long Pasia (The Complete Guide)

Before we begin, check out this video we put together of our journey to Maga Waterfall.

In the southwest corner of Sabah, high up in the hills, two rivers meet. One is red (Pasia River) and one is clear (Matang River). At this convergence there lies a sleepy village known as Long Pasia. The inhabitants here are known as the Ludayeh. Lundayeh are friendly and welcoming. Their food is to die for, especially their locally grown rice. Long Pasia is a place of amazing beauty, unspoiled nature, and unique culture and history rooted in the jungle. Visiting Long Pasia is an absolute must if you love adventure and venturing off of the beaten path.

We’ve put this blog together as the first part in a series about Long Pasia. This blog covers everything you need to know about going to Long Pasia and what to do when you’re there. Click on any of the links below to navigate to that topic.

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View of Long Pasia from a hill in the village.

The Village of Long Pasia

The village of Long Pasia has existed in one form or another in its current area for many generations. Long Pasia’s history is rooted in folklore and legend such as the legendary warrior and first Lundayeh, Upai Semaring. Much of the history people know of Long Pasia and their area revolves around oral history passed down over generations. In addition to the legends, there is archeological evidence of people inhabiting the Long Pasia area more than a thousand years ago. This evidence includes tombs, rock carvings and ceremonial mounds.

Present day Long Pasia is home to about 1000 inhabitants. Most of them are of Lundayeh heritage. The people who live in Long Pasia are typically subsistence farmers. Their primary crop is a type of rice known as Adan and it is absolutely delicious. Adan rice is grown only for personal consumption.  As a result, there are no farmers in Long Pasia who are growing the rice for commercial sale. Despite this, we were able to buy some from a villager when we visited. Ours didn’t last long when we got home, we ate it right away.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) put together a cool brochure on Adan rice.  Click Here to view it.

Only the basic necessities

Due to it’s remote location, Long Pasia remains a place of only the basic necessities. There is no electricity here. Some houses have a generator that they run for a few hours at night for light and a bit of TV watching.

There is no paved road to Long Pasia. The village can only be reached by a fairly primitive dirt road used by logging trucks. Subsequently, during times of heavy rain the road becomes very difficult to navigate and is only passable by 4 wheel drive vehicles.

Although Long Pasia is a difficult place to get to, some modern comforts have begun to spring up. Within the past few years, a cell phone tower has been constructed and the villagers are able to now get 3G phone signal and reliably make phone calls. Many people in the Long Pasia also have satellite TV. Additionally, the village has a clinic, a primary school, churches, and a library. On the outskirts of the village, there is a small military base for soldiers who are tasked with monitoring the nearby border of Sabah and Kalimantan (Indonesia).

A recent solar power installation for the Long Pasia school.

Despite the existence of these modern implements, visiting Long Pasia makes you feel like you have stepped into another world. A world where the hustle and bustle of our modern lives becomes unimportant. No doubt this is partially due to the remoteness, but a much larger part of this is the amazing Lundayeh people who inhabit Long Pasia and their chilled out way of life.

The Lundayeh People of Long Pasia

The Lundayeh people of Long Pasia share common roots with other peoples in the highland areas of Sabah, Sarawak, and Kalimantan. Although they are of the same heritage, the Lundayeh in Sarawak and parts of Kalimantan, are known as the Lun Bawang.  If you ask a local in Long Pasia, they will tell you they are Lundayeh.

Jerry, our amazing Lundayeh guide.

In the not too distant past, the Lundayeh practiced headhunting, much like many of Borneo’s indegenous tribes. Headhunting is in the past now and the way of life here is a relaxed one. The inhabitants of Long Pasia are some of the most welcoming and accommodating people you will ever meet. Furthermore, it’s evident in one of their favorite sayings, “Pelan Pelan”, which means slowly*.

*”Pelan pelan” is a slang variation of the Malay word perlahan, which means slow or slowly. When said twice in a row, it is done so for emphasis.

Why visit Long Pasia?

Long Pasia is truly off the beaten path. Due to it’s remote location there are few, if any tourists. Usually if there are tourists, they are mostly Malaysian. If you are looking to get off the tourist trail, this is a prime location. It’s not just being off the beaten path that makes Long Pasia worth visiting.

Long Pasia offers you an array of experiences. Here you will find incredible natural features, amazing jungle, historically significant sites, and the unique culture of the Lundayeh people of Sabah. If you are looking for adventure, Long Pasia is a good choice. The opportunity for hiking is pretty limitless. Some of the guides in Long Pasia know the jungle so well that they can take you just about anywhere.

In our opinion, this is one of the best places to visit in Borneo or Asia for that matter. Long Pasia has it all, adventure, culture, history, and people who really welcome you like family.

This recent news article by the New Straits Times, highlights some of these historical treasures in Long Pasia and their fragility.

Ultimately, Long Pasia will become a more modern place as Sabah continues to advance.  It’s great for the people there.  Conversely, it means Long Pasia may not remain the quaint sleepy village it is forever.  For this reason,  If you’re thinking of going to Long Pasia, we recommend heading there sooner rather than later.

Visiting Long Pasia

Top Peak Travel provides several packaged options to visit Long Pasia and stay with our friend, Nooh Dawa. You can visit our tour package page here if you are interested.  For something more in depth, we can put together a custom package to suit your liking.

If you want to go on your own, we’ve done our best to provide you with the relevant information that you might need to find your own way, but if you have any questions, feel free to contact us and we can help you out.

How to get there

Getting to Long Pasia is a challenge. From Kota Kinabalu, you’re looking at a drive of about 5 and a half hours to reach Long Pasia. That is of course assuming there has not been any rain. When rain gets thrown into the mix, it means the driving time to Long Pasia can increase drastically.

If you are a visitor to Sabah, we recommend you arrange transport ahead of time.  Furthermore, if you don’t have lot’s of time to spare, it’s best to arrange everything beforehand. You can contact us and we can help you arrange it.

If you want to visit Long Pasia on your own, your best bet is to arrange a driver from the village to meet you in the town of Sipitang. Luckily, it’s relatively easy to find your own way to Sipitang either by bus or taxi. The other option is to rent a 4 wheel drive vehicle in Kota Kinabalu, however, the daily rates can be prohibitively expensive (it is possible to do it though!).

Directions

We’ve included the google maps directions below in case you choose to go yourself.  Luckily, google maps has recognized the logging roads and does provide you with the correct route to follow to arrive in Long Pasia.

From Kota Kinabalu, you will follow Jalan Sipitang Beaufort (Also known as A2 or AH150) until you reach the town of Sipitang.

A few kilometers past the city center, you will take the third exit on a roundabout on to Jalan Sipitang-Tenom (if you reach the border of Sarawak, it means you have missed this turn!). You will follow the path at this sign marked “Kg. Paal, Kemabong, Tenom”

Follow Jalan Sipitang Tenom until you reach a right hand turn for Kg. Mendulong (see street view image). There is also a sign at the junction for Long Pasia Homestay (see street view image). This is the road you will follow all the way to Long Pasia. A few kilometers after turning on this road, it will turn into a rough dirt road for the rest of your trip.
From this point, we recommend you rely on Google Maps directions to reach Long Pasia otherwise you may end up turning off onto a road that leads to nowhere. In our experience, these turns are few and it’s not too difficult to make sure you are going the right way.

Again, we must emphasize, if you choose to go on your own, you must have a 4 wheel drive to navigate the bad conditions of the logging roads. Here is the map with directions from Kota Kinabalu

Drive Time from Kota Kinabalu

5.5 hours in good weather.  In bad weather anywhere from 1-3 hours additional depending on the severity of rain.

Distance from Kota Kinabalu

245 km (approximate)

Transportation Information

Kota Kinabalu to Sipitang

  • Road Type: Tarmac
  • Bus Service:  Yes
  • Taxi Service: Yes
  • Private Driver: Yes
  • Type of vehicle required:  Any

Sipitang to Long Pasia

  • Road Type: Unpaved logging road
  • Bus Service:  No
  • Taxi Service: No
  • Private Driver: Yes
  • Type of vehicle required:  4x4, 4-wheel drive

What to expect

To emphasize what we mentioned above, reaching Long Pasia is no easy feat. Over the years, the road to Long Pasia has slowly been improving.  At the present time the road is ok, but it still requires a 4 wheel drive vehicle to reach the village.
No matter how you do it, the drive to Long Pasia is long and rough. Just getting there is an adventure in itself. We recommend stopping along the way to admire the view and take in your surroundings. You will notice that through the course of this drive, you transition from the high population areas of the coast to the sparsely populated interior.  Despite this transition, you might not believe your eyes when you crest the hill into Long Pasia, as you enter a full on village full of houses.

The long drive in will have you thinking Long Pasia must be a tiny primitive place, but you will find that Long Pasia, although remote, supports a healthy population.

Where to stay

Long Pasia has a number of homestays you can choose from. Most of them cannot be found online, but when you arrive in the village, you can ask around or look for this sign above the doors on houses to know if they are offering homestay accommodation.
We recommend Nooh Dawa’s homestay (click here for a link to the map).  Firstly, the benefit of staying with Nooh Dawa is his wife’s cooking. Seriously, it was to die for. Secondly, when you stay with Nooh Dawah, he can directly arrange any trips into the jungle and to the amazing sites around Long Pasia.

What to do. What to see.

Long Pasia is a place of real adventure. There are waterfalls, mountain lakes, caves, ancient rock carvings, flower filled jungle meadows, and wildlife.

In this section, we are going to give you the details on how to reach these places when you are in Long Pasia and after that, we’ll describe several of them in detail.  This list starts off with our favorite place in Long Pasia, a place called Maga Waterfall.

All of the sights around Long Pasia take some trekking to reach, but it is worth it. What is particularly notable is that most of the treks take you through unspoiled, rarely visited rainforest.  That means that you will get a firsthand look at truly wild jungle.

Below is a photo of the illustrated map located near the library in Long Pasia. From the map, you can see that there is a multitude of places you can visit in Long Pasia.

Jungle Trekking – How to visit the sites in Long Pasia

You will have to trek through the jungle to reach most of Long Pasia’s best sites. The terrain is typically rough with lots of hills. Additionally, it gets hot during the day and the humidity can be a bit bothersome; however, due to the high elevation of the area, the level of heat is tolerable.

We recommend that you have a decent level of physical fitness to trek around Long Pasia as some of the treks can be very challenging and all of them take some effort.  The difficulty is due to the hilly nature of the highlands and the immense growth of tropical jungle.

It’s important to realize that if it has rained recently, there will be a lot of leeches. There is no method to avoid leeches completely, but there are many ways to mitigate leeches. The good news is that they aren’t dangerous, just annoying and strange.  In fact, leeches aren’t known to transmit diseases.  They leave that to the mosquitoes.

Guides

Generally speaking, you will need a guide to be able to visit any of the sites around Long Pasia. You can arrange a guide through The “Guardian of the Jungle” himself, Nooh Dawa.  Conversely, you can arrange your guide ahead of time by contacting us (link below). It is our understanding that there are a few other guides around the village, but we are not sure who they are (If you happen to know, leave a comment and we will add them in). Guides can be arranged upon your arrival, but we highly recommend arranging one beforehand. If you’re interested, you can contact us and we can arrange a jungle guide for you.

You definitely need a guide to visit the sites around Long Pasia due to the fact that the best sites to visit are typically several kilometers from Long Pasia, through thick jungle. The trails aren’t easily discernible and even more so, there is sometimes no trail all. It’s certainly not all bad to bring a guide because they are very knowledgeable about the jungle, they can help you carry and prepare your food (yum!), and above all, if something happens, they know the fastest routes and the quickest ways to find help.

Top sites to see in Long Pasia

We’re gonna fill you in on the best places to go in Long Pasia. Firstly, we’ll start with our favorite, Maga Waterfall.
Maga Waterfall
Maga Waterfall is an absolutely stunning multi-tiered waterfall located in pristine rainforest. It’s about an 11km walk from Long Pasia.  On the whole it takes 4-8 hours depending on your fitness level, weather conditions, and how often you stop. In addition to its beauty, the waterfall is shrouded in legend and the locals revere this place as a magical place.

The water in the river is dyed red. This is not from mud, but appears to be due to some other natural phenomenon like minerals or tannins; however, we aren’t completely sure.

First Tier of Maga Falls.

Above the waterfall, at a point where 2 rivers converge is Nooh Dawa’s camp. He and his sons have hauled all of the materials here on foot and built everything. The facilities are basic but comfortable. Just below the camp, the confluence of the two rivers has created a great spot for swimming.

The chilly water of the river is amazingly refreshing, especially following a hard day’s hike to reach the camp.

In summary, if you hike to Maga Waterfall, you will spend the night here with your guides.

Confluence of two rivers at the Maga campsite.

Relaxing at the Maga campsite.

Generally speaking, the trek to the waterfall is pleasant. The terrain is not overly challenging, but the distance and jungle conditions make it a difficult hike to reach Maga. If you are in decent physical condition, it will be no problem for you to reach Maga Waterfall.

Using a fallen log to cross a small river on the way to Maga Waterfall.

As you trek to the waterfall, you will pass several spots that are related to the legend of Upai Semaring.  This includes the large stone slab where he took his lunch and rested. Once you reach Maga, the guides will show you the giant footprint in the rock that came from Upai Semaring.

One of the many large trees on the way to Maga Waterfall.

Your trek to Maga will also take you through some stunning jungle. There are massive trees, wildlife, and enchanting views of the river.
Caves
By taking a short detour from the trail that leads to and from Maga Waterfall, you can find yourself at a cave formed by a split in the rock formation. Bats reside in part of this cave and can be heard before you can actually see the cave.
Depending on your level of comfort, you can descend into the cave. It is important to note that descending into the cave is a bit dangerous, therefore you should only do it if you feel comfortable with the conditions.

To enter the cave, you will lower yourself down by scaling the rock and holding on to a large rope. It is a bit hair raising as it is difficult to see what is below you, but that’s what adventure is all about. The interior of the cave is not terribly exciting, rather getting in and out of this cave is the adventure.

Just beyond the cave there are a couple of other notable spots to check out.  First is a small cave known as Lepo Batu. This spot is where the legendary warrior Upai Semaring and his wife found shelter and rested. The indentation in the ceiling was supposedly left by Upai Semaring’s wife when she stood up suddenly and hit her head on the cave ceiling.

Lepo Batu – the cave where the mythical Lundayeh warrior Upai Semaring stayed with his wife.

If you continue on the detour a short bit further, you will come to an area of giant boulders surrounded by cliffs on each side. This is an exceptionally beautiful area and worth taking the detour to check out.
Flower Garden (Pfayeh Maga)
Not too far from Maga waterfall (10-30 minutes) there sits a unique area of the jungle. It is a large open area (which is rare for the jungle) that sees a huge bloom of flowers and orchids from July-September. If you are visiting Long Pasia during this time of the year, this garden is a must see.  When we visited, the garded was out of season.  Due to this, we unfortunately weren’t able to get pictures.
Sinipung Hill (Bukit Sinipung) & Sinipung Lake
Another great place to visit is Sinipung Hill and Sinipung Lake. Reaching this area is a hard trek.  The trail goes straight up the hill.  There are no switchbacks or hiking gentle slopes to the top.  This means that you will spend several hours in the jungle heat going straight up the hill to reach the top. You will find that its all worth it however, as you will be treated with great views overlooking the small valley of Long Pasia.

Just near the summit of Sinipung hill is Sinipung Lake. This lake is shrouded in myth and villagers were afraid to visit for many years. Less than an hour’s trek from the summit, you will find a stunning waterfall called Rekong. Sinipung is home to many types of orchids and pitcher plants. They thrive at the high elevation and if you keep your eyes peeled, you may just find something special.

If you have the time and you are up for the challenge, Sinipung is definitely worth visiting and with the help of a guide, you could wrap this location in with a trip to Maga Waterfall and really challenge yourself.

Rock Carvings

There are two sites near Long Pasia where you can see ancient reliefs carved into rocks.  Batu Inarit is the first and closest site. There is another site located somewhere near the Sarawak/Sabah border. According to local legend, these rocks were carved by Upai Semaring, who was so strong that the carvings were made simply by him running his finger along the rock. Recently, researchers have determined that these carvings are more than 600 years old.

Batu Inarit is the easier of the two to find and also the one that is closer to Long Pasia village. It is located on the Matang River (Sungai Matang) on the way to Fefuken Falls. This video by John Kong shows the Batu Inarit (about 31 minutes in).

Wildlife
The remote forests of Long Pasia are home to an abundance of wildlife. Although you won’t see elephants and orangutans here, there are many animals which are spotted consistently.  We have included a few of the common inhabitants below:

  • Mouse Deer
  • Barking Deer
  • Bearded Pig
  • Langurs (leaf monkeys)
  • Pig-tail Macaques
  • Rhinocerous hornbills

There are many more as well animals as well, however, it must be remembered with jungle trekking in a such an immense forest that there is no guarantee you will see anything. But if you keep your eyes and ears peeled, you will probably have a good chance to spot something during jungle treks in Long Pasia.

In addition to the animals, there are always unique and interesting insects like this bee’s nest we found as we were heading for Maga Waterfall.  Furthermore, if you keep your eyes peeled, you may just see strange and unique mushrooms, orchids, pitcher plants, and much more.

Other Notable Sites

The Long Pasia area contains so many hidden treasures that it would take weeks to see everything and we would have to write a book to fill you in on all of them. Below is a list of some of the other notable sights in this area:

  • Ceremonial Crocodile and Serpent mounds – Ancient mounts constructed for Lundayeh ceremonies.
  • Historical burial sites – One of the burial sites has been determined to be more than 1000 years old.
  • Ancient Chinese Jars – These jars were buried with wealthy members of the area and they are priceless historical artifacts.
  • Fefuken Falls – Another amazing waterfall located on tha
  • Mt Muruk Mio – Muruk Mio is the tallest peak around. It can be reached by trekking from Long Pasia and ancient burial sites and ceremonial sites can be visited along the way.

What to Bring

We’ll keep this list brief. We’ve tried to include all the basic necessities you will need for trekking in the jungle around Long Pasia. If you just staying in the village, you will only need to bring what you would bring to any other town.

First and foremost we want to mention that the daytime can be quite hot and humid.  Night times there can get fairly cool, so you definitely be ready for both hot and cold.

  • Good sturdy footwear suitable for trekking (recommend the local Adidas Kampung shoe).
  • Waterproof jacket or poncho.
  • Water bottle & drinking water.
  • Backpack suitable for trekking (recommend internal or external frame backpack with hip straps).
  • Head torch/handheld torch + spare batteries.
  • Personal clothing (fast drying clothing is recommended).
  • Leech socks.
  • Dry bags or plastic bags to protect electronics from rain.
  • Sunscreen/insect repellent/personal medication.
  • Rehydration salts (available at local pharmacies).
  • Personal first-aid kit.
  • Camera (recommended).
  • Sleeping Bag.
  • Towel.
  • Water purifier (the guides will boil water for you and it is suitable for drinking. If you are worried that is not sufficient, it is recommended to bring your own water filtration).

How Long to Stay

The length of your stay is up to you; however, we have some basic recommendations to help you maximize your time.

In the event you are visiting the village only, 2 nights is probably sufficient.

If you are planning to do any trekking then you should stay a minimum of 3 nights. This allows you to get settled in the afternoon you arrive and have 2 full days for day treks or the ability to do an overnight trek.

If you are planning to visit multiple sites (ex Sinipung Hill and Maga Waterfall) then you will need to stay more than 3 nights. Have a look at our multi-day itineraries for some idea on how long you should stay.

There is no maximum amount of time you could spend in Long Pasia and there are so many things to do and see in the area, you could probably spend 2 weeks here and still not see everything.

How to arrange a trip to Long Pasia

Ultimately, there are a few ways to arrange your trip to Long Pasia. First is by arranging your trip through a local travel agent/tour company.  Secondly is by simply showing up.

The best and easiest way to arrange a trip to Long Pasia is to let us handle it for you (time for our shameless self promotion).

Top Peak Travel works closely with the “King of the Jungle,” Nooh Dawa and his family to arrange a trip for you. We are a full service tour company, so this means Top Peak Travel can arrange everything for you from transport, packaged tours, or your own personalized, custom trip to Long Pasia.

Top Peak has worked with the people of Long Pasia for many years and we have established a great relationship there, however, we’re not the only game in town.  There are several other tour agencies in Sabah that can arrange a trip for you as well. You should have no problem finding agents offering Long Pasia with a few web searches.

If you want to plan and go yourself, it is difficult but not impossible.  There are not many people in Long Pasia who are proficient in English and the phone lines are somewhat hit or miss, but with a dictionary or translator app, you can probably communicate proficiently enough.  In conclusion, your best bet for going on your own would be to simply show up, find a homestay, and with a small amount of effort, you should be able to find a guide.  On a final note, if you want to do it yourself and you have some questions or need some guidance, don’t hesitate to contact us.  We are happy to help you figure it out.

 Contact us to book a tour today.

Click here to check out our Long Pasia Trips

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Travel Bucket List of Sabah Borneo for Nature Lovers

Travel Bucket List of Sabah Borneo for Nature Lovers

Travel Bucket List of Sabah Borneo for Nature Lovers

07

August, 2018

Nature Lovers' destinations in Sabah Borneo

 

Kawang Forest Trekking

Long Pasia trekking expedition

Travel Bucket List for nature lovers

No one can deny that Sabah Borneo is one of the best travel destinations that fit for any travelers out there. Blessed with Malaysia’s highest sacred mountain, lush rainforest, and tropical sandy beaches. No wonder some people said that Sabah Borneo is one of the Malaysian true gems that rich in natural wonders. Even for nature lovers, they would agree to that statement.

If you are a nature lover and won’t mind a little bit of adventure, then choose Sabah Borneo for your holiday. Sabah Borneo will never disappoint you in satisfying your travel cravings. We have listed out some of the destinations in Sabah Borneo that will be perfect for you as nature lovers. It’s time to put them on your travel bucket list!

1) Kinabalu National Park, Kundasang

Travel bucket list for nature lovers

Kinabalu National Park. Photo: azry A Hassan

Kinabalu National Park covers about 75,400 hectares of area. It is one of the greatest attractions in Sabah Borneo. Kinabalu National Park gazetted as Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home of some of the richest assemblies of plants in the world as well as various birdlife species. Apart from the abundance of flora and fauna, the park also features the highest mountain in Malaysia – Mount Kinabalu. Kinabalu National Park will not fail to keep you be in awe with its wonderful natural treasures.

Travel bucket list for nature lovers

Trekking into the Kinabalu National Park Trail. Photo: Sol495

Travel bucket list for nature lovers

A tourist looking at the rare plants in botanical garden. Photo: Eduard-Ozerin

2. Kawang Forest Reserve

Travel bucket list for nature lovers

Kawang Forest Reserve

Kawang Forest Reserve offers a great cityscape day trips from Kota Kinabalu. Take the opportunity to get close to nature. Trekking through the Kawang Forest Reserve offers you a chance to marvel at the nature along the way. Kawang Forest Reserve is also an excellent camping spot and other recreational activities. It is considered as one of the hidden gem of Sabah Borneo as this forest is rarely explored by any tourist. It is a perfect chance to experience the untouched nature for holiday in Sabah Borneo. The best thing about it, it is only about 30-45 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu City. Related article: Top day hikes around Sabah Borneo

Travel bucket list for nature lovers

Twisty Vine in Kawang Forest

Travel bucket list for nature lovers

Wild mushrooms in Kawang Forest

3. Lupa Masa Rainforest Camp

Travel bucket list for nature lovers

Lupa Masa Rainforest Camp Balcony 

If a day in the jungle is not enough, then why not spend your Borneo holiday in the jungle? Lupa Masa Rainforest Camp is the perfect place to get intimate with nature. The camp is located on the lower slopes of Mount Kinabalu National Park. It sets amidst in the primary rainforest in an idyllic riverside position. You can see there are open-air huts and basic facilities there which creates the jungle vibe. This is a great opportunity for you to spend your holiday in the jungle. You can also gain some knowledge of jungle survival skills from an experienced local guide. Feel free to join the guided day and night walks for a chance to spot wildlife, birds, and plants at the campsite area.

Travel bucket list for nature lovers

Relaxing at Lupa Masa Campsite area

Travel bucket list for nature lovers

Lupa Masa Rainforest Camp Mini Waterfall

4. Crocker Range National Park

Travel bucket list for nature lovers

Crossing through the suspension bridge 

Jungle trekking is the best when it comes to experience more about the natural wonders of Sabah Borneo. Thus, put Crocker Range National Park into your travel bucket list. The park is rich with flora and fauna, which some of the species are endemic to Borneo. You can also gain insight into locals living in the rural area. Learn a thing or two about the unique culture and traditions that can only be found in Sabah Borneo. Crocker Range National Park is also a good place for birdwatching as it has many rare species of birds that are endemic to Sabah Borneo. It hosted as one of the birding destinations for the annual Borneo Bird Festival. Going for a trekking through the Crocker Range National Park is no doubt will leave a memorable experience in your Borneo holiday.

Travel bucket list for nature lovers
Travel bucket list for nature lovers

5. Maliau Basin

Travel bucket list for nature lovers

Seven tier Maliau Falls

Looking for more off-the-beaten-path for your holiday in Sabah Borneo? Then, plan a trip to Maliau Basin. It also is known as Sabah’s Lost World, as there are many areas in Maliau Basin left untouched. Though few areas explored in Maliau Basin, it proved to be home to some of Sabah Borneo’s rarest and endangered species of wildlife. Such wildlife is Sumatran Rhinoceros, Banteng, Orangutan, Proboscis Monkeys, Borneo Pygmy Elephants, Clouded Leopard and Malayan Sun Bear. There are also about 300 species of Birds discovered in Maliau Basin. Apart from that, various species of pitcher plants, orchids, and Rafflesia flowers can also be found in Maliau Basin too. The main highlight of Maliau Basin is to trek to the majestic 7-tiers of Maliau Falls. So, if you are a nature lover and an adventure seeker, Maliau Basin is the place you should be spending for your Borneo holiday.

Apart from the places given, there are other places in Sabah Borneo that are also worth for nature lovers. It’s never too late to add those places to your travel bucket list and cross them out. Need help with planning your travel to Sabah Borneo? We’re only one click away to assist in your travel arrangement to these amazing places!

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Spectacular waterfalls in Sabah Borneo

Spectacular waterfalls in Sabah Borneo

Spectacular waterfalls in Sabah Borneo

23

April, 2018

Sabah Borneo’s geographical structure is not only a mix of beaches and tropical rainforest, but it also has mountainous terrain, which is mostly in the western part of Sabah Borneo. Apart from that, this mountainous terrain has one of Malaysia’s highest mountain being part of it, located on the Crocker Range; Mount Kinabalu is truly a sight to see (4,095 meters above sea level). There are also several mountains and hills in Sabah Borneo that are traversed by an extensive network of river valleys and most are covered with dense tropical Borneo Rainforest. With these mountainous terrains of Sabah Borneo, it is not a surprise that Sabah Borneo is also rich with many spectacular waterfalls, some are not known to many and probably have not even been discovered yet! For the ones that are known or have been discovered, below is the list in which you can put into your Borneo Holidays wish list.

1) Langanan Waterfall, Poring Hot Spring, Ranau

Spectacular waterfalls in Sabah Borneo

Langanan Waterfall, Poring. Photo: Epicphals

Langanan Waterfall is located in Poring Hot Springs, Ranau, and it is considered one of Sabah Borneo’s highest waterfalls at about 120 m in height. It is suitable for adventurous trekkers as it requires about 2 hours (or more) trekking through the lowland tropical forest in order to reach the waterfall. Just don’t forget to wear leech socks and wear some waterproof shoes or jungle rubber shoes known as Adidas Kampung to avoid the slippery ground.

2) Kipungit Waterfall, Poring Hot Spring, Ranau

Spectacular waterfalls in Sabah Borneo

Kipungit Waterfall, Poring. Photo by: Wen0329

Kipungit Waterfall is also located in Poring Hot Springs and it takes about 20-minutes walk from Poring Hot Springs to reach there. With a height of only about 12 meters, this waterfall offers a perfect place for group or families to go for a picnic and enjoy the refreshing bath.

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3) Mahua Waterfall, Tambunan

Spectacular waterfalls in Sabah Borneo

Mahua Waterfall, Tambunan. Photo: Borneo Rimbawan

Take a 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu City, passing through small villages and forests on the Crocker Range, until reaching the serene district of Tambunan, where it houses one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sabah; Mahua Waterfall. A pristine natural waterfall that is nestled deep in the tropical forest of the Crocker Mountain Range, it became one of the top local destination among the locals for a weekend getaway. Apart from that, Mahua Waterfall area also offers nature enthusiast to witness the various species of flora and fauna.

4) Ulu Kionsom Waterfall, Inanam

Spectacular waterfalls in Sabah Borneo

Ulu Kionsom Waterfall, Inanam. Photo: Bearnerd Bondly

Ulu Kionsom Waterfall is the closest recreational park in Kota Kinabalu City, as it is only about 20 km away from the city or a 30-40 minutes drive from the city. To reach the park, you will pass the entrance of Mari Mari Cultural Village, which is one of the famous tourist destination that showcases Sabah Borneo’s cultural heritage. The recreational park is also known as waterfall park because of its unique features of having multi-tiered cascades of waterfalls over a hill slope. The lowest level is easily accessible via a cement walkway and it is a famous spot for families as well as groups to gather for picnic. However, the upper tiers can only be accessed through a steep jungle trail from the entrance. Please be cautious when walking every step as it is slippery!

5) Gelas Hill Waterfall, Tawau Hills National Park

Spectacular waterfalls in Sabah Borneo

Bukit Gelas Waterfall, Tawau Hills Park. Photo: Zulhelmy Abdul Rahim

Gelas Hill Waterfall is located in Tawau Hills Park, which is about 24 km and a 30-minute drive from Tawau Town. A lush green forest and protected park that offers naturalist with its diverse species of flora and fauna that can be found there. To reach Gelas Hill Waterfall, a jungle trail is provided and you will need to walk through the trail for about 2.4km (Note: Be careful when walking on a jungle trail when it is raining, as it will be very slippery and muddy). However, once you reach Gelas Hill Waterfall, get ready to be in awe by the marvelous waterfall view and feel the tranquility of the area. In addition, Gelas Hill Waterfall is also known for its famous picnic spot for families and friends, some adventurous and nature lovers can also camp there in order to experience more on the nature’s beauty in that area.

6) Tawai Waterfall, Telupid

Tawai Waterfall is considered the biggest and least-known waterfall in Sabah Borneo. With its height about 95 meters, it is located deep inside the Tawai Forest Reserve, a Class I protected forest managed by Telupid Forestry Department. Therefore, you would need to apply for a permit from Sabah Forestry Department Headquarters before entering the protected area. To reach Tawai Rainforest Camp, you would need to drive about 4 hours to reach Telupid Town first from Kota Kinabalu City, and another hour drive from Telupid Town to Tawai Rainforest Camp (depends on weather and road condition). Once arriving at Tawai Rainforest Camp, continue on a jungle walk and witness many species of Borneo Pitcher Plants along the way until you are welcomed by the spectacular view of the waterfall. Don’t forget to wear proper hiking shoes and bring some drinking water while trekking to the waterfall.

Spectacular waterfalls in Sabah Borneo

Tawai Waterfall, Tawai Forest Reserve Telupid.

6) Murug Turug Waterfall, Tamparuli

Murug Turug Waterfall is the newest tourist destination especially for those who are into hiking activity. One of the hidden gems in Sabah Borneo and located at Minangkob Village in Tamparuli district, which only takes about 1 hour 30 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu City (For more information, you can check on their facebook page). Before reaching there, you will need to make some booking first before going there, and there are three packages offered ( Package A: Murug Turug Waterfall – 4km return; Package B: 5km return – 3 waterfalls; and Package C: 12km return via Malas Kalas Trail & witness 7 waterfalls) for you to choose. In addition, if you are interested to experience the natural wonders of Murug Turug, be sure to wear proper hiking shoes or the jungle rubber shoes which known as “Adidas Kampung” when you go for a hike and exploring the area. Moreover, feel free to bring some extra clothes, just in case you feel tempted to go for a swim at the clear emerald green river of the waterfall.

Spectacular waterfalls in Sabah Borneo

Murug Turug Waterfall, Tamparuli. Photo: Kierra Sally Tan

8) Madai Waterfall, Kunak 

Spectacular waterfalls in Sabah Borneo

Madai Waterfall, Kunak. Photo: Imran Kadir

Listening to the gushing sound of waterfalls are always nice to hear, especially when you are there to witness it yourself. A delightful sight when you get to see the 40-meter Madai Waterfall, which is located in the Madai Baturong Forest Reserve, about 15 km from Kunak Town. It attracts many locals and tourist to witness this interesting waterfall which is often referred to as the twin waterfall because it cascades down on two separate sides but merges together when there is a heavy downpour of rain. However, be cautioned not to swim beyond the shallow part of the river because it is known that there is a deep hole at the center of the pool area, plus there is no lifeguard in that area. Therefore, for safety precaution, you can just soak your feet in the shallow water and be mesmerized by the beautiful sight in front of you.

9) Maliau Waterfall, Maliau Basin Conservation Area 

Spectacular waterfalls in Sabah Borneo

Maliau Waterfall, Kunak. Photo: Patrick

An unusual sight if you get to see the 7-tiered Maliau Waterfall for your holiday adventure in Sabah Borneo. It is located deep within the Maliau Basin Conservation Area or known to many as “The Lost World of Sabah”. If you are an avid trekker, this place is considered an adventure to you with its surrounding unspoiled nature, rare species of plants, animal sightings and the Maliau Waterfall as your reward. However, you must obtain a permit to enter Maliau Basin in advance from Yayasan Sabah before deciding to go there. Moreover, you will need to venture into the pristine rainforests that took about 2-3 days(depends on weather condition) to reach Maliau Waterfall.

Apart from these nine waterfalls discussed above, there are still many waterfalls in Sabah Borneo that are yet to be explored. Whatever it is, all waterfalls in Sabah Borneo are amazing when you get to witness it firsthand, and it will be hard for you to not remember the delightful sights of waterfalls as well as its beauty. Can’t wait to dip into the cooling waters of the waterfall? Then, start planning yourself to make a trip to Sabah Borneo!

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Fun Activities To Escape The Heat in Sabah Borneo

Fun Activities To Escape The Heat in Sabah Borneo

5 Fun Activities To Escape The Heat in Sabah Borneo

10

April, 2018

Kota Kinabalu City, the capital city of Sabah Borneo welcomes you with delicious local food, unique culture and interesting sights. Kota Kinabalu City is a small city in which you can walk around for a day or two in your Borneo Holidays. But, the only challenge is braving the sun and heat if you choose to walk.

Yup, the sweltering heat of this tropical island is the neverending hotness that we have to endure on a daily basis. As a concerned local in Sabah Borneo, here are some activities that can keep you away from the heat in Sabah Borneo. Be sure to thank me later 🙂

Fun activities to escape the heat in Sabah Borneo

Surfing in Kudat beaches. Photo : Charles Mawan

1) Island Hopping at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (TARP) Islands

Fun activities to escape the heat in Sabah Borneo

A visit to TARP Islands is a must when you are in Kota Kinabalu City for a day trip! It consists of Gaya Island, Sapi Island, Manukan Island, Mamutik Island and Sulug Island. These islands are a paradise for day trippers. You can have a lot of fun on these islands, with beach activities such as snorkeling and diving. Moreover, these islands are only 20 minutes by boat from Kota Kinabalu City. You can choose to go for parasailing, banana boat ride, snorkeling, or you can swim by the beach. No matter what kind of activities offered here, I’m sure you will never want to leave this water paradise!

2) Underwater Sea Walking

Fun activities to escape the heat in Sabah Borneo

As weird as it sounds, but you can actually do sea walking activity in Sabah Borneo! Of course, you will need to wear a helmet that acts as a breathing pipeline. What’s more, you will be amazed at the beautiful view of marine life. Additionally, you will get an up-close experience with the cute coral fish. It’s a perfect activity for you to spend with your family. This is a Must-Do activity on your Kota Kinabalu Tour!

3) Coral Flyer Zipline

Fun activities to escape the heat in Sabah Borneo

Ready for an adrenaline rush in Sabah Borneo? The Coral Flyer Ziplines offer you a memorable experience for your Borneo holiday. It’s known to be one of the longest island-to-island flying fox activity in Kota Kinabalu. The activity is easy and safe is their number one priority. So, enjoy the thrills and have fun!

4) White Water Rafting

Fun activities to escape the heat in Sabah Borneo

Are you the type of person seeking adventure for your Borneo Holiday? Then, bring your travel buddies and go White Water Rafting. An adrenaline-rush activity with some exciting and tough rapids. You can choose to go for a relaxed excursion of Kiulu River (Class 1-2) or challenge yourself to Padas River(Class 3-4). Whichever you chose, these activities are definitely the highlight of your Borneo holiday!

5) Discover Scuba Diving

Fun activities to escape the heat in Sabah Borneo

When you are in Sabah Borneo, diving is a must to escape the heat. If you are not ready to take the plunge and get diver certified, you can try Discover Scuba Diving. A wonderful experience for you to learn diving skills and see the beauty of the underwater world. You will learn to wear scuba equipment, basic safety rules and breathe underwater. What’s more, when you take part in the Discover Scuba Diving, you are on your way to becoming a certified PADI diver!

There you go! These are our choices of five cool activities that you can do in Sabah Borneo to escape the perpetual heat. We hope you will have an enjoyable time in Sabah Borneo, despite the heat. Oh, one more thing, if you’re ever in need to arrange your travel plans in Sabah Borneo, feel free to reach out to us!

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Surround yourself with nature for Borneo Holidays

Surround yourself with nature for Borneo Holidays

Surround yourself with nature in

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holiday

Last January, I went to Tawau to attend one of my best friend’s wedding. Tawau is the third largest town in Sabah Borneo, after Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. Besides, Tawau is also the main gateway to the world’s top dive destination in Sabah Borneo – Sipadan Island.

Last January, I went to Tawau to attend one of my best friend’s wedding. Tawau is the third largest town in Sabah Borneo, after Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. Besides, Tawau is also the main gateway to the world’s top dive destination in Sabah Borneo – Sipadan Island.

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Feel free to read the history and some information about Hills Park 

Tawau Hills Park is a recreational park and conservation area that is about 20 km away from Tawau Town. Getting there will be hard for non-local, as there is no bus available there. It is best to go there by using a taxi or Uber/Grab. Luckily for me, most of my friends live in Tawau, so I manage to get there without difficulty. The road from Tawau Town to Tawau Hills Park is quiet and secluded while passing by hills of oil palm plantations.

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Entrance/ conservation fee before enter the park 

There is an entrance/ conservation fee that you will need to pay before entering Tawau Hills Park. With its size of 28,000 hectares, this park is open daily from 8 am until 4.30pm. Various comfortable facilities are available at the park for visitors. Such facilities are:

  • Canteen
  • Public toilets and shower rooms
  • Barbecue and picnic area
  • Suspension bridges
  • Jungle trails
  • Accommodations and hostels
  • Meeting/seminar/workshop room
  • Soccer Field/ Mini Hall & Court Games, and
  • Surau
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Tawau Hills Park Map Trail

Tawau Hills Park is also known by the locals as “Table”, which is based on a waterfall’s name. It became as one of the perfect places for family/group activities to do during the weekend or holidays. Several activities to do there are:

  • Picnic and barbeque
  • Swim in the river or the Sulphur Hot Spring
  • Jungle Trekking Canopy Walkway
  • Visit botanical garden
  • Climb Mount Magdalena (1,312m) or Mount Lucia (1,202m)

If a day trip in the park is not enough for you, you can go do an overnighter at Magdalena Chalet or Bombalai Jungle Lodge. Besides that, there is a hostel available in the park, but it is a bit far from the headquarters. This hostel is for those who are going for climbing Mount Magdalena or Mount Lucia.

Unfortunately, my friends and I miss the chance to go for climbing activity at the Tawau Hills Park. So, if you like climbing, be sure not to make the same mistake like we did and left our hiking shoes at home! Since we don’t have that much time left in Tawau, we spent most of our time at the main headquarters park area.

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Tawau Hills Park Area

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

One of the tallest tree I’ve seen!

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Greenery everywhere in Tawau Hills Park 

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Where shall we go?

Frankly speaking, being in Tawau Hills Park gave me a peace of mind and tranquility far beyond me chilling at home. Breathing in the cool clean air and swimming in crystal clear river while surrounded by lush green trees. Somehow, I regretted not bringing my hiking shoes that day, so I can explore more of the park area. I have read in one of the blogs that Tawau Hills Park do have some amazing waterfalls and Sulphurous Hot Springs (darn it!).

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Feels the tranquility of the park area 

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Crossing the suspension bridge to go the other side

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Apart from that, I manage to meet a few long-tailed macaques wandering around the park area. But, be aware and do not get close to the macaques. because they are mischievous animals and will grab anything from you. Funny thing is, it happened to us that day.(haha!) We were holding a plastic full of snacks, all of sudden one of the macaques jumped from the tree and frightened us. Lucky for us, we manage to run away from the macaques as fast as we could. (Haha!) It was unfortunate that it also happened to another visitor who left his backpack unattended. A group of cheeky macaques managed to steal a bag of chips and other things from his backpack! (Note: Keep an eye on your belongings and bags when visiting any Park)

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Spotted LingZhi Mushrooms that are known to have many health benefits especially on lower the blood pressure and reduce allergies

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Spotted a dragonfly that its body is almost similar colour like a tree branch

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

I find this flower very beautiful, which can be found near the headquarters park office

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

And I spotted a tiger leech at the toilet door! (oh gosh!)

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Where can you get this beautiful view like this?

Around 4 pm, time to head back to Tawau town, but it was not enough for me to explore Tawau Hills Park. I am sure to visit Tawau Hills Park again soon and this time I won’t be going for a short trip there. Planning to visit Sabah Borneo for Holiday? Be sure to put Tawau Hills Park as one of your must-visit for Borneo Holidays! Check out our choices of travel destination for this 2018, click here.

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7 day hikes in Sabah (updated)

7 day hikes in Sabah (updated)

7 Day Hikes in Sabah (Updated)

30 October, 2018
Our (updated) list of 7 Day Hikes in Sabah gives you some suggestions for easily accessible day treks and how to get there.

We’ve handpicked this list from some of our favorite hiking trails around the beautiful state of Sabah. Whether you are looking to fill in a day of downtime, only have a short stay, or you are traveling on a budget, we’re sure these 7 day hikes will help you make the most of your time in Borneo.

Scroll down or click on a link to get started.

1) Kinabalu National Park

Day Hikes in Sabah Borneo

Difficulty:

Easy to Moderate (depending on which trails you take)

Distance:

Varies (anywhere from short treks of a few hundred meters to 10+km if you try to hike them all)

About the Kinabalu National Park trek:

Climbing Mount Kinabalu is one of the absolute top experiences in Borneo, but summiting the mountain is not the only rewarding hike that Kinabalu National Park offers.  There is also a well connected network of trekking trails within Kinabalu National Park that offer stunning, up-close views of the mountain as you wander through pristine cloud forest.

Kinabalu National Park’s trail network offers you the opportunity to see birds, mammals, insects, fungi, orchids and pitcher plants that only exist within the park along with other species only found in Borneo.  In fact, if you are an avid birder, Kinabalu National Park is a must.

Check out this short video on the park from Travel News Digest

What to expect at Kinabalu Park:

Once you arrive at the park entrance you will be required to pay the entrance fee (at the time of writing it is RM 15 for foreigners and RM 3 for locals). Along with your ticket and receipt, the ticketing staff will provide you with a map showing the various routes and their respective trekking distance.

From the park entrance, you are free to wander on your own over the many trails. The distance you trek is up to you. The trails are interconnected and well marked. We found that it’s easy to navigate given the simple map provided at the park headquarters.

The type of trekking you can expect is ranges from easy to moderate. A few of the trails have steep inclines, but generally speaking, you won’t find any trails that will test your limits (unless you find yourself climbing Mount Kinabalu, but you need a guide and permits for that.)

There are several eateries spread throughout the park. The food is moderately priced, but if you are looking to go on the cheap, it is better to pack a lunch before you head into the park or wait until you exit Kinabalu Park to eat at one of the many restaurants surrounding the park entrance.

If you do end up eating in the park, Liwagu Restaurant is a nice stopping point.  Several trails bring you to the restaurant and the atmosphere on their outdoor dining area is pleasant and scenic.  The food isn’t spectacular, but if you’re hungry from trekking around the park, we’re sure it will hit the spot.

Finally, we recommend that you stop by at the botanical garden during your trek around the Kinabalu National Park.  There is an entrance fee of RM 5, but it’s worth it. The botanical garden contains many orchids and pitcher plants that are endemic to the park only.  MySabah has done a nice write up on what you can find in the Kinabalu National Park Botanical Garden.   

Unfortunately, there aren’t a significant amount of online resources that provide comprehensive lists of what plant and animal life can be found in Kinabalu National Park, but we have found a site that gives a quick overview.  You can check it out below:

Fauna of Kinabalu

Flora of Kinabalu

For further reading you can check out these books that are available at sellers throughout Borneo.

Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo by Phillips and Phillips

Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo by Phillips and Phillips

Kinabalu by Antony Van der Ent

There are many other useful guides for animal and plant life of Borneo, but these should get you started.

Trekking Trail in Kinabalu National Park

How to get to Kinabalu National Park:

We offer a day trip to Kinabalu National Park from Kota Kinabalu, so if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get there, you can check it out here.

If you are looking to get to Kinabalu National Park on your own, there are several options.

From Kota Kinabalu:

The easiest option is to catch a minivan or shared taxi heading for Ranau from the Padang Merdeka Bus Terminal located near downtown Kota Kinabalu.  Tell the driver you would like to be dropped at the Kinabalu National Park entrance.

The Padang Merdeka terminal operates from about 6AM until about 6PM, daily.  Prices may vary, but expect to pay around MYR 20 or so (here is a link to Sabah Tourism Board’s Price Guide). Please note that the driver will only go when the vehicle is full.  It is best to arrive early in the morning or you may end up waiting around for other passengers to show up.

You can also take a coach bus from the Inanam bus station in Kota Kinabalu, but if you are staying downtown, you will have to take a taxi to get there or if you are daring, you can catch a local city bus to inanam…if you can figure out which one to take (hint:  they will be labeled KK-Inanam or something similar)

The city bus station serving Inanam is located just down the street from the Padang Merdeka terminal.

From Sandakan:

From Sandakan, we recommend taking a coach bus headed for Kota Kinabalu.  Unless you are staying in the park, it might be best (and cheaper!) to stay overnight in Ranau as the bus journey will take about 6 hours.   

You can catch the coach bus at the Sandakan Bus Terminal.  There are several bus services there to choose from.  Make sure to tell the ticket staff you want to purchase a ticket to Kinabalu National Park entrance or Ranau (depending on when you are heading to the park), as the fare all the way to KK will be more. The ticket fare should run about MYR 45 and the journey is about 6 hours. The bus will stop for food and toilet breaks along the way.  The bus will drop you directly at the Kinabalu National Park entrance or at the local terminal in Ranau, depending on which one you request.

From Ranau:

From the local bus terminal in Ranau you can go to Kinabalu National park via taxi, or by minibus heading for Kota Kinabalu (cheaper).  You can also try Grab Taxi. but we have heard it’s pretty hit or miss.

2) Tawau Hills National Park – Waterfall

Day Hikes in Sabah Borneo
Second on our list of Day Hikes in Sabah is a true diamond in the rough, the rarely visited Tawau Hills National Park.

Difficulty:

Easy to Moderate (depending on which trails you take)

Distance:

Approximately 6KM round trip.

Highlights:

  • Off the beaten path.
  • Stunning virgin rainforest boasting some of the tallest tropical trees in the world.
  • Swimming in a crystal clear jungle river.
  • Diverse animal life including pygmy elephants, civets, flying squirrels, and hornbills.

You better get to this place before it blows up.

About the Tawau Hills National Park waterfall trek:

We’ll get to the trek in a moment, but first a little bit about this hidden gem. Tawau Hills National Park (or Taman Bukit Tawau as it’s known in the malay language) is among the least visited of the national parks in Sabah. Honestly, we are not sure why because this place is stunning.

The two main peaks of Tawau Hills park are Mount Magdelina and Mount Lucia. They are volcanic in origin. As is the case with volcanic areas, the surrounding soils are very rich and create a perfect environment for lush tropical rainforest.

Until just recently, Tawau Hills was home to the tallest tropical tree in the world. That tree has now been surpassed by more than 50 others at nearby Danum valley, but don’t worry, this trek will take you through relatively undisturbed virgin rainforest. There is a trail that will take you to this massive tree, as well.

The waterfall is known as Glass Falls, or Air Terjun Bukit Gelas in malay. The trek to the waterfall at Tawau Hills starts from the park headquarters. The trail mainly follows the river and the walk is about 3km, one way. The trek takes about an hour if you walk at a normal pace. We recommend making it a slower trek and taking time to admire the surroundings of this lush, virgin rainforest.

Tawau Hills Park trail signboard.
There is plenty of wildlife around.  Most mammals and birds are active early in the morning when the temperature is not so hot.  So if you want the best chance to see wildlife, be sure to head to the park early in the morning.  Wildlife can still be spotted throughout the day so make sure to take your time and keep your eyes and ears open.  You never know what you might see.

Once you arrive at the falls, make sure to take a dip in the river.

One thing to note is that these trails can be flooded if there is heavy rain, so make sure to keep aware of your surroundings.  Reportedly, Tawau Hills Park has implemented a flash flood warning system, but I wouldn’t rely purely on that system.

There are some other trails in the park you can explore if you feel inclined.  There is a mineral hot springs and a trail will take you to the 90 meter tree that formerly held the record as the world’s tallest tropical tree.  Both are also easily doable as day treks.

If you are looking for more than a day hike, it is possible to stay in the park.  The facilities are not amazing, but if you are the adventurous type, it will be fine.

Additionally, there are guided treks to the two main peaks Mount Magdelina and Mount Lucia.  Arrangements for these treks need to be made in advance. You can read more about those treks onSabah Parks Website.

How to get to Tawau Hills Park:

From Tawau, there are few options to get to the park.  It is about 20km from Tawau town. The quickest option is to rent a car for the day and drive yourself to the park.  Many taxi drivers are happy to take you to the park, but make sure you make arrangements with the taxi driver to get back.  They will either wait for you or come back at a set time. The local taxis won’t be cheap (Sabah Tourism reports it will be about RM 30 one way) but perhaps you can provide a bit of a bribe in the form of lunch or dinner to get the cost down.  

There are more than likely Grab taxi drivers who are happy to take you out to the park, but again you will have to negotiate the return trip.  The cost will be slightly cheaper than the normal taxi.

One final option is coordinating a trip to the park through your hotel in Tawau.  Most hotels provide some sort of package for a day trip to the park, but expect to pay a premium.

3) Inobong Substation Hill

Day Hikes in Sabah Borneo

Observation deck at Inobong substation.

Third on our list of Day Hikes in Sabah is an easily accessible hike in the Kota Kinabalu city area.

Difficulty:

Moderate to difficult

Distance:

Inobong Hill – 12 km round trip.

Highlights:

  • Stunning panoramic view of Kota Kinabalu, the ocean, and nearby islands.
  • Short distance from downtown Kota Kinabalu.
  • Opportunity to meet locals who love to hike.

About the Inobong Substation trek:

If you are looking for a challenging day hike near Kota Kinabalu, the trek up to the Inobong substation is an excellent choice.  The Inobong substation is one of several substations that sit on the border of Crocker Range National Park. This is a fairly strenuous hike due to the 12km round trip distance and the nearly 500 meter elevation gain to reach the substation.  Luckily, this hike is over gravel and broken pavement so the terrain itself does not present a challenge.

Although the trek follows a road, there is very little traffic here.  Before reaching the top, the trail will take you through an old cemetary.  Additionally, this hike is frequented by locals, so if you are a visitor to Borneo, it might provide an excellent opportunity to meet some new friends and witness the true hospitality of the residents of Borneo.

Once you reach the substation, you will have to pay an entrance fee to enter Crocker Range National Park.  Once inside, there is a gazebo situated on the edge of the hill, allowing a panoramic view over nearly all of Kota Kinabalu.

Make sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection for this hike.  It is best to try to head out early for this one.

How to get to the Inobong Substation starting point:

From Kota Kinabalu, you can hire a taxi to arrive at the trailhead shown above (we recommend GRAB as its cheaper than the red taxis around town).  Make sure to either give your taxi driver a pick up time or have your phone charged so you can arrange your ride back.

There is a parking area, so if you’ve rented a car or motorbike you can park there.  Speaking of a rented car or motorbike. If you have one, there is another option for this area.

If you have your own transport, you can skip the walk up the hill and instead head into the jungle and get a taste of the Salt Trail (see what we did there).  Simply drive up to the substation entrance and pay your fee. You will continue up a very steep portion of the hill and arrive at the trail head for the Crocker Range Salt Trail.  How far you want to go is up to you, but the trail gets pretty hardcore pretty quickly, so be prepared for steep inclines and root covered trails.

If difficult hiking excites you, check out our 5 day Salt Trail trek.  It will challenge you, but we think it’s one of the best treks in Borneo…and you can tell your friends it’s more difficult than climbing Mount Kinabalu.

4) St. Veronica’s Hill (Bukit Perahu)

Day Hikes in Sabah Borneo

Drone view peak of the St. Veronica’s Hill. Photo by: Bryan Chris Lim

Fourth on our list of Day Hikes in Sabah is St. Veronica’s Hill (Bukit Perahu) located near Tamparuli.

Difficulty:

Moderate (despite the short distance, the trail is steep and can get quite slippery)

Distance:

Less than 2 km round trip.

Highlights:

  • View of sunrise over Mount Kinabalu.
  • Panoramic views of the Tamparuli area.
  • Popular spot for locals.

About the Bukit Perahu/St. Veronica’s Hill trek:

This short hike is just outside of Tamparuli and about an hour’s drive from Kota Kinabalu. Bukit Perahu (translated as Boat Hill) is named as such because there are several large rock outcroppings which resemble the bow of a ship. Depending on your fitness, it’s about 20-60 minutes to reach the summit. We recommend trying to get out to this hike early in the morning to catch the best views and photo opportunities.

Bukit Perahu is popular with the locals in the Tamparuli area. You definitely won’t be alone on this hike, but you will more than likely make some new friends. Bukit Perahu is utilized by the local Catholic population to perform their ‘stations of the cross’ ceremony. You will find the stations dotted along the trail to the top.

How to get to Bukit Perahu/St. Veronica’s Hill:

From Kota Kinabalu, we recommend hiring a car or motorbike and making the journey yourself. We’ve embedded the map below so you can use the pin and follow the driving directions.

It is possible to hire a taxi, however, if you are on a budget, this is probably not the cheapest option.

5)  Bukit Botak/Bukit Bundul (Bald Hill)

Day Hikes in Sabah Borneo

Bukit Botak or Bald Hill has no trees at the top. Photo by Gotoh

Fifth on our list of Day Hikes in Sabah is another easily accessible trek in the Kota Kinabalu area, known by several names, Bukit Botak or Bukit Gundul.  We’ve heard it called both, so we will roll with both names.

Difficulty:

Easy

Distance:

Less than 2 km round trip.

Highlights:

  • Epic sunset watching spot.
  • Panoramic views of the Sepanggar Bay and nearby islands.
  • Popular spot for locals.

About the Bukit Botak/Bukit Gundul trek:

This is another hike not too far from downtown Kota Kinabalu. This is an easy out and back hike to a treeless hill overlooking Kota Kinabalu’s Sepanggar Bay. If you are looking for a quick hike near downtown Kota Kinabalu, Bukit Botak is a good choice. From the top of Bukit Botak, the views of the sunset can be quite spectacular. This spot is another favorite among the locals, but due to the wide open top, you can find a nice spot to have an uninterrupted view of the ever amazing Kota Kinabalu sunset.

How to get to Bukit Botak/Bukit Gundul:

You can hire a taxi to take you to the starting point shown below. Grab taxi is probably the cheapest option to get out there. It is advisable to try and head out before 5PM to catch the sunset as the traffic can occasionally be quite backed up.

6) Kipungit & Langganan Waterfalls, Poring

Here is a video of Langganan Waterfall from NoobFromSabah

Number 6 on our list of Day Hikes in Sabah is a must visit if you have the time.  Langganan falls is 120 meter tall waterfall located inside Kinabalu National Park.

Difficulty:

Easy to Moderate

Distance:

  • Kipungit falls:  approximately 2km round trip.
  • Langanan falls:  approximately 7km round trip.

Highlights:

  • Two stunning waterfalls
  • Bat cave
  • Hot Springs
  • Canopy Walkway

About the Kipungit & Langganan Waterfall Trek:

These two waterfalls are located on the backside of Kinabalu National Park.  They are accessed from the village of Poring, which is the location of the locally famous Poring Hot Springs.  Poring has several restaurants and accommodation options, including our own Lupa Masa Rainforest Camp.Once you arrive in poring, enter the hot spring area and pay the fee to enter the park (RM15 for foreigners).  If you want to hike the canopy walkway, you will have to purchase that ticket separately. It is the same trail to access both waterfalls.  The trail to the falls is well marked and pretty well traveled.

Note:  If you plan to go to the Langganan Falls, you must alert the ticket office for safety reasons.  They will not allow people to hike to the falls after 2 pm. Bring plenty of water for this trek and you should wear leech socks.

Follow the signs for the falls and in about 1 km you will arrive at Kipungit Falls.  This waterfall is about 10-12 meters high. If you are short on time, or looking for a light hike, we recommend turning around and heading back at this waterfall.

The trail that carries on to Langanan falls gets considerably more challenging, so we recommend that only fit hikers attempt this trek.  The payoff is definitely worth it as you will pass a cave with roosting bats (please don’t disrupt their rest) and finally arrive at this towering 120 meter tall waterfall.

Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get back to the headquarters.  Don’t forget to sign out after you get back so the park service knows you have made it back.

MySabah has written an excellent blog on this trek.  You can check it out here.

If you are considering staying in Poring and jungle trekking is your thing, we ask that you stay with us at Lupa Masa Rainforest Camp.  We can wrap this waterfall trek into a guided trek for you in addition to nightwalks and an affordable, relaxing jungle camping experience.

How to get to Poring Hot Springs, Kipungit Falls, and Langanan Falls:

We have written detailed instructions on how to get to Poring on our Lupa Masa website “about us” page. You can find it here.

https://lupamasaborneo.com/about-us/

7) Signal Hill

Day Hikes in Sabah Borneo

Beautiful Sunset as be seen from the Signal Hill Observatory Platform

And finally, number 7 on our list of Day Hikes in Sabah:  Signal Hill.  This isn’t much of a trek, but it’s a quick and easy place to get a walk in if you are in downtown Kota Kinabalu.

Difficulty:

Easy

Distance:

About 1 km round trip

Highlights:

  • Great sunset spot
  • Located in downtown Kota Kinabalu
  • Shop with refreshments
  • great view of the ocean and downtown Kota Kinabalu

About Signal Hill:

If you have an hour or two to spare in Kota Kinabalu, head up to the Signal Hill Observatory. There are a few trails up. One trail starts near the Atkinson Clock Tower and another starting just behind Hotel Garden on Jalan Dewan (also known as Jalan Australia). It’s a short hike up to the Signal Hill Observatory Platform and offers panoramic landscapes of Kota Kinabalu City as well as the Tunku Abdul Rahman Islands.

These are only a few of the many accessible day hikes around Sabah. We’ve linked to a few blogs highlighting some of the other day hikes you can find.

If you are looking for something a bit more challenging or something off the beaten path, we offer a few multi-day hikes through some of Borneo’s most beautiful places. You can check them out here:

Remote Jungle Trekking – Long Pasia

Sabah’s Lost World – Maliau Basin

Jungle Trekking Day Trip – Kawang Forest Reserve

Check out all of our jungle treks here:

Top Peak Travel Jungle Treks

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