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.
Scroll down or click on a link to get started.
View of Long Pasia from a hill in the village.
The Village of Long Pasia
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.
The Lundayeh People of Long Pasia
Jerry, our amazing Lundayeh guide.
*”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 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
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
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!).
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”
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
Distance from Kota Kinabalu
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
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
What to do. What to see.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Using a fallen log to cross a small river on the way to Maga Waterfall.
One of the many large trees on the way to Maga Waterfall.
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.
Flower Garden (Pfayeh Maga)
Sinipung Hill (Bukit Sinipung) & Sinipung Lake
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.
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).
- 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
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.
- 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
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.