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5 low-key tourist spots in Sabah that deserve attention

 | September 9, 2017

Although already popular with the locals, these five spots have huge potential to become some of the top tourist spots near Kota Kinabalu.


KOTA KINABALU: Tourism in Sabah has transformed by leaps and bounds over the years and almost every month, a new tourism product emerges as enterprising locals scramble to take advantage of this booming industry.

Unfortunately, just as suddenly as some of these products emerge on the scene, they fade away without a trace mostly due to unsustainable business models or a lack of publicity to attract new tourists.

Below are a list of five tourists spots popular among the locals at present although they certainly deserve attention from tourists outside the state and from overseas.

1. Lugas Hill


Standing at over 598 metres tall, this hill is situated in Kampung Kitou in Tambunan, an approximately 103-km drive from Kota Kinabalu.

While the slope would not be considered very challenging by seasoned climbers, the thrill comes from its narrow trail flanked by breathtaking cliffs. Don’t let the photos fool you though as even children can climb provided they are accompanied by an adult and are willing to follow rules.

The stunning view from the top is worth the effort, although it is advisable not to linger too long because of the heat. The hill is not a park and hikers are charged RM30 each for the climb. The fees go towards paying the guides and buying drinks. There is no phone line in the area, so interested climbers are advised to book first by contacting the guides through the Lugas Hill Facebook page.

2. Kibunut River


Homestays are sprouting like mushrooms along this clear, cool river in Kampung Kibunut, Penampang, about 25 minutes from Kota Kinabalu. Here, the villagers practise the ‘Tagal’ system of breeding river products for a period of time before harvesting them at a set date. Visitors here will therefore have the opportunity to feed the fish – at a cost, of course.

The river itself is a treasure to urbanites simply because clean rivers are a rarity in the state these days. The place is usually quite crowded with locals during weekends but deserted on weekdays. Among the facilities are toilets, rooms for rent and resting huts with BBQ pits.

Visitors planning to come on Thursdays or Fridays are advised to call first as some owners may not be around because of the weekly Tamu in Donggongon town. More information can be obtained on the Kibunut River Facebook page.

3. Kuala Penyu volcano mud


This new attraction is located on a private parcel of land, less than 10 km from the town of Kuala Penyu. Unlike the mud volcano in Pulau Tiga, this particular one lays hidden under an oval-shaped pond surrounded by lush vegetation inside an orchard.

Mud volcano is formed when natural gasses build up enough pressure in the earth’s crust to push mud, water and the accompanying gasses to the surface.

However at Kuala Penyu, visitors will need to dive down to the pond’s bed to extract the mud, believed to be rich in iron, magnesium, sodium, calcium and potassium that is rumoured to be excellent for a glowing complexion. Some believe the mud helps soothe irritated skin and some claim it can cure psoriasis and other painful ailments like rheumatism.

While enjoying a mud bath is pretty much out of the question, one can certainly slap some mud on if the owner of the place is informed beforehand to prepare some for interested tourists.

To book a visit, simply contact the Borneo Kuala Penyu Homestay.

4. Tempurung Beach, Kuala Penyu

tempurung beach

A favourite of wedding photographers thanks to the spectacular views from the endless stretches of white sandy beaches, this spot is only about an hour’s drive from Kota Kinabalu. As such, it is really not necessary to stay the night although opting to do so would go a long way into supporting the local economy.

The long coastline is serene, and populated mostly by locals. Occasionally, you can spot water buffaloes taking a dip in the shallow waters.

The place is free from pollution and because the beach is situated far from the city, it makes a perfect spot for stargazing.

Tempurung Beach has a number of resorts and homestays which can easily be found on the Internet if visitors prefer to extend their stay.

5. Nuluh Lapai Lapasan


Hiking is becoming a favourite past time among urbanites in Kota Kinabalu and thanks to Sabah’s natural geography, its citizens are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting the best location for their next hiking expedition.

Nuluh Lapai in Telipok, off Jalan Gayang Lama is maintained by the local community in Kampung Lapasan. The trail is hardly challenging and children are able to scale the heights with apparent ease too. However, the sunsets when one reaches the peak, are breathtaking to say the least.

More information about this spot can be obtained through the Nuluh Lapai Facebook page.


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