We visited Kundasang, the small town near Kinabalu National Park in the district of Ranau, recently. Here is the list of things to do in Kundasang based on our 2D1N itinerary.
We were here because this was the best place to acclimatize ourselves to the high altitude before scaling Mount Kinabalu. With an altitude of 1900m, Kundasang is a quaint little town with lovely scenery and the stunning Mount Kinabalu as the breathtaking backdrop.
Our Kundasang itinerary includes all the places we planned for. First, we passed the Tamparuli Suspension Bridge, a sight that was a feast for the eyes. We also stopped by Sinalau Bakas Himbaan Bongol at Tuaran to try the famous Sinalau Bakau, a local smoked wild boar meat. Another stopover was Pekan Nabalu, where we could soak in the local culture, purchase souvenirs, and appreciate the spectacular scenery of the surrounding mountains.
Upon arriving at the Kundasang Market, we were greeted by the frigid weather and misty scenery. Kundasang is a peaceful town, and the people were friendly, providing a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Kota Kinabalu.
While in Kundasang, we visited the Desa Cattle Dairy Farm, a popular tourist spot. The farm was home to hundreds of cows and provided a glimpse into the dairy farming industry. Sosodikon Hill has a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, another must-visit site, even if you do not intend to climb Mount Kinabalu. Visiting the Alpaca Club was a memorable experience as we could touch and feed the alpacas. We also visited the Poring Hot Spring and walked across the suspension bridge.
Don’t miss the video we shot at Kundasang. It is at the end of this article. 👇👇
The highlight of our trip to Kundasang was seeing the Rafflesia, a rare and beautiful flower in full bloom, in the nearby village.
Here are the details of the itinerary, which covers all the things to do in Kundasang :
1. The Tamparuli Suspension Bridge
The Tamparuli Suspension Bridge is a sturdy structure located in the sub-district of Tuaran. It is an alternative route local communities commute between Tamparuli and the main road. This attractive bridge has a legendary tale and has withstood numerous flood events.
A plaque is erected in memory of two British soldiers who died on May 18, 1960, while attempting to save a local woman.
According to local folktales, the Tamparuli Low Bridge was built by a British engineer during the post-war colonial period to provide better access for the villagers. However, the bridge repeatedly collapsed during the rainy season due to the river currents. After several unsuccessful attempts to rebuild the bridge, the villagers consulted a medium, who helped them communicate with the spiritual world. The spirits revealed that the bridge was constructed on a sacred site and demanded fair compensation for a human sacrifice to the spirit Ombuakar, who lived inside the Tamparuli River.
Today, the Tamparuli Suspension Bridge is a popular tourist attraction due to its colorful appearance and tall structure. Visitors can enjoy a traditional dance performance by a community of volunteers at the starting point of the bridge. Crossing or visiting the bridge is free, but visitors may leave a tip for the dancers.
2. Stop over at Pekan Nabalu
The charming Pekan Nabalu is a popular stop for locals and tourists traveling from Kota Kinabalu to Kundasang town. It is located 12 km from Kinabalu Park.
It’s hard to miss this bustling rest stop as many vehicles are parked here while people browse various food and handicraft stalls set up by local vendors.
The main attraction in Pekan Nabalu is the Nabalu Market, which sells a variety of local handicrafts, souvenirs, fruits, vegetables, and traditional food condiments. There are also public washrooms, a mini-market, and numerous restaurants to take a break and enjoy a meal.
Most notably, the area features a lookout point where visitors can snap pictures with the breathtaking Mount Kinabalu as a backdrop. This view is supposed to be awe-inspiring when you can see the mountain clearly without clouds. Unfortunately, it was raining with heavy mist when we stopped by in the afternoon.
3. Sinalau Bakas Himbaan Bongol
If you’re traveling from Kota Kinabalu to Kundasang, try the local delicacy, Sinalau Bakas. You can find the most popular Sinalau Bakas stalls along the roadway from Tamparuli to Kundasang. It’s hard to miss as busloads of tourists usually stop to taste this native flavor of Sabah.
Sinalau Bakas means smoked wild boar in the indigenous language. The preparation is simple – slabs of marinated wild boar meat are smoked over an open fire pit while the cook flips the succulent flesh and fans the flames underneath. The meat is freshly cooked only after you place your order, so you may need to wait at least 10-15 minutes.
We enjoyed our Sinalau Bakas with traditional chili sauce, which added a little extra kick to the already flavorful dish. Despite just finishing lunch, we ordered RM10 worth of Sinalau Bakas among the four of us and finished everything in a flash.
4. Desa Cattle Dairy Farm
Dubbed the ‘Little New Zealand’ of Sabah playfully, this place will transport you to the famous dairy farms of Kiwi land with its cool breeze, misty surroundings, and highland landscapes that create an overseas-like atmosphere.
What draws visitors here is the expansive cattle farm that produces a whopping 900,000 liters of milk annually across 199 hectares of land. Most milking cows are of the Holstein Friesians breed, renowned for their exceptional milk production capabilities.
For families seeking an ideal vacation destination, this place offers an array of activities, such as feeding the calves with bottled milk, observing the milk processing procedures, and taking an educational tour of the facilities. If you’ve ever been curious about the milk collection and commercialization process, Desa Cattle Farm is the perfect place to visit.
Desa Cattle Dairy Farm has transformed into a sustainable agro-tourism venture that produces high-quality local-made products such as fresh milk, yogurt, cheese, and their famous Gelato ice cream. There is a retail section where we tasted the dairy products made with their milk.
5. Sosodikon Hill
Sosodikon Hill (Pyramid Hill) is a popular attraction in the tranquil rural village of Kundasang. Situated at 1465 meters, the hill provides breathtaking views of the valley below and the towering Mount Kinabalu on a clear day.
Adjacent to Sosodikon Hill is the Desa Dairy Farm Kundasang. Therefore, we decided to visit the hill after exploring the farm in the morning. We had to register at the counter before starting the hike.
The entrance fee to Sosodikon Hill is RM5 for adults and RM3 for children for Malaysians, RM10 for international adults, and RM5 for children.
The hill’s name, Sosodikon, is derived from the Dusun language word “sodik,” a traditional trap that locals once used to capture animals such as deer, squirrels, birds, and other small creatures. The hill’s location was ideal for the villagers to set traps when the area was primarily forested. A sosodikon is a spot where traps can be set.
The hike to the top of the hill is short and easy, covering only about 400 meters from the entrance and taking just 10 minutes. We were greeted with various beautiful and vibrantly colored flowers blooming on both sides of the trail as we ascended.
We saw families and individuals of all ages, including young children and the elderly, hiking with us since the hike was not very challenging. There is no need to hire a guide to climb this hill.
A viewing platform is at the top, with Mount Kinabalu as the backdrop and the valley and farmhouses scattered in between. We were fortunate to have a cloudless and blue sky, which provided the perfect opportunity for taking memorable pictures and selfies.
We climbed Mount Kinabalu the next day. Here is our “Climbing Mount Kinabalu- the comprehensive guide of the whole hiking trail.” You will love to read it even if you do not intend to climb!
6. The Alpaca Club
Imagine being surrounded by a group of adorable alpacas!
If you’re an animal lover, consider visiting the Alpaca Club, a quaint alpaca farm in Kundasang. Here, you can pet, feed, and unwind with these friendly animals at this petting zoo, which offers a peaceful landscape with Mount Kinabalu as a stunning backdrop.
Alpacas resemble llamas, with their long, slender necks, soft tufts, and innocent eyes, and are furrier, gentler, and just as charming.
You can get up close, learn about their characteristics, and even call them by name. We offered them some dried grass to munch on while other visitors busily took selfies with these furry creatures and their never-ending smiles.
There are numerous picturesque spots to take some lovely photographs, including a unique bench that looks like a bird’s nest, surrounded by twigs.
You can stay at the small chalet inside the Alpaca Club to spend more time with the alpacas. The two cozy homestay rooms, you can enjoy the breathtaking views of Mount Kinabalu and the undulating countryside from the balcony.
You can visit the Alpaca Club without prior reservations or bookings. Admission costs are as follows: Adults pay RM15/pax, children aged 4-12 pay RM10/pax, and those under four years old pay RM2/pax.
7. Poring Hot Spring
Poring derives its name from a type of giant bamboo thriving nearby, approximately 40 kilometers from Kinabalu Park headquarters. It is nestled in a lowland forest, about 400 meters above sea level, where gigantic dipterocarp trees can be easily viewed from the pathways.
The hot sulfur spring bath at Poring is renowned and was initially established by the Japanese during World War II. The open-air baths are filled with hot spring water, and an indoor bathtub is also available for those who prefer privacy.
Poring offers a breathtaking treetop walk on its 43-meter-tall canopy walkway.
Animals that reside in tropical rainforests reportedly spend 75% of their time underneath the forest canopy, which is situated more than 20 meters above the ground. This naturally derived hiding place serves as a sanctuary for numerous creatures. If you want to observe these creatures, the canopy walkway is the perfect location. When observed from the ground, animals under the canopy appear less wary of humans.
The canopy walkway comprises zig-zagging suspension bridges made of rope and steel cables that run through the crowns of the tallest, strongest, long-lasting trees, such as “Menggaris” (Kompassia excelsa) and “Seraya” (Shorea sp). This walkway includes many horizontally suspended 5-meter aluminum ladders that have been securely fastened together. The open rungs of the ladders have walking boards covering them, and they are connected with polyester ropes to ensure safety. Netting is enclosed on both sides of the walkway.
The closest waterfall to Poring Hot Spring & Natural Reserve is Kipungit Waterfall.
Kipungit is quicker to get to than Langanan Waterfall, which requires a two-hour hike. From the Canopy Walk ticket gate, it takes about 15 minutes to get there.
We cool ourselves in the chilly waters of the falls after the climb to the canopy walk.
Although the waterfall may not be tall, heavy rainfall can create a powerful water flow. Therefore, visitors should exercise caution when swimming or playing in the water, as even shallow pools can pose a risk if the current is strong.
8. Kundasang Market
We arrived at the misty Kundasang Market in the evening. The market was a lively hub of activity, selling everything from fresh vegetables to beautiful flowers.
Kundasang is at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu with its stunning mountain as the backdrop loomed large in the distance and majestic peaks shrouded in mist. We took a moment to take in the beauty of the surroundings.
Just behind the market is the Kundasang war memorial. This monument honors the British and Australian soldiers who died during the infamous Sandakan Death Marches.
Unfortunately, we were late as it was already closed in the evening.
9. Sighting Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world
While exploring the Poring area, we noticed some signs erected by the local villages that indicated the blooming of Rafflesia. In the past, we have attempted to see the largest flower in the world at different locations but were unsuccessful due to the absence of blooming Rafflesia during our visit.
Determined not to miss the opportunity this time, we immediately headed toward the area indicated by the sign. Rafflesia is known for its massive size, with some species growing up to 1 meter in diameter. We were lucky to catch the blooming of two Rafflesia, one on day three and the second on day 4.
10. Natural fish spas at Bombon Kg. Marakau
We stopped by Bombon Kg. Marakau to have a fish spa on the first day in Kundasang. We chose here than the more popular Luanti Fish Massage since it was quite late in the evening.
It was a unique experience that left us feeling rejuvenated. We held the fish pellets in our palms, and the fish swam around our legs, sucking away the dead skin from our feet, leaving us tingling. It gave us a good feeling and the joy of watching the fish, which came close and allowed us to touch them. Being able to interact with them was an amazing experience.
We highly recommend spending a night in Kundasang, whether you’re an adventurous hiker planning to climb Mount Kinabalu or simply seeking a respite from the sweltering heat. The stunning scenery, friendly people, and delicious cuisine make Kundasang a highlight of our trip to Sabah.
Watch our video shot during our trip to Kundasang 👇👇
If you have read this blog post this far, don’t miss out on the video shot during our trip to Kundasang. Click the image below to watch on YouTube (shot in high definition!).