Before Tenom was famous for the aromatic Tenom coffee, it was primarily known as home to the most fearsome warrior tribe Borneo has ever seen: the Timugon Murut people. The Murut were the last of Sabah’s ethnic groups to renounce headhunting, with Antenom (1885-1915) being their most influential and renowned warrior. The Timugon Murut people reside […]
Before Tenom was famous for the aromatic Tenom coffee, it was primarily known as home to the most fearsome warrior tribe Borneo has ever seen: the Timugon Murut people. The Murut were the last of Sabah’s ethnic groups to renounce headhunting, with Antenom (1885-1915) being their most influential and renowned warrior.
The Timugon Murut people reside in a small, well-defined area in the Tenom Valley. Spanning about 20 miles from north to south, over half of the Timugon villages are situated on the western side of the Pegalan River, which runs south in the valley and some villages on its eastern banks. The remaining population live on the eastern side of the Padas River, which flows from the south.
The Timugon’s linguistic and ethnic links with other related groups spread southwest and south, to the neighbouring Malaysian state of Sarawak and over to Kalimantan, the Indonesian side of the island of Borneo.
The origin of this tribe has been linked to the legend of a man who was the sole survivor of a dreadful flood. A supernatural creature from the cosmic regions then approached him. She was a horrendous-looking woman covered in ringworm. She asked the man to marry her as there were no other survivors.
Naturally, the man was repulsed by her appearance and refused. Instead, he decided to make a woman out of clay. The clay figurine came to life after he spat betel nut juice on it. They married and it is believed their descendants inhabited the river valley of Tenom, becoming the ancestors of the present people have to die; it is because their female ancestor was made of earth.
Like many other ethnic groups, the Timugon Murut community has special religious and spiritual ceremonies. The magilong is a diagnostic ritual performed to determine the cause of a minor illness or misfortune, such as theft. Another interesting ritual is the barasik ceremony. As gong music is played, the pries or priestess chants and use magic stones called putia to ‘see’ the cause of troubles.
Reference: “Some Aspects of Timugon Worldview’, by Kelo Brewis
Sabah Society Journal (1993)
There is a lot more to Sabah beyond Mount Kinabalu, Sipadan Island and Sepilok in Sandakan. Enter Tenom — a lesser-known district in the Interior Division that is the birthplace of the illustrious Tenom coffee and another lesser-known gem: the Sabah Agriculture Park. The Sabah Agriculture Park (Taman Pertanian Sabah) is situated on a sprawling 200 […]
There is a lot more to Sabah beyond Mount Kinabalu, Sipadan Island and Sepilok in Sandakan. Enter Tenom — a lesser-known district in the Interior Division that is the birthplace of the illustrious Tenom coffee and another lesser-known gem: the Sabah Agriculture Park. The Sabah Agriculture Park (Taman Pertanian Sabah) is situated on a sprawling 200 hectare site and was developed and maintained by the Agriculture Department. It is a park that offers visitors both recreational and educational activities.
The agriculture park is divided into several sections that house different types and species of plants, namely:
Native Orchids – The Native Orchid Centre has been known and recognized as one of the most important centers in the world for the collection and conservation of native Bornean orchid species. There are at least 400 species with more than 1,500 collection being kept here, including many rare and endangered species such as the Elephant Ear orchid (Phalaenopsis gigantea), the Rat-tail orchid (Paraphalaenopsis labukensis) and the Bella orchid (Renanthera bella), also not forgetting the many species of Slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum spp.), many of which endemic to Borneo.
Crops Museum – This is an 8-acre living museum of Crop Plants where there are some 400 species of plants systematically planted according to their uses. There are those that are fruit trees, some for medicine, spices, fibers and beverages. Yet there are some that provide essential oils that are very aromatic and are used for the perfume industry. There are also some which are exotic and their uses are also explained.
Ornamental Garden – The Ornamental Garden comprises 21 distinct and well-landscaped gardens with each garden exhibiting its unique plants and flowers. Here you will see a variety of Bougainvilleas, Ixora, Hibiscus and cactus as well as other very interesting plants such as the Hoya. There is also collection of parasitic and carnivorous plants. You will very much enjoy going through the various gardens and perhaps pick up some ideas on how to set up your own garden.
Plant Evolution & Plant Adaptation Garden – Take a walk through this park and learn about the 3.5 billon years of earth’s history. From the early unicellular organisms and plants, learn how through the process of evolution, that we have now the huge varieties of plant life on earth today. Get to see how plants adapt to the environments, from pond-life to semi-arid habitats. You will also get to see the amazing giant water lily from South America.
Model Garden – This garden has five smaller theme gardens to illustrate the different styels in which a garden can be modeled. The Sub-urban Garden is simple and pleasing while the Family Garden has more features for the children. The more formal garden are the Paved Town Garden, the City Garden and the Sabah/Malaysia Garden. It is pleasure to walk through all these five gardens.
Bee Centre and Museum – Sabah is home to five of the nine species of honey bees found in the world. The Bee Centre and Museum is a place where you can find them. There are also exhibits of equipment used in honey extraction and you can watch honey bees working in their hives up close. There is an orchard of food plants for the honey bees in the Bee Centre and Museum where you may want to take a walk.
Animal Park – The Animal Park is likened to a mini zoo and various animals and birds are put on display. Many of these animals and birds are examples of those already used for the commercial livestock industry. This park also gives visitors a rare chance of seeing some of the animals and birds up close.
You can either explore the park on foot or rent a bicycle to go around.
Tuesday to Sunday – 9.00 am – 4.30 pm
Closed on Monday ( unless a Public Holiday falls on a Monday)
Get in touch with us to schedule your Tenom tour!
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Make your way to the district of Kuala Penyu and hop on a boat to Pulau Tiga! The island’s claim to fame is none other than being the first ever ‘secret’ location for the hit reality series, ‘Survivor’. Hence, many refer to Pulau Tiga as Survivor Island. Located just 10km offshore on the West Coast […]
Make your way to the district of Kuala Penyu and hop on a boat to Pulau Tiga! The island’s claim to fame is none other than being the first ever ‘secret’ location for the hit reality series, ‘Survivor’. Hence, many refer to Pulau Tiga as Survivor Island. Located just 10km offshore on the West Coast of Sabah, you can enjoy a day trip to the island, but many recommend spending at least a night or two.
The island has two resorts, Pulau Tiga Resort and Borneo Survivor Resort (see contact details). There’s plenty to see and do here: spend the sunny days swimming or snorkeling in its surrounding clear waters or go kayaking. Divers can explore its underwater treasures (diving courses are available).
Pulau Tiga is also famous for its therapeutic natural volcanic mud. Looking for some wildlife? Say hello the island’s famous residents: snakes! Facilities on the island include a restaurant and camping site. Call us to book your customized Pulau Tiga ‘Survivor Island’ tour!
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One of the most outstanding pieces of architecture in Sabah is none other than the State Mosque. With its majestic dome and stunning gold inlay motifs, the mosque sits a stone’s throw away from the city centre, it is a unique combination of prevailing Islamic architecture and contemporary design. The mosque can accommodate up to […]
One of the most outstanding pieces of architecture in Sabah is none other than the State Mosque. With its majestic dome and stunning gold inlay motifs, the mosque sits a stone’s throw away from the city centre, it is a unique combination of prevailing Islamic architecture and contemporary design.
The mosque can accommodate up to 5,000 worshipers at one time. There is also a special balcony exclusively allocated for Muslim women during prayer time, with room for up to 500. Visitors are advised to adhere by the dress code when visiting places of worship. Avoid visiting on Fridays which is the day of prayer for Muslims.
General Rules while at the Mosque:
- All tourist are required to enter from the front entrance or the main entrance (not at the back or side door) for safety of their belongings.
- Tourists / Tourist guides must report to the Security Officer/Information Officer prior to entering the mosque. Tourists are NOT allowed to enter the mosque without permission from the officers mentioned above.
- All tourists / tourist guide must be properly dressed ie. no shorts for men.
- Women are required to wear loose and fully covered clothing and head covering.
- All shoes must be removed and left on the stair case, in front of the security guard post.
- Tourists are required to be silent inside the mosque.
The Sabah State Mosque is included as one of the destinations when you book our private city tour. Get in touch with us to book your private tour!
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One of the biggest perks of visiting Kota Kinabalu is the opportunity to enjoy the beach practically at your doorstep! Enter Tanjung Aru Beach — one of Sabah’s most cherished iconic destinations that is situated merely 10 minutes’ drive away from the city centre. Taking its name from the swaying aru (casuarina) trees that fringe […]
One of the biggest perks of visiting Kota Kinabalu is the opportunity to enjoy the beach practically at your doorstep! Enter Tanjung Aru Beach — one of Sabah’s most cherished iconic destinations that is situated merely 10 minutes’ drive away from the city centre.
Taking its name from the swaying aru (casuarina) trees that fringe the beachfront area, Tanjung Aru gathers a huge crowd of visitors during the weekends, especially among families with young children. The two-kilometre strip of white sandy beach makes a great place for a picnic, a relaxing jog or even an exciting game of Frisbee with friends.
Tanjung Aru Beach is separated into three sections, which are simply known as First, Second and Third Beach. The most popular spot at the beach is the Tanjung Aru First Beach, right next to Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa. The Tanjung Aru First Beach is equipped with barbecue pits at the beachfront and huts for the public.
The Tanjung Aru First Beach also has a commercial area with plenty of restaurants and cafes, food stalls, as well as an open-air food court where you can enjoy delicious grilled seafood with fresh coconut water. If you are a fan of the rich and pungent durian, you can also opt to enjoy the ‘King of Fruit’ in an alfresco setting.
Next to the Tanjung Aru First Beach is the Prince Philip Park, a historical park, which is named after his royal highness, Prince Philip who came to visit Jesselton, North Borneo back in the 1950s. This sprawling park is equipped with a playground for the children to enjoy and long cemented pathways that are shaded by majestic casuarina trees. Perfect for long romantic walks on breezy afternoons.
Fans of water sports can also enjoy activities such as sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, water-skiing, wakeboarding, and other activities at Tanjung Aru Beach. For beginner surfers and those who would like to learn how to surf, the Tanjung Aru Third Beach is a popular spot to do just this. There are also surfing lessons provided at Tanjung Aru Third Beach.
Anyone who has been to Tanjung Aru Beach would agree that the view of sunset from here is one of the best in the world! Coupled with great food, great company and the soothing sea breeze, Tanjung Aru Beach also makes a great hangout spot outside the city centre.
If you’re looking for souvenirs, you can also find great bargains on interesting knickknacks such as clothing items, accessories and handicrafts. If you’d like something more personal to bring home, you can also get a local artist to do a portrait sketch of yourself!
Come night time, Tanjung Aru Beach comes alive with live music and entertainment at the BB Café, which is a popular place to chill out and decompress. While enjoying the night time entertainment, you can also enjoy a wide variety of food and beverages, ranging from Western favourites and local selections to fruit punches and cocktails.
Monsopiad was a brave and honoured headhunting warrior, known for his heroic deeds and fearless ways. Today, his name lives on at the Monsopiad Cultural Village, which is built on the very land where the famous warrior and his people roamed some three centuries ago. Established by Monsopiad’s descendants in 1996, the village is cultural […]
Monsopiad was a brave and honoured headhunting warrior, known for his heroic deeds and fearless ways. Today, his name lives on at the Monsopiad Cultural Village, which is built on the very land where the famous warrior and his people roamed some three centuries ago.
Established by Monsopiad’s descendants in 1996, the village is cultural and historical landmark located in Kampung Kuai Kandazon, Penampang – approximately 20-minute drive away from Kota Kinabalu). The warm and friendly staffs, dressed in traditional garb, greet you as you walk through the gates. This sprawling 5-acre establishment offers visitors an interactive experience and fascinating insight into the daily lives and traditional beliefs of the KadazanDusun people.
Within the grounds, visit the various traditional houses- complete with bamboo floors, rattan roofs and nibong walls – where native elders will share stories and legends of Monsopiad. In another house, skilled craftspeople are hard at work weaving, beading and sculpting. Have a go at traditional sports and games; pick up a slingshot and take aim! Or race against each other as you precariously balance on two coconut shells beneath each foot. Sounds odd? Give it a go and we guarantee you a great time!
The cultural village also gives you a glimpse of a paddy field and the customary harvesting tools used. In the herbal garden and nursery visitors can learn about the different types of herbs used for medicinal purposes as well as for adding flavour to your favourite dish. You can also opt to learn how to whip up local delicacies during the cooking lessons (prior arrangement required). To top off your visit, there will also be cultural shows which are scheduled at 9am, 11am, 2pm and 4pm daily.
One of the main attractions of the Monsopiad Cultural Village is the House of the Skulls. Located across the road from the main building, the House of the Skulls is home to several headhunting trophies, eerily lined up along the ceiling. The walls are adorned with photos of famous bobohizan and bobolian (native female and male clerics), who play essential roles during rituals and prayers. The house also carries paraphernalia used during native rituals, accompanied by brief descriptions to explain their origin and purpose.
Before you leave, be sure to visit the souvenir shop or have your photo taken in a traditional l costume of your choice. Guided tours are available, and each tour ends with cultural performances for your entertainment. The village also caters for private functions (weddings, parties etc.) for up to 150 people. If you’re interested to visit the Monsopiad Cultural Village, do get in touch with us!
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Travelling is fun and awe inspiring! What more, it leaves more impact — social, economical, cultural and environmental — than you think. This year, make it your resolution to become a sustainable traveller and make a difference to the place and community you’re visiting. Here are some tips to get your started: Minimize your carbon […]
Travelling is fun and awe inspiring! What more, it leaves more impact — social, economical, cultural and environmental — than you think. This year, make it your resolution to become a sustainable traveller and make a difference to the place and community you’re visiting. Here are some tips to get your started:
- Minimize your carbon footprint by traveling light. The heavier the plane, the more fuel it consumes and the more CO2 it emits.
- Walk as much as you can instead of drive. This gives you the chance to explore the hidden nooks and crannies of Sabah, maximizing your experience to the fullest!
- Check out green/eco friendly accommodations such as the Award Winning Gayana Eco Resort and Bunga Raya Resort & Spa in Kota Kinabalu, as well as the Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort in Sandakan.
- Staying longer? Opt to take part in the local homestay programme. Not only will you be able to experience the rich cultural heritage of Sabah more closely, you’ll also be able to save up a lot of money on accommodation. At the same time, you’ll be benefiting the local economy too.
- Carefully pick and choose your souvenirs. Be wary against buying souvenirs made from endangered species, look for souvenir shops, such as Kadaiku, that offers attractive eco friendly souvenirs for you to bring home.
- Practice eco friendliness even in your hotel room. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and soaping in the shower. Unplug your electrical gadgets and turn everything off when you leave your hotel room.
- Take advantage of your vacation in Sabah and enjoy the Sabahan breeze. Switch off the air conditioning when it’s not too hot. Otherwise, turn your air conditioner to the lowest speed and adjust the thermostat to 27-28 degrees.
- Plan enough time during your travels so you can opt to fly as little as possible from one place to another.
- If you’re a big literature fan, save the trees by picking up secondhand books. They’re not only cheaper; sometimes they also carry little souvenirs from the previous owners.
- Skip plastic bags and carry a fabric eco bag instead when you go shopping.
- Support the local economy by buying food produce from local farmers and eating at local food restaurants or kopitiams.
- Choose to use biodegradable toiletries such as the Sabah Handmade Soap, which is available in many souvenir shops. It also doubles as a facial cleanser.
- Recycle as much as possible. Bring lightweight clothes that you can wash and dry quickly. Invest in the multipurpose sarong for everyday wear, which is perfect for the balmy Sabahan climate. You can get sarongs with a various fetching batik designs at the Gaya Street Sunday market.
- Reduce your consumption of meat and seafood —which gives you an excuse to savour Sabah’s fresh delectable fruits and veggies!
- Sign up for nature interpretation programmes such as our Nature Exploration & Jungle Skills tour. Participating in nature interpretation programmes will not only bring you closer to nature, you’ll also contribute to the livelihood of the local villagers.
- Take no personal souvenirs—seashells, plants, etc. even dead ones—and leave nothing but your footprints behind.
- In the wild, refrain from disturbing the wildlife and plants. Admire with your eyes only.
- Invest in a water container to reduce the use of plastic water bottles.
- Don’t feed the animals and fishes in the wild. This will change their natural behavior.
- Make a point to always eat sensibly—waste not, want not.
- Instead of renting a car or motorbike, choose to travel on public transportation or take an Uber/Grab ride to reach your destination.
- Join environmental programmes such as HABITAT replanting in Kinabatangan, the Sponsor a Tree Campaign and mangrove replanting in KK Wetland Centre.
- Shark fins soup may be popular, but they’re also pushing sharks closer to extinction. Be aware of what you eat! Other than sharks, all marine lives in general too are now facing the threat of over-fishing. Choose to be a responsible consumer.
- Say no to exotic delicacies and turtle eggs! Some of these so-called delicacies are endangered species that are hunted illegally. Sadly, due to the lack of awareness, illegal hunting and turtle egg collection are still rampant in Sabah. However, you can make a difference by not buying. Remember, when the buying stops, the selling can too.
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As we bid goodbye to 2017 and say hello to 2018, it’s also a good time to take out your planner an work out your travel plan for next year. What would you like to see and experience in 2018? Whatever it is, Sabah promises a smorgasbord of wonderful sights, sounds and experiences for your […]
As we bid goodbye to 2017 and say hello to 2018, it’s also a good time to take out your planner an work out your travel plan for next year. What would you like to see and experience in 2018? Whatever it is, Sabah promises a smorgasbord of wonderful sights, sounds and experiences for your to enjoy. Sit tight and let us walk you through our recommended travel wish list!
Gorgeous sunrise at the Mount Kinabalu summit
- Conquer Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu is the very essence of Sabah. It is the iconic massif by which Sabah is known to the whole world as one of the highest peaks in South East Asia. With the introduction of the new Kota Belud Trail in 2016, Mount Kinabalu is back, bigger and better — and it is beckoning climbers to reach its summit once again. If there is only one thing for you to conquer this year, make it Mount Kinabalu. For more information and bookings, check out our Climbing Mount Kinabalu packages here.
Diving with a turtle in the Sipadan waters
- Delve into the depths of Sipadan
The world-renowned Sipadan Island is one of the greatest dive sites ever known to men. With rich biodiversity, spectacular marine life and excellent visibility under the azure Celebes Sea, there is no reason not to make a detour down to Sipadan when you’re in Sabah. If you have not become a certified open water scuba diver, make Sipadan the reason to become one. Get in touch with us to book your first diving lesson or your diving excursion in Sipadan.
Beautiful view of Mount Kinabalu from the Mount Trus Madi observation tower
- Trek through the wily Trus Madi
Mount Trusmadi is the second highest mountain in Sabah and Malaysia, after Mount Kinabalu. Despite being only 2642.28 meters in height (compared to Mount Kinabalu’s 4095.2 meters height), Trusmadi is known to offer a tougher challenge to trekkers, thanks to its muddy terrain and thickly foliaged surrounding. Nonetheless, a trek to the summit of Mount Trusmadi promises a breathtaking sunrise and a unique view of the majestic Mount Kinabalu! For more information and bookings, check out our Mount Trusmadi tour packages here.
The breathtaking 7-tiered waterfall in the mystical Maliau Basin
- Explore the ‘Lost World of Borneo’
For millions of years, a diverse collection of flora and fauna has thrived within the saucer-shaped basin that is hemmed by cliffs, known as the Maliau Basin. A true nature’s paradise, Maliau Basin offers a an encounter with nature that is totally out of this world! Be amazed by the seven-tiered waterfall as well as its vast population of wildlife — including more than 80 species of mammals, 300 species of birds and 35 species of amphibians. Truly astounding! Get in touch with us to arrange your private tour.
Turtles coming to the Selingan island beach to lay eggs
- Witness turtle egg-laying 0n Selingan Island
The Turtle Island Park on Selingan Island, which was gazetted as a National Park in 1977, is a popular landing spot for the endangered green and hawksbill turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs. During the egg-laying season, somewhere in July to October, you may have a chance to witness turtles coming ashore to lay eggs on the beach. While you’re here, you can learn more about turtle conservation at the park hatchery. You may also witness a proud moment as baby turtles are released back into the sea! For more information and bookings, check out our Turtle & Wildlife package here.
The luxurious Bunga Raya Island Resort
- Have a luxurious stay at Bunga Raya Island Resort
Tucked away in a cove on the northern shore of Gaya island, hidden from view of Kota Kinabalu, which is just 15 minutes away, lies the 5 star property of Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa. Featuring 48 timbered villas, Bunga Raya Island Resort is nestled on a hill amongst the lush tropical rainforest of Gaya Island. At it’s core Bunga Raya Island Resort is eco-friendly, reflected in their choice of Borneon architecture and construction methods, which involved the cutting down of very few trees. The accommodation ranges from timbered houses mere steps from the beach, to three bedroom village featuring wrap-around balconies and plunge pools. Private balconies look out over the beach below and the calm blue of the seeming endless South China Sea beyond. Get in touch with us to book your stay at Bunga Raya Island Resort!
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The Iban people trace their origins to the Kapuas Lake region of Kalimantan. They are one branch of the Dayak tribe of Borneo. In the past, the Ibans are known as a warrior tribe, having fought members of other tribes aggressively and even practicing head hunting over the years. Today, the Iban people reside mainly […]
The Iban people trace their origins to the Kapuas Lake region of Kalimantan. They are one branch of the Dayak tribe of Borneo. In the past, the Ibans are known as a warrior tribe, having fought members of other tribes aggressively and even practicing head hunting over the years. Today, the Iban people reside mainly in Sarawak, Kalimantan and Brunei Darussalam. They inhabit longhouses that are known as ‘rumah panjang’.
The origin of the name ‘Iban’ is rather unknown. Early scholars regarded it as originally a Kayan term, ‘hivan’, that means ‘wanderer’. Other Iban, of Sarawak’s First and Second Divisions, used the name ‘Dayak’, and even until today consider ‘Iban’ a borrowed term. The participation of a few Iban in alliances with Malays for coastal piracy in the nineteenth century led to their being called ‘Sea Dayaks’.
Iban Longhouse in Sarawak, in the Heart of Borneo
Iban women are superb weavers using the backstrap loom while most men are skilled in the use of the piston bellows. In addition to weaving blankets and other cloths, women weave mats and baskets, sometimes to be sold for a living. The Iban culture can be observed during the annual Gawai Dayak festival that celebrates a bountiful harvest. The Gawai Dayak is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of June every year.
Spanning 560km from the Crocker Range in the southwest of Sabah to the Sulu Sea in the east, the Kinabatangan River sustains one of the world’s richest ecosystems. The surrounding areas along the river consist of five distinct habitats — dipterocarp or dry, waterlogged and limestone forests, and freshwater and saline swamps. The lower basin […]
Spanning 560km from the Crocker Range in the southwest of Sabah to the Sulu Sea in the east, the Kinabatangan River sustains one of the world’s richest ecosystems. The surrounding areas along the river consist of five distinct habitats — dipterocarp or dry, waterlogged and limestone forests, and freshwater and saline swamps. The lower basin of the river itself is the largest forest covered floodplain in Malaysia and has the largest concentration of wildlife in the South East Asian region.
Other than being home to Borneo’s indigenous orangutan and proboscis monkey, the surrounding forest is also one of only two known places in the world where 10 species of primates are found. All the eight species of hornbills found in Borneo make the area their home.
A trip up the river at dawn or dusk is the best opportunity to see the wildlife. You might even sight an Asian elephant or a Sumatran rhinoceros wandering through the trees. Optional tours can be arranged for night safaris as well to spot crocodiles, birds, and nocturnal animals.
You can find many lodges along the Sukau and Bilit area offering packages that include accommodation, transportation, meals, and guided tours. Alternatively, you may want to experience the homestay programme which is available at surrounding villages and which provides a good opportunity to truly experience the life of the Orang Sungai. Join in their cultural activities or even try your hand at the local way of farming!