Category Archives: Sabah

Accommodations near to Kinabalu Park, Kundasang

Low's Peak of Mount Kinabalu

Kinabalu Park is the most popular destination of Sabah, visitors usually find it highly desirable to spend more time exploring the park. However, the official accommodation in Kinabalu Park is expensive. For about RM200 a night, you only get the cheapest dormitory bed with common bathroom in Kinabalu Park. If you don’t mind staying outside the park, RM200 can make you feel like a VIP.

Want more value from your money? In this article is a list of alternative accommodations within 2 Kilometre radius (walking distance) of Kinabalu Park. If cost is not important and your single top priority is convenience, then you may book the room of Kinabalu Park online.

conquer the summit of Mount Kinabalu
The following accommodations range from budget lodges, mid-range chalets to high-end resort, and you can see their exact locations in my Google map. Three things to note:

  1. The prices listed here are normal rates. The accommodation fee is higher in peak season (weekends, public and school holiday).
  2. Each hotel has different policy. e.g. the check-in time can be as early as 1pm or as late as 3pm.
  3. The rates published in some websites might be outdated or don’t include 6% GST (Government Service Tax, or known as VAT in other countries).

Recommended Accommodations

To save your time, I personally recommend four accommodations for you to have a quick start. They get excellent or good reviews by their guests, and I’m neither paid nor sponsored by any of them.

1. J Residence

Distance from Kinabalu Park: 400 Meters (≈0.25 Mile)
Rates: RM88/room to RM480/villa (US$≈26-145) (online booking available)
Room Types: Twin-Bed Room, Family Room (Triple-Bed), Villa (3 rooms)

J Residence
Kinabalu Park is only a 15-minute walk away from J Residence. No matter you are solo or group traveller, you will get the most bang for your buck here. Start from RM88, you already can get a spacious and comfy bedroom, with attached bathroom and balcony. The lodge overlooks the lush green hills and farm of Bundu Tuhan.

house of J Residence
Their main feature is the see-through glass door and window that allow you to enjoy the misty view of highland (Room 5B has the best view). The lodge has no restaurant but the nearest one (Restoran Bayu Kinabalu) is only 50 Meters away. They have BBQ pits if you want to throw a party, and charcoals and utensils can be provided for a small fee.

bedroom of J Residence
Website: www.jresidence.com
Facebook: J.Residence.Kundasang
E-mail:
Tel: +60 12-8696969

2. Mile 36 Lodge

Distance from Kinabalu Park: 1.4 Km (≈0.87 Mile)
Rates: RM120/room to RM360/bungalow (US$≈36-109) (online booking available)
Room Types: Twin-bed / Triple-bed Rooms, Family Room (4 pax), Studio Room, Bungalow (8 pax)

Mile 36 Lodge
Formerly known as Sunny’s Village, Mile 36 Lodge is a decent accommodation for family vacation because of its surrounding garden and fantastic view of Mt. Kinabalu at their front lawn.

Mile 36 Lodge and Mt. Kinabalu
(Photo Source: Facebook of Mile 36 Lodge)

For visitors who seek for a homey environment in cooling highland, Mile 36 Lodge is suitable for a long stay. Its rooms are clean, amenities are well-maintained, and it has a restaurant and souvenir shop.

dining hall of Mile 36 Lodge
Website: www.mile36lodge.com
Facebook: Mile-36-Lodge
E-mail:
Tel: +60 88-888161

3. Tahubang Lodge

Distance from Kinabalu Park: 100 Meters (≈328 Feet)
Rates: RM40/bed to RM160/room (US$≈12-36)

Tahubang Lodge
If you just want a convenient and cheap place to stay, and you don’t mind everything is basic, Tahubang Lodge will be your best choice. This lodge is only 100 Meters away from Kinabalu Park, the nearest accommodation to the park. Tahubang Lodge is a small lodge that can host 16 people, below are their room types:

  • 1 unit of Dormitory Room (Bunk Bed) @ RM40/bed or RM160/room
  • 1 unit of Twin-Bed Room @ RM100/room
  • 2 units of Queen-Size Bed Room @ RM120/room
  • 2 units of Triple-Bed Room @ RM150/room

(No meal included, shared toilet and bathroom)

triple-sharing bedroom of Tahubang Lodge
Another plus of this lodge is, Panataran Restaurant is just next door, which serves good variety of local food. Free Wifi and hot shower are available. Luggage storage is also available for rent at RM5 per luggage.

bunk beds of Tahubang Lodge
Facebook: tohubang.lodge
E-mail:
Tel: +60 88-888094

4. Jungle Jack Backpacker

Distance from Kinabalu Park: 1.6 Km (≈1 Mile)
Rates: RM35/bed (US$≈10)
Room Types: Dormitory bunk beds

Jungle Jack Backpacker and Mt. Kinabalu
(Photo Source: Facebook of Jungle Jack Backpacker)

Jungle Jack Backpacker is almost as basic as a camp that I have to think many times to recommend it. As its name implies, it is for backpacker and not for everyone. However, Jungle Jack Backpacker receives overwhelming positive reviews by their guests and becomes popular by words of mouth among European backpackers.

group photo of Jungle Jack Backpacker
(Photo Source: Facebook of Jungle Jack Backpacker)

For foreign backpackers who travel in an unfamiliar land, they will really appreciate someone likes Uncle Jack (the owner), a local who is genuine in being their friend, guide and cook. The rave reviews are mainly due to the great hospitality of Uncle Jack. The accommodation fee includes bed, meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and unlimited coffee and tea!). Towels, blankets and storage space are provided. Goodness, for that price, I believe Uncle Jack is more interested in making friends than money.

cabin of Jungle Jack Backpacker
(Photo Source: Facebook of Jungle Jack Backpacker)

Website: www.junglejack.weebly.com
Facebook: junglejackbackpacker
Tel: +60 10-9477509

Just another reminder that you can see the location of these accommodations (yellow icon) in my map. My mark points are more accurate than Google’s.

(Click Here to see Bigger Map)

Other Accommodations

Here are 10 other accommodations ordered by distance to Kinabalu Park. Some are more than 1 Km away. If 1+ Km isn’t considered as a “walking distance” to you, you may take public buses which move between Kinabalu Park and Kundasang / Ranau towns (roughly at 1-hour interval during daytime), or most lodges are more than happy to provide return transport to their guests.

1. Mountain Resthouse

Distance from Kinabalu Park: 400 Meters (≈0.25 Mile)
Rates: RM25/bed to RM80/room (US$≈7.50-24)
Room Types: Dormitory Bunk Bed, Double-Bed / Single-Bed Rooms
Tel: +60 16-8374060

Mountain Resthouse
Mountain Resthouse is a budget lodge which provides dormitory bunk bed (RM25/bed), single-bed room without attached bathroom (RM50), queen-sized bed room (RM60) and room with 1 queen-sized bed and 1 single bed (RM80). They have 12 dormitory rooms which can fit 2 to 4 people per room.

entrance of Mountain Resthouse
Hot water is available. They can cook your meal upon request (for a small fee). A lot of their customers are students.

2. Bayu Kinabalu Lodge

Distance from Kinabalu Park: 450 Meters (≈0.28 Mile)
Rates: RM15/bed to RM80/room (US$≈4.50-24) (online booking available)
Room Types: 8-bed / 6-bed Dormitory, Single-bed / Double-bed Rooms, 4-bed Family Room

Bayu Kinabalu Lodge
Bayu Kinabalu Lodge is a budget accommodation that looks like a 2-floor resident house being re-purposed as a lodge. It is next to a restaurant named Restoran Bayu Kinabalu. If you want to cook your own food, BBQ and kitchen facilities are available.

bunk beds in Bayu Kinabalu Lodge
(Photo Source: Website of Bayu Kinabalu Lodge)

Website: bayukinabalulodge.blogspot.com
Tel: +60 88-889693, +60 13-8532145, +60 14-8608688

3. D’Villa Rina Ria Lodge

Distance from Kinabalu Park: 750 Meters (≈0.47 Mile)
Rates: RM30/bed to RM220/room (US$≈9-66) (online booking available)
Room Types: Dormitory Bunk Bed (12 pax), Queen-bed / Triple-bed Room, Family Rooms (4-6 pax)

D’Villa Rina Ria Lodge at road side
D’Villa Rina Ria Lodge operates since 1992 and quite established. Besides rooms, guests can find almost everything they need, for example, mini shop, restaurant (serve no pork), parking, hot shower, laundry service, TV, BBQ & steamboat, free Wifi and free storage room (for in-house guests).

D’Villa Rina Ria Lodge
Website: www.dvillalodge.com.my
Facebook: DvillaRinaRiaLodge
E-mail:
Tel: +60 88 889282, +60 111-6016936

4. Mount Kinabalu Holiday Home (Haleluyah Retreat Centre)

Distance from Kinabalu Park: 1.3 Km (≈0.81 Mile)
Rates: RM20/bed to RM180/chalet (US$≈6-54) (online booking available)
Room Types: 5-bed Dormitory, Family Room (3 pax), Chalet (5-6 pax)

Mount Kinabalu Holiday Home (Haleluyah Retreat Centre)
If you like kampung (village) lifestyle with green view, Mount Kinabalu Holiday Home is it. You will be greeted by friendly village dogs upon arrival. The place is big, with garden, fish pond, ballroom (hall) and wonderful view of Kiau Valley a distance away. Facilities and services such as laundry service / dry cleaning, free Wifi, kitchen and room service are available. They also provide transport to airport.

bedroom of Mount Kinabalu Holiday Home (Haleluyah Retreat Centre)
Facebook: mountkinabalu.home
E-mail: ,
Tel: +60 12-8480833

5. Ceaser’s Place

Distance from Kinabalu Park: 1.5 Km (≈0.93 Mile)
Rates: RM180-200 per studio, RM250 per chalet (US$≈54-75)
Room Types: Studio Unit, Chalet

Mount Kinabalu and Ceaser’s Place
(Photo Source: Facebook of Ceaser’s Place)

In general, their studio unit has 1 or 2 bathroom, shared / private bathroom, kitchenette, living area and Cable TV. The chalet has two rooms with queen-sized bed and attached bathroom (without kitchen). You may look at the photos and details in their Facebook.

Ceaser’s Place
(Photo Source: Facebook of Ceaser’s Place)

Facebook: Ceasers-Place
E-mail:
Tel: +60 88-888343

6. Fairy Garden Resort

Distance from Kinabalu Park: 1.7 Km (≈1.06 Mile)
Rates: RM80-130 per room (US$≈24-39)
Tel: +60 88-889688

Fairy Garden Resort
Fairy Garden Resort is next to the main road and has 32 rooms. The following are their room types:

  • Queen-sized bed room @ RM80
  • Single-bed room @ RM80/room
  • 1 Queen-sized bed + 1 single bed room @ RM80/room
  • Family: 1 queen-sized bed + 1 single bed + 1 double-decker @ RM110/room
  • Family: 1 queen-sized bed + 2 single beds room@ RM110/room
  • Biggest Room: 2 queen-sized beds + 1 double decker @ RM130/room

bedroom of Fairy Garden Resort
Fairy Garden Resort is famous for thier big restaurant in ground floor, which serves great food and able to host a function for over 100 people.

7. Puncak Borneo Resort

Distance from Kinabalu Park: 1.7 Km (≈1.06 Mile)
Rates: RM35/bed to RM180/room (US$≈10-54) (online booking available)
Room Types: Dormitory (3 bunk beds), Single-bed / Double-bed / Queen-bed / Family / Deluxe Rooms
Website: puncakborneoresort.blogspot.com (unofficial)
E-mail: ,
Tel: +60 88-889699

Puncak Borneo Resort
Puncak Borneo Resort is relatively new and it’s located on a slope next to main road, a high point where their guests can have a stunning view of Mt. Kinabalu. Its building with Bajau-style roof is quite unique so you won’t miss it when you drive to Kinabalu Park.

8. Nikgold Garden Resort

Distance from Kinabalu Park: 1.9 Km (≈1.18 Mile)
Rates: RM98/room to RM750/bungalow (US$≈30-227) (online booking available)
Room Types: Twin Share / Queen-Bed / King-Bed / Deluxe Room, 3-Bedroom Family Suite, Semi-D House, Bungalow

Nikgold Garden
(Photo Source: Facebook of Nikgold Garden)

In contrast to most accommodations near Kinabalu Park, Nikgold Garden Resort is on deluxe side. If weather permits, you can have a spectacular view of Mt. Kinabalu and its forest at this resort. It’s so quiet that honeymoon couples will find a lot of space and privacy here. If you don’t travel by car, you have to walk 1 KM from its junction next to main road to this resort, possible but taxing. This resort has no restaurant but you can bring your own food and charcoal to barbecue there.

Nikgold Garden
Facebook: NikgoldGarden
Tel: +60 88-888112, +60 19-8426228

9. Kinabalu Mountain Lodge

Distance from Kinabalu Park: 2 Km (≈1.24 Mile)
Rates: RM38/bed to RM180/room (US$≈11.50-54) (online booking available)

Kinabalu Mountain Lodge
Below are the room types of Kinabalu Mountain Lodge in general:

  • Dormitory (10 beds) @ RM38/bed
  • Double-bed room @ RM110/room
  • Japanese room (4 pax) @ RM150/room
  • Family room (4 pax) @ RM180/room

Facilities: common bathroom & toilet, BBQ, steamboat (for rent @RM20), kitchen, hot water

living room of Kinabalu Mountain Lodge
Personally I love this lodge because the exterior and interior of its 3-storey wooden house is so beautiful. It’s definitely on my recommended accommodation in this article if it is nearer to Kinabalu Park. Same as Nikgold Garden Resort, Kinabalu Mountain Lodge is located 1 KM away from main road. Located inside the dense forest, this lodge is more “nature” than the accommodation inside Kinabalu Park. Nature lovers will like this place very much.

Facebook: Kinabalu-Mountain-Lodge
E-mail:
Tel: +60 16-8104909

10. Kinabalu Rose Cabin

Chinese Name: 天山酒店
Distance from Kinabalu Park: 2 Km (≈1.30 Mile)
Rates: RM70-200 per room (US$≈21-60) (online booking available)
Room Types: Twin-bed / Queen-bed / Family Rooms

Kinabalu Rose Cabin
(Photo Source: Facebook of Kinabalu Rose Cabin)

Kinabalu Rose Cabin is a mid-range hotel which is very popular among locals and tourists. Its highlight is the magnificent close-up view of Mt. Kinabalu behind this hotel. Though it calls itself a “cabin”, Kinabalu Rose Cabin is as developed as a small hotel, just to list some facilities, restaurant (serve no pork), gift shop, convenient store, free Wifi, meeting room (can host up to 60 people).

Kinabalu Rose Cabin
(Photo Source: Facebook of Kinabalu Rose Cabin)

Facebook: Rosecabin
E-mail:
Tel: +60 88-889233

Most accommodation listed here are located next to main road to Kundasang Town, you can reach them by long-distance bus. Just 3 final notes: (1) Most accommodations are small and can be fully booked even in non-peak season, so please book earlier, (2) Wifi is generally very slow around Kinabalu Park, so don’t use Wifi service as a deciding factor to choose your accommodation, and (3) the temperature around Kinabalu Park is quite cooling (about 18°C to 25°C), so air-conditioning isn’t required.

I would like to stress again that this list is only for accommodations located within 2 Km radius of Kinabalu Park. There are many other quality accommodations that worth a mention, and I’ll feature them in future.

► More Accommodations around Kinabalu Park

dogs and cats of Kundasang
For this article, I visited most of the accommodations listed here to verify they are still in operation. Seems like almost every lodge has one or two super friendly cats or dogs. It became a “petting” trip too. Just can’t help it. They are too adorable. 😀

Photos taken in Kundasang, Sabah, Malaysia

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Koling-Koling, traditional Bajau food of Sabah

Koling-Koling

Great food makes our tongues happy. Koling-Koling does that and it also WOWed me when I first saw it in a food exhibition of Sabah Fest 2015 last week. Koling-Koling (or Bangi-Bangi) is a traditional food of Bajau people from Semporna town. At first impression, Koling-Koling may not look so appetizing because it looks like worm, but it’s the interesting shape that piqued my curiosity.

Koling-Koling (or Bangi-Bangi)
Pic: Koling-Koling, even the name sounds amusing

I was so eager to see how this curly slim bread was made. Aunty Badriah Makling, a friendly Bajau elder from Semporna was happy to demonstrate the art of making Koling-Koling (Thank You!). Below is a short video of the process if you prefer video over photos.

waiting for the oil to boil
Pic: Aunty Badriah Makling waited for the oil to boil

Koling-Koling is usually served during festivals, wedding and banquets. It tastes better while it’s hot, so it is not so commonly sold even in Semporna. The key ingredients for recipe of Koling-Koling are 1 Kg of rice flour mixed with 4 eggs and a bit of coconut milk, sugar and flour (too much flour will make it bloats like a donut). Stir the mixture until it becomes gooey batter.

get ready for making Koling-Koling
Pic: oil is hot now, getting ready to cook.

Preparing the batter may be easy to you, the challenging part is the technique to create the right shape of Koling-Koling with bare hand, which requires some practices to perfect. Let’s see how she does it.

grabbing the material
pull it
pull it higher
First she grasped and pulled a portion of the sticky batter to the air.

making Koling-Koling
shaking Koling-Koling to ball
Then she quickly grabbed a half-handful of batter from the air and shaked it swiftly to turn it into a small ball in her palm. She was smiling in the photos because I said she was too fast and I had to keep retaking the shots.

dropping flour into the hot oil
making Koling-Koling
cooking Koling-Koling
Next she held her fingers together with a small opening at the tip (like snake head) and positioned her hand over the hot oil. When the batter flowed out, she moved her hand as if she was drawing a horseshoe on the oil. It’s harder than it seems. Beginners will get batter flowing out all over between the gaps of their fingers and unable to make the right shape.

frying Koling-Koling
Koling-Koling in boiling oil
Koling-Koling almost done
serving Koling-Koling hot
The last step is to deep-fry Koling-Koling front and back until it turns golden brown color. It takes about 20 seconds to make one Koling-Koling. The cooking process is really fun to watch.

Koling-Koling, the food of Bajau people from Semporna
content of Koling-Koling
Four pieces of scrumptious Koling-Koling is only sold for RM1 (≈US$0.30). The bread has a slightly chewy skin but soft inside. It’s sweet with bread-like texture, but finer and less airy. I like its nice aroma and it’s not too sweet and oily.

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

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