Tag Archives: Kunak

Where to Travel, Eat and Stay in Kunak town, Sabah

Idahan of Kunak

Though one of the oldest civilization of Sabah starts in Kunak, Kunak is not the most developed area of Sabah. Kunak is also where Islam first landed in Sabah, and you still can find traces of Japanese WW2 occupation around. Today, Kunak is a “forgotten” town at Sabah East Coast, and nobody remember its bustling history.

mosque in Kunak
Pic: Islam of Sabah starts in Kunak.

The locals there call Kunak the “Cowboy Town” (Pekan Koboi). Kunak is quite safe and peaceful, and doesn’t look a town of outlaw. With a population of about 50,000, most Kunakians are Bajau, Idahan and Bugis mainly working in oil palm and fishing sectors. The people here are very friendly.

Where to Travel

I don’t like standard sight-seeing tour, so Kunak is a nice town for me to see Sabah in different angle. Kunak is not a popular tourist destination of Sabah, but there are a few interesting places for you to explore.

1. Madai Waterfall

This 40-Meter waterfall is only 15 KM away from Kunak town and next to the main road. It is the favorite recreation site of the locals.
Madai Fall
» Read more about Madai Fall

2. Japanese War Tunnel

This war tunnel is a huge underground cave used by Japanese force during World War II. It is located in Mostyn oil palm plantation of Sime Darby about 12 KM away from Kunak.
Japanese war tunnel
» Read more about Japanese War Tunnel

3. Madai Cave

Madai Cave is the second largest cave of Sabah and situated in “Swiftlet Mountain”. This cave would be closed in Apr, Aug and Dec for bird nest harvesting by Idahan people.
Madai Cave
» Read more about Madai Cave

Idahan girls
Pic: Idahan girls are fair-skin and beautiful. May be they eat bird nest soup every day. 🙂

You may read my other blog about Kunak if you want to visit more attractions.

Where to Eat

Kunak is famous for its deer meat and chili paste. Kunak town is near to sea so its seafood is relatively fresh and cheap. Below are a few good places for eat out in Kunak.

1. Fook Seng Restaurant (福成餐室)

For me, Fook Seng Restaurant is the No.1 Restaurant in Kunak. It establishes in 1970, the oldest restaurant of Kunak. The taste and variety of food there is good and they serve no pork.

Fook Seng Restaurant (福成餐室)
Fook Seng Restaurant is located at: Bahagian Kedai Sedco, Block C, Lot 4, 91207 Kunak, Sabah. They open from 10am to 8pm daily.
Tel: +60 89-852 828, +60 16-831 9828 (mobile phone, look for Ben Poon)

deer meat of Sabah Kunak
Pic: deer meat (payau) fried in soy sauce and zesty sliced ginger

food of Fook Seng Restaurant, Kunak
Pic: air-conditioned room which can host about 20 guests

Kunak seafood
Pic: sweet and sour garoupa

fried squid
Pic: deep-fried calamari

fried mixed vegetables
Pic: mixed vegetables and mushroom

fried tofu
Pic: fried tofu (stuffed with minced meat) and fried brinjal

2. Vui Kee Seafood Restaurant (威记海鲜餐厅)

Another restaurant recommended by the locals. They open from 9am to 9:30pm. The food there is quite good too.

Vui Kee Seafood Restaurant (威记海鲜餐厅)
Vui Kee is about 4 KM away from Kunak town (See location map) and near (2-min walk) to Mostyn Hotel.

deer meat (payau)
Pic: deer meat (Payau) for RM7 (≈USD2.33)

seafood tom yam soup
Pic: seafood Tom Yam soup for RM6 (≈USD2)

Note: prices as of Oct 2012

3. Restoran Cita Rasa Kita (R.C.K.)

This restaurant is very near (1-min walk) to Mostyn Hotel, and they serve Halal food (Muslim-friendly).

BBQ chicken
Nobody told me about this place. I was attracted by the smoke from their BBQ.

BBQ chicken wing
Pic: BBQ chicken wing, not bad.

BBQ chicken tail
Pic: BBQ Chicken Tail, anyone?

Where to Stay

Kunak is neither a big city nor popular destination, so they have only 2 hotels. If you plan to stay in Kunak, I will recommend Mostyn Hotel at Simpang Empat (means “Fourth Junction”), which is near the roundabout 4 KM before Kunak town.

Mostyn Hotel (摩士丁酒店) of Kunak, Sabah
Mostyn Hotel is the most decent hotel of Kunak. The accommodation is clean and basic.

reception counter of Mostyn Hotel
Pic: reception counter. The staffs can speak basic English.

Below is their contact:
Address: MDKNK 2360-2363, Simpang Empat, 91200 Kunak, Sabah, Malaysia. (See location map)
Tel: +60 89 853005
Mobile Phone: +60 16 8260105
E-mail: mostynhotelkunak@gmail.com
Fax: +60 89 852699

room of Mostyn Hotel

Mostyn Hotel twin bedroom
I stayed in their Standard Room (Twin Bed) on 1st floor, for RM67 (≈USD22) per night.

bathroom of Mostyn Hotel
Pic: attached bedroom & toilet, with water heater

Mostyn Hotel (摩士丁酒店): types of rooms and rates
Pic: types of rooms and rates of Mostyn Hotel (as of Oct 2012)

In case you can’t read Malaysian language, Tingkat = Floor, Jenis Bilik = Room Type, RM = Malaysia currency (USD1≈RM3), Harga Bilik = Room Price, Cukai Kerajaan = Government Tax, Jumlah Keseluruhan = Total Price.
Upon check-in, they collect RM100 refundable deposit, so prepare more cash.

Though Mostyn Hotel is not in the town center of Kunak, its location is still quite convenient, as Vui Kee and Cita Rasa Kita restaurants are nearby. If you take long-distance bus to Kunak, you can ask the bus to drop you very near to this hotel.

Going to Kunak

Kunak is 470 KM away from Kota Kinabalu city (KK) and located between Tawau and Lahad Datu (see Sabah map below). Normally, most travellers take a 45-min flight from KK to Tawau or Lahad Datu, then get a taxi to Kunak (Distance: 58KM from Lahad Datu, 83 KM from Tawau).

location map of Kunak

To save some money, backpackers would take long-distance bus from KK to Kunak. The bus ticket is about RM50 to RM60 (≈USD17-20) one way and the road trip takes 8 hours.

bus terminal in Kunak
Pic: bus terminal of Kunak, the bus departs as early as 8:00am.

Unfortunately, there is no licensed taxi in Kunak. I rely on their unlicensed taxi (known as Kerata Sapu locally), which is readily available around town (seem like everyone can be a taxi driver there). But be warned, using unlicensed taxi is as risky as hitchhiking. It is quite ok in Kunak, but it is common sense for traveller (especially lady) to be vigilant, no matter where you travel. I requested Mostyn Hotel to get a reliable driver for me, and you can do the same.

There are still a few places such as Salt-water hot spring and 7-Well Waterfall that I want to see, so I’ll visit Kunak again. What do you think of Kunak? Does it have the potential to be a tourism destination? Please share with me if you know other good attractions and food in Kunak.

Photos taken in Kunak, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Top 10 Waterfalls of Sabah

Sabah's Top 10 Waterfalls

The mountainous terrain of Sabah makes us the land of waterfalls. There are thousands of waterfalls in Sabah forest, most are waiting for explorers to name them. Looking at waterfall can calm our minds better than watching the whirling movement in washing machine. So I compile a list of Sabah’s Top 10 Waterfalls for those who want to enjoy heavy doses of negative ions.

location map of top 10 Sabah waterfalls
Pic: the location of Top 10 Sabah waterfalls.

Besides Scale, this waterfall ranking is also based on Popularity, Accessibility and Travel Experience. That’s why some giant waterfalls are not listed. For example, though Kadamaian Waterfall is the highest waterfall of Sabah, it is too difficult to get there. Please note that most height measurement is by estimation.

No. 10. Kiansom Waterfall

Location: Inanam, Kota Kinabalu
Height: 7-Meter (23 Feet)
Kiansom Waterfall
Yes, I know, Kiansom is the smallest waterfall in the top 10 list. It is listed because it is the most famous, accessible and visited waterfall in Kota Kinabalu city. I can’t exclude the waterfall that everyone loves.
» Read more about Kiansom Waterfall…

No. 9. Gelas Waterfall

Location: Tawau Hills Park, Tawau
Height: 12 Meters (40 Feet)
Gelas Waterfall
Gelas Waterfall is situated in Tawau Hills Park, a lush rainforest zone and source of five rivers. Hiking to Gelas Waterfall is a pleasure to nature lovers, as they can visit the tallest tropical tree in the world and soak in sulphurous hot springs in the park.
» Read more about Gelas Waterfall…

No. 8. Tawai Waterfall

Location: Tawai Forest Reserve, Telupid
Height: 95 Meters (311 Feet)
Tawai Waterfall
Tawai Waterfall is the least-known waterfall, but its view is so spectacular that it will blow you away. The area around this waterfall is full of Borneo pitcher plant. Denmark’s biggest television network, Tv2, has chosen this waterfall for filming of “Girls Off The Beaten Track”.
» Read more about Tawai Waterfall…

No. 7. Madai Falls

Location: Madai-Baturong Forest Reserve, Kunak
Height: 40 Meter (131 Feet)
Madai Falls
Madai Falls is probably the first Sabah waterfall visited by human, maybe a caveman about 28,000 years ago. I’m not joking. Archaeologists say Madai-Baturong has the oldest human settlement of Sabah. I believe stone-age people love waterfalls as much as we do.
» Read more about Madai Falls…

No. 6. Fairy Waterfall

Location: Danum Valley, Lahad Datu
Height: 27 Meters (89 Feet)
Fairy Waterfall
This shy Fairy Waterfall is hiding deep inside the 130-million Borneo rainforest of Danum Valley. The photo here may not look impressive because it was taken during prolonged drought. Danum Valley will be nominated as the next UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sabah/Borneo.
» Read more about Fairy Waterfall…

No. 5. Fefukan Waterfall

Location: Long Pasia
Wide: 20 Meters (66 Feet)
Fefukan Waterfall
To see Fefukan, Travellers need to hike a long way to the Heart of Borneo, making it the most remote and least visited waterfall in my list. Camping next to this waterfall is one of my most unforgettable experience. Lucky visitors would see blooming rafflesia around there.
» Read more about Fefukan Waterfall…

No. 4. Mahua Waterfall

Location: Tambunan
Height: 17 Meters (55 Feet)
Mahua Waterfall
As part of the Crocker Range Park, Mahua Waterfall is protected as a water catchment area. Hence, visitors can enjoy cooling and refreshing water from clean mountain stream. On the way to Mahua Waterfall, you may drop by Tambunan Rafflesia Center to check if you are lucky enough to see a blooming rafflesia.
» Read more about Mahua Waterfall…

No. 3. Imbak Falls

Location: The Heart of Sabah, Tongod
Wide: 30-Meter (98 Feet)
Imbak Falls

Imbak Falls
Even though Imbak Falls is only 6 Meters (20 feet) high, it is the widest waterfall of Sabah. I just love sitting in the river, as the strong current turns its waterfall pond into a Jacuzzi bath area.
» Read more about Imbak Falls…

No. 2. Langanan Waterfall

Location: Poring, Kinabalu Park
Height: 120 Meters (394 Feet)
Langanan Waterfall
Located in Poring Hot Springs, the most popular destination of Sabah and 1st UNESCO World Heritage Site of Malaysia, the majestic view of 120-Meter-tall Langanan Waterfall is only saved for those visitors who are keen to hike nearly 4 Kilometers (2.3 Miles). It is more enjoyable to soak yourself in the hot spring after a long walk in the jungle.
» Read more about Langanan Waterfall…

No. 1. Maliau Falls

Location: Maliau Basin, Tawau
Height (of the highest tier): 28-Meter (92 Feet)
Maliau Falls
Here you go. The No.1 Waterfall of Sabah is the 7-tier Maliau Falls in Maliau Basin, Sabah’s Lost World. To see Maliau Falls, you need to trek 2 days on the treacherous relief and pass through miles and miles of dense pristine rainforest.

Maliau Falls
With over 30 waterfalls (and counting), Maliau Basin is also known as the Capital of Waterfalls, and Maliau Falls is the most breath-taking among them. Another feature of this waterfall is its tea-color water, which is caused by plant tannin released from heath forest upstream. The magnificent Maliau Falls will leave a beautiful memory in you, a scene that you like to replay in mind from time to time.
» Read more about Maliau Falls…

Which Waterfall is your Favorite?

Do you agree with the Top 10 Waterfalls list? Please vote for your favorite waterfall below. I would love to see if everyone shares the same view. You can even add new waterfall if your favorite is not in the list.

Headline for Top 10 Waterfalls of Sabah
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Murphy Ng Murphy Ng
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Top 10 Waterfalls of Sabah

Ten best Sabah waterfalls with different features

Maliau Falls

7-tier waterfall in Sabah's Lost World

Langanan Waterfall

Waterfall in UNESCO World Heritage Site

Imbak Falls

Waterfall in the Heart of Sabah

Mahua Waterfall

Refreshing water from clean mountain stream

Fefukan Waterfall

Waterfall in the Heart of Borneo

Fairy Falls

Waterfall in 130-million-year old Borneo rainforest

Madai Waterfall

First waterfall visited by stone-age people

Tawai Waterfall

Waterfall in pitcher plant garden

Gelas Waterfall

Waterfall in hill forest

Kiansom Waterall

Most visited waterfall

Below is a montage of Top 10 Sabah Waterfalls (Click it for bigger picture). You may share it in your Facebook.
Sabah's Top 10 Waterfall
Thanks to readers who link to me.

Waterfall Safety

Accident is like winning lottery, we get it when we are least expecting it. Waterfall is an inviting dead trap that takes countless lives (especially over-excited kids). Please pay attention to the following precaution if you want to “play” with waterfall:

  1. Don’t swim near to the waterfall. The waterfall pond can be deep, with unseen swift currents underneath.
  2. Don’t climb to the top of waterfall, as the rocks there are usually slippery.
  3. Don’t stand under the waterfall. Even a small stone fallen high from top can cause severe injury.
  4. During wet season, watch out for flash flood. Flash flood can occur even if there is no rain downstream.
  5. Teachers, if you plan to bring a group of pupils to swim at waterfall, equip yourself with lifebuoy, rope and CPR knowledge.

If you know any nice waterfall around your hometown, please share with us by posting the photo in comment box below.

“Life is like a waterfall, it is always moving and there is always an uneven flow to it.” – SooHoo

Photos taken in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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