Tag Archives: Lahad Datu

Tower of Heaven at the Mouth of Borneo

Darvel Bay

Looking at the increasing luxurious condominium built on the hill of our city, you will have no doubt that people are willing to pay a lot for scenic view from the top. For Lahad Datu town of Sabah, the best view point will be on Mount Silam, which is only 10 Kilometers away and one of the highest place in this district. From its top, you can have a bird’s eye view of Lahad Datu town and its surrounding mountains, forest and the beautiful Darvel Bay.

Mt. Silam and Lahad Datu town
Pic: Mt. Silam is not far away from Lahad Datu.

Luckily, Mt. Silam is not developed into a condo area for the rich. Instead, it is part of the Class-1 Sapagaya Forest Reserve fully protected by Sabah Forestry Department (SFD). Not only that, SFD also builds an observation tower on Mt. Silam, name it as “Tower of Heaven” (Menara Kayangan in Malay language) and open it to public in year 2012.

Tower of Heaven (Menara Kayangan)

Tower of Heaven (Menara Kayangan) is 33-Meter tall (about 108 feet) and located at 620 Meters above sea level on Mount Silam. The tower is a very solid building supported by steel and cement structure, and able to hold up to 30 visitors. As this is a forested high ground, the air here is cooling and refreshing. You will feel so comfortable that you want to stay longer for the nice air and view.

entrance of Tower of Heaven
Pic: the entrance to the top of tower, but no hurry…

viewing platform at Tower of Heaven
For those who don’t want to climb 8 floors of staircase to the top, they can check out the viewing platform in front of the tower.

nice view at platform
Oh dear, I can sit here whole day for the spectacular view of Darvel Bay and its islands.

Darvel Bay
Pic: Darvel Bay and the islands

If you wonder why I call Darvel Bay the “Mouth of Borneo”, you may look at the map below:

View My Sabah Map in a larger map

staircase to top of Tower of Heaven
Now going to the tower for the best view up there… It takes less than 10 minutes to reach the top. Sorry, there is no elevator / lift.

inside Tower of Heaven (Menara Kayangan)
Along the stairway are some posters with information and photographs about Mt. Silam. Just take your time and walk up slowly.

aerial view of Darvel Bay
Here you go. The heavenly view from Tower of Heaven.

island of Darvel Bay

island of Darvel Bay
Overlooking the islands. These are big islands but they look so small from the tower.

view from Tower of Heaven (Menara Kayangan)
Pic: the telecommuncation towers next to Tower of Heaven. You can see Lahad Datu town far behind them.

For a virtual walking tour of the tower, you may watch the 3-min video below:

Tower of Heaven (Menara Kayangan) in fog
Sometimes Mt. Silam would be enveloped by dense mist, then you can’t see anything from top. This can happen anytime.

starting of the trail to Mt. Silam
If you want to appreciate the nature of Mt. Silam, there is a forest trail behind the tower that leads you to its peak (height: 844 Meters). You may read my next post on climbing Mt. Silam.

Silam Crab (Geosesarma aurantium)
Lucky visitors would see the lovely, small and orange-red Silam Crab (Species: Geosesarma aurantium) in the wood near the tower. It is endemic to Sabah and only found on Mt. Silam!

red land crab of Mt. Silam
Silam Crab is a land crab that can be found up to the peak of Mt. Silam (884 Meters). Usually you could see them come up foraging among leaf litter after rain.

view of Mt. Silam from the sea
Pic: you also can see Mt. Silam from the sea of Darvel Bay. The tower is clearly visible during good weather.

fisherman of Darvel Bay
Pic: Darvel Bay is rich in seafood and an important fishing zone of Sabah.

Bagang fishing platform in Darvel Bay
Pic: a fishing structure (called Bagang locally) near an island in Darvel Bay.

How to get there

There is no public transport to Tower of Heaven but you can go there by taxi. The entrance is next to the Lahad Datu-Tawau highway about 10 KM from Lahad Datu town. For tourists who visit Danum Valley, they will pass by this junction, so it is a convenient stop for a short tour (and toilet break).

entrance at Silam junction
Pic: the entrance (see location map) and ticket counter of Tower of Heaven. Note the sign on arch says “Menara Kayangan”, instead of “Tower of Heaven”.

The ticket costs RM2 (≈USD0.60) for adult, RM1 for child (≈USD0.30). They open from 8am to 5pm daily.

paved road to Tower of Heaven (Menara Kayangan)
Pic: the sign reads “Beware of animal crossing”. I saw some pig-tailed macaques wandering here in the morning.

After the entrance, you need to drive another 10 KM uphill to the tower on a sealed road.

parking lot near Tower of Heaven
Pic: parking lot near the tower. At the right is a restaurant under construction.

toilet at Tower of Heaven
Pic: there is a male and female toilet at the base of the tower. Clean but quite small (note the door almost touches the basin).

hostel of Tower of Heaven
FYI, if you would like to spend a night on Mt. Silam, there are a hostel (accommodate 4 guests) and a resthouse (accommodate up to 10 guests) near the tower. You may contact Sabah Forestry Department (Tel: +60 89 242500) for more info or booking.

Besides the tower, there are many other things to explore on Mt. Silam, you may download the pamphlet below (published by SFD) for further reading:
download pamphlet of Mt. Silam and Tower of Heaven

Anyone plans to go after reading this?

Related Post
Climbing Mt. Silam

Photos taken in Lahad Datu, 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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