Saturday, February 28, 2009

Royal Brunei Airlines cuts fuel surcharges

By Achong Tanjong

Royal Brunei Airlines yesterday announced that fuel surcharges on its tickets issued in the country will be reduced, starting today.

For tickets purchased and issued before February 28, the previous surcharges will still apply.

The latest reduction in fuel surcharges is in line with RBA's previous statement that the airline will review its surcharges if the price of jet fuel maintains a lower average.

"Over the past few months, oil prices have continued to drop, allowing RBA to reduce the fuel surcharges and pass along savings to passengers," said Acting CEO of RBA Pengiran Haji Alihashim. "In the Borneo sector, the surcharges have been discounted up to 50 per cent."

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Smiles – Sarawak’s potent tourist attraction

SIBU: Sarawakians, famed for their great smiles, friendliness and hospitality, should preserve these natural traits zealously to ward off the onslaught of ‘imported’ negative cultures.

Minister of Urban Development and Tourism, Datuk Michael Manyin Jawong, said this “great culture” of the locals must be preserved because, among other things, tourists were attracted to visit the State as it was hard to find such natural smiles and friendly people anywhere in the world.

“Smiles, friendliness and great hospitality are, first and foremost, one of the most important attractions which impress tourists so much that they want to visit this beautiful land of ours.

“Recently, for example, I met a Singaporean and he told me that if you happen to be visiting a longhouse, and you are hungry, you can just walk into any of the bileks (room) and get some food…for free!,” he chuckled.

Manyin pointed out that the friendly nature of the locals had been passed down from generation to generation, and as such should be preserved for posterity.

Continue reading at: Smiles – Sarawak’s potent tourist attraction

Regional tours top choice among Bruneians

By Azlan Othman

Regional destinations like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Bangkok and Hong Kong are popular among Bruneian travellers due to cheaper Internet hotel rates and favourable exchange rates. Individual travel too is also peaking-up in addition to family travel.

"While tourism around the region has suffered with tourists forgoing their holiday to make ends meet, Bruneians are still keen to travel during this hard time.

"Every year, there has been an increase in bookings where Bruneians prefer the Golden Touch holiday packages offered by RBA," officials from Abacus Brunei and RBA said.

The fourth annual Belait Travel Fair will be held from Feb 28 to March 1 at OGDC in Seria. The two-day travel fair from 9am to 7pm will gather six travel agents who will promote and showcase their products in 11 booths.

"Many inquiries are made by the public on holiday packages especially to Kota Kinabalu, which is a hot destination especially with the opening of the new one stop shopping centre, 1Borneo."

Travel fair patrons will stand an opportunity to win RBA air tickets to Brisbane, Bangkok and Singapore, and win money courtesy of Baiduri Bank, up to 200,000 Royal Skies miles and a number of electrical goodies.

Consumers bringing their families can look forward to face painting, children's colouring contest, quizzes and spin the wheel. Free ice cream and balloons will be given away during the travel fair.

Participating agents will be promoting RBA family and friends fares and Golden Touch holiday packages. Baiduri Bank will be giving away up to 100,000 travel points, and corporate gifts to winners of the quiz mania and children's colouring contest.

Abd Halim Hj Abd Rahman, Sales and Marketing Manager of Abacus Brunei said, the main aim of the travel fair has always been to provide a platform for our travel agents to acquire new customers, to deliver even better value for their existing customers and at the same time provide an opportunity for residents in the Belait district to shop around and book a dream holiday from the best deals offered.

The 4th annual Belait Travel Fair is also supported by American Express, Baiduri Bank, Fratini's Restaurant, Royal Brunei Catering, RMS Diner, RMS Portview, Shikai Restaurant, Takaful IBB Bhd, Telekom Brunei Bhd and TNT.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sarawak's Semenggoh centre cares for orangutan

Feeding time is the best time to visit the orangutans

An orangutan at the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

Crocodiles and other animals can also be found at the centre

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Achong Tanjong and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

By Achong Tanjong

The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre in Kuching, Sarawak is one of the caring homes for almost 1,000 endangered mammals, birds and reptiles from dozens of different species throughout the region.

The centre continues to attract huge number of foreign and local visitors including those from Brunei Darussalam.

What makes the centre well-known is its orangutan rehabilitation programme. The centre is an interesting place to learn more about the nature of the orangutan.

Recently, the Sarawak Forestry Corporation announced the birth of a third baby orangutan. One of the babies, a female was born at the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre and another two orangutans were born at the Matang Wildlife Centre.

To date, there are 25 orangutans in the Semenggoh Nature Reserve, of which 14 - including the latest additions - were born at the reserve.

The Bulletin visited the centre last June during a mega familiarisation trip that was organised by Malaysia Tourism Brunei coinciding with feeding time, which is the best time to visit the centre.

Visitors are advised to follow rules and regulations when visiting the care centre. This is because the orangutans might look cute but visitors cannot trust them, as they are still wild animals. Visitors are advised not to use flash photography as this could scare or make them angry said the park warden.

The visit provides for the opportunity of lifetime to observe how orangutans are rehabilitated and trained to fend for themselves before being released back into the wild.

Visitors also have a chance to see semi-wild orangutans, ranging from tiny infants and boisterous adolescents to dignified adults, enjoying life in a secure natural habitat.

Established in 1975, the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is situated within the boundaries of the Semenggoh Nature Reserve about 24 km from Kuching City. The area covers 740 hectares of virgin forest. Other animals found at the centre include honey bears, hornbills, porcupines, storks, eagles, barking deers and monkeys.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

15,000 expected at Bidayuh farming fiesta

KUCHING: The inaugural Pesta Berumuh, a showcase of Bidayuh culture, heritage and arts at Serian Mini Stadium on March 20 to 23, is expected to attract more than 15,000 visitors including foreign tourists.

The event publicity officer Joseph Beron said the Bidayuh festival was an occasion to honour their forefathers who left legacies in the form of fruit orchards, villages and native customary rights land to the community.

“It is also a time to celebrate the farming cycle and draw new interpretations and lessons from its spirit, philosophies, approaches and methodologies that can be applied in today’s world,” he said.

Beyond rice farming, Joseph said Pesta Berumuh was also an occasion to commemorate their tradition, culture and heritage.

It serves as an opportunity for members of the Bidayuh community especially the younger generation to revisit their tradition and heritage, understand and rediscover their cultural identity.

Continue reading at: 15,000 expected at Bidayuh farming fiesta

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sabah a favourite place for American tourists

WASHINGTON: Sabah, known for its diving, golfing and green tourism, is the favourite Malaysian destination for American tourists after Penang, Salahuddin Mohd Ariffin, Vice-President and Director of Tourism Malaysia in New York disclosed this here Sunday.

“They seem to be attracted to nature, adventure, diving, golfing, and MICE meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions,” he said.

“Arrivals of American tourists in Malaysia went up nine per cent to 220,000 in 2008 from 2007 despite the gloomy economic scenario, he told Bernama at the closing of the two-day “Adventures in Travel Expo.”

“More than 55 per cent of the American tourists were in Malaysia for leisure, while the rest came for business,” he added.

The outlook looks good for the immediate future for the Malaysian tourism market. Tourism Malaysia had projected 15,000 tourists to arrive from the US for January this year.

The number surpassed Malaysia’s expectation and it showed an increase of 10 per cent in January 2009 to 17,000 arrivals, compared with the same period in January 2008.

According to research conducted by Tourism Malaysia, most of the US tourists came as independent tourists, 95 per cent of them made their bookings using the internet, while the rest came to Malaysia on travel packages using travel agents.

Continue reading at: Sabah a favourite place for American tourists

Brunei Tourism in no-win situation over 'won'

By Azlan Othman

The economic crisis and the weakening Korean won are forcing many South Koreans to give up their holiday plans overseas including Brunei.

A local tourism expert told the Bulletin that the Korean market is very seasonal and they go from one destination to another.

"The Sultanate as a destination peaks for golfing holiday. Yes, people are affected by the economic crisis and countries that go for mass tourism feel the impact more. The tourists have to forgo the holiday to make their ends meet.

"However, the target market for Brunei may not affect much. Tourists may opt to go for short haul destinations instead and Brunei is one of those in the list of short haul destinations.

"But Brunei is still participating in the Korean Travel Fair. There is still a need for our presence to be felt. Tourism is not a one-day or a one-week event.

"We can't stop promoting the Sultanate during these hard times. Creating awareness for Koreans and making our presence felt at this time is crucial," he added.

In January last year, 1,000 won was worth about B$1.50. But as of yesterday, 1,000 won had weakened to about B$1.

Latest figures showed that in November last year, Koreans spending on overseas travel and education fell by the most in a decade because of the weakening currency and the slump in the economy.

And the future remains uncertain.

The Korean central bank predicts the annual economic growth will slow to an 11-year low of two per cent this year.

Meanwhile, a souvenir shop that caters for Korean tourists told the Bulletin that the number of visitors reached its peak in April last year when some 4,000 Koreans visited Brunei as part of their incentive trip.

"We used to receive some 15 Korean tourists in a day and hundreds of tourists in a month during the good times. But now it's not that much."

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Monday, February 23, 2009

Historical WWII trek attracting Aussies to Sabah

MELBOURNE: Sabah is attracting an increasing number of Australian tourists, many wanting to cover the seven-day trek along the treacherous route taken by World War Two prisoners of war (PoWs) in the infamous Sandakan death march.

“Our post-war heritage listing has drawn thousands of visitors from Australia, New Zealand and Britain who have historical links with Sabah,” said Sabah Tourism Board marketing manager Noredah Othman.

More than 1,000 Australian and British PoWs were forced to march across 260km of difficult terrain and dense tropical jungle from the Sandakan prison camp to Ranau between January and March 1945.

Only six Australian PoWs survived.

“Sabah had 26,071 tourist arrivals from Australia last year, an increase of 25% from 2007 when 20,859

Continue reading at: Historical WWII trek attracting Aussies to Sabah

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mulu - Journey into the Centre of Borneo

At the entrance of Deer Cave

A beautiful formation of stalactites and stalagmites in Lang's cave

Dwarfed by the huge rocks in Deer Cave

Columns of limestones

Huge water drops

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Abdul Aziz Pandin and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

By Abdul Aziz Pandin

Caves are found all around the world. A journey to the underground of the caves provides a fun opportunity to experience nature's beauty, while learning about its natural wonders. No two caves are alike.

In Borneo itself, there are lots of natural wonders especially the caves that can be found in our neighbouring country, Mulu National Park in Sarawak. It is indeed the most fascinating natural landscape you will ever experience.

As we were guided by the park guides, we began our journey into the centre of Borneo, The Deer and Lang's Cave. They are located at Mulu National Park. From the headquarters, it took about 45 minutes walking along a three-km plank which passes through peat swamp, alluvial flats and limestone outcrops.

There is much to see on the way to the cave, including some superb rainforest, jungle streams and an ancient Penan burial cave.

Upon reaching the cave entrance, there is no doubt that you are about to enter the largest cave passage in the world, The Deer Cave. It is over two kms in length and 90 metres high and wide.

It is also home to many species of bats. Between five to seven pm, if the weather is fine, visitors may be treated to the spectacular sight of black cloud of thousands free-tailed bats emerging from the entrance of the cave to go in search of food.

Inside the cave, it is totally surrounded by huge rocks, boulders, guano (bat droppings) and water droppings from the cave ceilings. It is a bit cold inside and the breeze blows gently.

It is like some sort of natural ventilation for the cave. Some parts of the cave are filled with a smell of guano. Planks and trails are provided throughout the walk in the cave.

Sights to watch out for here are the famous rock formation resembling the sharp profile of former US president Abraham Lincoln. This sight might make you wonder, how on earth it was formed like that.

A visit to Deer Cave is usually combined with Lang Cave, in which the entrance is a short distance away from the Deer Cave.

Lang Cave is the smallest of the show caves but its rock formations are the most divine sight to behold. The formations of the limestones in Lang's Cave are truly a wonder. These are all made more attractive by the strategically positioned spotlights which highlight stalactites and stalagmites.

Every corner of the Lang's caves is grown by stalactites and stalagmites. These occurrences only takes place in limestone caves only. The stalactite, which is on the top, hangs downward like an icicle while the stalagmite is at the bottom and grow upwards. They grow in pairs. The slightly acidic water dissolves some of the limestone, carrying it downward. When the water evaporates, the limestone appears to have flowed downward.

Some of the water does not evaporate until it has fallen through the air, and landed on the floor, the remaining limestone building the stalagmite. Sometimes the stalactite is missing, as they sometimes break off and fall; you will often see their pieces on the floor.

Often, the stalactite and stalagmite will connect, and become a column. Due to these amazing formations of limestones, it gives the cave its divine beauty.

As we walked further into the caves, we were briefed by our park guides about the historical background of the cave. Once in a while we stopped, giving us a chance to take photos of the cave and to observe more details of the caves.

The duration for us to complete the walk for the two caves was about four hours and we returned to the headquarters in exhaustion but it was worth it. Getting into the underground of the earth is truly something that will remain in your memories at Mulu.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, February 20, 2009

Welcome to Kiram’s Village, Kundasang

From Kinabalu blog:

Forget about Sutera Sanctuary Lodges Kinabalu Park accommodations. They are expensive and not worth staying in. Can you imagine staying in bunk beds Grace Hostel will cost you RM120 per person, per night?

With RM120 you can stay in Kinabalu Pine Resort, Winner of 2005/06 Malaysian Tourism Awards - Excellence in Hotel Services (2 Star) standard room with breakfast and have your own veranda facing the Majestic Kinabalu.

Personally, I have been shying away from staying in Kinabalu Park for the last 2 years, as they were cutting my throat with their prices.

Enough with the bashing. I am would like to introduce you to Kiram’s Village, Mesilou, Kundasang. Situated just before the entrance of Mount Kinabalu Golf Club, Kundasang, this group of chalets are owned by one of my high school super senior, Jamalul Kiram.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Welcome to Kiram’s Village, Kundasang

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Swiss Ambassador has rarest treat in Semenggok

KUCHING: The Switzerland Ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Urs Stemmler, may now have realised how serious and thorough the Sarawak government was in its efforts to protect and preserve the state’s natural resources and wildlife.

Perhaps in the past, he could have just heard about it through people but yesterday he had the rare opportunity to see it for himself when visiting the Semenggok National Reserve, which is currently housing 25 adults, teenagers and also a nine-day old baby orang utans.

He was not only impressed for being able to see the orang utans roaming around at the centre but was “impressed because I’ve seen for myself how thoroughly this (orang utan conservation programme) is being carried out and how seriously it is taken”.

Speaking to pressmen during the visit, Stemmler said that he has a family history relating to orang utans because his uncle used to take care of orang utans in a zoo in Switzerland, who had been so famous that he appeared on the front page of the National Geographic magazine.

“I have very familiar tradition so to speak, in the protection of nature, and I am very impressed about the professionalism and the knowledge of the guide taking me around here. I think I am very lucky that I have seen practically the calling of the orang utans.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Swiss Ambassador has rarest treat in Semenggok

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Up close and personal with Borneo

When daydreaming about the perfect tropical island escape, images of palm trees, white sand and beautiful sunsets may come to mind.

But for active travellers Stephen and Carolyn Soole it was not the idyllic images akin with the tropical islands of Fiji or Samoa, but the wild jungles of Borneo that got them excited about having a real holiday adventure.

The couple went to United Travel Dargaville to put a holiday plan together, and in October they were away.

"We wanted to experience another country’s culture and natural beauty, and we didn’t want the usual run-of-the-mill holiday. Borneo fitted the bill entirely.

"For us the highlights were getting up close and personal with the jungle wildlife on their terms watching monkeys, crocs, lizards, snakes and birds in their natural habitat.

"This was a real experience," says Stephen.

The holiday started when they landed in the capital city, Bandar Sri Begawan of Brunei a small country within Borneo.

About 350,000 people live in Brunei and 10 percent of them in a village on the water, having done so since 1521 when it was first discovered.

It is accessable only by boat, the houses are built side by side on stilts, the village has everything from schools, police stations, fire brigade and shops.

From Brunei they travelled north to the state of Sabah and the capital city of Kota- Kinabalu before moving further north into the mountain region around Kinabalu park, home to Mount Kinabalu – the highest mountain in Asia, at 4100 metres.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Up close and personal with Borneo

Mount Kinabalu lures rising number of climbers

KUNDASANG: There has been an increase in the number of tourists who scaled Mount Kinabalu last year compared to the two previous years.

Sabah Parks officer Awangku Mohd Rodzan Pengiran Dahlan said that 48,604 tourists scaled South-East Asia’s highest mountain last year. Of the climbers, 26,161 were foreig­ners.

“This is an increase compared to the 40,390 climbers in 2007 and 39,298 in 2006,” he said here recently.

Rodzan said that several factors contributed to the increase, including cheaper air fares and intensive promotion by the Sabah government.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Mount Kinabalu lures rising number of climbers

Tune opens for business in Kuching

KUCHING: Kuching saw the opening of its very first budget hotel, the Tune - Waterfront Kuching, by Minister for Urban Development and Tourism, Michael Manyin here yesterday.

Its 135 suite rooms would be officially opened to the public on March 2.

The Tune Hotel which is located in the heart of Kuching, next to Waterfront Kuching and within close proximity of established shopping and entertainment outlets, aims to provide a “5-star sleeping experience at a 1-star price”, as its slogan has suggested.

The hotel employs a self-service online booking system, modeled after that of low-cost airlines, that encourages guests to book early to enjoy exceptionally low prices. Those interested may log on the website to check up the best deals available.

The Chief Executive Officer, Mark Lankester told the media at the opening ceremony that if anyone were to book and pay now, he or she would be able to get a RM0.05 per night deal.

“Our focused business model eliminates pricy yet underutilized full-service hotel facilities and concentrates on giving travellers just the accomodation essentials they need - comfortable 5-star beds and great showers in clean, secure locations.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Tune opens for business in Kuching

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival seeks to engage 130 volunteers

KUCHING: Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) is seeking volunteers for the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) to be staged at Sarawak Cultural Village in Kuching from July 10-12.

Volunteer application forms are available at the festival website at

Applicants must return the form to STB with full particulars by March 31.

This year, STB aims to engage 130 volunteers to help at the registration counter, gate, stage, media centre, merchandise stall, survey counter, carrying musical equipment and instruments and taking care of the bands.

Volunteers have been acknowledged to play a significant part in ensuring the success and smooth running of the annual festival over the past years.

“We are lucky to have had many dedicated volunteers over the years,” said RWMF co-organising chairman Benedict Jimbau, who acknowledged their contributions in ensuring the smooth running of the festival.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival seeks to engage 130 volunteers

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sipadan gets nominated for New7Wonders of Nature

Pulau Sipadan, touted as one of the world's diving havens, is vying to be on the Internet list of seven wonders of nature in the world.

Sabah's famous island was one of the 261 nominees in the New7Wonders of Nature online campaign, aimed to celebrate the most extraordinary sites worldwide.

Other nominees include Ko Phi Phi Island, Maldives, the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, Niagara Falls and the Great Barrier Reef.

Sabah Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, who was surprised with the news, said the nomination was an honour for the country.

"Even though the island is in Sabah, this will be a major tourism boost for the country.

"I believe we were nominated by foreigners who went diving around the island and the fact indicates that they have high regard and admiration for our island," he said.

Continue reading at: Sipadan gets nominated for New7Wonders of Nature

Divers threaten to boycott Sabah over shark finning

KOTA KINABALU: Sipadan conjures up an image of a serene, protected underwater world -- one of the world's top dive spots.

But just a half-hour boat ride away off Pulau Mabul, the blood of magnificent sharks, crudely finned and gutted by the boatload stains the sea red.

Shark finning has been going on here for several years, and the stark contrast between Sipadan and Mabul has caused an uproar in the international diving community, with some threatening to boycott Sabah entirely.

Finning is the inhumane practice of hacking off the shark's fins and throwing its still living body back into the sea.

A diver said: "Why should we contribute to the decline of a beautiful area by supporting a place which does not protect its own resources?

"We strongly urge the resorts to lobby Sabah Parks to prohibit shark finning in the Ligitan island group area.

"If the area is not protected, we will choose to dive in other areas of Southeast Asia where the marine life is protected with the money collected," the diver said.

Continue reading at: Divers threaten to boycott Sabah over shark finning

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: Zoom Kota Kinabalu City Tourism Treasure Hunt 2009

Date : 22 February 2009

Grab your friends and go on an unforgettable adventure during the annual Kota Kinabalu City Tourism Treasure Hunt this month! Groups of two to four people are given clues and ‘rally tulips’ at the beginning of the hunt, which will take them around popular sites in KK city.

At certain points of the hunt, be prepared to get physical. Fun and sometimes unusual tasks are at hand, from eating exotic delicacies to coconut bowling! A briefing prior to the race will explain in detail on the rules and regulations of the treasure hunt. Get your registration forms from the Kota Kinabalu City Hall today. Happy hunting!

For more details and information, please contact Fauziahton Ag. Samad at 088-521800 or email

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love Getaway in Sabah - Built For Two

In the mood for love? There’s plenty to see and do for the cuddlesome twosome or daring duo when in Sabah!

Road Trip

They say the best test for any relationship is to go on a holiday together – and what better way than to go on a road trip to explore Sabah! Take a leisurely drive up north to Kudat and visit the Tip of Borneo, Tanjung Simpang Mengayau. Imagine standing over a majestic cliff overlooking the meeting point of the Sulu and South China Seas while the waves crash on the rocks below. It’s a scene out of a movie! Or find a reason to cuddle by the fireplace as you enjoy the cool mountain air at Kinabalu National Park. Start your day with breakfast on the balcony as you watch Mount Kinabalu unravel itself.

Island Escapes

Sun, sea, sand and a sweetheart – What more do you need for a romantic getaway? Start by island hopping around the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park off the coast of KK City. A tip: opt for smaller islands, namely Sapi, for more quiet time and try to schedule your trip on a weekday rather than busy weekends. Want to be treated like royalty? Be King and Queen for a day (or two) at the Gayana Eco-Resort where breakfast is served right to your door…on a boat! Or visit the ultra-romantic Reef Dive Resort in Mataking Island for a honeymoon you won’t soon forget. Need an adrenaline rush? Try parasailing for two or give wakeboarding a go. If all fails, spend the day working on your tan or – a true classic - enjoy a romantic walk along the beach as the sun sets.

Table for Two

Ah, food, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…For Valentine’s Day, go the extra mile and make it unforgettable as you dine at any one of Sabah’s fine dining establishments. Our five-star resorts all offer top-notch restaurants and are yours for the choosing. Award-winning Peppino’s at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa is a popular pick this time of the year as well as the romantic Italian joint Ferdinand’s at the Magellan Sutera. The Coast at Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort can arrange an outdoor dinner experience as you wine and dine in your private gazebo under the moonlit sky. @mosphere (located on the 18th floor of Menara Tun Mustapha) also offers a fantastic menu and a 360 degree view of the city. With all the candlelight action going on, be prepared for knee-bending, question-popping and heart-melting moments!

Spa Treatments

What could be better than having your body pampered while your mind drifts off into oblivion? Enjoying this while having your partner beside you of course! Sabah’s spas offer plenty of packages for two, such as the Ka’andaman Traditional Healing Garden and The Borneo Spa at Dalit Bay. The Nexus Resort Karambunai also offers massage treatments in quaint huts on its sandy beach, a tranquil experience like no other. Looking a traditional touch? Jari Jari in Tanjung Aru Plaza, Kota Kinabalu, specializes in traditional treatments to soothe your mind, body and soul. Spa treatments for two? Double the bliss!


Romance isn’t all candlelit dinners and gazing into each other’s eyes. Think out of the box and think fun, fun, fun! Bring out the child in you and have a ‘wild’ time at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park as you discover some of Sabah’s amazing creatures great and small.

How about a walk under the sea? Seawalking is a great way to explore the underwater world without getting a single strand of hair wet. If the conventional spa treatment isn’t quite your thing, head over to Ranau and try the unique Kampung Luanti Fish Massage. Simply dip yourself in the cool river and wait for the friendly fish to gently ‘massage’ you with their mouths! Now there’s one for the album.

Source: Sabah Tourism Newsletter

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hotel Promenade Opens in Tawau

Tawau: Hotel Promenade conducted its "soft" opening Thursday as part of the effort by Sabah Urban Development Corporation (SUDC) to enhance better development, exploring the various potentials of the district.

SUDC Managing Director Haji Abu Bakar M Yahya who was the first official guest at the hotel following the soft opening, told a press conference that Tawau was chosen for the project due to the vibrant economy that could help boost the prospects of building a four-star hotel, a shopping complex and condominium lots, located some 1.5km from the town centre.

He expressed optimism that Tawau should be able to accommodate the three ambitious projects.

Abu Bakar also said Promenade was chosen due to their credibility in managing business in the hotel industry, and believed that the facility would be able to cater the needs of guests from nearby towns as well as neigbouring countries bordering the district.

At the same time, the three establishments would continue to generate more jobs for the local people here, he said.

Abu Bakar added the hotel might utilise 63 of its total 180 rooms, until it is fully completed by May, this year.

Continue reading at: Promenade Hotel opens in Tawau

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Borneo's forest largely untouched

KOTA KINABALU: Borneo still enjoys a friendly and beautiful environment because of its large area of untouched forest, which is a contradiction to a claim by a foreign non-governmental organisation that almost all of its forest has been cleared.

Minister of Tourism, Culture & Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun said such claim was totally inaccurate because it was made by people who had not seen by themselves the real situation in Borneo.

He said this when met after clarifying the matter to Marta Szigeti Bonifert, the executive director of Regional Environment Centre (REC) based in Hungary, at the Luncheon Talk entitled “Transition to sustainability through cooperation” at Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa yesterday.

“I feel happy that today we have the opportunity to explain to Bonifert on claim that almost all forest in Borneo had been cleared or deforested. I had explained to her that in fact, 53 per cent of Sabah has been gazetted as forest reserve and wild parks for near extinct animals.

“The map on Borneo that she claimed to have received from an NGO showed almost all parts of Borneo had been cleared but I dare to say that 80 per cent of Kalimantan has not been explored, what more to say about clearing them for development,” Masidi said.

Continue reading at: Borneo's forest largely untouched

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: City Day Regatta

Date : 21-22 February 2009

Sails up! Watch as the South China Sea comes alive with a myriad of sails during the City Day Regatta, held in conjunction with the City’s 9th anniversary. As with every year, the Regatta will take place along Tanjung Aru Beach and is held over two days. Sailors participate in several races to determine the champions in various classes of boats.

The annual event is to celebrate the importance of the sea and its significant role in the lives of Kota Kinabalu residents for leisure, sports and the economy. Organised by the Kinabalu Yacht Club, the regatta has a reputation for attracting top sailors from around Borneo and many come from the Peninsular States to compete as it is a benchmark regatta for sailing performance standards. For Sabah sailors, it is a very important ranking race.

For more information, please contact Bobby Willie (Vice Commodore) at tel. no 088-240070 / 243070 / 019 880 8859 or e-mail

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Thrilling time at Sarawak-Terengganu Cultural Fiesta 2009

VISITORS at the Malaysian Tourism Centre (MaTiC) were greeted by the culture of Sarawak and Terrenganu recently.

The Sarawak-Terengganu Fiesta 2009 was organised in collaboration with the Tourism Action Councils of Sarawak and Terengganu in an effort to promote the sights, sounds and flavours of both states.

Handicraft, traditional games and food were available in booths set up on the courtyard at the MaTiC centre.

The event was launched on Jan 6 by the Tourism Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng.

“We hope that people get a picture of the tourist attractions that Sarawak has to offer,” Sarawak Town Development and Tourism ministry permanent secretary Akit Sebli said.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Thrilling time at Sarawak-Terengganu Cultural Fiesta 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dine at Hilton Batang Ai Resort, Sarawak

From Borneo Tip blog:

We were at the Resort on New Year eve. So instead of dining at the resort's sole restaurant, Nanga Mepi, all the guests on that day will be having a buffet dinner (About RM92 for each person) at the spacious concourse just outside the lobby at the resort's main building.

The food served were nice and satisfactory. Wide selection of dessert, salad, appetizer and food selection for the buffet.

The meat section was probably the most popular section. They served chicken, fish, beef, mutton, quail, lamb, corn and satay.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Dine at Hilton Batang Ai Resort, Sarawak

Monday, February 09, 2009

Flavours from Sarawak

ONE of the ways suggested to tighten the belt during the economic downturn is to buy local products. For the average Malaysian who intends to observe this practice when it also comes to dining out, one of the calls is to support local cuisine.

Besides going easy on the wallet, the Sarawak cuisine promotion at the Putrajaya Marriott offers a deeper insight into the interesting myriad of dishes from the land of the hornbills.

Guest chefs Carrol Jalong and Wilson Uba from the Miri Marriott Hotel in Sarawak will help Putrajaya Marriott senior chef de partie Leonard Seli Lenada during the promotion ending on Feb 22.

Step into Terrace Cafe and you will be drawn to the Sarawak Ikan Bakar corner where a large mackerel lies smothered in a thick layer of ground chillies, dried shrimps, shallots, ginger and the works. A fiery dip of chopped chillies and onions are always placed next to the fish.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Flavours from Sarawak

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Borneo Safari - Wet and wild

Unfavourable weather or not, the Borneo Safari is an event not to be missed.

I CANNOT speak for the rest of the world but 2008 was a good year for me. I got to tick off several boxes on my to-do list, including driving a topless Lamborghini through the hills of Bologna and bit of backpacking in Italy, all without any work involved.

But the highlights came towards the end of the year, when I got to indulge to the max in my passion – 4X4 adventure.

There was a bit of worry, initially. It looked like nature was going to pour cold water on my plans to enjoy Sabah’s famous Borneo Safari, with a weather alert warning of heavy rainfall towards the end of October.

The expected deluge might cause “flash floods and mudslides in low-lying areas and river banks”, the met boys warned, in “Sabah’s coastal areas and the interior”. (Call me an alarmist but wouldn’t that description cover the WHOLE state?)

This was to be a homecoming of sorts for me because I had lived in Sabah for several years in the early 1990s, and the 1992 edition of the Borneo Safari was my induction into the world of hardcore 4X4 (followed by the inimitable Camel Trophy of 1993).

In this hobby of “challenging nature”, rain means tough trail conditions. But that’s regarded as a promise, not a threat. It is something to welcome, not to dread.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Borneo Safari - Wet and wild

Sabah's Orang utan documentary to be shown to 260 mil viewers in November

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s orang utan conservation efforts will be featured in a National Geographic documentary channel scheduled for screening to 260 million households worldwide in November.

The documentary is being produced by Kuala Lumpur-based Novista Sdn Bhd, which has been engaged by the National Development Film Corporaration (Finas) to carry out the project.

Novista director Lina Teoh said filming would begin in the middle of the year at various locations around the state.

“We feel there has been a lot of positive work done in Sabah in conserving the orang utan and this is among the things the documentary will focus on,” said Teoh after briefing State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjum on the documentary yesterday.

Continue reading at: Sabah's Orang utan documentary to be shown to 260 mil viewers in November

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: North Borneo Sacred Legacy Photographic Exhibition

Date : 02 - 27 February 2009

The establishment and founding of the Sabah Museum was based on this special and exclusive G.C. Woolley collection. The collection was bequeathed by its collector George Catchart Woolley, a Senior British Administrator, a graduate from Queens College, Oxford to the then North Borneo Government. This superb collection has become a great legacy of Sabah's pre-colonial era that help mold and shape Sabah's current socio-cultural and socio-economic landscape. G.C. Woolley's romantic experience with the various indigenous ethnic communities will be showcased in this exhibition. Come visit and experience the legacy yourselves.

The Sabah Museum is open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Entrance fees apply.

Further Information
Organiser : Sabah Museum
Contact Person : Datuk Joseph Pounis Guntavid
Telephone : +6088 253199
Fax : +6088 240 230
Email Contact :

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Friday, February 06, 2009

Brunei has potential to become home of eco-tourism in Asean

By James Kon

Brunei Darussalam has the opportunity to become a hotspot in eco-tourism in the region thanks to its untouched and pristine forests.

Mr Fumihiro Sakakibara, the President of Mile Post Consultants Sdn Bhd highlighted this yesterday during an interview with the Bulletin after conducting a successful two-day seminar on Japanese Tourism.

"I like Brunei very much. Countries in the region such as Sarawak, Sabah, Indonesia and Mindanao in the Philippines basically share the same kind of forests. However, Brunei has the upper hand as it has no history of logging. The forest is still pristine and untouched. The distance to the forest is subtle and located on good roads," he said.

Mr Sakakibara also emphasised that since the population of the sultanate is rather small, it is easy to educate the people on the importance of an eco-tourism concept. If there is a heightened awareness, Brunei can be the home of eco-tourism in Asean. However, he also warned of the inevitable, "We have to prepare ourselves for a downturn in the tourism market this year due to the global financial crisis. The sultanate's tourism industry might be adversely affected if it continues to depend on South Korean tourists," he said.

He further added that the Korean won dropped tremendously and it will be very difficult for many Koreans to travel overseas. If Brunei continues to rely on the Korean market, the nation's tourism industry will face a major problem.

When asked about the Japanese market, he said, "The market trend changes every 10 years and the market is currently shifting from youths to elderly people. To attract the Japanese market, one has to shift to selling elderly products."

He also touched on the gender and working population issues. "The marriage age in Japan has increased and women are not getting any younger. According to the statistics in 2005, almost 60 per cent of females aged between 25 and 29 years are not married. These people are the good segments to be targeted.

"Traditional and popular Japanese tourists destinations such as USA, Hawaii, Singapore, France, Switzerland, UK and Hong Kong saw a decrease in the number of tourists. Statistics from the year 2000 to 2007 reveal that there was a 3,000,000 reduction in the number of Japanese people who decided not to visit these popular destinations. Fresh destinations such as Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Turkey are among the new tourist destinations on the rise. Japanese tourists have been venturing to these states during the same period," Mr Sakakibara said.

The president of Mile Post Consultants Sdn Bhd also stated that Japanese people are looking for new travel destinations and Brunei is still very new and unknown to them. If the sultanate can implement good marketing strategies, it can attract a slice of the Japanese market.

Through TV programmes, inviting journalists as well as travel agents to visit Brunei can help promote and expose the country.

He also said, "The Japanese market changes very quickly and the need to observe such changes is essential in order to keep up with the market trends."

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sabah’s Lost World - A land lost in time

IN 1947, a World War II British pilot was heading towards Tawau when he flew over what he thought was a mist-shrouded jungle. But as the cloud dissipated, he found himself encircled by a wall of steep cliffs rising 915m above the jungle floor.

This serendipitous discovery was reported in the Borneo Bulletin in 1953.

However, it failed to generate much interest.

Surrounded on all sides by wickedly steep and forbidding slopes, Sabah’s Lost World covering an area slightly bigger than Singapore is unreachable by foot from almost all directions.

The only way in is at the point where the Maliau River - the only one flowing through the area - exits the basin. But even this is guarded by a series of impressive waterfalls and gorges.

Inaccessibility has led to its natural secrets being hidden from mankind for millions of years.

Earlier attempts to scale down the escarpment in 1960, 1976 and 1980 failed, and the explorations were confined to its perimeters.

In 1981, a survey party from Sabah Foundation landed in a helicopter and managed to cut a trail which enabled a 43-member expedition to spend three weeks in the Maliau Basin in 1988.

The expedition opened a Pandora’s Box of surprises, unveiling the mystery and beauty of a world untouched by the passage of time; where nature and wildlife coexist in perfect harmony, tucked in what seemed to be the very edge of the world: A Jurassic Park sans dinosaurs.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sabah’s Lost World - A land lost in time

Borneo’s Hidden Treasures - Chinese influence in modern Sabah life

KOTA KINABALU: With Chinese New Year or the Lunar New Year in progress, the multi-cultural citizens of Malaysia have been enjoying ‘open house’ with all the good food that Malaysians are known for, an overabundance of sunflower seeds (‘kuaci’) and mandarin oranges, and have been treated to Lion and Dragon dance performances in hotels and shopping malls.

Nancy Koh, author, photographer and food aficionado, spent the first day of the New Year first watching a Lion Dance troupe at a friend’s open house in the morning, then zooming off in the afternoon with another chum to her favourite resort for drinks and to catch their annual Lion Dance performance.

With all these fun and activities going on, and with friends and family gathering for dinners and ‘yee sang’ to celebrate this auspicious occasion, one can be forgiven for wondering how much of the activities are actually cultural and how much are more recent additions to the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Nancy ponders this as cultural practices and its significance in modern life is one of the main threads running through her upcoming book ‘Borneo’s Hidden Treasures’.

BHT explores the different races, places and cultures in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, through one common interest – food!

Continue reading at: Borneo’s Hidden Treasures - Chinese influence in modern Sabah life

Overwhelming response in London to Sibu's Rajang cruise

SIBU: Even before its official launching on February 6 in London, public response to the first river cruise along the mighty Rajang River in the British capital has been overwhelming.

“We have received 60% booking for the entire year. That is an overwhelming response by any standard,” Alexander Sheible told reporters after meeting Second Finance Minister, Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh yesterday at the Sibu Municipal Council.

Alexander, the Hotel Director of Irrawaddy Flotilla Company which is making this maiden cruise along the Rajang, said most of the booking came from the United States and European countries including England and Germany.

He strongly believed the response would be even better after the launching of the cruise.

The cruise will start on July 1 on a nine-day/eight-night cruise from Sibu to Kanowit, Kapit, Baleh River, Pelagus Rapids, Song, Sarikei, Tanjung Manis and back to Sibu.

Alexander said the company would be making three trips per month on the 1st, 10th and 20th at a cost of USD2,500 per person.

Continue reading at: Overwhelming response in London to Sibu's Rajang cruise

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Bat-watching in Mulu

The tiny black spots forming a wave-like pattern
are actually millions of flying free-tailed bats

A close up shot of the free-tailed bats

The specially constructed amphitheatre

The Deer Cave, where the bats come out when the dawn falls

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Abdul Aziz Pandin and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

By Abdul Aziz Pandin

I heard about the majestic flocks of bats emerging from the Deer Cave. It is one of the most spectacular sights at Gunung Mulu National Park other than its caves as claimed by many others.

From our chalet at the park, we stretched our legs on a 15 km plank towards the bat observatory. En route the summit, we passed by peat swamps and alluvial forests. A variety of plant species can be observed. We encountered different arthropods and reptiles lurking around the plank or clinging to the leaves and branches.

Smaller caves are also can be found alongside the planks surrounded by forested rocky hill as we continued to walk.

After 45 minutes of walking, we reached the bats observatory. A special amphitheatre was constructed for the visitors' convenience. Already the best seats in the amphitheatre had been taken. Everybody was ready with their equipments - cameras with super telephoto zoom lens, tripods as well as binocular.

As it was still 5.30pm, everyone was patient enough to wait for the bats to come out.

The park guides briefed us about the phenomenon. The bats usually come out in millions. Vast numbers of free-tailed bats roost in Deer cave and can be seen most evenings pouring out from the entrances making a rushing noise like a sudden wind. Then bunching together in dense flocks, they would wheel and spiral high into the sky, creating strange shapes like giant smoke rings and vortexes, drifting fast towards the south and west.

The first flock of bats came out without us noticing it until a Japanese man 'oohed' and 'aahed' loudly and gazed up to the sky. Everyone looked up and stopped whatever they were doing. We were awestruck by the vast numbers.

Then we saw another numerous flock of bats, hovering at the entrance of the cave for a few minutes. Then they flew off in a huge number of wheeling flock of long sinuous clouds accompanied by a great whooshing roar from thousands of pairs of wings which can be heard from the ground.

No doubt the bats were heading to their feeding area. One must wonder like I did why the bats hovered first before flying off? Perhaps they were waiting for their comrades to join and form a large cloud for protection against their major predators, the Bat Hawks or perhaps there are some other explanations.

The free-tailed bats, mostly measuring 15cm from one wing tip to the other, flew in spiral-like formations, like ribbons intertwined in the air, and in wave-like formations.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Monday, February 02, 2009

Sabah to ensure cost of climbing up Mount Kinabalu affordable

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is taking steps to ensure that the cost of climbing up Mount Kinabalu is affordable to all Malaysians, following outcry over its spiralling costs.

State Tourism, Culture & Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said that they were in discussions with Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (SSL), a private company that manages the accommodation facilities at Kinabalu Park, to offer cheaper packages.

However, he explained that the accommodation rates remain at RM40 for locals and RM60 for foreigners, but the cost rose when the private operators provided a RM330 ‘two nights/three days’ per person package deal.

“The package deal undertaken by the private operators was to discourage tour agents from block-booking the mountain accommodation as if they booked, they have to pay the amount in full,” Masidi said yesterday.

However, he said that his officials at Kinabalu Park have asked the private operators not to force the climbers to take the RM330 package deal and have instead urged them to revise their rates.

Continue reading at: Sabah to ensure cost of climbing up Mount Kinabalu affordable

Lawas - a beacon on the horizon

LAWAS : Lawas town, located a 30-minute drive from the Sindumin check point at the Sabah-Sarawak border offers many fascinating and historical places to local and foreign travellers.

However, these places of interest in Bumi Kenyalang, once ruled by the white Rajah James Brooke were not given appropriate coverage in the local media including tourism magazines.

New Sabah Times journalist Shane Shah visited Lawas district recently accompanied by Lawas Hospital retiree named Matsalleh Amit.

Tourists and travellers from Sabah pay RM20.00 to travel to Lawas by bus for the three and half hour journey from Kota Kinabalu. The bus leaves at 7.30am and 1pm everyday from the bus terminals near Padang Merdeka and Wawasan Plaza.

Upon reaching the Sindumin check point, passengers have to produce personal and travel documents for screening by Immigration and police officers.

A Lawas District Council (LDC) counselor, Hj Ali Akbar Hj Awang Din interviewed by New Sabah Times on January 13 says the Sarawak Government will continue to allocate funds to develop Lawas town and rural development projects like roads, electricity and water supply, oil palm plantations and other basic amenities.

“Lawas town and its suburb have undergoing rapid development since Sarawak gained independence in Malaysia 51 years ago,” says Ali Akbar.

Local Government and Federal offices including district police headquarters, hospital, schools, Fire Rescue Department, rows of concrete shop houses, hotels, lodging houses and public amenities were built in Lawas years ago.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Lawas - a beacon on the horizon

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sabah Weekend Getaway

Only 48 hours to spare? Make the best of your brief break and check out the best of Sabah for an unforgettable weekend:

If you are in Kota Kinabalu

Kinabalu Park

To do: Spend a weekend in any of the cosy cabins in the park and enjoy the cool mountain air. Visitors literally stop and smell the roses when visiting Kinabalu Park, a perfect change from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park, heralded as Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site, has excellent facilities including restaurants, a multi-purpose hall, information centre and several nature hiking trails for the adventure enthusiast.

Special attraction: This is where your journey up Mount Kinabalu begins. Sabah’s unmistakable landmark attracts visitors from around the world all year round. Just a short drive from Kinabalu Park is the Kundasang Memorial Park; home to beautiful gardens commemorating the fallen Australian and British soldiers of World War II.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

To do: Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is made up of five islands – Manukan, Mamutik, Sapi, Gaya and Sulug just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu city. A speedboat-ride takes an average of 20 minutes to any one of these islands where you can enjoy a multitude of water sports, go diving, snorkelling or just laze on the beach. You can opt to spend a night or two on Manukan Island in the lovely seaside chalets. Check out for more information.

Special attraction: Go seawalking at Sapi Island! Imagine traipsing the seabed without getting a single strand of hair wet while surrounded by a myriad of marine life. Call 088-249115 or visit for more information.


To do: Head north of Sabah and visit the town of Kudat. Home to the native Rungus people, Kudat boasts several must-see places including the Gombizau honey farm, the gong-making village of Matunggong and the famous Bavanggazo longhouse.

Special attraction: Kudat is most famous as the location of the Tip of Borneo, Tanjung Simpang Mengayau. A mere 40-minute drive from Kudat town, its breathtaking view alone is well worth the visit.

If you are in Tawau

The Islands

To do:
The islands located off the coast of Semporna are deemed some of the best scuba diving sites in the world. Visit the romantic Mataking Island for a wonderful pampering experience or the floating chalets of Kapalai.

Special attraction: Sipadan Island needs little introduction, having been hailed one of the top three diving sites in the world. Mabul is known as a macro-diving haven. Also worth checking out is the unique Seaventures – an oil-rig turned dive resort just a stone’s throw away from Mabul.

Balung Eco Resort
To do: Balung Eco Resort offers visitors a unique plantation experience. The eco-resort is built amidst a sprawling 1400-hectare plantation, its fertile soil home to a myriad of fruits, flowers and other crops.

Special attraction: Join a guided tour to discover little-known facts about the plantation and the crops grown there. Give freshwater fishing a try and enjoy freshly harvested garden produce at the resort’s restaurant. Also, check out the Tower Deck to get a panoramic view.

If you are in Sandakan

The Rainforest Discovery Centre

To do: Located in the famous Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve (which is also the location of the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre) the RDC is a centre for environmental education. Take a walk on the 150-metre long steel canopy in the heart of the jungle and spot some of the most unique flora and fauna found in this part of the world. At the Visitor’s Building, walk through the exhibition hall to learn more about nature’s gifts.

Special attraction: The Night Walk is a great opportunity to bump into elusive nocturnal creatures. The 800-m Rainforest Discovery trail also allows visitors to walk among gigantic Dipterocarp trees while looking out for darting animals such as civets and flying squirrels.

Sandakan’s Historical Sites

To do: One of the best ways to spend 48 hours in Sandakan is to soak up the rich historical sites of the city. The ideal way to see the best of Sandakan’s places of interest is to follow the Sandakan Heritage Trail. A relatively easy walk around the city, the trail takes visitors to more than 10 historical spots, including the William Pryer Memorial, St. Michael’s and All Angels Church and the Sam Sing Kung Chinese Temple.

Special attraction: The home of famed Agnes Keith, the American writer who coined the term ‘Land below the Wind’, has been converted into a museum containing various memorabilia that chronicle the writer’s life during her time in Sabah. Right next to Agnes Keith’s House is the quaint English Tea House. Perfect for a quick cup of tea and oven-fresh scones!

Source: Sabah Tourism Newsletter

NOTE: All Photos Copyright to Sabah Tourism

A price too high to climb Mount Kinabalu

Since 2008, the cost of climbing Mt Kinabalu has skyrocketed, and if you’re lucky, you may get a confirmed booking... five months down the line. What’s the deal with Malaysia’s iconic mountain?

Here’s the irony — climbing Sabah’s Mt Kinabalu, whose majestic peak tops out at 4,085m, is relatively easy; trying to wrangle a spot to climb, however, requires a fair bit of doggedness, an open schedule and, yes, money.

In the past year, regular climbers and tourists, both foreign and local, have been flooding the blogosphere, travel forums and media with complaints. Their main gripes are that the climbing cost is astronomical, the waiting list long and the service and infrastructure, substandard.

Even the first edition of Lonely Planet Borneo published last year devoted almost one page to the issues, raising the question: is it worth the hassle?

To climb Kinabalu, the average person takes about four to six hours to reach about three-quarters of the way to Panar Laban (3,270m), stays overnight at Laban Rata, and then completes the summit push before dawn the next day.

Unless you’re super-fit and can dart up the peak like the local porters, you’ll need to book a dormitory bed or a room at the Laban Rata guesthouse, since camping isn’t allowed.

All the lodges on the mountain — the Laban Rata Resthouse, Gunting Lagadan and Sayat-Sayat huts — are owned by the Sabah government under Sabah Parks.

In 1998, Sabah privatised the management of the properties, and in 2002, private company Sutera Harbour Resort was appointed to co-manage under the name Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (SSL), with Sabah Parks handling the park administration and collection of fees for conservation, guide, porter and climbing.

To prevent the mountain from being overrun, Sabah Parks limits the number of climbers to 192 people a day. Plus, park rangers enforce the rules on the mountain.

Continue reading at: A price too high to climb Mount Kinabalu