One of the many ways to appreciate Malaysia’s beauty is by exploring the unbeaten path, and this country has many. Kota Belud in Sabah might be the right destination for those looking to explore nature uninterrupted. You will get to see Mount Kinabalu from all (breathtaking) angles, and there are also paddy fields and rivers. Besides its renowned fame as a campers’ haven, Kota Belud also offers many other nature-like expeditions.

If you plan your trip right, you can catch the blue plankton by the beach, stargaze the Milky Way, and even hike to see the Rafflesia. That said, we list eight attractions in Sabah worth visiting.

1. Polumpung Melangkap

    If there is one place you can get an unbeatable view of Mount Kinabalu, it would definitely be Polumpung Melangkap. Usually packed on weekends, this Kota Belud campsite has more than breathtaking views. You can also go Rafflesia hunting, tubing, or fire up the grill at camp. Witness stars lighting up the sky at night like you wouldn’t see in the city.

    Address: Polumpung Melangkap Baru, 89158 Kota Belud, Sabah
    Contact: +6011 3624 4723

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    2. Kampung Sangkir

    Take a scenic drive to Kampung Sangkir, where a paddy field overlooking Mount Kinabalu awaits. As the sun sets, you’ll witness a yellowish landscape, giving a view with a hue that only nature can create. If you plan on waiting for sunset, try the local coffee and Pinjaram (traditional cake in Sabah) for a side of sweet delight. Talk about a perfect evening with a view!

    3. Mantanani Island

    In desperate need of a beach escape? Mantanani Island is quiet and only an hour from the Kuala Abai jetty in Kota Belud. The crystal-clear water and endless activities will keep you busy and moving during your time here. From Mari Mari Backpackers Lodge to Sutera at Mantanani, the Island offers different types of accommodation catering to various travellers’ budgets. We recommend visiting from March to July to experience the magical sight of seeing blue plankton by the beach.

    4. Donggiranuk Peak

    Donggiranuk Peak is what you need for a mental detox, where seeing greeneries and mountainous views will have you forgetting about the busy city life. As you walk up the trail, you will spot an azure shade pool called Sungai Libang with a mini waterfall. Not keen on hiking for three hours to the peak? Have a picnic at the base of Sungai Libang instead.

    5. NariouCraft and Eco-Tourism

    To explore the great outdoors, sign up with NariouCraft and Eco-Tourism, where waterfall hunting is one of their most sought-after adventures. Depending on the season and your luck, you may even see the Rafflesia during your time in the great outdoors. Explore the four caves while you’re at it for something a little more adrenaline-pumping. There are also traditional music performances and craft shopping to end your trip with.

    6. Bongol Hill

    Perhaps one of the most photogenic hills in Sabah, Bongol Hill is one not to be missed when in Kota Belud. Unlike some hills, which are often covered in trees, this one is completely bald and is coated in green grass. No guide is required to hike these friendly hills, and only two hours are required, so even a beginner hiker can conquer these midsize hills. Pro tip: Start your hike early if you want to avoid the scorching heat!

    7. Karanahan View

    For a one-stop centre where one can indulge in multiple adventurous activities like paddle boats, water rollers, flying kites, fish feeding, and more, Karanahan View is the place to be. With only an RM3 entrance fee, those with little ones will instantly love the spacious field to run around on. Those with no kids or older ones can opt to cycle around the paddy field to enjoy the view.

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    8. Kampung Pantai Emas

    Stop by Kampung Pantai Emas for an unforgettable sunset view, a little secret only known to the locals. The fisherman’s village turns warm yellow in the evening, making it the perfect backdrop to be present and reset your mind. Other things to do includes visiting the new lookout tower to take in the breathtaking view.