Check into these four remote stays nestled in the beautiful natural landscapes of Borneo
Even as travel restrictions slowly ease, you’re probably looking to visit somewhere with wide, open spaces far from the madding crowd. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Whether it’s a luxurious beachfront resort or an award-winning eco-lodge tucked within a tropical rainforest, there’s something to suit every taste in Sabah.
1. 9 Huts on a Hill
Located about a three-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu, 9 Huts on a Hill is a simple but charming retreat designed as a nod to Rungus longhouses and built with locally-sourced materials. Surrounded by panoramic views of lush greenery, it offers an escape from the chaos of daily life. While the main activity offered here is yoga, guests are also welcome to participate in other activities such as Muay Thai, Cross Fit and swimming.
Environmentally-conscious guests will be pleased to know that the retreat owners share the same ethos – here, they compost their own organic waste, eschew the use of plastic, use only baking soda and vinegar for cleaning and practise rainwater harvesting across the resort.
Jln Bak Bak, Kudat
2. Sukau Rainforest Lodge
Located along the edge of Malaysian Borneo’s Kinabatangan River, this rustic lodge offers a front-row seat to some of Nature’s most intriguing creatures such as orang utans, proboscis monkeys and pygmy elephants. As one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, Sukau is determinedly sustainability-led, with its structures built with local hardwood and connected by raised walkways that work around the rainforest.
Some of the sustainable tourism initiatives here include the introduction of apiculture (beekeeping) as natural means of keeping wild elephants from encroaching on village farms as well as securing clean drinking water for local communities. During your time at the lodge, explore the rainforest in a pre-dawn boat ride or an evening cruise, or simply drink in Nature’s sights and sounds from the comfort of the riverfront terrace.
Lot 1, Pusat Perindustrian, Kolombong Jaya, Mile 5.5, Jalan Kolombong, Kota Kinabalu
3. Gaya Island Resort
For urbanites who want to soak up the beauty of nature but can’t stray far from their creature comforts, the luxurious Gaya Island Resort offers the best of both worlds. Sat on its namesake island, the beachfront resort sits within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park and offers a wealth of underwater experiences such as diving and snorkelling.
Beyond tourism, the resort is also committed to conservation efforts such as turtle rescue, proboscis monkey preservation and coral reef restoration, which guests are invited to participate in. Guests are also welcome to attend guided nature walks – numbers are limited so as to minimise human impact to the natural surroundings. Back in the comfort of the resort, relax in the capable hands of your masseuse at the award-winning Spa Village or enjoy a meal back in your well-appointed suite, with views of Mount Kinabalu to keep you sated.
Malohom Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
4. Poring Hot Spring and Nature Reserve
Situated within the rainforest about 40km from Kinabalu Park, this nine-room lodge is a well-established name in the area but can’t be left out because it’s still the best place to stay after an arduous climb up Mount Kinabalu. Known for its natural hot spring, the resort offers trekkers a chance to soothe their tired and aching muscles in the warm, sulphuric water. Once you’re all blissed out, be sure to check out the on-site butterfly farm and orchid garden or, if you still have the energy, head up to their 43m-high canopy walkway.
Hero image from Gaya Island Resort