The name Keningau is derived from the locally-abundant Javanese cinnamon tree. Keningau is a popular tourist centre due to its history and heritage with lots of historical sites and heritage buildings. Just read on and all you need to know about Keningau that will entice you to visit will be in this article.
Keningau began its beginnings in 1983 when it was officially administered by the British North Borneo Chartered Company by setting up a Station and later on a District Office. Development and infrastructure of the locals were halted following the Japanese Occupation from 1942 – 1945 during World War II. After the war, the township slowly and eventually, grew.
Keningau has been growing and expanding exceedingly and at the same time, has been retaining its identity and heritage.
How to reach Keningau from Kota Kinabalu
There are four ways to get to Keningau from Kota Kinabalu – by bus, train, car or taxi.
If you choose to go by bus, it will cost only RM15 and is a roughly 3-hour ride. Catch a bus from the Kota Kinabalu Bas Bandaran and you will end up at Tung Ma Station Keningau. Do not worry about bus availability as there are multiple operators to service this route.
You can also take a drive to Keningau from Kota Kinabalu as roads are available. Keningau is 108 kilometers from Kota Kinabalu and your drive will be, give or take, 2 hours.
If you do not have a car and prefer to travel in relative comfort, taxis are also available. A one-way trip is priced starting from RM190.
Another option would be via train. You will board the train at Semnula Station in Kota Kinabalu and arrive at Kimanis Station. This train leaves daily. From Kimanis Station, you will have to grab a taxi for the remaining 65 kilometres and the said taxi will bring you to Keningau.
A bus, car or taxi is the best, fuss-free option to get to Keningau
Places to Stay in Keningau
Once you arrive in Keningau, the first thing you should do is find a place to stay. As it is not a big town, we have compiled a list of the best places to stay and this is our top five places to make it easy for you.
1. Sento Hotel
Sento Hotel is a five-star hotel located in the heart of Keningau town. It is equipped with a bar, a restaurant, free WiFi, 24-hour front desk and room service and is great for families! Along with it comes all the bedroom amenities you would expect in a five-star hotel.
If you’re looking for a comfortable stay, this is it. They even provide a continental or local breakfast, depending on your preferences.
2. Cottage 168
The Cottage 168 is a cottage (as you would expect from its name) behind The Ivy Café. It is a mere one-minute drive to Keningau Town and is walking distance to the local Tamu Ground. Along with comfortable amenities, this cosy cottage offers all meals, free WiFi and a free continental breakfast daily for guests. It is really accommodating for small families or groups of people.
3. Barefoot Cabin Keningau
If you’re looking for more of an adventure, Barefoot Cabin Keningau is a lodge that has an outdoor pool, a garden and barbecue facilities. A sun terrace is also available for guests to use. The build of their lodges is rectangular in shape and makes for Insta-worthy shots and their nature-like environment gives space for more green photos during your stay.
Do not, however, expect 5-star accommodation as the space is clean but simple.
4. Mee Woo Hill Resort
Mee Woo Hill Resort is famous for their beautiful view, delicious food and fun entertainment activities as you explore Keningau. Built on the hill, this resort comes with a restaurant, bar, swimming pool and observation tower. It has rooms big enough to accommodate families and the children would love the pool.
FloresGam is a farm stay with a beautiful sun terrace. There’s a garden with a grill available for guests and you can go hiking nearby in the forest trails. Overlooking beautiful hills in the background, you may want to opt for a camping tent in their land instead of their beds indoors. Both are readily available and both allow you to enjoy the surrounding nature.
Once you’ve got your accommodation sorted out, it is time to explore Keningau itself. Let’s take a look at what Keningau has to offer.
Top 7 Places to See in Keningau
1. Crocker Range National Park
The Crocker Range National Park is the largest terrestrial park comprising an area of 139,919 hectares, which is about twice the size of Singapore. This is a UNESCO-listed park and is extremely rich with flora and fauna. Endangered species can be found in this tropical wildlife ecosystem.
Due to limited exposure and shortage of tourism facilities, the Crocker Range National Park does not receive many visitors. However, you can choose for a range of programs including the Salt Trail expedition, Gunung Alab hike, Trusmadi expedition and a traditional Dusun village Stay for overnight stays. For day trips, you can visit the Rafflesia Information Center, Kipandi Butterfly Park or dip in the Mahua Waterfall.
Bird watchers also love this park as it is a premier destination to spot Borneo’s endemic montane birds.
If you’re up for an adventure, this is definitely the place to go to.
2. Mount Trusmadi
If you are an adventurous person, Mount Trusmadi is just the hike you need. Although it is a tough overnight walk through the jungle to the peak of Mount Trusmadi, it is worth the hike as you will be rewarded with great views, including Mount Kinabalu in the distance.
Mount Trusmadi is the second highest mountain in Malaysia and there is an observation tower about 400m from the true summit.
There are three trail options to reach the peak and for different levels of fitness. The longest and hardest trail would be the Manna trail via Sinua. According to a few reviews, the easiest route is the Kaingaran trail via Tambunan and the shortest but least developed trail, which means that the chances of getting lost is higher, is the Mastan trail via Keningau.
3. Keningau Oath Stone
This historical monument is of great significance to Malaysia. It was established to remind the citizens of Sabah about the events leading up to Malaysia’s independence and their rights over religion, land and customs being guaranteed without interference in return of their loyalty to the Federal Government.
You can view this main attraction in Keningau on Mondays to Fridays in front of the Keningau District Office located next to the Federal Office Complex.
4. Bukit Trig Apin-Apin
If you’re with a family with children, this is a good place to visit. The hiking on Bukit Trig can be challenging but manageable. You have to be a bit more careful though when you reach the top as the route becomes narrower.
Don’t worry about getting lost as there are 12 checkpoints before reaching the peak. Once you reach the peak, there is a beautiful view of Apin-Apin and the lush green against blue skies is worth the casual hike up.
Be prepared to pay a small fee of RM2 for Malaysians and RM10 for foreigners as an entrance fee.
5. Orou Sapulot
Orou Sapulot shows the best hospitality of the Murut Headhunter Tribe of North Borneo. It is established as a community project to assist in generating economic development for the Murut community.
When visiting, you can expect an off the beaten track experience and participate in various activities like caving, jungle trekking, rock climbing, river cruises, rapid shooting, hidden waterfalls, cultural performances and many more.
Packages for Orou Sapulot are usually for 4 days and 3 nights to have a thorough experience though you can also opt for the 3 days and 2 nights package. There are guides for you and you will be able to experience the Murut culture and way of life.
Food is also provided and always made with fresh, local ingredients. Reviews also praised the locals’ hospitality and had fun and culturally-rich time.
6. Muzium Warisan Keningau Sabah
The Muzium Warisan Keningau Sabah, also known as the Keningau Heritage Museum features local indigenous culture, heritage and history. If you are a history buff or have an interest in culture and heritage, this is the place to go to. It is one of the main tourist attractions in Sabah.
7. Ladang Datuk Yap Yun Fook
The Ladang Datuk Yap Yun Fook is an eco-friendly farm which uses methods that allows the reuse of farming wastage for other development. A visit to this farm is family-friendly.
This farm is responsible for the production and distribution of Eco-Yap Fresh Milk, a famous milk brand from Sabah. It has over 5,000 cows!
Other businesses are also run on this farm so you can experience the farm life and see some animals. There is a crocodile farm, fish rearing project and durian nursery and farming, among others so you will be able to explore to your heart’s content in a safe environment.
To wrap up, there are a ton of things to do and places to see in Keningau. If you’ve never been there, you might want to consider visiting some time as it is suitable for families, individuals and couples alike. Book your next stay there and enjoy yourself!