Kota Belud – Places to Visit When You’re Here

Kota Belud sits on the West Coast Division of Sabah, Malaysia. 

It has a hybrid of the Bajau-Sama, Dusun, and Illanun people, as well as a Chinese minority. One of its notable practices is the tamu (Sunday market), which features a colorful crowd of vendors haggling and hawking their products. 

The bustling town is, therefore, a useful stopover for travelers to Kudat or Mantanani because, in addition to the open-air market, it has other top 10 attraction sites to tour.

1. Bukit Bongol

Hikers love to challenge themselves to make it to the 10 peaks on the Bukit Bongol Hill in Kota Belud. You can take any trail, such as Pirasan, Kinasaraban, or Kg. Mandap, but Kg. Mandap is said to be the shortest route. Pirasan, on the other hand, is the longest. Consider carrying a few essentials on your way, such as:

  • Isotonic drinks or 2 liters of water, sweets, and snacks
  • Sunblock
  • UV protection hand cover
  • Cap
  • Hiking poles

The Pirasan trail is close to 4km long, but the view at the top is incredible, allowing you to see Mt. Kinabalu and the sea. Remember to take photos of your adventures.

2. Tamu Market 

At the Tamu (Sunday) Market of Kota Belud, you can purchase lots of fresh vegetables, dried fish, local produce, and used clothes. You could also land yourself exotic, delicious edibles, such as the tarap fruit at affordable prices. Other commodities sold include homeware, drums, and fabric.    

Kota Belud also hosts the largest Annual Tamu festival in Sabah. Here, multiple vendors hawk local delicacies to buyers, and you will have more than enough food stalls to sample from. If you are lucky you will also meet the Bajau horse riders.

3. Kawa Kawa River

Enjoy a boat cruise for 1 to 2 hours along Kota Belud’s Kawa Kawa River. You will be sure to spot egrets, kingfisher, lizards, families of macaques and proboscis monkeys, and fireflies (at night). 

Keep in mind to carry with you the following items:

  • T-shirt
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Long trousers
  • Raincoat or umbrella
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunblock or cap
  • Binoculars

You should also look out for 2 cruise-sessions along the river, as well as discoveries of birds (hornbills) and wildlife (long-tailed macaques, water buffaloes, and river otters). On average, the tour should take 4 hours.

4. Bigfin Divers

Kota Belud is also home to daily fun diving activities and Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) dive courses. The territory comes with stunning reefs, wrecks, and islands with impeccable marine diversity. Enjoy the dive-lessons and boat trips to view submerged pinnacles and seasonal giants. 

MayPoint is famous for granite boulders, while Ella’s garden is rich in:

  • Corals 
  • Squid
  • Nurse and leopard sharks
  • Cuttlefish
  • Stingrays
  • Barracuda
  • Whale sharks (April-June), etc.

The sessions are conducted in small groups by experienced, professional divers, ensuring a safe yet friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Book diving tickets on time keeping in mind that the dive season runs from February to September

5. Usukan Cove Lodge

Usukan Cove Lodge is one of the leading attractions in Kota Belud, mainly due to its fishing activities. Adventure seekers can also do leisure dives or check out the many gorgeous, natural attractions, such as:

  • Coral reefs
  • Marine life
  • Cruise down the Kawa Kawa River to view rare bird species and the proboscis monkeys
  • Gateway to privately-owned Pandan Pandan Island

A drive to this area takes only 2 hours from Kota Kinabalu, filling you with scenic views of Mount Kinabalu and the paddy fields. The lodge is also the best spot to spend the night as it has 16 air-conditioned rooms – Family, Triple and Quadruple rooms. The latter can accommodate up to 80 people.

6. Kampung Siasai

Kampung Siasai is the best parang-making center in Kota Belud. The parang, a working tool and a weapon at the same time, is made by the indigenous Bajau people. Travelers to this village have the opportunity to buy exquisitely designed parangs.

The hand-made parang, also known as a machete or long blade, is suitable for clearing land and cutting meat. You can use it as a piece of art or wall decoration

Located about 68.1km from Kota Kinabalu, it takes about 1 hour 35 minutes to drive to Kampung Siasai. You can travel by an Express Bus (bas ekspres) from the Terminal Bus Station at Jalan Padang, Bandaran Berjaya.

7. Sutera at Mantanani Island Resort & Spa

[email protected] sits on Mantanani Besar island, one of three small islands opposite of Kota Belud. This site is suitable for recreational diving at 3 dive wrecks discovered in World War II. Other amazing things to do and see here include:

  • Rich marine life – view unique sea creatures
  • Kayaking and fishing
  • Snorkeling in clear turquoise waters
  • Strolling along white sandy beaches 
  • Spectacular sunset

Spend the night at any of the 20 cozy Beach Chalets or the 8 spacious deluxe rooms near the beach. Whether you are at Kota Kinabalu or Kota Belud you only have to drive for 90 minutes to reach the amazing [email protected] 

8. Dragon Pearl Beach Resort Sdn Bhd

This destination is preferred for activities, such as fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, diving, firefly trips, and beach activities. Dragon Pearl Beach Resort also stands out as one of the best tourist attractions in Kota Belud due to unique features and events, such as:

  • Camping
  • Jungle trekking
  • Boat tours
  • Water sports

This site also features traditional-style rooms, such as tree houses, longhouses, and tent-like double and single mobile cabins. Additionally, travelers have provided positive reviews of quiet and peaceful ambiance and stunning nature, making Dragon Pearl Beach Resort Sdn Bhd the right place to relax.

9. ATV Borneo Adventure

The All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Borneo Adventure comes with enjoyable and fun-filled trips in Kundasang. This attraction also gives you an impeccable view of Kota Belud’s Mount Kinabalu, which features ever-green farmlands, pastures and villages. Adventure-seekers have the following activities to look out for:

  • 120-minute adventure and thrill
  • Rides at mountain and Desa Dairy farm
  • Scenic views of the highlands of Sabah 
  • Tours and outdoor activities
  • Kundasang War Memorial and gardens

Riders are required to wear helmets all through the tour, as well as observe the stipulated speed limit. These and other requirements make the adventures of ATV Borneo both safe and unforgettable.

10. Mt. Nopungguk

Mt. Nopungguk has one of the toughest peaks in Kota Belud. It has a slippery, steep, and narrow trail, which could take you approximately 3 or more hours to finish. Even so, this mountain will give you the deepest thrill ever.

Hikers should carry the following items with them:

  • 3 liters of water
  • Leech spray
  • Long trousers

Among the administration’s top attractions are the sunrise view and amazing Mt. Kinabalu view, giving travelers a variety of reasons to keep visiting this site.

Takeaway 

If you are looking for attraction sites to tour during your stay in Kota Belud, then this review covers 10 of the best. You will be spoiled for choice among taking a stroll on cool islands and beaches, visiting the famous Tamu Market, cruising down the Kawa Kawa River, diving with the professionals, and climbing the highest peaks. Or maybe, getting yourself a piece of hand-made Parang for your memories.

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