In the heart of the lush rainforests lies a beautiful city of Ranau at 1,176m above sea level. It is situated in the West Coast division of Sabah, Malaysia. It is inhabited almost entirely by the Dusun ethnic community.
Located just 20km away from Kinabalu Park, Ranau is seen as the main gateway to the National Park, Poring Hot Springs, and Sabah Tea Garden. The most famous landmark is the majestic Mount Kinabalu which rises from within Kundasang, an area within Ranau.
The infamous Sandakan Death March during World War II ended here. The Kundasang War Memorial serves to commemorate the sacrifices and bravery of the fallen heroes.
The place is famous for its highland vegetables and aromatic local tea brand unlike any other. It has a number of places of interest so there’s no chance for boredom to set it. Let’s explore some of those tourist attractions.
1. Kundasang War Memorial
Kundasang War Memorial is a small palace that houses the monument to commemorate the soldiers. It provides glimpses about the Australian and the British Prisoner of War (POW) that were captured by the Japanese military during World War II.
More than 2,000 soldiers from Australia got killed in the Marching Death scene at this location. It was established in 1962. The memorial remembers the sacrifice made by the people of North Borneo for the POWs.
The memorial has 4 beautiful gardens- the Australian Garden, the English Garden, the Borneo Garden and the Contemplation Garden and Pool. These gardens represent the different nationalities. It has towering pine trees and blooming roses that make up the serene atmosphere.
2. Miki Survival Camp
Sign up for Miki Survival Camp if you are bored with the routine of comfort living. The camp has a hilly terrain with scattered rocks, muck, and the occasional resident leeches. Bring along a pair of leech socks and hardy hiking boots to brave this wild adventure.
Upon reaching the camp, delicious local style food is served to the participants. There’s a night tour after dinner in which you get to see some frogs and insects species. Also witness the luminous fungi and fireflies which are only visible in the dark.
Survival demonstration are provided by the guides on how to use and make animal traps and household utensils from bamboos.
3. Poring Hot Spring
A popular spot amongst locals and foreigners, it is famous for its hot water. Poring hot springs are known to freshen up your body with its warm therapeutic sulphur containing springs.
It is situated about 40 km from Kinabalu National Park. It was originally built by Japanese during the Second World War. Other tourist attractions nearby include Kipungit Waterfall, Butterfly Park, Canopy Bridge, and the Rafflesia flower site.
De-stress and soak away the sores and aches of your muscles in the spring’s hot sulphuric minerals, deemed to have healing properties and very popular among the locals. Visitors are advised to bring essentials with themselves like rubber slippers, towels, and swimwear.
4. Sabah Tea Garden
If you wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life then this is where you should be. The sprawling tea plantation is surrounded by a lush rainforest in the cool mountain air of Ranau, Sabah. It is the only organic tea garden in Borneo and amongst the few in the world.
Sabah tea garden gives an opportunity of both educational and fun trip. It organises various activities such as obstacle-crossing in the Sapaon Recreational Area. These include trekking along trails of Kamunsu Hill or a night walk to check out unique insect life.
For accommodation one can opt from traditional Longhouse, a bungalow or campsite to sleep under the stars. Taste the finest tea in restaurants or souvenir shop.
5. Mountain Torq Via Ferrata
Its name ‘via ferrata’ originates from the Italian word ‘via attrezzata’ which means fully equipped road. So it signifies routes that are secured by handrails, ladders, cables or lifelines.
Mountain Torq Via Ferrata starts at Mount Kinabalu Panar Laban Rock Face approximately 3,300 meters. It reaches its highest point at 3,800 meters.
Adventure seekers can choose from the available packages at the via ferrata, namely: Walk the Torq, The Low’s Peak Circuit, The Preamble, The Balancing Act, The High Path, and Conquer the Torq.
Other activities available are intro to sports climbing (single pitch), intro to sports climbing (multi pitch), sports climbing level 1, sports climbing level 2, intro to rappelling (abseiling), rappelling (abseiling) level 1, and intro to rope ascending.
Accommodation facilities are available which can host 30 people at the Pendant Hut and 10 people at the Sayat-Sayat. Both have dormitory-bunk bed type.
6. Kinabalu Park
Designated by UNESCO as Malaysia’s first world heritage site, this Park boasts Sabah’s natural beauty. Kinabalu national park is rightly called the plant kingdom as it inhabits 140 million year rainforest of Borneo.
It is identified as a globally important centre of plant endemism with estimated 5000 – 6000 vascular plant species. It features one of the tallest mountains in all of southeast Asia, Mt. Kinabalu, in its 754 square kilometre area. It lies at 1500m above sea level.
Within the park there are restaurants amidst the lush montane forests. A botanical garden provides the information about the plant species endemic to Mount Kinabalu. One can also go on nature trails of varying length.
It is ideal for climbers who wish to summit Mt. Kinabalu. They can register themselves for the climb and even book a mountain guide.
Hotel arrangements are available in the mount kinabalu for tourists and they can breathe the fresh air. People can relax and enjoy the cold temperatures in the pictorial backdrop of Mount Kinabalu.
7. “Tagal” Sungai Moroli (Fish Massage) – Kampung Luanti
If fish spa is your thing then head on to Ranau for a uniques fish massaging session. ‘Tagal’ means ‘no fishing’ in the local kadazandusun dialect. The main purpose is to preserve the environment as well as the ecosystem for the benefit of the future generation.
The fish massage is considered to have a healing effect on people who suffer from psoriasis. It also makes skin smoother and supple like that of babies. If you plan a longer vacation then Kampung Luanti also has a homestay programme.
8. Mesilau Nature Park
This is the second location to summit Mt. Kinabalu. It is only the tourists spot closest to to Mount Kinabalu. Also, it acts as a shelter to the largest pitcher plants (Nepenthes Rajah). Enjoy the mesmerising view Mt Kinabalu, the cool temperatures while taking walks in the surrounding areas.
9. Desa Cattle Dairy Farm
This dairy farm located on the foothill of Mt. Kinabalu presents one of the most amazing scenery. It is a popular destination for wedding shoots. The beautiful green pastures and the cool breeze that Kundasang offers is unmatched.
This farm is opened to visitors to see the processing of milk and also to encourage them to buy products from these factories. The whole scenario and atmosphere reminds one of New Zealand. So it has been dubbed as “Little New Zealand in Sabah”.
The cattle farm produces about 90,000 litres of milk per year. It is spread over 199 hectares and most milking cows are Friesians, highest quality cattle breed. You can also enjoy dairy products like Desa Cattle’s milk in box as well as ice cream.
Ranau is a beautiful city that has so much to offer. It has an abundance of natural resources which adds to its beauty. A visit to this region can provide the much needed tranquility in your life.
Cool weather, hilly terrain, unique flora and fauna, makes it a perfect getaway from the busy city lives. For a travel junkie this is a must visit place. Happy travelling.