Top 15 Things You Should Do in Tenom, Sabah

The scent of coffee welcomes you as you enter into the town of Tenom in Sabah. Devoted to agriculture, Tenom is a small town with many exciting places to visit.  

There are an estimated 5,148 people in Tenom (2010). Most of the people in Tenom are Murut. The Murut are one of the largest ethnic groups in Sabah.They celebrate Pesta Kilamarin every year in Tenom as a celebration of their culture and art. 

Coffee is not the only food you should try in Tenom. Like all Malaysian dishes, the food in Tenom is nutritious and delicious. Traditional Murut meals are sold in Tamu Tenom, the local market. 

The appeal of Tenom is in its serenity. Its fertile green fields are soothing and breathtaking. Tourism and agriculture are intertwined and appear in perfect harmony in this beautiful district. 

A good number of tourists visit places like the coffee factories of Tenom and the Sabah Agricultural Park every year. The Padas River flows through the town. The Tenom Pangi Dam, a major hydroelectric dam is located on the Padas River. Besides providing Tenom with power supply, the Padas River is an incredible place for white water rafting.  

Where is Tenom in Sabah?

Tenom is located in North Eastern Malaysia. It is situated in the interior parts of Sabah and is 145 kilometers away from Kuala Lumpur. 

How to reach Tenom from Kota Kinabalu

 There are various ways to get to Tenom from Kota Kinabalu. You can use a car, train or minivan. 

You can catch a ride in a minivan from the Kota Kinabalu City Bus Terminal. The ride takes about 3 hours. 

If you want to take a train ride instead, the journey will take about 5 hours. The train ride begins at the Sembulan Station. You will then need to change trains at the Beaufort station to a train that will take you to the Tenom station. 

Another option is to drive to Tenom. The distance is 94 kilometers and the journey takes about 2 hours. This is the fastest way to get to Tenom. 

Weather in Tenom

The weather in Tenom is humid most of the year. The temperatures in Tenom reach a peak in March at 33°C and dips in January at 31°C. If you want to enjoy a sunny vacation, Tenom is the place to go. 

What is the best time to go to Tenom?

The best time to visit Tenom in Sabah is in the months of February to March and June till December. This is because there is less rainfall during these months. The weather is perfect for you to explore Tenom without interruption. 

Places to stay

Finding accommodation at Tenom is quite easy as there are many places to stay in. The accommodation is comfortable and available at a modest fee. It is advisable to book a room at a hotel before arriving at Signal Hill. Here is a list of places for you to stay in.

Hotels and resorts to stay in Tenom

1. Yit Foh Coffee Park Cottages 

The cottages at this location are quaint and comfortable. There are 12 rooms at Yit Foh Coffee Park Cottages and breakfast is provided for. You can book ahead.

2. Flores Gam 

Flores Gam is known for its peaceful environment and tasty food. You can enjoy a trek in the surrounding woods or enjoy the beauty spa. 

3. Yong Farmstay

This farmstay is located within a plantation and is a tourist attraction on its own. The rooms are clean and affordable.

4. Fatt Choi Coffee Cabin 

Located with the Fatt Choi Coffee Factory’s compound, this hotel is ideal for a pleasant stay in Tenom. The rooms have a scenic view of the Padas River and the town of Tenom. The rooms are affordable and clean.

5. Homey Backpackers 

This is a bed and breakfast. It is close to several tourist spots. It is affordable and meals are provided for lodgers

Top 15 things to do  in Tenom

  1. Visit the Murut Cultural Centre

Photo by Jedikanie Jasnie on Unsplash


The Murut Cultural Center is a perfect exhibition of the way of life of this indigenous tribe. The center is built out of timber and wood in the traditional style and teaches visitors about Murut customs and traditions. There are artifacts, clothing, musical instruments and artworks on display.

The Murut Cultural Center is open 8:00 am-4:00 pm on weekdays and opens by 9:00 am on Saturday and Sunday. There is no entrance fee for visitors. 

       2. Attend Pesta Bunga and tour Sabah Agricultural park

Every year, on the 15th-16th of August, the Pesta Bunga is celebrated at the Sabah Agricultural Park. The festival features various competitions, a floral beauty pageant as well as the simple pleasures of inhaling the sweet scent of flowers. 

You should also explore the 200 hectares of Sabah Agricultural Park and its amazing botanical life. It is the best place to learn about the floral history of Sabah. The park opens by 8:30 am every day.

     3. Go white water rafting on the Padas River

White Water Rafting is the perfect activity for anyone seeking an adrenaline rush in Tenom. The rapids have unusual names like Headhunter, Lambada and Washing Machine which makes the activity all the more thrilling. 

The Padas River has rapids that go on for as long as 9km. The difficulty levels vary so be sure to stay within your own safety limit. You will need to take a train to get to the Padas River as it is only accessible by rail. 

      4. Ride the train through Tenom

Travel by train through the town of Tenom. As the train moves through Tenom, you will pass the famous Padas River, lush rainforest, green paddy fields, and villages. And we assure you that the sights will be a part of your memory for years to come! 

  • Drink coffee at the Tenom Coffee Valley

Tenom Coffee Valley is about 160 kilometers away from the train station. It is a very short distance to cover to enjoy the exquisite coffee and pastries at Tenom Valley Coffee.

 After a long train ride, the comfortable air-conditioned restaurant will feel just right to make you relax after the journey. The Tenom Coffee Valley offers scrumptious meals cooked by the inhouse pastry chef. You should try a slice of pizza or a moist piece of cake with your cup of coffee. 

  • Spend a day at Yong Farmstay

Yong Farmstay is located 20 minutes away from the town of Tenom.  If you want to experience authentic farm life and help out in community projects, this is the place for you. 

One of the main attractions at the Yong Farmstay is the glass bridge. You can also ride an ATV around the farm. At the Ken Lin Memorial Hall built in honor of the owner’s grand grandfather, guests can get a glimpse of life in the past. There is also a gift shop you can buy souvenirs from to remember the farmstay by. 

It takes about 20 minutes to reach the Padas Farmstay from Tenom. It is open throughout the week. The gates open at 9 am. Visitors have to pay an entrance fee. 

  • Attend the Kalimaran Festival

The Murut people of Tenom celebrate the Kalimaran Festival every year. From the 26th to the 31st of March, Murut arts and customs are celebrated at the Murut Cultural Center.  The origin of the festival can be traced to the story of Raalaa, a Murut woman known for her hardwork and sacrifice.

Although it is not as large as Pesta Kaamatan, the festival attracts a good number of visitors and is a very enjoyable experience. Join in the traditional dance of the Murut tribe and taste the local cuisine. You can also attend the Kalimaran beauty pageant.

  • Go camping on the Rundum Highlands

The cool fresh air and the expansive view of the mountains welcome you at the top of Rundum Highlands. Every minute of camping is worth it. Enjoy horse riding, hiking, heritage trail walk or a traditional dance performance. You should also watch the sunset as the view from Rundum Highlands will fill you with awe. 

  • Stay at the Padas Farmstay

A day at the Padas Farmstay gives you the chance to work and play with the locals.There are many activities to immerse yourself in at the Padas Farmstay. You can pick fruits such as pineapples, oranges and guavas from the orchards. Visitors get to tend and feed animals on the farm. 

At the Padas Farmstay, you can hike through the jungle trail. It is a guided tour which covers the surrounding forest. There is also a coffee plantation on the farm. Guests can learn about coffee cultivation and processing from tour guides. 

The farmstay is open all days of the week. The farmstay accommodates visitors in dorm rooms that can house 60-70 people, so it is a great place for a family trip.

  • Stay at the Maraiscenter

The Maraiscenter gives an authentic experience of the lifestyle and culture of the Murut people. You get to stay or visit the homes of farmers, fishermen, and weavers. Join in paddy cultivation, bead making, fish trap making or dancing with the villagers. Take a ride through the paddy fields on a bicycle and feast your eyes on the lush green rice farm. 

  • Visit the coffee factories

Tenom is known for its first-grade coffee. This coffee is grown and processed in coffee factories. You should pay a visit to either Yit Foi or Fat Choi coffee factories. They will be glad to show you samples of their coffee as well as give you a guided tour of the factory. You can learn more about how your favorite brew is made on this visit. 

  • Explore the food at Tamu Tenom 

The fresh produce harvested from the fertile fields of Tenom can be found at the Tamu Tenom. Not only can you buy good food, but you can also try out a traditional Hakka breakfast prepared in Tenom market. 

Make sure to go early so that you do not miss all the delicious food! You should look out for dishes like Tiu Sa Biang, Yong Tao Foo or some sweet Terang Bulan. New Foh Lee Restaurant, Seri Menawan Restaurant,t and Ong Peng Restaurant are great places to find local dishes. 

  • Visit Melalap Rice Factory

Melalap rice factory processes rice from the Melalap Rice paddies. You can take a guided tour of the factory and learn about rice processing as you run your hands through the grains. You can also cycle past the green lush Melalap Rice Paddies through the Kenigau bicycle path. 

  • Enjoy a day at Pammos View Recreational Park

Have a barbeque by the flowing river of Pammos View Recreational Park. Stay a night and enjoy the quiet and serene beauty of the recreational park. The entrance fee is RM2 and free for children under 5. 

  • Learn about Murut history at the Antanom Museum

This museum commemorates the life of Ontoros Antanom who led an uprising against British Colonists in the 19th century. Legends have it that Antanom had magical powers.  

Final Words: 

In Tenom, tourism and agriculture are combined in the most amazing way. While visiting Tenom, you truly connect with the people and the land. The green fields and welcoming people of Tenom await you. Enjoy a holiday in paradise.

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