If you are travelling to either Layang Layang or the Sipadan region, you will likely need to transit in Kota Kinabalu. This fabulous Malaysian city is a perfect location for a few days of relaxation or exploration of local heritage and tourist attractions. No diving can be arranged from Kota Kinabalu but we feel that the opportunities for exploration and some serious relaxation are simply too good to miss!
The Shangri La Tanjung Aru Hotel in Kota Kinabalu is a true delight. Located only a ten minute taxi ride from Kota Kinabalu airport, the resort sits right on the beach and offers fantastic sea views. There is no part of the hotel that you won’t be amazed at. From your entrance into the open plan atrium, exquisitely decorated and furnished with local and Bornean furnishings, right the way down to your comfortable bed and luxurious bedroom. This hotel represents the very best of South East Asian style and service and serves as a great place to ‘flop and drop’ for two or three nights en-route to or on your return from your dive destination. The resort has its own stretch of beach, a very pleasant swimming pool and a well equipped modern gym, all of which sit on the beach and overlook the sea. The pool area is also home to a small but lively bar and of course several deck chairs so you can kick back and relax whilst sipping your cocktail of choice.
Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa comprises 492 luxurious rooms and suites in two wings, the Kinabalu Wing and the Tanjung Wing. Rooms in the Tanjung Wing offer sea views and are warmly decorated in a fusion of contemporary design with a traditional Bornean twist. The Kinablu wing is the most luxurious and rooms offer views of the immaculate gardens, the beach and the South China Sea stretching for miles. Some rooms here look out to Mount Kinabalu itself.
Located in the Kinabalu Wing, Kinabalu Club rooms offer an enhanced level of service, comfort, and convenience for busy travellers, including complimentary breakfasts, access to the exclusive Lounge, and a personal concierge.
The Tanjung Aru has it’s own spa building on a small spit of land away from the hubbub of the swimming pool. This dedicated spa centre, or ‘village’ named Chi The Spa at Shangri La is truly one of the most magnificent you could imagine. With around 30 different treatments to choose from, some lasting up to four hours and even combination packages lasting up to 4 days, there is definitely something for even the most stubborn of spa guests. Treatments are taken in each dedicated treatment ’house’ where you will be invited to change into special disposable undergarments in the changing room before an optional shower. You’ll have your treatment in the delightfully furnished and comfortable massage room and it’s unlikely you’ll want to leave afterwards!
We can arrange a variety of day trips and excursions from Kota Kinabalu.
WHITE WATER RAFTING (KIULA RIVER)
Full Day Tour; Daily Morning Departures; Starting Time: 0900; Duration: 5 hrs
The drive to Kiulu River takes you through the scenic Borneo countryside. A short briefing conducted at the Kiulu River Bank precedes your rafting adventure filled with fun, excitement and non-stop thrills all the way to the end. For the more adventurous, why try body rafting down the rapids with a relaxing swim in the calm stretches between rapids. At the end of the rafting session relax by the river side and enjoy lunch.
Daily Morning Departures; Duration: Full day; Duration: 6 hrs
Just 20 minutes away by boat from Kota Kinabalu city, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park beckons with its idyllic setting of sun, sand and sea. You can picnic, snorkel, and scuba dive or just relax. The day is yours to enjoy at leisure and it may be as lazy or as fun-filled as you wish it to be. A Sumptuous barbecue is offered. Snorkel or Scuba gear is not included but you are welcome to bring your own along or ask locally about gear hire. And don’t forget your swimmers!
KINABALU CITY TOUR
Half Day Tour; Starting Time: 0900 hrs or 1400 hrs; Duration: 2.5 hours
Visit the Heritage Village and Museum for a closer look of Sabah’s ethnic diversity highlighted by the unique architectural styles of traditional North Borneo and the colourful costumes. Then drive by major landmarks such as the State and City Mosque, Tanjung Aru Beach and the highest building, Tun Mustapha Tower. Enjoy some leisure time mingling with the local people at the Handicraft Market.
HOUSE OF SKULLS (MONSOPIAD CULTURAL VILLAGE)
Sunday departures only, Starting Time: 0930 or 1430; Duration: 3 hours
The drive through the countryside takes about 20 minutes from the city. The Monsopiad Cultural Village is named after a famous Kadazan native headhunter and warrior is situated by the banks of the Penampung River among shady trees and paddy fields. Here you will be guided to view the human skulls the villagers collected over a span of 300 years. Visit their traditional farmhouses and witness a cultural dance performance and sample the rice wine ‘Tapai’ and learn about the way of life of the Kadazan people.
KOTA BELUD/RUNGUS LONGHOUSE & TIP OF BORNEO EXPERIENCE
Duration: Full day 0730 – 1800
Uncover the different faces of Sabah by visiting one of the most interesting "Tamu" in Sabah, set in Kota Belud, home to the "Cowboys of the East". A weekly event, the Kota Belud "Tamu" is a colourful melting pot of hawkers, vendors, farmers, fishermen and cattle breeders alike. You may even glimpse Bajau horsemen in their splendid finery and traditional sword making. Then head north, past vast oil palm and coconut plantations, for a stopover at Gombizou and Sumangkap villages and observe going-making and honey bee farming. Next, visit the longhouse at Bavanggazo village where the Rungus people reside. One of Sabah's many indigenous tribes, the Rungus are mostly farmers and gifted artisans who excel in woven basketry and intricate beadwork. Don't miss the adventure of seeing the most northerly wild tip of Borneo. Transportation will be via coach service.
PRICE: From about £60 for 1 night. Includes: 1 night room only accommodation in a Mountain View Room at the Shangri La Tanjung Aru. Supplement to upgrade to a Seaview Room: from about £20.
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