Hotels in Kundasang, Malaysia
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Kundasang, a Place of Mountains and Memories
A one-time village blossomed into a town, geology and history have conspired to cement Kundasang’s place on the modern tourist trail. Located in Malaysian Sabah on the island of Borneo, its cool climate is a product of its elevation. Perched at 6,500 feet above sea level, the coastal heat is just a memory here in the shadow of Mount Kinabalu. While Kundasang’s lushness begs to be explored, for some, it serves as a poignant backdrop against which to contemplate the area’s history. Whether you’ve come to explore mountains or memories, Kundasang offers a captivating insight into this corner of Malaysia.
Orientation, Layout and People
Kundasang is located on the road that runs ribbon-like across Sabah to connect the coastal towns of Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. Coming into Kundasang, you’ll note that the area’s houses, shops and hotels are dotted off of this thoroughfare. Minor roads spider from this main trunk – signposted as Route 22 – and up into the hills that surround the town. Green and verdant Kundasang is set in the heart of a fertile valley and, not surprisingly, the area is well known for its top-quality agriculture and produce. Set up in stalls along the main road, the town’s vegetable market is a daily operation, with buyers coming from across Borneo to source farm-fresh produce. Like other commercial ventures in the town, you’ll note that all the stalls here are manned by locals. While Malaysia itself is comprised of a dazzling array of cultures and religions, as with most of Sabah, Kundasang itself is populated mainly by the Dusun ethnic group.
Mighty Mount Kinabalu
The king of the island’s Crocker Range, mighty Mount Kinabalu dominates the landscape just north of Kundasang. The peak itself is set in a wider UNESCO-protected site called Kinabalu Park, an area which also encompasses a huge range of flora and fauna. Kundasang is located just over three miles from Kinabalu Park, making it the perfect base for hikers and walkers who want to explore the mountain’s unique environment. In addition to containing over 5,000 unique botanical species and a considerable variety of birds and mammals, it is also the home to Low’s Gully, a gorge that extends to a depth of nearly 6,000 feet. The park offers visitors a choice of two trails and all hikers – regardless of their experience – must be accompanied by a guide at all times. For those looking for a more gentle way to explore the mountain, local tour operators offer visitors the chance to fly or even paraglide over the park.
Home to multiple eco-tourism operators, the area is awash with opportunities for quad biking, paragliding and zip-lining. However, for something different, Desa Dairy Farm gives visitors a working view of a local dairy in alpine surrounds. If you’re tired from mountain trekking, the Poring Hot Spring is the place to soak aching muscles. For a unique experience, head to the Tagal Sungai Moroli Fish Spa. Here, trained fish can give you a massage and even a pedicure. But if all you want is a pretty photo, the Mahua Waterfall offers a picture-perfect cascade set against a background of emerald jungle. For some, however, the bright lushness of the region belies a darker past; during the Second World War, the region saw the deaths of thousands Allied servicemen who perished in forced death marches from Sandakan to Ranau. Those who wish to pay their respects can make their way to the Kundasang War Memorial for a moment of quiet contemplation.
Where to Stay in Kundasang
Despite its relatively small size, Kundasang offers a fairly wide choice of hotels and sleeping accommodation. Whether you're after a basic backpackers lodge, a simple hostel or something just a little bit more grand, there is a place here for everyone. For those who'd prefer to stay in town, the bulk of the hotels in Kundasang itself can be found directly off of Route 22, the area's main thoroughfare. Fresh air fiends, however, can find plenty of mountain lodge-style accommodation just to the north west of Kundasang in the area adjacent to Kinabalu Park. For something slightly more upscale, visitors can also opt for one of the multiple full-service resorts that dot the region. As an alternative to the hotels of the Kundasang area, travellers will find additional accommodation options to the south east of town heading toward Ranau. There are also a handful of places to stay on the southern rim of Kinabalu Park near the Poring Hot Spring.