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A nature lover’s weekend in Poring Hot Springs, Borneo

A nature lover’s weekend in Poring Hot Springs, Borneo

Poring Hot Springs in Sabah, Malaysia is a 3 hour drive from Kota Kinabalu city and a 40 minute drive from UNESCO-listed Kinabalu Park. The name ‘Poring’ refers to the giant bamboo in the local Kadazandusun language. You’ll see these large bamboo everywhere in the park.

Formerly a ranger station, Poring Hot Springs is now visited by locals and tourists as it is believed to have therapeutic healing properties. This destination is a favourite among climbers who have finished trekking Mount Kinabalu. Other than the hot springs, Poring is surrounded by lush rainforest, with many attractions and trekking trails, waterfalls and the like, making it a perfect weekend destination for nature lovers.




Poring Hot Springs Day 0, Friday – Arrival in Poring

8pm: Arrive at Kota Kinabalu airport. Get picked up by the hotel to take you to Poring Hot Springs. It is a 3 hour drive. After check-in, have some supper or a snack and prepare for the next day.

Poring Hot Springs Day 1, Saturday – Nature, orchids, waterfalls and butterflies

8am: Breakfast at Rainforest restaurant

The Rainforest restaurant is the closest and best place for meals during your stay. There are a few street stalls outside the park area if you would like to try something different. The restaurant delivers a good variety of western and local breakfast dishes for you to choose from. All produce is sourced locally from the Kundasang markets, a popular farmer’s market in the area. I recommend the Nasi Lemak for a taste of local breakfast. The chilli jam is spicy and gives just the right kick!

9am: Canopy walk

You can walk to the canopy walk from the resort in just 10 minutes. This canopy walk is interesting because it was entirely man-made with no modern machinery involved. This was to ensure that no part of the rainforest was destroyed in the process of its construction. The suspension bridge is 41 meters high and 157 meters long. You’ll get to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the rainforest and on a clear day, you will be able to look out onto the mountains. It was one of the more adventurous canopy walks we have been on, the planks shake with every step you take. Thankfully, the bridge is checked 3 times a day. It costs Rm5 for  non-Malaysians and Rm3 for Malaysians. If you are also going to the butterfly farm, get a double pass for Rm7 for non- Malaysians and Rm4 for Malaysians. If you would like to take photos on the canopy walk, there is a fee of Rm5 and videos carry a fee of Rm30. You will want to take photos when you are up there!

10am: Hike to Kipungit waterfall

After the canopy, follow the paved pathway to Kipungit waterfalls. It is an easy flat 15 minute walk further into the forest before you reach the falls. Kipungit is a beautiful 10 meter tall waterfall. I found this waterfall unique because of the angle of the rock slope. A lot of day trippers visit these falls, and they do get crowded by midday. You’ll see lots of families going for a swim or having a picnic. Going early means you can avoid the crowds, and have the waterfall all to yourself. The water is refreshing, and is perfect for a swim in the natural rock pool. Just be careful of the slippery rocks!

12pm: Lunch at Rainforest restaurant

From the waterfalls, the Rainforest restaurant is a 20 minute walk back to the entrance of the Hot Springs. Try the Rainforest Fried Noodles, they are delicious! The restaurant also serves fresh fruit juices and are a perfect way to cool down from the afternoon heat.

2pm: Butterfly Farm

From the restaurant, the Butterfly Farm is only a 5 minute walk. It is open from Tuesdays to Sundays and carries a Rm5 fee for non-Malaysians. The farm is a place of research and education about the local region’s butterflies and other critters. It is the only one in the state of Sabah. Poring Hot Springs is home to at least a hundred butterfly species. You will enter the exhibition gallery first before heading into the butterfly enclosure. The farm is filled with flowers, and you’ll be able to get up close and personal with several of these large butterflies, including Malaysia’s national butterfly, the Rajah Brooke Birdwing. The bright green on its wings, and its bright red head makes this butterfly stand out among the rest.

3pm: Visit the Orchid Conservation Centre

The Orchid Conservation Centre is a 15 minute walk uphill from the entrance of Poring Hot Springs, if you pass the resort. There is a Rm10 entrance fee for non- Malaysians and Rm5 for Malaysians. This centre has more than 800 orchid species and you’ll be able to see many rare and endangered orchids. This centre is not well known by visitors as it away from the main hot springs area, and as such the surrounding area is a haven for birds! Look out for woodpeckers and sunbirds.

6pm: Dinner and drinks at Rainforest restaurant

Even though the hot springs closes at 6pm, the restaurant is open until 9pm every day. There is a small selection of Asian beers too for a nightcap. The resort also provides a television with multiple movie channels.

Poring Hot Springs Day 2, Sunday – Hiking and waterfalls

8am: Breakfast at Rainforest restaurant

9am: Langanan waterfall hike

The Langanan waterfall hike is of moderate difficulty. It is a 3.4km and can be done in 2-3 hours one way. Most of the hike is uphill, with a few flat paths between. Request to do this hike with the lodge’s naturalist as the path is sometimes difficult to find after a rainy day. You will first pass Kipungit falls followed by a river, then a bat cave. After the bat cave, there will be leeches along the track. Be sure to wear thick socks and good track shoes. Depending  on the weather, your shoes might get muddy. If you can get a hold of some leech-proof socks that would be good. Otherwise, be on the lookout, and keep moving. The leeches tend to attach when you are stationary.

You can go at your own pace on this track, so take your time to enjoy the serenity of the rainforest. As you go further uphill, you will start to hear birds and even monkeys. You’ll be able to see plenty of giant bamboo, locally known as ‘Poring’ on your way up! Your guide will tell you all about the plants and animals that you pass along the way. We saw a Rafflesia bud on our way up the falls, and our guide shared the elaborate life cycle of the plant. It takes the flower 9 months to grow from a ping pong ball sized bud to a cabbage. It then only blooms for 5 days before rotting and starting over again!

The waterfall at the end is amazing. It is the second highest waterfall in Sabah, sitting at just over a 100 meters. You end up at the base of the falls, where you can swim in the cool fresh water.

12pm: Enjoy a packed lunch at the waterfall

Request a packed lunch the night before your hike at the waterfall. The chef cooks up a delicious spread of local dishes that you will be looking forward to during your hike. We had delicious fried rice with local steamed vegetables together with chicken wings, fish and satay. It was definitely well deserved after that long hike!

4pm: Relax in the hot springs

The hot spring area is just outside the butterfly farm exit. The hot springs are open from 7am to 6pm daily. The temperature ranges from 49 – 60 degrees celsius depending on the weather.

The hot springs are from geothermal heat sources deep within the ground. They are rich in sulphur which is believed to ease aching and sore muscles. You can choose from the outdoor baths, which are located in the park for free. Alternatively, you can opt for private bathtubs and a jacuzzi. There are 9 indoor bathtubs for Rm15 per hour. There are also 2 jacuzzis which you can book for Rm20 per hour. All the tubs are connected by 2 pipes, one with hot spring water, and one with freshwater from the river upstream. You can adjust the temperature of the water to your liking by mixing them both. The indoor jacuzzi provides a more private setting away from the crowds. The indoor tubs come with a shower and a toilet. You only need to bring a towel, which you can bring from the hotel.

6pm: Dinner and dessert at Rainforest restaurant

After some more Malay dishes, treat yourself to Bubur Pulot Hitam, a local delicacy of locally grown black glutinous rice infused with fragrant coconut, topped with ice cream!



Poring Hot Springs Day 3, Monday – Return to Singapore

Have an early breakfast at Rainforest restaurant then check out and head to the airport. On your way, stop for souvenirs at the Nabalu market.

The Nabalu market is a pit stop for locals and tourists. There are rows of souvenir shops, where you can source gifts for your family and friends. The most popular souvenirs are T-shirts with Rafflesia flowers and Mt Kinabalu motifs. They also sell traditional drums and gongs. Our favourite was the beaded necklaces. What many do not know is that there is a view point next to the market overlooking Mt Kinabalu and its neighbouring hills. Stop to take some photos: it is a spectacular view, and a great way to end the trip.

12.30pm: Arrive at Kota Kinabalu airport for your flight back to Singapore




Singapore n Beyond was a guest at Sutera Sanctuary Lodges which is a member of the Secret Retreats collection. As always, all opinions expressed in this article are our own. 

Places to Stay in Poring Hot Springs

There are a wide variety of accommodation options located just outside the Hot Springs by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges:

High-end

Palm Villa, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges

The Palm Villa offers picturesque views over the resort. It has 3 bedrooms and comes with a kitchen, pantry and lounge area.

Price range: SGD 340 – 370

Mid-range

Jungle Lodge, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges

The Jungle Lodge comes with a king sized bed, large bathroom and tub and spacious lounge area.

Price range: SGD 260-290

Budget

Serindit Beds, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges

The Serindit beds are a hostel style lodging, with the option of bunk beds or private twin beds. There is a large common lounge area with kitchen, bathrooms and showers.

Price range: SGD 92- 100

Getting to Poring Hot Springs

There are 2 direct flights departing Singapore daily operated by SilkAir and AirAsia. Both depart in the evening, and arrive in Kota Kinabalu city at night. AirAsia flights depart at 17:35 and arrive Kota Kinabalu Airport at 20:00, flights cost between SGD70 and upward. SilkAir flights depart at 16:25 and arrive at 18:50, and cost SGD200 and up. You can have the perfect getaway on a Friday evening and arrive back in Singapore on Monday evening.

Getting around Poring Hot Springs

If you are staying with Sutera Sanctuary Lodges, the activities are within walking distance and you do not need transport. However, if you would like to travel outside the hot springs area, you have the option to book the resort’s car. Staff are accommodating of requests.

Taxis are also an option but are very limited within the area.

Other important notes

Things to bring

  • Rain jacket as weather is unpredictable and Sabah is wet
  • 1 pair of thick socks or Leech-proof socks for Langanan falls hike
  • Hiking attire
  • Hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes
  • Swimwear
  • Sunscreen

Best months to visit

February to April is the best time to visit, as they are non-monsoon months and rainfall is scattered. Avoid October to January as they bring frequent, heavy rains.

Useful numbers

Ambulance/Police: 999

Fire department: 994

Airport: 088-238 555

"southern ridges, Singapore, nature, walk"

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