In ‘Discovering Sabah‘, a beautiful book by Natural History Publication (Borneo)(2002 ed.), it is stated that :
“Sabah is relatively small, just 75,0000 square kilometres or one-tenth of the total land area of Borneo, yet its borders encompass an astonishing diversity of peoples, landscapes, plants and animals.”
Amazingly, there are still many places in Sabah that we have not been to – raising 5 kids while juggling time and priorities between the many demands in life can be pretty challenging. But it’s do-able, so when there were a 2-day holiday in December last year, we drove to Tambunan with the kids and other family members. We hope to continue with the tradition of at least 1 day away from the city with the kids.
Fortunately, the kids love being in natural surroundings. In 2014, we had the opportunity to spend it in the rural town of Matunggong and the township of Kudat. We enjoyed the trip so much, that we revisited Gombizau Bee Farm and Simpang Mengayau again in 2015 – but that was a day-trip only.
Now, let us share with you about Tambunan.
Locally known as the Switzerland of Sabah, as opposed to the New Zealand of Sabah (Kundasang Dairy Farm), Tambunan is a district in the interior of Sabah with a population of 24,000. Located about 81km from Kota Kinabalu City, travelling to Tambunan takes about 1.5 – 2 hours drive from Kota Kinabalu through the winding and mostly uphill roads on the Crocker Range.
Luckily for us, during our trip we only had to queue behind 1 trailer and 1 big truck – so the uphill drive through the twisting mountain road was not too agonizingly slow. It could have been worse.
Although we have passed through Tambunan many times on our way to Keningau, we have never really explored it before.
Tambunan is actually a quaint little township with the most enchanting qualities of tranquil countryside, undulating views of green hills and mountainside, and with spring-like cool fresh air aplenty. There were also more than a couple of cows grazing by the roadside – sights which always delighted us all as we hardly see cows in Kota Kinabalu.
Among the places that we passed through or visited on our visit to Tambunan were:
- ‘Tagal’ at Tinopikon Park
- Gunung Emas
- Kipandi Butterfly Park
- Gunung Alab/Trus Madi Crocker Range
- Tandarason Resort & Country Club
- Mahua Waterfall
- Rafflesia Conservation Centre
Along the roadside on our uphill trip to Tambunan, we also came across many mushroom farms by the roadside. The farms are carried out by Tambunan folks in partnership with a local state agency, KPD. Once we were within Tambunan area, we were greeted with sights of charming kampong houses with landscapes of lush green and golden padi fields (padi bukit) or other vegetations, bordered with the most adorably sweet traditional bamboo fences.
It took me a while to realize that there are an abundance of bamboo plants in Tambunan.
I found out that, during British colonial era, it was the law that for every bamboo cut off, 20 bamboo sprouts must be planted.
It’s actually a pretty smart law and ensured that Tambunan not only has the lovely bamboo trees adorning the land everywhere, it also manages to profit from the manufacturing of bamboo furniture. Hence, there were a rattan factory outlet shop a short distance away from the town which we were unfortunately not able to visit as it was closed during the holidays.
We spent a night at the 7-Lodge in Tambunan and experienced a very cold night there, described by many as spring-like climate – which to me is more like early winter. It made me wonder – how am I ever to survive in a real winter climate?
Nonetheless, it was a totally wonderful place if you want to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
What we didn’t know then was how easy it was to find local accommodations at affordable prices using HotelsCombined, which won the World Travel Awards in 2013, 2014 and 2015 for the World’s Leading Hotel Comparison Website category J.
With HotelsCombined, we can compare all the top travel sites in just one search to find the best hotel deals within our fingertips.
I wished I knew about it last year, it would have saved me hours of searching online through FB and such.
See, complete with pictures of the places! Then, you need only click ‘View Deal‘ for more info on the hotels/hostels or to make a reservation. We chose the 7-Lodge Tambunan because we love the privacy and the huge space that it provides for the family.