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Your guide to Kundasang
All About Kundasang
The small mountain town of Kundasang — Malaysia’s highest inhabited area — sits in the northern part of the country, approximately 6,200 feet above sea level. Lazily grazing cows dot the rolling hills in this part of Ranau and the locals farm the land and trade their flowers and fresh produce, especially gigantic cabbages, at the many farmers’ markets. The town has long been a stopping point for those looking to explore the abundant rainforest flora and fauna of Kinabalu National Park. Kundasang sits just down the road from this UNESCO World Heritage Site, where more plant species can be found than in Europe and North America combined (excluding Mexico’s tropical regions). The park is also home to Mount Kinabalu — the highest peak in the country — and hot springs and nature reserves with plenty of wildlife.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Kundasang?
The weather stays mild most of the year in the tropical climate of Kundasang. However, due to the elevation, temperatures do drop a bit during the winter. There is a wetter season from October to January and the drier season runs from March to September. With the decreased rainfall, the drier season could be the best time to take in all the natural beauty of this rainforest region. You won’t want to miss the many hundreds of species of orchids blooming in the wild or the rafflesia flowers, the largest in the world. If you decide to visit in fall, check the dates of Kundasang’s annual Cabbage Festival, an event that celebrates the farming tradition of the region, which showcases some of the largest cabbages you’ve ever seen.
What are the top things to do in Kundasang?
Kinabalu National Park
Just a ten-minute drive from Kundasang is Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, Kinabalu National Park, containing more than 6,000 plant species. It’s also home to Mount Kinabalu, the tallest peak between the Himalayas and New Guinea. Hikers can scale its granite and glacier-covered peak, standing at a bit over 13,400 feet; lower peaks and paths are accessible for hikers of all skill levels. Reward yourself with a trip to Poring Hot Springs for a soothing dip.
Make the 20-minute drive north of town to take on this majestic peak. It takes around two hours to reach the summit, which sits at over 2,000 meters above sea level, and there’s a scenic viewpoint at the midway stage. The trails can be muddy, so wear sturdy hiking boots, and you might have to clamber over the odd tree trunk, but the reward is far-reaching views across the Pinosuk plateau.
One of the best ways to indulge in the local tropical fruit is to visit the Kundasang market, where farmers sell their fresh veggies, fruits, and flowers seven days a week. You’ll find rambutan — a cousin to lychee, the super-sweet cempedak, and the succulent durian — the so-called king of Malaysian fruits. Also popular is the Nabalu Handicraft Market for local produce, snacks, and handmade goods.