[Sabah Travels Series] Travelling in the Mountains – Poring Hot Springs @ Ranau, Sabah

Next stop, Poring Hot Springs, Ranau! We visited this place on the second day (a weekend).

Where is Poring Hot Springs?

If you’re coming from Desa Cattle Dairy Farm, it’s about an hour drive (around 39 km away) to Poring Hot Spring. If you’re headed here from BW Bus Restaurant, it’s nearer and will take you about half an hour’s drive (around 28 km away).

There are public buses from Kinabalu Park. Otherwise, you can also take a taxi or Grab from Ranau town. If you’re driving, the Google coordinates are: 6.045776,116.703327. There are ample parking inside the main entrance.

The name Poring comes from the Kadazandusun word for a bamboo species found in the vicinity.

Poring Hot Springs is situated in the lowlands and is surrounded by rainforests. The hot springs itself is a result of minor volcanic activity beneath the ground that happens even after the volcano has gone extinct. The heat loss by the rocks beneath the surface comes out in the form of high-temperature gases and steam, as well as bringing minerals trapped underneath up to the ground.

Other than the hot springs, there are actually quite a number of activities to do. So this place is more like a recreational park really. To enter, one must pay the entrance fee or they call it, conservation fee:

For Malaysian: Adult / Child: RM3 / RM1
For Non-Malaysian: Adult / Child : RM15 / RM10

Why visit Poring Hot Springs?

Usually, people visit the springs after climbing Mount Kinabalu. It is said that soaking your sore muscles in the spring’s hot sulphuric minerals is good for health and improves one’s blood circulation. It is also said that it is a relaxing experience and a good way to de-stress. So, there I went to find it out for myself (just that I didn’t climb Mount Kinabalu nor did I have sore muscles before I headed there – though I would love to scale Mount Kinabalu one day).

Other than the hot springs, it’s a good place to sweat those fats away. A hike up and down the trail can really work up a sweat.

What is there to do in Poring Hot Springs?

As you can see from the map, there are quite a number of things to do here. Unfortunately, in the interest of time I only managed to do a few of the activities offered here.

List of activities offered here:
– Outdoor / indoor sulphur bath tub (additional admission fee for indoor)
– Rock pool
– Slide pool (additional admission fee)
– Sulphur spring
– Canopy walkway (additional admission fee)
– Ethnobotany garden
– Kupungit waterfall
– Bat cave
– Langanan waterfall
– Chalets / Hostel
– Butterfly garden (additional admission fee)
– Tropical Garden (additional admission fee)
– Orchid Conservation Centre (additional admission fee)
– Poring Conservation Centre

Outdoor / Indoor Sulphur Bath Tubs

There are two kinds of baths here – open-air tiled baths with taps which you can fill with fresh hot water from the hot springs; and indoor baths within gazebo-chalet like shelters that offers privacy. Of course, those indoor baths will cost you an additional fee.

Standard bathtub (10 in total): RM15 per hour
Deluxe bathtub (5 in total): RM20 per hour

To the left: Indoor sulphur baths tubs / To the right: Outdoor sulphur bath tubs

It is decently maintained, but the tubs are rather limited (both outdoor and indoor). I would say it would be better to go during the weekdays, so that you need not crowd with other people.

Rock Pool / Slide Pool

The rock pool is perfect for those who prefer the icy cold water instead of hot water. The water coming into the Rock Pool is directly sourced from the mountain stream. There is no separate fee to get into this pool.

The slide pool is a water pool with some slides which is a fun activity for kids. However, there’s an additional fee to enter the pool which can be paid at the gate.

Canopy Walkway

There is a canopy walkway here as well! However, you will need to walk / hike a bit from the entrance (about 850 metres away from the hot springs), and if you’re lucky, during the walk there, you might be able to spot the Rafflesia flower (the world’s largest flower), bloom (unfortunately, I was not lucky enough).

The canopy walk itself is pretty short, about 175 metres in length and suspended over 40 metres above the ground (that’s more than 10 floors high!). So if you’re scared of heights, this is probably not for you.

There’s nothing much to see here, other than the experience of walking through the treetops at an elevation of 40 metres above the ground on a shaky wooden rope bridge. So if you have never been to a canopy walk before, you should try it.

Prices for Canopy Walkway

However, do note that there’s an additional admission fee and a camera fee (first time seeing such fees!) for this activity.

For Malaysian (Adult / Child): RM3 / RM1.50
For Non-Malaysian (Adult / Child): RM5 / RM2.50
Camera fee: RM5 per unit (includes mobile phone with camera – this is nuts!)
Video fee: RM30 per unit

The canopy walk

During my visit, none of the park staff conducted spot checks on visitors whether they had paid the camera fee or not though. But hey, since it’s towards the preservation of the park, why not just contribute to them in the form of fees?… though I rather they put out a donation box instead or include it in the admission fee.

Ethnobotany Garden

I literally had to google the meaning of “ethnobotany”.

Definition of “ethnobotany”:
The scientific study of the traditional knowledge and customs of a people concerning plants and their medical, religious, and other uses.

The ethnobotany garden

Basically this is a garden that acts as a centre for domestication and ex-situ conservation of medicinal and aromatic plants used by various ethnics in Sabah. Quite a number of plants were showcased here (though I can’t remember their names now).

Butterfly Farm / Tropical Garden / Orchid Centre

You can also visit the butterfly farm, orchid conservation centre, tropical garden, or go jungle trekking. Apparently, they have quite a collection of flora and fauna here.

For Malaysian (Adult / Child)
 – Butterfly Farm: RM3 / RM1 (*Closed on Mondays)
 – Tropical Garden: RM3 / RM1
 – Orchid Centre: RM5 / RM3

For Non-Malaysian (Adult / Child)
 – Butterfly Farm: RM4 / RM2 (*Closed on Mondays)
 – Tropical Garden: RM3 / RM1
 – Orchid Centre: RM10 / RM5

I didn’t visit any of the above, because it was on the other side, and we were short of time.

Waterfalls & Bat Cave

There are two waterfalls here – Kipungit Waterfall and Langanan Waterfall, and a cave.

The Kipungit Waterfall

The Kipungit Waterfall is small waterfall, which isn’t far from the entrance (about 340 metres away). The height of the waterfall is only mere 10 metres. The water is crystal clear and you can see tiny fish inside. They will nibble at your feet when you step in (free fish spa!). It was pretty crowded when I was there. People were having picnics at that spot and chilling around.

The Kipungit River

Langanan Waterfall on the other hand, is a whooping 4 km hike away from the entrance and is around 120 metres in height (12 times as tall as compared to the Kipungit Waterfall!). Because the hike there and back will take about 3 to 4 hours and we were ill equipped, we decided to give it a miss. Furthermore, we weren’t really sure or the way there.

The trail to Kipungit Waterfall and subsequently Langanan Waterfall

Nearby Kipungit Waterfall is a bat cave (around 400 metres away). Apparently, it’s on the way to Langanan Waterfall. However, the park does not recommend visitors to enter the cave. So if you decide to venture in at your own risk, please take necessary precautions, like wearing proper footwear, and not touching the bats and their droppings. From my previous cave experience, bat guano is rather stinky and may carry harmful diseases. Hence, I never quite understood why people would enter a cave just to see bats.

Things to bring to Poring Hot Springs

– A spare change of clothing is a must if you wanna take a dip in the waterfall or hot spring tubs.
– Proper footwear for hiking.
– Lots of drinking water!
– Snacks / Food!

Overall, it was a pleasant experience. I would recommend setting aside a day here to do everything (as trailing to Langanan Waterfall would take 3 to 4 hours already). I would definitely be back again to trail to Langanan Waterfall if I ever visit Sabah again.

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