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Tag: Child-friendly

Top 10 Family-Friendly Places To Explore In Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of Sabah and it’s incredibly special and unique because of its proximity to all things nature – the beaches, mountains, rivers, and hills. It’s…

Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of Sabah and it’s incredibly special and unique because of its proximity to all things nature – the beaches, mountains, rivers, and hills. It’s the perfect holiday destination for families, whether you’re looking for a relaxing break or a fun-filled adventure – there’s something for everyone in this top 10 list! Let’s go!

1. Get Close to Wildlife at Lok Kawi Park

A trip to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park offers you a chance to see some of Sabah’s notable wildlife. Located about 25km outside KK city, the park is home to a variety of rainforest animals such as the Orang Utan, Pygmy Elephants, Malayan Sun Bear, and the odd-looking Proboscis Monkey. There are two animal shows a day, the first starts at 11am and 3pm. Bring along sunscreen, a hat, and some insect repellant to avoid the occasional mozzies.

2. UMS Aquarium & Marine Museum 

Tucked within the campus of University Malaysia Sabah, the Aquarium & Marine Museum is lesser known to tourists but this small and compact aquarium is home to a few marine turtles and other beautiful sea life. As you step into the entrance you will be awed by the underwater tower and the touch pool, exhibits and viewing room will keep your children occupied for a couple of hours.

3. Mari Mari Cultural Village

Get to know KK under its skin as you step into Mari Mari Cultural Village , a living museum of five out of 39 indigenous ethnic tribes in Sabah. It’s a fun, educational and experiential trip. Learn about the rice farming Kadazan-Dusun tribe, enter a Rungus longhouse, sharpen the spear of Lundayeh hunter, dance with the Bajau sea gypsies and listen to the battle cry of the feared headhunting Murut tribe. The half-day tour to Mari Mari includes a meal and cultural performance at the end of the tour.

4. Sabah State Museum

The museum is a great place to know more about Sabah, her history, people and the land. It has lots of interesting exhibits including an impressive whale skeleton at the entrance. There is even an area just on Sabah’s wildlife. Outside the museum is a beautiful garden peppered with traditional houses of Sabah’s main tribes. Walk on the hanging bridge to get back to the main building and visit the museum shop for souvenirs and books.

5. Island Hopping

Take a ferry from Jesselton Point and island hop around the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park island cluster. Spend the day snorkeling, swimming or just beach bumming. You can also parasail, kayak. Pulau Sapi and Pulau Manukan are the most popular islands known for its crystal clear waters and a dizzying variety of fish.

6. Sunsets and Picnic at Tanjung Aru Beach

Grab some snacks and drinks and head to Tanjung Aru Beach where you will be rewarded with dramatic sunsets overlooking the South China Sea. Escape the crowd and go to Beach 2 where you will be hanging out with locals. Grab some drinks and bring a mat, settle yourself on the green lawn and enjoy the sunset.

7. Panoramic Views from Kokol Hill

For adrenalin junkies, paraglide off one of the hills and enjoy the Crocker Range from a bird’s eye view. If you’re looking for a relaxing escape, simply settle in one of the many hillside retreats for a hot cuppa and watch the city come to life as night falls. For the best views, head to Kokol Haven or Kasih Sayang Resort.

8. River Cruising and Fireflies at Kampung Sambah

Take a 40 minutes drive to the nearby Tuaran town where you can take a boat to the secluded Kampung Sambah, a floating village home to the Bajau community. Explore the life, sights, and sounds of rural living and witness colonies of magical fireflies twinkle in the darkness. This recreational tour is a wonderful way to educate children about Sabah’s rich natural biodiversity while having fun!

9. Go Wild and Rugged at Kiulu Farmstay

Hire a quad bike and explore Kiulu Valley or brace the rough waters of Kiulu River on a river tube or water raft. This beautiful village is set against a backdrop of rolling mountains and expansive paddy fields. You can also spend the night at Kiulu Farmstay for a rugged experience while you have a go at river fishing, rice planting or rubber tapping. Kiulu Valley is only 45 minutes from KK city.

10. Horse Riding at Sabandar

Fancy some horse riding? There is a little cowboy town just off Tuaran (40 minutes from KK) complete with remodelled horse carriages, vintage cars and wooden stables that make for great photos. Then venture into the adjacent mangrove forest for a walk where you can spot freshwater crabs, monitor lizards and monkeys and finally settle in the forest restaurant for a meal while enjoying the cool breeze. Before you head back to KK city, make a quick detour to Sabandar beach where you will be rewarded with sweeping views of the white sandy beach and blue waters.

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The 240, Phnom Penh: A Break From The Countryside

The trip from Battambang to Phnom Penh is a long one. Five hours on a bumpy road passing by seemingly unchanging landscapes of paddy fields. The occasional houses dotted along…

The trip from Battambang to Phnom Penh is a long one. Five hours on a bumpy road passing by seemingly unchanging landscapes of paddy fields. The occasional houses dotted along the dusty highway and massive tractors and lorries zooming by breaks the mundane scene. To help ease the monotonous ride, our taxi was packed with five adults and three children.

There are no restrictions on number of passengers or the fact that children need to be car seats. In Cambodia, as long as you hang on tight and reach your destination, any vehicle works – this includes three-wheelers, tuk-tuks, motorbikes with wooden plank extensions as seats, open roof lorries and bullock carts. So we found ourselves (me, my hubby and toddler son) sharing the taxi with another couple, their toddler and a baby. We were entertained the whole way with baby gurgles and toddler chatter.

Countryside, Cambodia

Having spent two months living in Battambang’s countryside, arriving in Phnom Penh was a breath of fresh air. A sense of excitement bubbled at the sight of sky scrapers, a MacDonald’s delivery van and the red Illy coffee sign. I was relieved to be back in the city, albeit for a few days.

We checked into an artisty boutique hotel, The 240. Its entrance fresh and welcoming with colourful paintings of animated depictions of Cambodian life hung on the walls and the ceiling. The kind of small boutique hotels that take on the character and charm of the neighbourhood. Apparently, the 240 Street where the hotel is located, has developed into a hip and happening go to offering a selection of fine restaurants, dainty cafes, boutiques and quite a number of small hotels. Old shophouses have been refurbished into nice meeting places. Over the next few days, I spent my afternoons walking the street and making beelines into secondhand bookshops, fairtrade boutiques, jewelry shops and a really good bakery.

The 240_Phnom Penh_1

The 240’s hotel room although a little small had all the necessary fittings including a small study table and a cozy balcony with deck chairs. The room opens out to a balcony curtained with plants making it a quiet recluse from the heavy Phnom Penh traffic.

The 240_Phnom Penh

Just below the hotel is the 240’s cafe, a healthy and wholesome restaurant serving organic delights. Fresh juices, salads and sandwiches. The cafe takes on the same fresh ambience with natural colours on the walls, planters of grass and fresh flowers as table decor, and furniture made with local rattan and wood. The cafe also carried a fine selection of organic goodies from baby food to handmade soaps. Constantly buzzing with customers, I got a sense that the cafe is a local favourite.

The 240 Cafe_Phnom PenhThe 240 Cafe_Phnom Penh_1

Although the hotel did not have a pool, we were given access to their sister hotel’s pools just a stones throw away. The Kabiki is a family friendly hotel set in a colonial building within a lush green compound. The pool is surrounded by native kabiki trees providing just enough shade for the comfy lounge chairs and cabanas. The Kabiki is situated just 250 metres from The 240 and we enjoyed a quick evening swim with our little one there.

Kabiki_Phnom Penh

I also visited The Pavilion after reading about it in the hotel’s compendium. Located near the Royal Palace and about 150 metres from The 240, this property is catered for the seasoned traveler looking for a bit of luxury. Its white walls provide recluse for the guests and one would easily walk pass the unassuming heavy wooden door leading into the compound.

A perfectly palm shaded walkway led me into an open courtyard with a beautiful aqua blue pool facing the entrance of what looks like a heritage building. The beautifully refurbished villa was reportedly the Cambodian royal family’s home in the mid-twenties. I was treated to a massage at the Pavilion’s Spa, a small intimate spa with signature massages. After the blissful massage, I lazed around in the daybed while enjoying a steaming hot cup of ginger tea while the sun rays danced on the pool.

The Pavillion_Phnom Penh

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