Sunset Pavilion at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa
Honeymoons are supposed to be relaxing, indulging and exploring. When we scout for honeymoon-worthy destinations, these are the kind of emotions and feelings we want to trigger in our clients. We recently visited Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah in eastern Malaysia, where we came across some fabulous wedding venues. Along the way, we realised that it also makes for one of the most exciting honeymoon destinations. Here’s what makes Kota Kinabalu a truly special place for that once-in-a-lifetime trip as a newly wed couple.
- Not your typical honeymoon destination
For some, relaxing on a beach makes for the ultimate honeymoon destination. For others, it’s shopping, nightlife and a bit of sightseeing that usually does the trick. Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah, offers the best of both these worlds. Not only is the city located within close proximity to paradisiacal islands and dense rainforests, but it also comes with a rich cultural heritage, buzzing nightlife scene and plenty of shopping zones to be explored. Leave your planning to the experienced holiday planners at Borneo Trails (Borneotrails.com) to truly enjoy the best of this city.
Island-to-island Coral Flyer Zipliner at Sapi Island
- A paradise for island lovers
Sabah has over 400 islands, although not all are open to tourists. When in Kota Kinabalu, one can indulge in a sumptuous picnic at some the beautiful islands off its coast known for their crystal-clear waters, pristine beaches and commanding views. Adventure lovers will particularly love Sapi Island, a 10-minute boat ride away from the mainland. Sapi Island, or Pulau Sapi, is one of the five islands that make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. The island is also home to the Coral Flyer Zipline, the world’s longest island-to-island zipliner. You can enjoy snorkelling and scuba diving in its marine-rich, turquois waters. Or, you can lounge on its powder-white, crescent-shaped beachfront, which, although small, manages to fit in just the right number of sun lovers.
- Abundant adventures to be embarked on
If it’s adventure that tickles your fancy, you might want to pack in a trek up to Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia and one of the most popular bucket list destinations. The rewards of the climb include astounding views and a chance to soak in the bio-diversity of this World Heritage Site.
However, sailing, jet skiing, wind surfing and kayaking are just some of the other adrenaline-pumping activities to indulge in if you don’t want to stray too far away from the beach. Nature lovers can take a train ride through this region’s lush rainforests to take in its rich flora and fauna.
Murut warrior with a blowpipe at Mari-Mari Cultural Village
- A destination for die-hard culture lovers
Take break from the blissful beaches to soak in the culture and heritage of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The best place to start off your cultural excursion is at Sabah Museum that dates back to 1985 and that houses an ethno-botanic garden, a zoological garden and a heritage village. The main building is inspired by the architecture of longhouses once used by the Murut and Rungus tribes of Sabah.
But if you want to get a more interactive learning experience, visit the Mari-Mari Cultural Village located away from the city, in a tranquil rainforest environment. From learning to work the headhunting Murut tribe’s blowpipe and starting a fire with bamboo, right up to tasting delicious rice wine, you will be guided through each tribe’s house for a first-hand history lesson of Borneo’s indigenous ethnic groups.
Within the city, try not to miss a glimpse of both the Sabah State Mosque and the City Mosque. You can visit the peaceful Puh Toh Tze Buddhist temple and the Wedgewood-blue Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple. Finally, drive up to the Signal Hill Observatory, a memorial that survived WWII, for a panoramic view of Kota Kinabalu, its beautiful islands and the South China Sea. Kota Kinabalu’s residents are a friendly and hospitable bunch, always ready to share a good tale or two.
- Unparalleled accommodation options
Ocean Wing room with an outdoor bathtub and day bed at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa
Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa, a half hour’s drive away from the city centre, is one of those hotels that you never want to leave. This sprawling beachfront resort houses some amazing restaurants and bars, the Dalit Bay Golf and Country Club and the 64-acre nature reserve that is home to young orang-utans, deer, porcupines and exotic flora. A honeymoon is incomplete without several rounds of holistic treatments and massages, and The Spa is a perfect place for this. The well-appointed rooms at this resort look out on to the beach and garden. Indulge in a bit of horse riding, cycling, windsurfing, river excursions, tennis and other sports during your stay here. A cruise to the nearby islands on the Rasa Ria catamaran also ensures a memorable way to spend the day.
A gorgeous view of one of the world’s best sunsets from Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa
Shangri-La’s sister resort Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa is yet another sprawling haven of tranquillity, even though it is located closer to the city centre. You can’t miss a visit to the Sunset Bar, known for giving guests one of the most memorable sunsets in the world! Chi, The Spa and the infinity pool make for the ideal place to sooth those tired muscles. The luxurious rooms offer great views of both the ocean and Mount Kinabalu. From birdwatching and water volleyball, to yoga and live music, this resort will be sure to give you a very special stay.
A room with a view at Hyatt Regency Kinabalu
The recently revamped Le Méridien and the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu are very chic properties to stay at if you truly want to get a taste of the city’s buzzing urban vibe.
Le Méridien’s tasteful rooms offer a commanding view of the South China Sea and Kota Kinabalu’s islands
Both of these sea-front hotels also give you some of the most amazing views from their luxurious rooms, along with a range of fabulous food and drink options. We highly recommend that you stay at both hotels during your honeymoon in Kota Kinabalu.
If you are travelling from India, we suggest you opt for the Singapore Airlines experience. You can fly out from any major Indian city to Singapore on Singapore Airlines, and then catch a very comfortable and luxurious flight to Kota Kinabalu on SilkAir, Singapore Airline’s regional wing.
Photo Credits: Image 1 & 4 Shangri-La Rasa Ria | Image 2 : Coralflyer.com | Image 3 : David Kirkland | Image 5 : Shangri-La Tanjung Aru | Image 6 : Hyatt Regency Kinabalu | Image 7 : Le Méridien |
Beverly Pereira is a luxury and lifestyle writer