Monday, 15 April 2013

Five Favourite Things To Do at Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort and Spa, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Five Favourite Things To Do at Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort and Spa
Rasa Ria's Garden Wing Pool

Five Favourites at Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort

Words by Kirsten Durward
Photos by The Yum List 

A wonderful choice of onsite and off site opportunities are offered at Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort and Spa to suit all tastes and levels of activities. Here are five of our favourites:

The Rasa Ria Nature Reserve

Nature lovers and photographers alike will delight in this protected ecological space designed to enhance the conservation of the flora and fauna native to Sabah. The reserve facilitates rehabilitation programmes for endangered species of fauna, or orphaned young animals in co-operation with Sabah’s Wildlife Department. A wide variety of fauna, including barking deer, gibbons, porcupines, anteaters, pangolins and many exotic birds roam freely throughout the 64 acre reserve. Visitors can enjoy a range of guided walks, birding, a Canopy Walkway, as well as two observation towers with panoramic views of surrounding villages, the Tambalang and Mengkabong rivers as well as the open sea.

Things to Do at Rasa Ria by Shangri-La, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Orang Utan Reserve
In Search of the Orangutan 
There is no doubt that the star attraction for Shangri-La guests and external visitors are the Orangutan orphans for whom the reserve provides a home until they are old enough to be rehabilitated into the wild. Although the Orangutan is a semi solitary animal, the infants stay with their mothers until about eight years old. Orangutans are only found in the wild on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Their habitat is under threat, making forest conservation programmes extremely important. 

Shangri-La, Rasa Ria resort, orang utan reserve, sanctuary
Orangutan lunch time

A short trek through the lush jungle to the Orangutan feeding platform, brings bliss with hanging fauna and a cacophony of bird sounds. Orangutans delight with their cheeky behaviour and expressive features. Hanging from ropes and feeding their faces, breaking branches and playing with leaves, they take turns at visiting us, the viewing public and posing for our pleasure. Hanging upside down, feet are the same as hands to them, oops a near miss hang by one limb, check to see if anyone is watching, scratch my head with my foot. Little show offs, who like to pose and peek and tease.

A chance to see the orangutans are offered twice daily, 10am and 2pm at RM55 for Rasa Ria guests.   Outside guests are also welcome at a price of RM65. To avoid disappoint book at least 72 hours in advance.

Dalit Bay Golf and Country Club 

Dalit Bay has been designed to be one of Borneo’s premier golf resorts. The 18 hole, par 72 championship golf course offers an element of challenge with mangrove swamps, waterways and contoured fairways. It is certainly a very visually pleasing course, with stunning natural features set against the splendid backdrops of Mount Kinabalu to one side and the deep blue ocean to the other.   

Things to Do at Rasa Ria by Shangri-La, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Mount Kinabalu as seen at sunrise from the golf course

I’m told that a choice of tee positions gives the golfer several options on play and approach so one can account for a wide range of skill on the course.  We watch a fellow guest take shot after shot on the wet driving range while we enjoyed the vista of the splendid lake.  

Things to Do at Rasa Ria by Shangri-La, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Golf Driving Range

Not being a golfer myself, I speak to some fellow guests returning from a game on the pristine greens.  The golfers confirm that it’s a well-kept course. Flat and easy to play with some interesting water features.  ‘In very good condition,’ remarks a gentleman from Florida. Would he recommend it to a friend? ‘Absolutely – they look after the course well.’

Things to Do at Rasa Ria by Shangri-La, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Golf Course

The well appointed club house features a one stop pro-shop, an air-conditioned lounge and an al fresco terrace. Golfers can take refreshment before the back nine, or end their game with a choice of western or local menu for lunch or tea. Clubs and shoes are too available for rental.

A game costs RM200 for Rasa Ria guests and RM400 for walk ins. 

Cocktail drinking

It should come as no surprise to readers that Monica and I are both a fans of cocktail hour. At Rasa Ria, drinks can be taken in the lobby lounge, with an open safari-style flavour, and splendid view of the sunset and, later in the evening, a live band with a sultry singer. Or try the Sampan Bar, with friendly cocktail shaking bar men, and a super happy hour. Coast offers tranquil sea views, and romantic potential, couples can snuggle up in a private two person couch. Or, if you prefer, room service on your private balcony. 

Things to Do at Rasa Ria by Shangri-La, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Rasa Ria Beach

Our favourite evening is on the terrace at Coast gazing out over the South China Sea, as red fades into pink on the horizon. As darkness falls, light glimmers thorough the billowing curtains of the private dining areas scattered like small oases along the beach, in the distance gongs and drums are heard. The fire in the distance, our host explains belongs to a ‘head hunter’s’ special dinner, one of a range of special dinners Rasa Ria organizes for groups of guests. We relax into the twilight with two gin based drinks. Lemon Grass Gimlet: Ever so slightly foamy on top, there is a definite kick to this drink and the lemongrass and sage gives it a delightful sweet-sour-savoury edge. Basil and Mango: A classic gin martini is given a tropical twist with fresh Mango. It’s lemony and slippery, not too sweet and we both love the undertones of basil in this refreshing drink. 

Five Favourite Things To Do at Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort and Spa
Choose your cocktail sipping view - beach, pool, garden - it's all beautiful

Pongo Kids' Club at Rasa Ria

As well as being able to splash in the pool and enjoy fun water slides under the eyes of watchful life-guards (7am – 10pm), youngsters can participate in a vast range of nature, sporting and art activities from 8:30am to 6:30pm. Actually I quite fancy trying some of them myself! Some of the more fun sounding included, kite flying, mask making, blow pipe, wire arts, and Nature Detective. No two days are the same, and apart from a few specialized art activities, the cost is included in the hotel package.

Rasa Ria, Cool Zone
Kids' Club

Sunset Cruise: a peaceful hour on the Tambalang River  

We visit traditional fishermen territory, view the colourful local houses, hear tales of oyster fields and other fresh seafood from our cheerful guide who is determined we will have a beautiful sunset though he cannot guarantee it. As the sun begins to dip and glint on the water, the light softens and develops a gentle golden glow. We make our way up to the mouth of the river, past a couple of isolated stretches of beach. The sun is dipping lower, getting bigger redder. A path of light travels across the water as the shadows deepen in the sky and cusps of purple brim the edges of lowering clouds.

Things to Do at Rasa Ria by Shangri-La, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Fishing Village

Things to Do at Rasa Ria by Shangri-La, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Sunset Cruise

Our guide points out the shape of a Sleeping Buddha in the hill behind the hotel. Viewing the hotel from the sea we realize how private the bay is.  Sea or river fishing on the resort's Dalit Cruiser (a 36 foot catamaran) is also available to those who are happy to spend restful time on the water during the day. 
Shangri-La Borneo
Map to Rasa Ria

Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort and Spa
Pantai Dalit Beach
Sabah 89208
+ 6 088 797 888 


  1. gorgeous photos... makes me want to fly there now!! :D

    1. Nice escape from reality for a few minutes... :-)

  2. hi.
    do visit my blog if you want to be a glampreneur like me.

  3. Heaven is a place on earth...and it's right there in Sabah!

  4. holy-moley ... these are the most beautiful photos i've seen on my laptop today! i wanna steal the final shot of the sunset and use it for my computer wallpaper! :D

    1. If it makes your day a happier one, go ahead and slide it onto your screen. ;-)

  5. Yum List, your pictures really made my day! =) I can't believe that we have such beautiful sceneries here, in Malaysia.

    Can I borrow the sunset picture for my notebook wallpaper?

    1. If it makes yo happy, of course! :-)