4.5 star rating: Recommended 7 Reviews

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  • Location:Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
  • Duration:4 hours (approx.)

Best North Borneo Railway Train Ride from Kota Kinabalu to Papar

Board the North Borneo Railway to discover the lush landscape of the coastal and rural regions of Sabah. Experience the nostalgic romance of an old steam train and relive the memories of a bygone era. Pass through villages, coastal towns, paddy fields, rainforests, and rubber and coffee plantations on this North Borneo rail excursion.


  • Morning train trip aboard the North Borneo Railway
  • Enjoy the lush landscape and rural scenery of Sabah
  • Stop at Kinarut and Papar to experience the sights and sounds of rural life
  • Complimentary British tiffin lunch, including rice, curry, vegetables and meats
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off included

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What You Can Expect

Best North Borneo Railway Train Ride from Kota Kinabalu to Papar

Nostalgic steam train ride

Ride the North Borneo Railway train from Kota Kinabalu to Papar to experience the days of the British Colonial Office, when people traveled by steam train into the heart of Sabah. The trains are refurbished to re-create the atmosphere of stepping onto a train in the 1900s. The North Borneo Railway runs for 36 miles (60 km) between Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah, and Papar, an agricultural town, known as the rice bowl of Sabah.

Board the train at Tanjung Aru Station. As the train pulls out of the station, travel into the countryside and admire the pastoral landscape. Continuing to the coast of Lokawi Bay, take in the picturesque views of the South China Sea. Stop at Kinarut, a traditional trading village, then visit Tien Shi Temple, a Buddhist temple at the foot of the hill, and explore the local shops nearby.

Reboard the train and pass through Kawang, home to the Kawang Forest Reserve. Cross the Papar River over a steel bridge to arrive in Papar, where you can visit the local wet market to get a taste of simple rural life in Sabah. Meander around the area and meet the friendly locals. Then, hop on board the train for a scenic ride back to Kota Kinabalu and enjoy a typical tiffin colonial lunch.

Customer Reviews

5 star rating: Highly Recommended December 2014

We had a really nice time - what an adventure. The final destination was not that interesting but the train journey itself with breakfast and lunch was something very special. Certainly would recommend this trip.

Keith and Valerie from the UK

5 star rating: Highly Recommended March 2014

Excellent day out with a chance to get out in the country. Very good service from the lovely crew and the food was quite good. A few nice stops on the way with a chance to visit local markets and temples.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2013

A very interesting and fun tour. A must do. The service and food was top notch.



5 star rating: Highly Recommended September 2012

5 stars experience!

4 star rating: Recommended March 2014

My sisters and I were delighted to be transported to the bygone days of steam train travel. the north Borneo railway tour is extremely well organized. The staff were very pleasant, perhaps a bit more theatrics would contribute to the atmosphere. Temple visit was interesting and would have liked a longer stay. Papar was disappointing,the market even though it is authentic local market, is quite dirty and of little appeal. the food served for luncheon was very tasty and being served in the tiffen was lovely. all in all a fun experience.

4 star rating: Recommended September 2012

loved the train, food was way better than expected, disappointed in the general sites along the route. Did not realize it just ran along the road

3 star rating: Worth doing August 2013

The train trip was really good until the return from Papar. The steam engine lost power on several occasions (each lasting 20 minutes) so we arrived back at KK very late.

From USD $ 178.65

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Tour code: 3705KK69


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