Tucked within the jungles of Malaysian Borneo and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kinabalu Park, Poring Hot Springs is a collection of built attractions highlighting some of the region’s wild features. The star is a series of tiled pools and public baths built by the Japanese during their occupation in WWI. Containing naturally hot sulfurous water pumped to the surface, the baths are popular with tired Mt. Kinabalu trekkers as well as area residents, especially on weekends.
The site also includes an enclosure housing hundreds of species of butterfly—many of which are raised for research or released—an orchid conservation center boasting 1,200 species including rare endemic varieties, tropical gardens home to the tiny mousedeer and, if you’re lucky, the chance to see the world’s largest flower, the rafflesia (or corpse flower), in bloom. A rope bridge canopy walk at 135 feet off the ground, is not for those afraid of heights or the unfit—there’s a muddy uphill scramble to reach it; it is ticketed separately.
The Poring Hot Springs and Nature Reserve is 25 miles (40 km) east of the Kinabalu National Park headquarters. It’s open from 7am-6pm and accessible by public bus or tour from Kota Kinabalu. Admission fee for foreign nationals is $4 (R15) and there is a $1 (RM 5) charge to use your camera (they do check for camera tickets). Some of the Poring Hot Springs attractions have separate ticketing and there’s also an upcharge if you would like a private bath.