Tip of Borneo, Malaysia

Tip of Borneo (Kudat), Malaysia – Travel Guide

The most northerly part of Eastern Malaysia, the Tip of Borneo (Tanjung Simpang Mengayau) in the Kudat Peninsular, is a popular spot with domestic tourists. However, international travellers looking to see a more ‘wild’ side of Borneo will also relish a visit.

Famed for its dreamy coastline complete with beach shacks, the Tip of Borneo is a popular spot for those looking to slow down a bit. Palm-clad sands meet rolling jungle here and with nothing else to do but while the day away, you may end up staying longer than you bargained for! 

If you’re heading to the Tip of Borneo and are looking for a list of things to do to help you get the most out of your visit, you’re in the right place! Kickstart your planning here!

Tip of Borneo (Kudat), Malaysia – Backpacking Guide 🎒

Tip of Borneo Map & Resources

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Best Time to Visit the Tip of Borneo ☀️

The best time to visit the Tip of Borneo is from February to April. This is towards the end of the rainy season and while hot, the climate isn’t completely overbearing. January is the rainiest month and sometimes, the area sees flooding.

It is best to avoid April to June as this is the hottest time which can make exploring exhausting. Even if you plan to lay on the beach, you could find yourself getting very burnt! December is the busiest time for tourism, however, Chinese New Year also sees a lot of visitors. It is best to book accommodation in advance during peak season. 

Tip of Borneo, Kudat, Malaysia
With scenery like this, why would you miss it?!

Where to Stay Near the Tip of Borneo (Kudat), Malaysia 🛏️

Budget travellers who are searching for accommodation close to the Tip of Borneo will likely stumble upon offerings in the nearby city of Kudat. From my own experience, I would urge you to keep looking. 

“The city of Kudat was my base while I was exploring the Tip of Borneo. It was the cheapest area to stay close by but it was also the only place in Malaysian Borneo where I felt a little unwelcome. While I didn’t get a negative reaction from everyone I met, the stares of more than a few passersby put me on edge and made me feel uncomfortable. I was dressed appropriately so I couldn’t see any obvious reason for the hostility. Throw into the mix that the city isn’t particularly nice and the hotel was a bit crummy and I really wished I’d just sucked it up and paid the extra to stay beachside.”

Sheree Hooker, Editor at South East Asia Backpacker

Most of the other places to stay close to the Tip of Borneo are along the main beaches which lead up to the tip itself. There are some cute rustic bungalow offerings here but they cost more than you may be used to paying elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Bear in mind that the area is known for monkeys which like to break into huts and steal snacks. Always make sure you secure any doors and windows before heading out for the day!

Top Accommodation near the Tip of Borneo

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Tammoyo Place (Banggi Island)

If you’re looking for a place to switch off and get back to nature, you’re in the right place! Tammoyo Place, located on Banggi Island off Kudat, offers basic chalets, from tiny houses to open-air bamboo structures, all without WiFi. While very basic, they offer good value for money and allow guests to fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean. Bear in mind that the bamboo structures are completely open (though there is the option to drop the tarpaulin sides) so you’ll need to be mindful about your belongings. Your digital detox starts here!

Tommy’s Place

Perched on the road which leads to the Tip of Borneo and opposite the beautiful (if at times slightly unclean) Kalampunian Beach, Tommy’s Place is a good base for exploring Northern Sabah. Known for its friendly staff, there is also an on-site restaurant. This is a must for dark sky enthusiasts – the stargazing from the beach is first class. 

Tommys Place, Tip of Borneo, Malaysia
Tommy’s Place at the Tip of Borneo.

Hibiscus Beach Retreat

Most of the accommodation options in and around Kudat are pretty basic. However, for those of you seeking a more premium experience, there is Hibiscus Beach Retreat. Offering clifftop chalets with beach views in a jungle setting, the scenery will take your breath away. The sprawling vistas, combined with the mod-cons, make this the perfect base for a comfortable retreat close to the Tip of Borneo.

Tampat do Aman

An incredible option known for its friendly and passionate host, Tampat do Aman is a great place to experience overnighting in the jungle and learn about the local culture! The accommodation is basic but comfortable and offers a chance to see the ‘real’ Borneo, away from the crowds which gather at the tip. While the owner does shuttle runs to the nearby beaches, you’d benefit from having your own transport here. 

Kotak Kotak Borneo

This resort is located close to the Tip of Borneo and offers a range of accommodations within walking distance of the beach. The rooms are pretty spacious, however, some guests note that Kotak Kotak is more run-down than the photos let on. Still, if you’re looking for a convenient place to stay with easy access to the Tip of Borneo and beautiful beaches, this may be it. 

Secret Place Café and Camping

Run by a local family descendant of the Rungus people, Secret Place Café and Camping is the perfect spot for those visiting the Tip of Borneo on a budget. The on-site campground has toilet and shower facilities, plus tents are available to rent for those who don’t have one. The best thing? A beautiful, nearly always deserted, beach is just a stone’s throw away. 

Things to Do Near the Tip of Borneo, Malaysia 🌴

1. See the Tip of Borneo 🧭

Marking the most northerly spot in Borneo, this is where the South China Sea meets the Sulu Sea. It is commemorated by a large monument and park area which is a nice place to take respite from the sun. 

Tip of Borneo monument, Malaysia
Did you even go to the Tip of Borneo if you didn’t take a photo here?!

While the monument makes for a nice photo opportunity, it doesn’t mark the exact tip. To get to the official tip of Borneo, walk down the stairs out to the headland. 

While there is a sign warning travellers about walking on the rocks, these are perfectly safe when the weather is fine. Use your common sense and avoid this area in a storm! 

2. Go Surfing 🏄

If you’re fed up with the crowded lineups at other Asian surf hotspots, Borneo could be the place for you! It might not be the first activity to spring to mind when you picture the island, however, Borneo is home to some great breaks. 

If you’re interested in catching a few waves while you’re there, Blue Fin Surf and Dive is the place to go. We’d advise contacting them online in advance as many travellers say the shop isn’t always manned. 

3. Go to a Bee Farm 🐝

If you are travelling by car, you may want to make a stop at the bee farm on your way to the Tip of Borneo. Be warned, this excursion will be a quick stop – probably only taking twenty minutes or so. Despite that, DMA Gombizau Honey Bee is still worth a visit if you are passing. 

Bee Farm, Kudat, Malaysia
See how honey is made at the bee farm!

Pay the entrance fee of around 6MYR per person (foreigner rate) to see the hives of both honeybees and the Bornean stingless bee. You’ll be allowed to sample honey from each hive and take photos. There is a small gift shack where you can buy honey souvenirs for those back home.  

4. Snorkelling and Diving 🤿

It is no secret that Borneo is home to some of the best snorkel and dive sites in the entire world. There are a mixture of hard and soft reefs at the very tip and the coral is very diverse. There is the opportunity to see frogfish, parrotfish, banded snakes, stingrays, sea turtles and barracuda to name a few! If you’re interested in diving during your trip to Kudat, speak to the guys over at Blue Fin Surf and Dive. 

5. Check out the Kudat Turtle Conservation Society 🌊

Turtle lovers flock to the shores of Selingan Island but few know that there is another location in Sabah where volunteers can help with conservation efforts. The Kudat Turtle Conservation Society is working hard to protect the turtles and do valuable work along this stretch of coastline. They offer internships and voluntourism packages, see their website for more details. 

6. See a Rungus Longhouse 🟡

The Rungus ethnic community are based just over 40 km from Kudat City. Known for their bead and gong-making, the community is perhaps most famous for its traditional longhouses – up to 10 families can live in one building!

7. Enjoy the Beaches 🏖️

It is the coastline that attracts most visitors to the Tip of Borneo. The Kudat region is home to breathtaking swathes of sand which makes it the perfect place to catch some rays or swim. While there are loads in the area – and the best ones will be found by independent exploration – Kelambu Beach, Bak Bak Beach and Kalampunian Beach are all popular choices. 

Beach at the Tip of Borneo, Malaysia
The beautiful Kalampunian Beach.

While you’re visiting Kudat and the surroundings, it is definitely a worthwhile experience to overnight in Kampung Bavanggazo to learn more about the Rungus community and their way of life. This must be arranged with a tour operator in advance. 

8. Visit Banggi Island 🏝️

Banggi Island, located north of the Tip of Borneo is a beautiful spot to explore for a few days. Sabah’s largest island is best known for its diving opportunities but any visit here provides a chance to explore a place that few see. 

Ferries to the island depart from Kudat twice daily. There are different classes of travel and the journey takes between 1-1.5 hours. Make sure you are carrying your passport when you go to buy tickets. 

9. Marvel at the Stars ✨

The stars in this part of Borneo are nothing short of spectacular. Dark skies, combined with the hum of the jungle and the rolling waves, make the Tip of Borneo a dreamy location to stargaze. If you’re interested in spotting some constellations, make sure you avoid staying in Kudat City. 

Food and Drink at the Tip of Borneo, Malaysia 🍴

Ayeena Amor Café – Offering a range of Malaysian cuisine at a great price point, Ayeena Amor Café is undoubtedly one of the best eateries in the area. Offering vegetarian dishes as well as meaty options (but no pork), this is a good place to come to get your fill of tofu and tempeh! 

Ayeena Amor Cafe, Tip of Borneo, Malaysia
Veggie lovers rejoice!

“After a week of chicken non-stop, it was really great to find some actual veggie food! I really appreciated the tasty tofu dish, super filling and great value for money!”

Sheree Hooker, Editor at South East Asia Backpacker

Secret Place Café – The family-run Secret Place Café is a wonderful spot to enjoy a meal. Locally sourced ingredients make up the traditional Malay fare on offer and they offer a beach BBQ nightly. Make sure to contact them in advance – they need to get the produce from the market beforehand. 

Ina Café – A favourite budget-friendly option for those staying close to the Tip of Borneo, this small local safé offers a limited selection of Malay dishes. The food is authentically delicious which keeps travellers coming back! 

Station Seafood – If you’re craving fresh seafood, this is the place for you. Situated in the city of Kudat, they serve a range of seafood here, served up on a platform overlooking the sea. While eating with the wind in your hair is a nice alfresco treat, bear in mind that it can get blustery!

Station Seafood, Kudat, Malaysia
Station Seafood Restaurant in Kudat.

Getting Around the Tip of Borneo, Malaysia 🚗

The easiest way to get around the Tip of Borneo and the surrounding area is to drive. Car rental is available from many places in Kota Kinabalu which is the best place to arrange this. There is no public transport to the tip itself and the surrounding area is hard to get around without your own wheels. 

Close to the Kudat bus depot, there are minivans and taxis which head to the Tip of Borneo and other attractions in the area. As you’d expect, minivans are the cheapest option however, you will need to wait until they are full for them to depart. Private taxis are the most costly option however, they also offer the most convenience for those travelling without cars. While Grab is available to an extent, bear in mind that drivers may be few and far between so it is best not to rely on ride-hailing services.

How to Get To the Tip of Borneo 🚌

The easiest way to get to the Tip of Borneo is to drive. There are a range of companies that offer car rental in KK and the price is generally pretty reasonable. 

Be Aware…

If you hire a car, the company will want your itinerary. When I went to Kudat, there was an extra charge applied to the rental cost because of the quality of the roads. This wasn’t a huge amount luckily, around 50MYR (approx. $10USD). The road surface is very uneven the further north you go and potholes are common. As with renting any vehicle, make sure you photograph any damage before you leave to avoid getting a nasty fine when you return it!

Renting a car is the best way to travel to Kudat from KK.

Alternatively, it is possible to fly from Kota Kinabalu to Kudat. The journey time takes around 20 minutes but you will also need to factor in the cost of travel to and from the airports at either end. 

The cheapest way to get from Kota Kinabalu to Kudat is to take one of the shared minivans. These leave from Bandaran Berjaya when they are full. There are around 7-12 seats in each van and the cost is around 30MYR (approx. $6.50USD). 

Alternatively, it is possible to organise a Grab to take you to Kudat. This will be the most expensive option, however, if you are travelling in a group and split the price, it will likely not be that much more than a shared minivan per person and you’ll get there much quicker! 

Where to Go Next: 

Kota Kinabalu: The capital of Sabah is a logical next step after the Tip of Borneo. Offering access to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, head here for island hopping, diving and beach bumming. 

Kundasang: sitting between Kota Kinabalu and the Tip of Borneo, Kundasang is a hiking paradise. Scale the mighty Kinabalu if you’re tough enough or spend a day taking on the low-level trails in the Kinabalu National Park

Sandakan: The most popular jumping-off point for wildlife trips in Sabah, Sandakan offers access to Selingan Island, a.k.a. Turtle Island and is a great place to arrange a trip to the Kinabatangan River.

Sheree Hooker | Editor @ South East Asia Backpacker + Winging The World

Sheree is the awkward British wanderluster behind Winging The World, a blog designed to show that even the most useless of us can travel. Follow Sheree’s adventures as she blunders around the globe, falling into squat toilets, getting into cars with machete men and running away from angry peacocks. In recent years, Sheree has also taken on the role of editor at South East Asia Backpacker.

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