Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort in Kota Kinabalu, The Gateway to Borneo’s Rain Forest and Marine life
Nearby Mount Kinabalu, at 13,435 feet, is one of Southeast Asia's tallest peaks and offers trekkers everything from rugged mountain climbing to easy hikes, with a wealth of flora and fauna along the trails -- don't miss the carnivorous pitcher plants. From there, it's a short drive to Poring Hot Springs and its rope-and-plank canopy walk for an up-close glimpse of the rain forest at more than 100 feet above the jungle floor. Afterward, unwind earthbound in the sulfur hot pools -- reputed for their healing benefits. For wildlife, take a river boat through the Klias Wetlands, a two-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu, where it's easy to spot Borneo's unique long-nose proboscis monkeys as they gather in the trees along the banks in late afternoon. Snorkelers and beach lovers can rent a boat and hop around the islands that make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park -- 20 to 30 minutes off the coast of Kota Kinabalu.
The Wall Street Journal praises the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa as the area's best hotel, just a 10-minute drive from the airport, where you can grab a cocktail at the "aptly-named Sunset Bar" and drink in the "view of pink and purple skies as the South China Sea swallows the sun."