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“A trip back in time with cinders to burn” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of North Borneo Railway

North Borneo Railway
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$138.75*
and up
North Borneo Steam Train With Tiffin Lunch from Kota Kinabalu
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The North Borneo Railway runs two weekly return departures (Wednesday, Saturday) from Kota Kinabalu to Papar, year round. Lasting approximately 4 hours, passengers experience the lush landscape of the coastal and rural regions of Sabah. A typical 'tiffin' colonial lunch will be served on the return trip.
NSW
Level Contributor
20 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“A trip back in time with cinders to burn”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 11, 2013

A nostalgic half day trip into the Kota Kinabalu hinterland. Well organized with good service and plenty of food. This is by Malaysian standards pretty expensive but there are plenty of takers as it only goes twice a week. Take care as cinders may enter through the windows. I ended up with a hole in my daypack.
Enjoyable and unique day out.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank John-Wagga
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
105 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“Fun for young and old.”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 2, 2013

This is a good side trip to do when you are in KK. Combining history and good fn, both adults and kids will enjoy this half-day adventure. After a few minor glitches we found the train to be well organised and enjoyable. Food is good and quite plentiful - served 'tiffin style' in tin containers. this is a good way to take in a bit of 'Old Borneo'

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
Thank David B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
71 reviews
32 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Getting in touch with the past”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 28, 2013

What a wonderful way to begin touch with the Villages of Sabah. The North Borneo Railway excursion out to the village of Papar, a voyage of 38 kilometres, was a lovely way to spend the day. Although the cost, approx $100 Australian may make it prohibitive for families, I think it is well worth the money to allow everyone, especially children, to experience the bygone eras of British North Borneo. Passengers check in and receive their "passport" which is stamped as you complete the journey- great idea for children and adults alike . Staff dressed in costume, wearing pith helmets, escort passengers to the carriages (your seat/ carriage is found in the passport- lots of people had to move seats). Try to sit on the left side-facing the engine, as the sun has " bite'. To it , even though the windows have shutters on them if you want to use them. If you are travelling in a large group, ensure that you are seated together when you book. Some larger family groups, were not seated in the same carriage originally, however, staff solved the problem by seating them at tables of four rather than in tables of two people as others were.
Once we left the station, a continental breakfast of an assortment of croissant and pastries, preserves and tea or coffee was served. I suggest that you eat a smaller breakfast before you depart, as some people may find the serving size leaves them hungry.
Three towns are visited on the journey, however, the time allowed in these is really just enough to stretch your legs, although it is possible to visit the Tsim Shen Tsui Temple for a 'quick' look. The markets at Papar Tamu, an open air market, were fun, the cheapest place to buy basic clothing/ t shirts in Sabah but you need to go in with a vision,because you don't have much time to source the bargains. Not best quality and you should barter, but fun and much cheaper to buy things than in Kota Kinabalu.
Back on the train for a cold towel, a lovely touch and a tiffin lunch, served in tiffin containers, each level holding a different treat. We had chicken satay, fried spiced mackerel fillet, cucumber and pineapple salad, mixed vegetables with prawns, chicken biryani rice, fresh fruits and tea or coffee. All of the food was nice and water is served throughout the meal. Beer, juices, soda, wine and hot drinks are available for sale at town prices. Make sure you have a look at the engine. The staff are very welcoming. And it is an eye opener. Huge logs provide the heat and the heat is 'melting' level. Show your kids, most of them have no idea how trains actually run.
A great day, great staff, expensive, but well with it.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
8 Thank michelle t
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Subic, Philippines
Level Contributor
414 reviews
259 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 142 helpful votes
“back in time”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 27, 2013

We were lucky with the weather and really enjoy the trip. It is a must to try a real steam train one time in life. There is nothing special to see at the station were the train stops. Only sit down and relax. Very good service on board, but the breakfast was nothing special. Lunch was high standard. depend on were you are sited you can have problem with the smoke from the train, so hope you will be more lucky then my wife. At last felt that the prices is too high, and will not use so much money one time more on a train trip

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank kmittag
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
53 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Way overpriced, boring half day excursion”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 17, 2013 via mobile

Let me start by saying we found this to be extremely boring. That said, if the price was not an eye watering RM 290 per person we probably would not have minded so much. May I remind you, dear reader, that this is a place where a plate of delicious fried noodles costs around RM 5, just to put this price in context. The staff certainly look the part and try their best to give good service. 50's music is blared on both the train and platform which in my opinion detracts from the romance of a steam locomotive journey. A continental breakfast is served to patrons who have just (surely) eaten at their hotels because a) the train departs at 10am and b) it's not advertised that this is part of the service. The route doesn't really pass anything interesting other than some mangroves and a short tunnel (the tour company states the tunnel is 450 metres... more like 450 feet). There are 2 stops, both in singularly disinteresting towns. It is interesting to see how they turn the locomotive around, although im sure YouTube has some footage for those curious souls amongst you. Lunch is served after the second stop, as the return journey commences. I cannot really comment on the food as although we booked vegetarian options, they did not prepare nor bring them along for the ride. One major disadvantage of the locomotive and not the train turning around is that passengers are treated to the same mediocre views on the return journey. To top off an entirely underwhelming trip, the carriages are periodically filled with choking smoke from the loco which pours in through the open windows. My recommendation: give this one a miss unless you are a) a train freak b) would be sitting in your hotel room with the curtains drawn doing nothing for those 4 hours or c) would like to throw that much good ringgit down the proverbial drain pipe rather than putting it to better use and cannot stand the thought of literally burning it.

Helpful?
12 Thank Lee D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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