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Padas River White Water Rafting in Sabah

Padas River White Water Rafting in Sabah
Padas River White Water Rafting in Sabah (Sungai Padas in Malay) is one of the top rafting sites located at Pangi town, which is near Tenom.

Traveling to the Padas River will be best done by booking from your hotel or tour agent in Kota KinabaluThey offer full-day trips here with prices starting from RM200.00 (USD$50.00) per person.

The water rafting will take place for a distance of 9 kilometers with 7 exciting and challenging rapids from Class 3 to Class 4, and is noted to be the best water rafting in Sabah Borneo.

On rainy seasons, it could even go up to Class 5 and this requires skill rafters and also weather pending too.

Padas River White Water Rafting

Photo of the Padas River
The journey to the start of the water rafting site
Your Padas River White Water Rafting journey there will be one to remember as you will board an old diesel train from Beaufort to Pangi where the train stops in the middle of nowhere and you get off.

However, on my last trip there, there was no train service due to a major mishap where the local train had derailed after a massive storm.

Therefore, for this unique journey, we took platform trolleys which you can read about in my Journey To Padas White Water Rafting in Sabah article.

Some water rafting companies will start the journey by van to Tenom and then board the train to Pangi. It depends on which you prefer, so choose carefully.

I would go for the Beaufort-Pangi journey as it will take you 1.5 hours via train where Tenom-Pangi will only take 30 minutes.

Class 5 Rapids Padas River MalaysiaA lorry which fell in at class 5 rapids

To get to Padas River, you will pass the Pangi Hydroelectric Dam which is just before the water rafting area. However, when you see the rapids after the dam, you will be thinking, is the river going to be like this?

Fear not, it will not. The rapids at the start near the dam are class 6 rapids and no sane person will water raft there.

I was told by Alex who runs one of the water rafting businesses there, apparently many years ago, some hardcore Americans actually did raft there.

Crazy, Alex exclaimed, as even a pro rafter like Alex would not dare to try that part of the Padas River.

Sabah class 5 rapids Class 5 and 6 rapids at Padas River

I took a good look at Class 5 and 6 rapids and thought it would be suicide to even try it. The rapids were amazingly crazy and ferocious, all ready to eat you and your raft alive. No kidding!

Arriving at the Pangi train station, we were gathered at a spot where the full detailed briefing was conducted by Alex himself.

He kept stressing about safety being the number one priority for us. Again, we had cameras on us and our water rafting trip was specially arranged by Mark, our Sabah buddy, and personal guide.

Rafting Padas RiverGearing up to raft along the Padas River

There are a few water rafting companies that operate here so one needs to know which group you are following.

There are different colored life vests to indicate the companies. Even water rafts are in different colors.

Padas River Water RaftingA group of rafters leaves the start point

At our water rafting start point, there was another company that had finished their brief and was ready to rock and roll. Usually, a six-man raft is used followed by a safety canoe behind.

Starting Point at Padas RiverStarting point at Padas River

As they left the banks of the Padas River, we could only wait for the boys to pump up our rafts as we were going next.

I must stress the term White Water Rafting, it is actually when a clear river with strong rapids produces the white foam which then is called White Water.

Sadly for our Padas River, it was Brown Water Rafting, and just take a look at the color of the water, it looks like tea with milk or Teh Peng as locals would call it.

Then we saw another rafting group from the RiverBug Rafting Company pass the river. There was a huge group of them in about six rafts in various sizes.

Padas Water RaftingPumping air into the raft, manually

And they are still pumping air into our raft. So we wait patiently while we get more tips from the pro rafters and Alex. Telling us about some old stories and also how he plans to expand the business.

By the way, I also went for some Water Rafting at Kiulu River with Alex and my gang. He operates the water rafting services there as well.

At least you get real White Water Rafting at Kiulu River which is easier to get from Kota Kinabalu and with rapids of class 2 and 3 only.

rafting photo at padas riverCarrying the raft into the Padas river

We then help to carry the raft into the water and everyone jumps on board the six-man raft. Our water rafting at the Padas River starts!

Everyone looks excited not knowing what kind of rapids to expect. For the record, we did not have a safety canoe follow us as we had 2 of the best rafters follow us.

padas river water rafting group photo A quick group shot taken by the raft captain (me on the far left)

Videos of Padas River White Water Rafting

Below are a series of videos taken during my water rafting at the Padas River in Sabah. They are unedited and straight from the camera to YouTube.

Starting the Padas White Water Rafting Video

Padas River Rafting Video

Class 2 and 3 rapids at Padas River

Class 3 and 4 rapids at Padas

Saying bye to the rest as we got off halfway to do some work

Pangi coffee shop Padas
A local sign at the Pangi Coffee Shop
Pangi Station

Arriving at the Pangi Station, we took a break at a local stall serving drinks just next to the station building. Alex met us there and we discussed our rafting experience while downing a cold drink.

The stall is actually run by one of the local village people at Pangi. They also offer accommodations for those who want to stay over, and you can book this experience from any of the tour agents.

Photo of Tenom
Beautiful landscape view of Tenom
Pangi has some really beautiful views of the hills and sky with white clouds and clear blue skies. There are no roads there and only that one train track that runs through the local villages.

Photo of Padas River SabahPadas River Water Rafting class 4 and above rapids

Our exploration took us to various parts of the Padas River. Some were out of bounds for white water rafting as they were too dangerous to even Class 4 rapids.

Normally, your rafting guide will know which are the ones to avoid and so on. Not to worry as these guys have been doing this for years and are very professional.

Train Tracks at Padas River PangiThe long and tiring journey back

And our final journey back to Tenom town via platform train. This time, another set of boys took us back via rail.

It was a tiring journey for the entire group and we will never forget this platform train service which was used to ferry us to Padas for the White Water Rafting Adventure of our life. Thank you, Alex, Mark, and gang!

Final Thoughts on the Padas River White Water Rafting Experience in Sabah

For those who enjoy a bit of adventure, and if you ever head to the Land Below The Wind, you should make a date with this place.

Padas is well known as one of the best water rafting in this part of the world and may come from afar to experience the rapids here.

If you have been water rafting before, this is hands down one of the circuits that you have to try. Pick a rainy season for the best time to enjoy the adventurous Padas River White Water Rafting in Sabah.


Stanley said...

Never tried white water rafting before but it looks happening! The trolley trains looks really cute. Never heard of it before.

Malaysia Asia said...

Hello Stanley, well, this was only temporary as the train service was halted for a few weeks/months.

You should seriously try it. It's not that expensive like golf... hehe


Call me A.S for AkiraSabine said...

I wonder why it is called white water rafting when it's Teh Peng water rafting. LoLs

Never tried it before tried. Didn't do it when I was in KK for my climb which was 2 years back.

Malaysia Asia said...

Akira, exactly... the water gets really bad especially after it rains. But the rapids are awesome after the rain so..... sigh...

Maye your next trip to KK, you can try it?


Unknown said...

hey, great post IMHO. I especially enjoy the Maine Whitewater Rafting courses,
you ever been there and done any of the Maine Whitewater Rafting courses? I made a
post about my experience at the Maine Whitewater Rafting course here:
http://maine-rafting.info/maine-whitewater-rafting/ let me know what you think about

rafting scotland said...

Very Nice Photo Collection.

eunice said...

hello! thanks for referring me to your Sabah posts! Yes most probably I'm going to Sabah soon! Your trip was such an adventure! And hey! I think I saw this rail rafting on TV before, didn't know it's in Sabah! Wow! It's a good experience for city people like us.

I may be going to Sipadan islands. Have you been there before?


Auleo English said...

it recalls my memory of Sg Patas river rafting...
but i could say it's more like a nightmare

my boat was subside,and i think i wont be joining river rafting anymore.. too scary to fall into river with strong current

Anonymous said...

well..fantastic rafting! i must try it when i goin next month!

by the way..is it possible to go there our own? because me n my friends plan to "self-planned" the journey...so will be at Tenom at Beaufort by our own...

Dta-wan 'Light of Day' said...

Hello David,

I was browsing the net for some info about Padas River and came across your blog. Would you mind if I use some of your photos and description in my proposal? I will of course cite you and blog properly.

Let me know.

Many thanks.


Cagayan de Oro whitewater rafting said...

These pictures inspired me with such extremely great adventure. It's so good to see that people are enjoying this heart-pumping great adventure with their friends.

Mekong Tours said...

I like this. You can take a beautiful and scenic countryside drive to the hills of Kiulu.

Article Submission said...

River white rafting is a lovely event that you can keep in your memories. It will be more meaningful if you spend it with your love one’s. You will enjoy watching the sun going down and the moon rising above you. The foods are great and accommodations are very practical and suit your needs.