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Bukit Matanoi Hill

Keningau Bukit Matanoi

One of the new emerging places for tourism in Sabah is no other than the Bukit Matanoi Hill, which is located in the Keningau district, about two and a half hours drive from Kota Kinabalu. 

It is here that you will find the famous Sarang Burong Bukit Matanoi or Matanoi Hill Bird's Nest that was recently completed in early January 2018.

With social media postings, this place has seen a sudden spike in the local tourist that have been flocking here. 

The reason? To get that Instagram or Facebook photo of sitting in the bird's nest overlooking the lush rainforest hills here. Simple and easy, the only challenge is getting up that hill.

Gambar Bukit Matanoi
Locals sit in the bird's nest for a photo opportunity

What is at Bukit Matanoi Hill?

The question that everyone is asking now, what is available here? Or why should I visit here? And the simple answer is that if you are that person who loves social media, you will want to come here and get that epic photo.

While the bird's nest attraction is still new here in Malaysia, I will share some tips for those planning to visit this place here in Keningau, Sabah. Some of the tips mentioned are also from my experience of travelling around Indonesia.

Malaysia Bird Nest Sabah
Posing in one of two bird's nest found here

Change of Clothes - Usually, women will bring a change of clothes on their trek, and when they reach the location, they will change into beautiful dresses, shoes and even bring makeup kits to put on some serious makeup for the photoshoot.

Scarves, Pario or Flags - Some people bring large scarves that will catch the wind, while others bring bright and colourful dresses to contrast the brown and greens when they pose. And for the patriotic travellers, they bring their country flag to display.

Once the place gets really popular, you will start seeing wedding photography being done here. Not only for weddings but even for professional portrait photography of singles or couples.

Rafie Robert Keningau
Rafie Robert and his famous Bukit Matanoi social media photo that went viral

Heart Arch at Bukit Matanoi
The new Love Arch at Bukit Matanoi

Below is a list of what is available at Bukit Matanoi Hill in Keningau Sabah;
  • Sarang Burung Bukit Matanoi 
    This is hands down the number one attraction here, with not one, but two bird's nest that overlooks the beautiful landscapes of Matanoi Hill. Locals have been coming here since January to take photos of themselves sitting in these man-made giant bird's nest. 
  • Bukit Matanoi Lookout Point
    There is a man-made bamboo structure that is built as a lookout point. It is solid, but only a limited number of people are allowed at one time. One of the spots to capture sunset photos at Bukit Matanoi.
  • Love Arch
    A giant heart arch made out of twigs is one of the new attractions at Bukit Matanoi. This comes with a red wooden bench enough to seat two to three people. 
  • Giant Straw Hat
    A man-made giant hat is also part of the attraction in one section of the hill. This is an initiative of the local Kampung Matanoi people, which serves as a decent photograph for your social media postings. 
  • Rabbit Farm at Bukit Matanoi
    A small rabbit farm was created near the entrance area of Bukit Matanoi. This is mainly for the children and families that come here. 
Sabah new tourist attraction
A visitor poses at the birds' nest here

Best Time To Visit Bukit Matanoi

Honestly, if you are local, the best time is of course during the weekends, but this comes with a price. You can expect the place to be crowded with many other locals coming here for the experience.

This means that you have to take your turn to get that photo, plus you need to make sure that no one is in your photo frame. Quite a challenge, but it can be done. 

For the foreigner, I would highly recommend you come here on a weekday when it is less crowded, and you can have your photograph taken without having to line up with others.

But then again, the smart locals will also do the same thing.

The giant straw hat at Bukit Matanoi. Photo by Rafie Robert

For those wanting a photo with clear scenery, I recommend visiting Bukit Matanoi in the morning, as there should be no one here.

Usually, many locals come here in the evenings for the sunset. Unless some took the day off to visit this place. 

If it rains, then I would recommend not to visit as it is pointless. The weather would spoil the scenery and the trek up would be slippery.

Best to wait for clear weather, or check the weather forecast of Keningau before heading there.

Malaysia Sarang Burung Nest
A rainbow is seen over the bird's nest here

How far is Bukit Matanoi from Kota Kinabalu? 

Most city tourist may want to make a day trip to Bukit Matanoi, and it is recommended to leave very early from Kota Kinabalu city.

It takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes drive on way to Kampung Apin Apin, and then another 3.6 kilometres to Bukit Matanoi.

Once you reach the main entrance of Bukit Matanoi, you are required to register at the visitor booth before you start your short hike up the hill.

Note that this place is not disabled friendly as one needs to hike uphill for a bit before reaching the view point.

Bukit Matanoi Keningau
Expect a large crowd of locals on weekends and public holidays

In total, you may need about three and a half hours from Kota Kinabalu all the way to the viewpoint at Bukit Matanoi, hence leaving as early as possible is your best option.

There is a signboard by the trunk road leading here, and you will see a Sabah and Malaysia flag by the makeshift car park.

Usually, in the evenings or weekends, there will be a lot of cars parked by the main road.

Map to Bukit Matanoi
Bukit Matanoi is about 2.5 hours or 108 km from Kota Kinabalu City in Sabah

Address for Bukit Matanoi Hill Apin Apin
Off Jalan Apin-Apin Bundu Kg. Tiga
Apin-Apin, Keningau, Sabah.

Bukit Matanoi Hill GPS Coordinates: 5°29'34"N 116°14'46"E

All photos shown here are from the Bukit Matanoi Facebook Page.

Gambar malam di bukit matanoi
Bukit Matanoi is also open after sunset and you can take some beautiful night photos

Bukit Matanoi Hill Tours

Right now, because this is a relatively new tourism product, there may be no one selling tours to Bukit Matanoi Hill. Perhaps in the coming months, some travel and tour agents will start to offer packages here.

You can contact Freddy Peter at 019-809 8007 if you need more information or a guide while you are here. Freddy is also in charge of the Bukit Matanoi Facebook Page. 

However, I will recommend anyone in Kota Kinabalu, namely the foreign tourist, that you rent a car or a driver to bring you here for a fixed price. This is probably your easiest and best option to get to Bukit Matanoi in Keningau.

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