Braving the rapids at Padas River, Sabah


A white water rafting adventure is not for the faint-hearted. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Claimed as one of the seven best rapids in South-East Asia, Padas River in Sabah offers outdoor enthusiasts an exhilarating white water rafting adventure.

It is located in the interior of Sabah, southwest of Kota Kinabalu, and part of the experience is the scenic train journey from Beaufort to Pangi in Tenom where you’ll pass by tropical rainforests and villages.

When you arrive at the station, it is just a short walk to Padas River, where you will meet with the guides who will give you a safety briefing. After checking your belongings into lockers, you’ll be outfitted with safety equipment like helmets and life jackets.

Then, you’ll need to carry the raft on your shoulders together with your teammates, and walk towards the river.

The ride down the river is about 10km or almost two hours. This includes eight rapids with quirky names like Head Hunter, Lambada, Washing Machine, Merry Go Round, Break Point, Scooby Doo, Cobra and Curve.

For Level 3 to 4 rapids such as at Padas River, there is a chance that the raft might overturn. A visit during the rainy season turned the Level 4 rapids into a Level 5 because of the higher water levels!

If the raft does overturn, don’t panic as the safety crew members are on hand to rescue anyone in trouble.

Participants need to be physically fit to do this, though. If you cannot swim, you will need to highlight this to the guides or organiser. Participants are also required to sign an indemnity form. The activity is not recommended for children below 12 years of age for safety reasons.

Suitable attire for the trip are sports sandals (in the raft, you will most likely go barefoot, though), swimwear, a T-shirt and shorts.

Getting there

Padas River is located in Tenom. You can drive there, or take the train from the Tanjung Aru Station in Kota Kinabalu. Alternatively, you can drive or take a bus to the town of Beaufort, which is about two hours by road. From there, you would need to take a train to Pangi Railway Station in Tenom.

Padas River, Tenom, Sabah

More info: riverbug.asia/

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