Ranau is associated with the infamous and tragic Death Marches which occurred at the end of WWII in 1945. Over 2500 Australian and British POWs died at Sandakan and on the forced death marches to Ranau.
Ranau is accessible by road and is approximately 2 hours by car from Kota Kinabalu.
1 Bus stop. Local buses bound to Kundasang and Poring Hot Spring depart from this stop every 20-30 minutes. Long distance coaches for destinations like Kota Kinabalu (2 hours), Sandakan (4 hours including refreshment stop), Lahad Datu can also be hailed down here.
- Ranau War Memorial, a cairn erected at the end of the Sandakan-Ranau death marches. 5km from Ranau town. It is located down a driveway on the main road and not well signposted.
- [formerly dead link] Sabah Tea Garden. Offers light refreshments and meals overlooking the valley and mountain. Tours of the tea factory and gardens are offered. There is accommodation available in longhouse-style facilities. Although the tea is marketed as organic, realistically it is a very small section that is organic, and as it is grown alongside non-organic plants, cannot really be considered to be truly organic. It is a decent black tea, however, and you can buy it everywhere in Sabah. There is a small gift shop attached to the cafe. There is a small memorial to British and Australian troops who died on the Sandakan Death Marches next to the cafe.
- Sungai Moroli Fish Spa is located next to the Tea Garden. It is a community venture, in which you walk into a river armed with fish food, and allow some very big fish to nibble at your toes for 15 minutes. Not as relaxing as a posh fish spa in Europe, but interesting, nonetheless. Not for the faint-hearted or thin-skinned!
Ranau is a small dusty road junction of a small township servicing the local community. So you as a tourist can eat and wander around the small Tamu (market) the ride away. The Tamu has a good supply of local produce, Durian king of fruits, and Rambutan were the only two I knew. All the fruit was available at a deep fry kedai (Stall/shop) We had fried banana, extremely hot. There was a "touristy" stall but it was dusty and dirty but cheap!
Open air local eateries are available in the township. Be prepared to sit on plastic chairs inside or on the outside walkway. This is a township with lots of vehicles, the food and company is very good, and it's an excellent place to sit back and watch the people go by.
- Beer is available at restaurants but may not be written on the menu.
- Traditional local alcoholic drinks include bahar (coconut sap liquor), montoku (rice wine) and lihing (sweet rice wine).
Menarik teh (pulled tea) is really tea flavoured liquid held up high and poured in to a lower glass, it is a flash way or pour the tea. Beware the tea and coffee is served VERY sweet with a lot of sugar, so ask first or say "tiada gula"(without sugar) when ordering, pay before leaving.
An assortment of accommodation options exist between Mount Kinabalu Park turn off and the township of Ranau, mostly situated on the main road.
- Slagon Homestay. is a family-owned B&B, set in a beautiful garden in a village near Ranau. Transfers available from Ranau.
- Kundasang War Memorial is a short distance (10 mins) from Ranau.
- Mount Kinabalu Park is located approximately 20 km from Ranau.
- Poring Hot Spring is a short distance (20 mins) from Ranau.