White Water Rafting at Kiulu River

White water rafting or simply rafting is one of the thrilling water activities for the adventurous ones. Curious for the exciting experience like any other first timers, our group tried rafting at Kiulu River located in the northern part of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

There are two popular white rafting sites in Malaysia, Kiulu and Padas River. For novice rafters, Kiulu River offers an introductory rafting challenge with Grade I and Grade || rapids. Such difficulty levels are safe even for kids.

At around 8:30AM, we were picked up by our service bus from our hotel and we traveled to Kiulu River for almost 2 hours. During our ride, we were asked by our guide to accomplish a Liability Release form.

At the starting point, guests can still opt to change clothes suitable for a rough activity. Once ready, we were asked to get the equipments we need including helmet, paddle and life vest. It is important to choose a helmet with the right size for safety purposes and to avoid discomfort. Some of us had a hard time picking the right size because most of the helmets are too big. Our guide suggested to try the helmets with kid’s size.

After getting the equipments, a safety briefing was led by a professional river guide. We were taught the basics of rafting and how to do things properly. The following were explained and demonstrated to us: how to sit in the inflatable raft that will prevent you from falling, how to hold the paddle and how to paddle in the waters.

As the briefing ended, the adventure commences! Maximum of 6 persons can ride in one raft plus 1 guide. Drinking water is provided in the raft. As we were instructed, the guide will not jump off the waters to rescue anyone who will fall from the raft. Those who will fall will only be pulled up from the waters.

We navigated Kiulu River for almost two hours covering 15KM. Most of the time, the water is still. But there are few parts of the river with rough water that can make you scream. For those wanting an extreme adventure, Grade 1 – II rapids may be a little boring.

We were allowed to swim in one shallow part of the river where current is not that strong. Water is really very cold. Riverbed is made of stones. While allowing ourselves to float and go with the flow of the water, some of us crashed in the stones underneath which was a little painful. Nevertheless, we had fun trying to swim in the river.

While paddling, take time to appreciate the nature that surrounds you – the trees and the mountains. At the end point, there are shower/changing facilities and an eating hall. You can also get to see your pictures – yes, there are photographers waiting at different parts of the river to take some of your stolen rafting shots. Photos are complied in CD and can be bought for MYR 50.

Two-hour rafting can be really tiring but is definitely fun. Some of us were a bit nervous at the beginning, especially since all of us were first timers, but we did not get the extreme adventure we were expecting. For most beginners who do not know what to expect and would want to play safe, Grade I – II difficulty level of Kiulu River can be a good introduction. It can also be a good bonding activity for the whole family since the roughness of the water is really safe even for kids. For a more challenging white water rafting, try Padas River with Grade III – IV difficulty level.


  • At the ending point, you can choose to take a shower first while other guests are eating so as not to wait long in the shower areas.
  • Wear comfortable clothing – shorts and t-shirt (preferably not white in color) or swimwear.
  • Wear sandals with straps or sports/aqua shoes.
  • Bring extra clothes, you will really get wet.
  • Bring toiletries and towel.
  • Apply sun block and insect repellant.
  • Bring extra money, souvenirs are being sold at the ending point plus the souvenir photos compiled in CD (MYR 50). Other food and drinks can also be bought.
  • You can leave your things in the bus which you can get at the ending point. Don’t bring valuable items in the raft.
  • You can bring a waterproof camera and take your own photos. Just be careful not to drop it.
  • Trim your fingernails and toenails.
  • Do not wear jewelries.
  • Children 4 years old and above are allowed to participate.

Kiulu Rafting Package

We availed our Kiulu Rafting with a combination of Mari-mari Cultural Village Tour at Riverbug for MYR 280 (Children – MYR 235). For White Water Rafting alone, fee is MYR 185 (Children – MYR 140).


Website: http://www.riverbug.asia/
E-mail: tours@riverbug.asia
Contact Nos.: +6 088 260 501 / +6 088 260 502
Address: Lot 227 – 229
2nd Floor, Wisma Sabah
Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen
88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah