Donggongon (Penampang) by Herman (2006-07)

Short: Donggongon, on Sabah's West Coast and some 10 km from Kota Kinabalu and its coast has a population of around 56,460 (year 2000 census - and 78,920 as of 2009 as per World Gazetteer), comprising mainly of Kadazan, Chinese and Dusun, with more than a generous portion of Bajau, Filipinos and Indonesians, and a handful of Indians; it is the 'Capital of the Kadazan' and famous for its Thursday and Friday tamu, its many restaurants and some 30 karaoke clubs.



Working on it...

Places of Interest in Donggongon

Donggongon, only some 10 km from Sabah's capital might not be on the regular traveller's list of places to visit, but its famous tamu certainly is worth while a stopover. For me, the Donggongon Tamu is simply the most beautiful in Sabah: clean and well organised, here you can find from local vegetables over dried fish and hardware to traditional medicine and handicraft anything you wish. It is a vibrant and colourful affair that starts on Wednesday evenings at 5 pm and last right through - more or less 24-hours a day - to Friday evening whereby Thursday mornings are busiest!

There is a Chinese Temple in Donggongon that has recently been renovated and enlarged, and is a fine example of Chinese architecture; also close to Donggongon is the Sabah Cultural Centre (Pusat Kebudayaan Sabah), which is, however, some 'white elephant' and only used during weddings and other functions, such as the Pesta Ka'amatan. Thus, don't look for Sabah culture there - not even the architecture reflects anything Sabahan... More cultural insight offers the KDCA compound (Kadazandusun Cultural Association, on Jalan Penampang ca 7 km from KK). There you find a couple of traditional houses, the excellent Ka'andaman Spa and a famous hall where almost every week-end a wedding is held. KDCA is also where the venue for the state level celebrations of the Pesta Ka'amatan, every 30 and 31 May each year.

Donggongon is full of kedai kopi, or local restaurants, and some of them offer delicous local specialities otherwise hard to find. At one end of the township you find the restaurant 'Tahun Baru' where they serve 'hinava' (fresh fish pickled in lime and with a generous portion of ginger) as pusas - the equivalent of Spanish tapas. In the middle of Donggongon Township, across the Buhavan Square you find the famous restaurants 'Ching Fah', which has been catering for more than a generation at local and Chinese weddings, and the restaurant 'Dragon', equally famous for its catering. Restaurant 'Loi Hin' offers one of the best 'new chap' in town, ideal after a long night's drinking session, and word has it that Donggongon is rather notorious for that type of sport... 'Jam's' (formerly 'the Local') and 'Pusakag'' are only two amongst the 30 or so local but unpretentious karaoke pups where Kadazandusun songs prevail. 'Top Ten' across the road in a new section of the ever expanding Donggongon offers exotic food: try the 'sizzling landak', plus beer at unbeatable prices! There are too many food outlets to name here, but most shops offer great food even if their aspect might at first glance not be too inviting. Check out the crowd: if there are lots of people it means the food is great!

There are plenty of shops in Donggongon where you can find just about anything you ever need here. For completeness' sake and because it is so important for us living here I must mention Donggongon's own "shopping mall", Chua Kah Seng! Coming up is Malaysia's longest shopping mall, smack in the middle of Donggongon. Presently it is under construction, which makes our parking woes even worse, and when completed I suppose it is going to be another white elephant. The longest shopping mall in Malaysia in Donggongon, really!

Crocker Range National Park

Donggongon is the gateway to Sabah's largest national park, the Crocker Range National Park. Its huge nature-tourism and jungle trekking potential has yet to be realised by local tour agents - as per now, there is virtually no tourism infrastructure and thus a great place to experience Sabah's jungles and cultures in a prime state. The Flying Dusun Sdn Bhd offers a series of journeys to this little explored part of Sabah, some of which are pure hard core jungle trekking (see also below links).

How to Get to Donggongon & Accommodation

Bus (no 13 from KK), taxi; believe it or not, but there is accommodation in Donggongon even if you are not likely to need it as 'regular traveller' to Sabah... 'The Local' offers 'homestay', and the 'Borneo Hotel' on the Penampang Road offers 2-star rooms. Soon Donggongon will have its very own hotel, too, in the Donggongon Square just opposite the tamu ground. And Sinurambi is a uniquely beautiful residence for those who seek to gain more out of their visit to Borneo than the average traveller.


Impressions from the Donggongon Tamu


Note: while every care has been taken in compiling the above information the Flying Dusun Sdn Bhd, its authors and associates cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracy, omission or alteration that may occur. Please contact us or the respective authors for further details and confirmation of facts and figures. The Flying Dusun Sdn Bhd, 2005-2006; all rights reserved; reproduction in whole or in part without written permission strictly prohibited. 


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