Journey Through Time: Riding the British Vulcan Steam Locomotive on the Historic North Borneo Railway

By Deidre Casandra M. | 21, Sep, 2023
Journey Through Time: Riding the British Vulcan Steam Locomotive on the Historic North Borneo Railway

Imagine stepping back in time to the colonial era, where the rhythmic chugging of a vintage steam locomotive echoes through picturesque landscapes. The North Borneo Railway offers a chance to relive the romance of yesteryears while journeying through the heart of Sabah's countryside. This remarkable train, hauled by a British Vulcan steam locomotive— Borneo's oldest running steam train— carries passengers on a captivating voyage that unfolds stories of history, culture, and the stunning Sabah landscape. Discover more on this piece of history by reading this article!

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A Glance at the Classic LocomotiveClassic Locomotive

Image Credit: Amazing Borneo Official Website

The star of this enchanting journey is the British Vulcan steam locomotive. Designed to burn wood, this eco-friendly form of steam adds an authentic touch to the experience. The locomotive, carefully refurbished to evoke the nostalgia of British North Borneo's colonial days, introduces passengers to a time when train travel was as much about the journey as the destination.


Exploring the Route, A Voyage Through Time

The North Borneo Railway's 36-mile route traces the path between Kota Kinabalu and Papar, two distinct points on the map that unveil Sabah's beauty and culture in their unique ways.

train route

Image Credit: Amazing Borneo Official Website


Tanjung Aru Station: The Beginning of an Adventure

Passengers start their journey at Tanjung Aru Station, where the train stewards warmly welcome them aboard. Each passenger receives a train passport and boarding pass, setting the stage for a seamless and immersive experience. Modernity fades as the train departs to the sound of its whistle, and the bygone era emerges.

Putatan: A Glimpse of the Past

Beyond Putatan, the urban landscape dissipates, replaced by the Sabah countryside. The train meanders along the coast of Lokawi Bay, treating passengers to breathtaking views of the South China Sea. The scenery becomes a canvas painted with history, where time seems to slow down.

Kinarut: Traditions and Culture Unveiled

Kinarut, a traditional trading village, welcomes passengers with its school, mosque, and Buddhist temple at the base of a hill. These landmarks echo the fusion of cultures that defines Sabah's identity. The train journey becomes a moving tapestry of culture and history.

Kawang: Nature's Havenkawang route

Image Credit: Amazing Borneo Official Website

Kawang comes into view, with the Kawang Forest Reserve in the background. This reserve serves not only as a natural treasure but also as a water source for locals. The train journey mirrors the harmonious relationship between nature and community, inviting passengers to appreciate Sabah's ecological wonders.

Papar: A Quaint Town

As Papar comes into sight, passengers cross the Papar River on a steel trestle bridge. This charming town, nestled between the Crocker Range and the coast, radiates a sense of intimacy and neighborliness. The local market, known by locals as Tamu, offers a glimpse into the daily lives of Sabah's residents.


A Journey to Rememberold style uniform

Image Credit: Amazing Borneo Official Website

Here is a sample itinerary if you are planning the trip. The adventure begins with a pick-up from your hotel, transporting you to the Tanjung Aru Train Station. Stepping aboard, you'll be transported into the past as the steam locomotive sets off. Enjoy a light Halal breakfast while the train winds through lush landscapes, stopping at Kinarut to visit the Tien Shi Temple. 

tiffin lunch

Image Credit: Amazing Borneo Official Website

Papar welcomes you with its wet market and vintage shophouses, followed by a delightful tiffin-style Halal lunch on the train, offering panoramic views of paddy fields and rivers.

The North Borneo Railway's Vintage Steam Adventure offers a Muslim-friendly option that marries the allure of a bygone era with modern considerations. From Halal dining to cultural sensitivity, every aspect of the journey caters to your needs. As the train's periodic interruptions are resolved, don't miss the chance to immerse yourself in this remarkable experience that respects your faith and allows you to relish the beauty of Sabah's landscapes. 

Check out Amazing Borneo's website or contact them through email for the latest status updates of ticketing/packages, halal food options, and information on trained health professional onboard. For more fun and useful information on trips like this, check out HalalTrip and download the mobile app to ease your Muslim-friendly travel.


Cover Image Credit: Antoine Beauvillain on Unsplash  

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