Crocodiles never cease to amaze people especially children, perhaps because they closely resemble dinosaurs. In fact, technically speaking, they are living dinosaurs! Luckily for tourists, Kota Kinabalu has its own crocodile attraction, the Tuaran Crocodile Farm, located 32 kilometers or about 40 minutes from downtown Kota Kinabalu.
This 11-acre wide farm is home to more than 5,000 crocodiles, which include the Aqua Crocodile, Gharial Crocodile, and Buaya Tembaga species. Buaya Tembaga crocodiles can live in both freshwater and saltwater. In addition to the crocs, the farm also takes care of and showcases Binturong bearcats, deer, ostriches, catfish, and two Borneo anacondas that are 20-feet and 28-feet long. However, the most popular attractions are still the cute, seemingly harmless baby crocodiles in the nursery.
The farm is located on Jalan Sulaman Highway in the town of Tuaran, which is located on the west coast of Sabah. Tuaran is popular for its mystical 9-storey Chinese pagoda, the delicious Tuaran Mee noodle dish, locally produced liquor called “bahar” (made from coconut sap and tree bark) and the Sunday morning “tamu” or open-air market where local traders and villagers sell freshly harvested produce. Tuaran is a well-known town since it is along the way from the northern Sabah towns of Kudat, Kota Marudu, and Kota Belud to the capital city of Kota Kinabalu.
Kota Kinabalu is the most progressive and commercialized city in all of Sabah. It has the most expensive hotels, most popular restaurants, and most interesting attractions in this Malayan state. Sabah is Malaysia’s biggest member-state, next to Sarawak. Kota Kinabalu is also very popular for the islands, coral reefs and white-sand beaches found within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, which includes the Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, and Pulau Mamutik islands. Yet, the most popular attraction in Sabah is still the Kinabalu National Park, a natural reserve that is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Within this park are lush rainforests, exotic plants and animals, and the spectacular Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia. This mountain is so significant in the region that, in fact, the city was named after it. (Kota Kinabalu used to be called the city of Jesselton.)
To get to the widely known crocodile farm in Tuaran, tourists may take a bus going straight to Tuaran. The trip will take 40 minutes. From Tuaran proper, another ride is necessary going to Laya-Laya. Total bus fare costs RM5.50 or about US$1.85. The farm is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day. Feeding times are 9:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:00 noon, 12:45 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 4:15 p.m., and 4:45 p.m. daily. Admission fee is RM10 (US$3.35) for adults and RM5 (US$1.68) for children. Foreign tourists are charged a little higher at RM15 (US$5.00) for adults and RM10 (US$3.35)
For added fun, Tuaran Crocodile Farm regularly holds crocodile shows from Monday to Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and on Sundays and public holidays at 11:00 a.m. 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.; and cultural shows from Monday to Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., and on Sundays and public holidays at 11:30 a.m. 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.