“You have to see where I’m sitting,” I said to my daughter after collecting her from the lobby of Shangri-la’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa in Kota Kinabalu. We were visiting friends who live near the luxury resort and they had just dropped her off after a play date.

The Sunset Bar at Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa is set on its own little island.

While she was off with friends, I stayed put on the resort to enjoy a 2.5-hour Indulgence of Time treatment (aromatic bath, massage and facial in a private villa—I’ll tell you more about it later) at CHI Spa. Then, I thought I’d park myself in a prime viewing spot to watch one of Malaysian Borneo’s famous sunsets—glass of wine by my side—at the Sunset Bar, located on its own little private island (pictured above).

They were offering a two-for-one drink special, lucky for me, because my daughter and I eventually spent the next several hours here chatting on our comfy lounge bed. I actually brought my computer with the hopes of working a bit, but how can you with a view like this?

Water's edge seating at Sunset Bar at Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa in Kota Kinabalu

Sunset Bar is accessible to resort guests only during sunset hours for a good reason. It is widely-regarded as one of the best places in Kota Kinabalu—some say in all of Malaysian Borneo—to watch the sunset. I would have to agree, especially with kids in tow. It was nice to have this perk available just steps from our room.

Unlike other parts of the world, the sunset in Kota Kinabalu seems to linger a bit. The sky slowly changes color and the sun sinks below the horizon at a leisurely pace, which makes booking a sunset cruise (available through the resort’s STAR Marina) another awesome option.

One of Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa's STAR Marina boats in the South China Sea waiting for sunset.

A round of Malaysian satay and dips, comfortable seating, extraordinary ambience and good conversation is exactly our speed these days.

Satay and dips at Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa's exclusive Sunset Bar

I read that sunsets in Kota Kinabalu are so spectacular because:

  • The sun appears larger closer to the equator.
  • Malaysian Borneo’s air quality is quite good.
  • Tropical humidity forms dramatic clouds that accentuate color.

Where we live, the sun sets rather quickly. Here, it’s quite a show.

The sunset from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Kota Kinabalu sunsets are so beautiful that even local residents say they that never tire of them.

If you have a life bucket list, you should add this sunset to it. Guests of Shangri-la’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa have an exclusive viewing spot where you can see it in a luxe environment at the water’s edge.

Add a sunset in Borneo to your life bucket list. The Sunset Bar at Shangri'la's Tanjung Aru Resort in Spa is one of the best in Kota Kinabalu.

Sitting here at the Sunset Bar while witnessing such a spectacular event… I couldn’t help but feel like I have already lived a full life. It was a definite pinch-me moment.

Shangri-la’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa
No. 20 Jalan Aru
Kota Kinabalu
Sabah 88100
(60 88) 327 888

Top photo is courtesy of Shangri-la’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. That really is a sunset! The photo is impressive, but I can imagine what it must have been like to enjoy it in person in such a lovely setting with your daughter.