Tower of Heaven (Menara Kayangan)

Tower of Heaven (Menara Kayangan)

Heavenly views

More on Lahad Datu

The Tower of Heaven, or Menara Kayangan, is a romantically named viewing platform atop Mount Silam in the Sapagaya Forest Reserve, the most accessible patch of forest in the Lahad Datu area, just 16 kilometres southwest of town.

Travelfish says:

Not only does the 33-metre high lookout offer heavenly views of the Lahad Datu district and islands of Darvel Bay, the “mouth” of Sabah’s dog-head, the surrounding forest of Mount Silam has some lovely walks and you can easily fill half a day or more here.

Out to sea. No avoiding the towers! : Sally Arnold.
Out to sea. No avoiding the towers! Photo: Sally Arnold

Most visitors just come for the panorama, and from the main road entrance, a 10-kilometre sealed road snakes up the mountain to the tower. A cafe sells drinks and snacks, and there are toilets and a campground. Wooden staircases wind up the metal and wooden structure to two wide viewing platforms, canopy height for bird enthusiasts. Posters give information on flora and fauna that can be found around the 296-hectare reserve. For folks who find stairs troublesome, a decent view is possible form a lookout in front of the tower too. It’s pleasantly cool. It can get foggy up here, so the views are not guaranteed.

From near the tower, two trails lead to Mount Silam’s summit 884 metres above sea level, the highest point in Lahad Datu district. Signs mark the estimated time and difficulty, but not the actual distance — one a 45-minute difficult trail, and the other 2.5 hours, and easy. The trails were under renovation when we visited in 2016 and we could only walk part of the way. New wide cement paths are replacing forest dirt tracks and are very steep and slippery in parts.

Inside the tower. : Sally Arnold.
Inside the tower. Photo: Sally Arnold

If you’re lucky, you may see some of the 23 documented species of mammals found here including sambar deer, bearded pigs and the Bornean gibbon. We only saw one pig-tail macaque, but did spot one of two species of pitcher plants, and several pretty butterflies. Mount Silam also has its very own endemic species, a small orange land crab known as the Silam crab (Geosesarma aurantium Ng). Look for it in the leaf litter: it’s a tiny one-centimetre long and difficult to spot.

Down the hill from the tower a resthouse provides overnight accommodation. For overnight accommodation, a chalet is 250 ringgit, air-con resthouse 40 ringgit per person and resthouse 20 ringgit per person. Camping is 5 ringgit per person. Three more trails here, which have not yet had the cement treatment, offer walks including a 3.2-kilometre trail to Lompat-Lompat Waterfall.

The accommodation. : Sally Arnold.
The accommodation. Photo: Sally Arnold

Sapagaya Forest Reserve is managed by Sabah Forestry Department. Forestry guides can be hired for 100 ringgit per day for a group size of up to five. For bookings contact Rayner George on (0198) 739 664 or Sabah Forestry Department on (0892) 42 500.

Bike and Tours offer a guided bike ride from the tower to the main road for US$50 per person (minimum two); T: (0172) 936 376; (0178) 642 016; (0898) 68 109; www.bikeandtours.com/en/our-tours/half-and-one-day-tours/silam-ride/.

Transport information

Buses between Lahad Datu and Semporna pass near the entrance to Sapagaya Forest Reserve (marked Menara Kayangan) at the Danam Valley turnoff, but then it’s a 10-kilometre uphill walk along the road. We’d save our energy for the nicer forested trails. A taxi from Lahad Datu to the tower (near the top) return including waiting time is 70 ringgit.

Contact details for Tower of Heaven (Menara Kayangan)

Address: 16 km southwest of Lahad Datu
Coordinates (for GPS): 118º12'52.92" E, 4º58'52.36" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: Adult 15 ringgit, child 7 ringgit, camera fee 5 ringgit.

Reviewed by

Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.

Tours in Malaysia


These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.


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