Sabah, Malaysia

Bear in Sabah  
  • EAT! – Pok. A yummy fish-based curry full of spices and flavor. You also have to try the fresh cakes from the Butterfly bakeries in Kota Kinabalu -heaven!
  • DRINK! – Sabah Tea. An interesting flavour and refreshingly thirst-quenching drink in the tropical heat.
  • WEAR! – Although a Muslim country, tourists and many Muslims wear as they please, in order to keep cool.
  • BEWARE! – Mosquitoes in jungle areas are considered malarial.

Climb the mighty Mount Kinabalu, trek through the Kinabatangan jungle, visit the adorable orangutans, spot beautiful baby turtles and dive the amazing reefs. Sabah is also home to the Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world, as well as the largest undivided leaf in the world, Alocasia macrorrhiza. A specimen found in 1966 was 3.02 metres long and 1.92 metres wide.

The Sabah region of Borneo has it all if you are looking for adventure and stunningly impressive scenery. Not a destination overrun with tourists, you really do feel as though you are visiting the locals rather than joining a swarm of backpackers on the well trodden trail. The Malay people are extremely friendly, and you soon become comfortable with the constant stream of waves and ‘hellos’.

There are plenty of malls and plazas in the city of Kota Kinabalu (KK City) housing high-end shops, coffee houses and restaurants – as well as bars, clubs and karaoke, however with all that gorgeous scenery on the doorstep, there’s no need to stay in the city long

A great many travellers flock to the stunningly beautiful Kinabalu National Park, 90km from Kota Kinabalu (KK) City, and one of the world’s most significant natural environments. Nature walks can be undertaken to view thousands of types of flora and fauna – several hundred exclusive only to the park, which was declared a World Heritage Site in the year 2000 (the first in Malaysia).

For the more adventurous, Mount Kinabalu is a tough but possible climb, with a 90% success rate in reaching the summit. Views are incredible, starting with lush rainforest and plentiful plant-life, giving way to impressive rock formations the higher you reach.

Sepilok, east of KK, is home to the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, where you can watch several of the adorably amusing creatures being fed twice a day. Semi-wild, they often enter the boardwalk, resulting in excellent photographs. You can also see long-tailed macaque monkeys, lizards and squirrels around the feeding platform.

Read more about Sepilok and Kinabatangan here.

Jungle life is provided by the area surrounding the Kinabatangan River, the second longest river in Malaysia. This dense rainforest is home to some amazing wildlife and tours almost always result in seeing several of the many species of mammals, reptiles and insects. You will feel like a true adventurer walking deep into the jungle or speeding down the river in pitch darkness with only a torch to seek out the  creatures of the night.

The historical city of Sandakan is the second largest in Sabah. From here, you can visit the Seligan Turtle Islands Park, 40km north of Sandakan, in the hope of seeing baby hatchlings. You can also visit Sukau Proboscis Lodge, and the impressive archaeological Gomantong Caves, home to many species of birds and bats.

Sandakan is close to the impressive diving sites of Lankayan Island, Sipadan Island, Mabul Island and Kapalai Island.

The city of Sandakan is also the notorious site of a World War II Japanese airfield which was built by the forced labour of Javanese civilians and Allied prisoners of war. In 1945, the surviving prisoners were sent on the Death Marches — after which only 6 survived the war.

By Karen Farini.

Join Our Community

Add purpose to your travels.

Do you want to find out about free opportunities to review hostels and experiences, as well as keep up to date with the latest travel news in Southeast Asia & get special offers on trips? Thought so!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

South East Asia Backpacker's Chosen Resources!

Flights Skyscanner
Hotels & Hostels Booking.com