There’s a secret about Malaysia’s most beautiful state, Sabah. The exotic Malaysian state of Sabah occupies the northern half of Borneo.
What draws tourists to Sabah? For us, it’s the perfect combination of accessibility and various activities. There is an air of mystery around Borneo. While this may be the case, we’d still like to show you the wonders of enchanting Sabah.
Its charming cities and townships are a significant part of the region’s appeal. Islands and beaches make this place magical. The state’s cultural and ethnic variety is just as captivating as its abundant animals and natural beauty.
There are more than 30 indigenous groups who speak more than 150 dialects. Beyond this diversity of people, Sabah is also uniquely different from one district to another. It is a colourful cultural experience, be it the lifestyle, costumes, dance, music and food. Visit the cultural village to enjoy the immersive experience, or stay and sign up for a homestay experience programme.
The western region is where Kota Kinabalu, the capital is located. While it is the primary entry to the state, there are airports in Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Tawau districts, the gateway to the state’s wildlife and diving wonders.
Kinabalu Park is a signature attraction and is widely famous for Mount Kinabalu. Every year, thousands of visitors from near and far make their way here to attempt and climb the highest mountain in Malaysia. Staggering at 4,095m asl, the summit’s surreal sunrise view is a highlight for every climber. Those who love adventure challenges will definitely enjoy the option of experiencing Mt Kinabalu Via Ferrata too.
In May 2023, Kinabalu Park was declared as Kinabalu UNESCO Global Geopark, making it the first Malaysian state to attain the ‘triple crown’ UNESCO title. The other two titles are UNESCO World Heritage Site (in 2000) and UNESCO Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve (in 2014).
There is no short of an adventure here, as the best of Borneo wildlife can be found in Sabah. A short 45-minute domestic flight from Kota Kinabalu will connect you to Sandakan, the nature city. Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is the world’s first rehabilitation centre for rescued orphaned orangutans, located in Sandakan. Visitors can see the primates up close during the daily feeding time or at the nursery. The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is adjacent and is an equally interesting place to see and learn about the smallest bear species in the world.
If you are thinking about staying close to the wilderness, Sepilok Nature Resort and Sepilok Forest Edge Resort are among the accommodations available and close to the wildlife centres. The serene green view and comfortable lodge provide the tranquil peace that you have been seeking.
If that is not enough, we’d like to let you know that you can enjoy an exotic 5-star retreat deep inside the pristine rainforest of Lahad Datu. Danum Valley Conservation Area, home to Borneo Rainforest Lodge, is widely regarded as one of the world’s most complex ecosystems. The enchanted forest is a natural home for an unimaginable number of plants and wildlife species, such as banteng, clouded leopard, orang utan, slow loris, langur and the endangered Bornean pygmy elephant. Explore the 130-million-year-old rainforest by trekking or walking among the giants through their canopy bridge suspended 27 meters above the forest floor, which my friend, is a unique experience.
For ocean lovers, the Sabah coastline is a playground for exploring from coast to coast. Get certified as a diver or clock in your dive hours here. Semporna is the gateway to Sabah dive havens; Mabul Island, Mataking Island, Kapalai Island and particularly for the famous Sipadan Island. Sipadan is well known for its unusually large numbers of green and hawksbill turtles which gather there to mate and nest. It is not unusual for a diver to see more than 20 turtles on each dive. Some say that Barracuda Point is the best, especially for the swirling vortex of barracuda. More than 3000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this richest of ecosystems and thus made Sipadan an important marine habitat in this region.
Another great aspect of Sabah’s marine environment is that every location has some excellent snorkelling sites, so you don’t have to be a scuba diver to enjoy the underwater world.
Enjoy your vacation by staying at a great hotel or resort. Sabah has many hotels ranging from International Chain Hotels, including Shangri-La, Hyatt Hotels, Accor, Marriott, IHG Group, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, and several other independent hotels. Some of the top island resorts in Sabah include the Gaya Island Resort, Borneo Eagle Resort, Lankayan Island Resort, Mataking Reef Resort and Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort. Each offers unique experiences and activities, stunning views, luxurious accommodations and a hospitable stay.
Sabah’s scenery, rich culture, and exciting opportunities for outdoor recreation and encounters with exotic wildlife make it the ideal destination for any traveller. It is just a short trip from the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, offering from mountain high to ocean-deep travel experience. Time to ‘Feel Sabah, North Borneo’ for your next ideal vacation in Malaysia.
Kota Kinabalu International Airport is connected directly via a flight from major cities – Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.
This article is brought to you by Sabah Tourism Board.