I came to Sabah about 17 years ago. I was very young and adventurous then. A lot of things had changed since. But, one thing remains the same: Sabah is a beautiful place and has a lot of beautiful and friendly people, too.
Frankly speaking, I don’t think I’m ever going to leave this place. 😀
But, then again, you never know, right?
It never ceases to surprise me whenever I go back to Semenanjung to find that many West Malaysians have never been to Sabah before.
If budget is the issue, rest assured that travelling is now easier and cheaper than before, with proper planning.
And if you’re one of the many Malaysian who have travelled across the globe but has yet to step on the Land Below the Wind, I’d have to ask:
what’s holding you back?
Travel To Sabah
For those who wishes to visit Sabah, be they Malaysians or foreigners, whether in the near future or just as a note in your bucket list, here are my suggestions on things you might want to do when you do travel to Sabah, starting from the gateway to Sabah, Kota Kinabalu.
Try the Local Foods
I know some of you can’t wait to eat seafood in Sabah with the many seafood restaurants and stalls around.
But why not try the other traditional local cuisines and cakes such as:
- Tuaran Fried Noodle
- Roti Kawin
Of course, if you still crave for seafood, there are many seafood restaurants in Kota Kinabalu such as Port View Restaurant (in KK city centre), Kampung Nelayan Seafood Restaurant (at Tun Fuad Stephens Park), Gayang Seafood Restaurant, Salut Seafood Restaurant, etc.
At Kampung Nelayan Seafood Restaurant, if you arrive before 7.30pm, you might get to see some cultural performances while enjoying your dinner.
Or for a merrier and less expensive seafood fare, there are also open stalls near the KK Central Market.
You’ll get to pick and choose from the varieties of live seafood available for the chefs to cook on the spot.
Take A Speedboat From Menumbuk To Labuan
If you intend to visit Labuan from Kota Kinabalu, then you should forget using the ferry (as it’s time-consuming with limited day trips) and take a bus from Kota Kinabalu to Menumbuk and then continue on a speedboat to Labuan.
Let’s do something more fun and challenging.
You’ll also get to enjoy the local scenery along the way without the need to stay overnight.
Climb Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak in Malaysia. It is also the 20th most prominent mountains in the world by topographic prominence.
It will be quite an achievement for you to scale this mountain.
If you are fit and have the time to do it, then I suggest you include climbing Mount Kinabalu in your itinerary.
Please ensure that you are well prepared before embarking on this adventure. It is advisable to stay in the Kinabalu Park or a highland resort prior to climbing for high altitude acclimatization.
You will face numerous steps and steep slopes during the climb and the temperature will be very cold as you climb higher.
It normally requires 2 days and 1 night to complete a Mount Kinabalu climb.
To be on the safe side, please book through licensed local operator listed in Sabah Tourism Board.
Stay Overnight At Kundasang
Even if you don’t intend to scale the magnificent Mount Kinabalu, you would not regret an overnight stay in Kundasang. Day trip from KK without an overnight stay is possible but would be too hectic and you would miss some of the loveliest spots that the highlands of Kundasang has to offer.
There are many family-friendly activities to partake in Kundasang such as:
- visiting the Dairy Farm where you can meet the friendly cows and get fresh supplies of milk,
- visit the enchanting Sabah Tea Garden
- have fun at Poring Hot Springs
- be mesmerized by the flora & fauna at the Kinabalu National Park, and many more sights to see.
Travel To Kudat And Be At The Tip Of Borneo
Well a visit to Borneo won’t be complete if you’ve not been to Tanjung Simpang Mengayau. Simpang Mengayau means ‘lingering junction‘ as it is here that the South China Sea lingers and meets the Sulu Seas flowing from the east.
This place is also located at the northernmost tip of Borneo.
Hence, it is called “The Tip Of Borneo”.
Do enjoy the stunning view here.
You can stop at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau if you are on a trip to Kudat. It’s just about 30 minutes drive from the town of Kudat.
While there, you should also visit:
step into the Bavanggazo Rungus Longhouse
and enjoy the hospitality of the friendly Kudat folks.
Snorkelling At Sipadan Island
If you love diving and enjoy the underwater panorama, Sipadan must be in your itinerary. Offering a diversity of marine life, this dive mecca is indisputably the most famous scuba destinations in Malaysia.
Visit Sandakan – Land of Diversity and Conservation
Fancy waking up to the chirping of birds and being greeted by all sorts of flora & fauna? Sandakan may be your place.
Be charmed by the enchanting orangutans at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre;
be mesmerised by the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary;
watch turtles at Selingan Turtle Islands, enjoy the scenery at the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok;
step into Gomantong Caves;
climb the steep stairs of Agop Tuluq Museum
and many more activities to fill your days in Sandakan.
Danum Valley and Tabin Wildlife Reserve
From Lahad Datu, you can visit two main national parks :
- Danum Valley and
- the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.
Danum Valley is a 438 square kilometers unspoiled primary rainforest (lowland dipterocarp) while Tabin consists mainly of secondary forests.
Danum Valley has one of the most complex ecosystems in the world.
Take A Train To Beaufort
Once back in Kota Kinabalu, if you have time to spare, why not take a trip to Beaufort via Sabah State Railway?
If you take the 7.30am trip, you should be back in KK before 2pm. You’ll have about 1 hour of sightseeing in the quaint town of Beaufort and then enjoy the trip back.
Of course, you could also take a much later trip and spend 5 hours in Beaufort.
The wonderful thing about the journey is the sights along the way.
Shop At Filipino Market
Now, before your journey home, do shop for some local souvenir at the famous Filipino Market and also at the Dry Market located next to the Filipino Market.
Or, you could also have fun bargaining at the Night Market at Kampung Air.