The traveler who wishes to experience everything in life does not need to look any further than the small island of Sabah – with its coral reefs thriving with marine biodiversity, the mountaineer’s dream of Kota Kinabalu that reaches 4,095 metres into the clouds, and flourishing jungles with its menagerie of residents that include tarsiers, gibbons, pythons, and clouded leopards.
The island of Sabah in Malaysia may be small in size, but it is big in everything else in terms of biodiversity, nature, and experiences. If anything else, its small size is an advantage for tourists, as it makes jumping from one Sabah experience to another more doable. Additionally, Sabah was a former British colony, so English is commonly spoken on the island thereby making it more tourist-friendly.
Sabah has a lot to offer for every traveler. Interested in experiencing nature and seeing wildlife in their natural habitat? You can visit Sabah’s Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, or Turtle Island Park. Much more interested in heritage sights and museums? Then the Sandakan Memorial Park, Sabah State Museum, and Labuan Museum are for you. Beach enthusiasts, on the other hand, will love exploring and relaxing about in Manukan Island, Bohey Dulang Island, Mamutik Island, and Lankayan Island. Of course, the popular Kota Kinabalu remains a must for mountain climbing and trekking aficionados.
You have a number of options to get to Sabah:
- By air: Sabah’s main gateway is the Kota Kinabalu Airport, which is located approximately 20 minutes away from the city. Local flights from Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia fly into Sabah from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. At the same time, international flights from countries such as Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Taipei, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, and South Korea are available.
- By sea: If you are coming from Labuan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, you can get to Sabah via sea as ferry terminals and immigration checkpoints are located at Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, and Tawau. At the same time, guests who wish to bring and berth their own yachts can do so at the Sutera Harbour Marina in Kota Kinabalu.
- By land: Alternatively, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, and Brunei are connected via the Trans Borneo Highway. However, you should be prepared for long journeys if you go for this option.
Sabah establishments accept and use the official Malaysian currency of Ringgit (MYR or RM). Banks and ATM machines are widely available on the island. Hotels and other big establishments also accept credit cards.
Sabah temperatures are fairly high, with the rainy season falling in the months of October to December. January is the coolest month, April the driest, and July the warmest. Pleasant weather can be expected from the months of January to March.
You can get around Sabah via taxis and buses, or transport included in tour packages. Areas in Sabah such as Kota Kinabalu can be considered as a walking town, as you can walk from the city centre to the different areas.
Sabah has a lot of must-try restaurants that offer different cuisines such as Malaysian, Indian, and even International. Must-try dishes in include: Tuaran noodles – soft eggy yellow noodles topped with barbecued pork, egg rolls, and vegetables; Latok – a type of seaweed served with condiments such as sambal belacan, lime, cili padi, and green mangoes; and Butod – sago worms that can be eaten alive or cooked. At the same time, popular restaurants to try include:
- Mother India
- Ba Lin Roof Garden
- Harbour Bistro Café
- The Kraken Grill at The Waterfront
- El Centro
- Fat Mother Seafood Restaurant
- Chilli Vanilla
Sabah has it all for the adventurous travelers – diverse ecosystems, thriving wildlife, beautiful and pristine beaches, and challenging mountain hikes.