Taking a step away from all the heat, haze and madness clouding the nation, we take a look at why most refer to Sabah as the jewel of Southeast Asia:
Bodgaya Island, Sabah, Malaysia
1. Stunning, jaw-dropping islands!
- One of the first things that come to mind when one thinks of Sabah, would definitely be its breathtaking beach strips with blue-green crystal clear waters. With islands like Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai and more ‘virgin’ beaches, Sabah serves as the ideal destination to satisfy all your beach holiday cravings!
Bohey Dulang, Sabah
Mabul Water Bungalows, Mabul Island, Sabah
Maiga Island, Sabah
2. Locals there are probably the warmest and friendliest in the country
- If there’s anything that travellers most often worry about, it would most probably be language barrier. However, Malaysians or in this case, Sabahans are mostly multilingual, with many that can speak at least three languages including English, Bahasa Baku, Mandarin, and other indigenous dialects.
3. There’s lip-smacking CHEAP seafood and a delectable selection of local cuisine
- One of the most popular local fruit in Sabah, ‘Bambangan’ is a type of wild-mango fruit that is known for its durian-like distinct scent. The fruit is usually pickled, fried with onions and chillies to make sambal or tossed into a fresh salad. Bambangan fruits are easily available in wet markets around the state.Being a coastal state that is pretty much surrounded by the South China Sea, seafood is not only easily available but is also reasonable and rather cheap in Sabah, compared to other states in Malaysia. To top it off, the eclectic blend of cultures add an interesting twist to the local dishes!
Hinava’, a famous Kadazan-Dusun salad that is prepared with fresh raw mackerel fish, onions, shavings of ginger and chili with a splash of lime juice
4. There are even dairy farms that resemble quaint little Swiss villages
- Located at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu, Desa Cattle Dairy Farm offers one of the most amazing scenery one could envision. Often chosen as a wedding photography destination, with the majestic Mount Kinabalu overlooking beautiful green pastures, the scenery is breathtaking, not forgetting the cool breeze that Kundasang has to offer.The real attraction here is the cattle farm, producing about 900,00 litres of milk per year. The farm is 199 hectares and most of the milking cows are Friesians, the highest milk producers of all cattle breeds.
Desa Dairy Farm, Sabah
Desa Dairy Farm
Kundasang War Memorial
5. Its lush rainforests could easily rival the Amazon
- Did you know that the Borneo tropical rainforest is about 130 million years old, making it one of the oldest in the world? While many parts of the country is covered in degraded jungles and secondary forests, Borneo’s forest remains the only undisturbed virgin forest in the country, with a dizzying number of exquisite flora and fauna.
Trus Madi Forest Reserve, Sabah
6. Did you know that just 10 square kilometres of the Sabah rainforest has more flora and fauna than that of North America and Europe, combined?!
- The rainforest of the Sabah is a kind of botanical paradise with one of the most rare combination of plant species and wildlife in the world. In 2000, the Kota Kinabalu Park was officially named as an UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its high biodiversity. Also, the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilation Center in the first official orangutan sanctuary and rehabilitation center in the world!
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher at Kinabatangan River, Sabah
Proboscis monkey that is endemic to the southeast Asian island of Borneo
An orangutan in the wild, along the river on the way to Camp Leakey Tanjung Puting National Park
7. Home to more than 30 ethnic groups, Sabah is a melting pot of cultures
- The state’s population is made of about 33 indigenous groups, communicating in over 50 languages and 80 ethnic dialects. While the Kadazan-Dusun group make up almost 30% of the community, the largest immigrant ethnic group in Sabah is the Chinese. Other main ethnic groups include the people of Kwijau, Murut, Bajau, Ringus, Lotud and Kedayan.
The groom and his best men; This outfit is known as “Sinipak” and usually worn only during wedding ceremony for the indigenous Kadazandusun tribe in Kota Belud, Sabah, Malaysia
Ladies of Dusun Liwan ethnic, Sabah, Malaysia
People of the Kadazan Dusun tribe in Sabah
8. The eastern state’s turn-of-the-century North Borneo Railway would take you back to the glorious, English golden yesteryears
- Operated by the privately owned Sutera Harbor Resort, the historic North Borneo Railway is a tourism-only steam train service than runs between Tanjung Aru, near the Kota Kinabalu International Airport and the town of Papar, about 38.5 kilometers southbound. English breakfast is served on board before the train departs while authentic local style lunch is served upon reaching its final destination at Papar.(45 minutes from kota kinabalu)
North Borneo Railway
9. Sabah’s beautiful native cultures will draw you into a rich history of tribal rituals like blow-pipe making and tattooing
- With three-hour tours at 10am, 2pm or 6pm, Mari Mari showcases various traditional homes of Sabahan ethnic communities – the Bajau, Lundayeh, Murut, Rungus and Dusun – all of which are built by descendants of the tribes they represent. Along the way you’ll get the chance to see blow-pipe making, tattooing, fire-starting, and an insight into the mystical belief systems of each of these groups, as well as a notable culinary nibble from each tribe!
Mari Mari Cultural Village
‘Sabah-born Carlos Benny Majakil is bringing his passion for tattoos back to his hometown for the Borneo state’s first tattoo convention’
Mari Mari Cultural Village
10. Sabah has one of the best diving spots in the world!
- Dubbed as the haven for divers, Sabah offers an exceptional marine-biodiversity with beautiful coral reefs and an array of critters that can be photographed during your diving sessions. Three of the most diverse and magnificient diving sites in Sabah are the Sipadan, Mabul and Layang Layang island with some of the most amazing coral reefs in the world.
Barracuda Point, Sipadan island
Leaf Scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus) at Eel Garden, Pulau Mabul(Mabul Island), Sabah,Malaysia(east Malaysia)
Tree Coral (Dendronephthya sp.) at Black Ray Channel, Pulau Kapalai(Kapalai Island), Sabah,Malaysia.
11. And the perfect view of the horizon from the peak of Mount Kinabalu(Best Part)
The peak of Mount Kinabalu
Low’s Peak, the summit of Mount Kinabalu. 4095m above sea level’
12. Last but certainly not the least, the beautiful resorts perched on slopes and beaches will give you a taste of paradise. We’ll let the photos speak for themselves…
- With resorts that look like the gardens of Eden, Sabah offers a great variety of places to stay for travellers. Want to dip your feet in crystal clear waters first thing in the morning? Try spending the night at one of the Mabul Water Bungalows or if you love the feeling of being surrounded by the nature, stay at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge, quietly nestled by the Kinabatangan River.
Gaya Island Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Kapalai Water Village
Bunga Raya Island Resort Spa
Basically, the nation’s second largest state, Sabah, offers everything that Asia promises; nature, culture and cuisine, all wrapped in a majestic packaging that would definitely leave a lasting impression on your mind!
Bohey Dulang, Sabah, Malaysia