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Sabah Tourist Attraction

 

Stunning tropical islands and luxuriant nature makes Sabah the ideal destination for eco-adventures. The state's most famous icon is the majestic Mount Kinabalu , reputed to be one of the highest in Southeast Asia. Another jewel is Sipadan, an internationally-famed dive destination.

 

Its population of nearly 3.1 million is made up of 32 ethnic communities. The capital of Sabah is Kota Kinabalu. It is the gateway to eco-adventures such as diving river cruising, mountain climbing, white-water rafting and caving.

 

Kota KInabalu was formerly known as Jesselton. Most parts of the city have been reconstructed after World War II and there are only three surviving buildings from the war.

 

 

Mount Kinabalu

Kinabalu Park

 

Standing majestically at a height of 4,095.2m, Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak in Southeast Asia. It is situated in Kinabalu Park, a wonderland of ecological treasures covering some 754sq km.The diversity if plant life in Kinabalu Park ranges over four climatic zones. Over 5,000 types of flowering plants including 1,200 species of orchids, 26 species of rhododendrons, over 80 species of fig trees as well as 60 species of oak and chestnut trees are found here. About 100 species of mammals and 326 species of birds are also known to reside in the sprawling park.

Ascending and descending Mount Kinabalu's summit takes two to three days, depending on the weather and one's fitness level. Every year, participants from around the world gather here to take part in the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon. It is dubbed as the "World's Toughest Mountain Race'. Despite the challenging route and distance, mountain runners take less than four hours to reach the peak and return to the finish line.
 
~ Kinabalu Park has the world's largest variety of nepenthes, the carnivorous pitcher plant.

Opening hours: 7.00am - 7.oopm (park Office)

 

Poring Hot Springs

Kinabalu Park

 

After a visit to Kinabalu Park, make a trip to the Poring Hot Springs to soothe away your aches. Poring Hot Spring is situated about 40km from the Kinabalu Park Headquarters. The main attractions here are the HHeadquarters. The main attractions here are the natural hot springs and a 157.8 metre-long canopy walkway. Standing at 41 metres from the forest floor, this walkway is a 'must' for visitors to Poring Hot Springs as it affords a commanding view of the Borneo rainforest. Don't miss the butterfly farm, orchid conservation centre, tropical garden and Rafflesia site.

Opening hours: 7.00am - 6.00pm daily

 

Crocker Range Park

Keningau

 

A massive range of forest-clad ridges, Crocker Range stretches from Mount Kinabalu to the border of Sarawak. This protected area has no modern facilities and is a thriving destination for jungle-trekking and four-wheel drive excursions. Nature lovers can trek to the Rafflesia sites and spend a night camping amidst the greenery. Crocker Range Park is about 13km or a 30-minute drive from Keningau town.

Opening hours: 8.00am - 5.00pm

 

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

Kota Kinabalu

 

Just a 20-minute boat ride away from the mainland, this marine park is a vibrant playground for sun sun-seekers. Tunku Abdul Rahman Park consists of five islands; Gaya, Sapi, Sulug, Manukan and Manutik. This cluster of tropical islands is deal for day trips. Accommodation is available at Gaya (the largest island) as well as Manukan. The staging point to the islands is from the Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal.
 
Must do:

  • Go swimming snorkelling or diving

  • camp out at the islands of Sapi and Mamutik

  • Enjoy the thrill of parasailing above the emerald waters

  • Go island-hopping or ride on a banana boat

  • Get a gorgeous sun tan!

~ Try sea-walking at Sapi Island, a novel way for non-divers to explore the underwater world

 

Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

Sandakan

 

Enjoy the rare and thrilling opportunity to see an orang utan up close. Situated in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve which sprawls over 4,300ha, this sanctuary serves to rehabilitate orphaned orang utans as well as educate the public on the importance of wildlife conservation. The viewing gallery gives an opportunity to see the orang utans being fed by rangers.
 
Opering hours: 9.00am - 4.00pm daily

 

Turtle Island Park

Sandakan

 

Lying in the Sulu Sea, Turtle Islands Park is a cluster of three islands, Selingan, Bakungan and Gulisan Kecil. Here, visitors have the opportunity to catch sight of rare and endangered turtles from the Green and Hawksbill species when they swim ashore to lay eggs. Only the largest island, Selingan, is open to visitors. Besides housing the Park Headquarters, it also offers accommodation and some basic facilities. A visit to the Turtle Islands Park requires an overnight stay. Day trips are not available. Accommodation is provided by Crystal Quest Sdn. Bhd.

 

Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary

Sukau, Sandakan

 

The Kinabatangan River sustains one of the world's most diverse ecosystems. Its lower basin has the largest forest-covered floodplain in Malaysia. Exotic wildlife such as orang utans, proboscis monkeys, Asian elephants and Sumatran rhinos roam free in the jungle. There are many tour agencies in Sukau that can arrange accommodation, transfers and tour. Sukau is 135km from Sandakan.

Must do:

  • Go on a river safari to spot the wildlife and birds

  • Join a night tour to view crocodiles and nocturnal birds

  • All eight species of hornbills found in Borneo reside here - try and spot them!

  • Join a homestay programme in the nearby villages

~ Kinabatangan River has the largest concentration of wildlife in Southeast Asia.

~ The surrounding forest is one of the only two known places in the world to have ten species of primates.

 

Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Lahad Datu

 

Tabin Wildlife Reserve is the ideal getaway for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers. Situated in a dipterocarp forest that sprawls over 120.500ha, Tabin is home to three of Sabah's kargest mammals; the Borneo pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhino and Tembadau. Accommodation is available in the form of river lodges or hill lodges nestled amidst the wilderness, equipped with modern amenities such as en suite bathroom and hot shower. Tabin is about 1 hour 15 minutes away from Lahad Datu. There are daily flights from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu.

Must do:

  • Go jungle trekking or go on a night safari to spot the small animals

  • Trace the footprints of animals at the mineral springs

  • Try a natural facial - put on the mineral - rich mud from the mud volcano!

~ Tabin is said to be the best area for wildlife viewing in Sabah

 

Danum Valley Conservation Area

Lahad Datu

 

Located deep in a untouched tropical forest, the Danum Vallery Conservation Area is a thriving paradise of diverse tropical vegetation and wildlife. The forest is a sanctuary to animals such as the Asian elephant, clouded leopard, orang utan, proboscis monkey and Sumatran rhino. All tours must be pre-arranged with tour agent. Danum Valley is situated about 70km west of Lahad Datu

Must do:

  • Enjoy a nature walk in the virgin rainforest

  • Watch birds from the 170m-long canopy walkway

  • Trek to the seven tiered Sungai Purut Waterfalls

  • Visit an ancient Kadazandusum burial sire

  • Go on a night drive in an open jeep catch sight of nocturnal animals.

~ Danum Valley is one of the richest conservation areas in the world. It has over 200 species of trees per hectare.

 

Rainforest Discovery Centre

Sepilok

 

The Rainforest Discovery Centre gives an excellent overview of the state's rainforest with sprawling gardens, walking trails and a 147m-long steel canopy walkway. This centre is situated in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. It is only tea minutes away from the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and 20 miles from Sandakan Airport.

Must do:

  • Walk along the Rainforest Discovery Trail to see towering dipterocarp trees

  • Observe nearly 250 species of birds form the canopy walkway

  • Visit the exhibition centre

  • See more than 250 species of orchids as well as pitcher plants and aquatic plants at the Plant Discovery Garden

Opening hours: 8.00am - 5.00pm daily

 

Mari Mari Cultural Village

Kota Kinabalu

 

Situated in Inanam, about 20 minutes from Kota Kinabalu, Mari Mari Cultural Village offers an insight into the traditional lifestyles of Sabah's ethnic communities. Join in the various activities and im-merse yourself in the local customs and cultures. 

 

Maliau Basin

 

Touted as 'Sabah's lost world', Maliau Basin is a remote and isolated area containing a rare assemblage of 12 type of forests. Further in the thick jungle, the seven tiered Maliau Falls stands an one of most astounding sights here. Tours to Maliau Basin are best done in groups. The destination is only suite for serious naturalists due to the limited communication facilities and amenities. Prior permission must be obtained from Yayasan Sabah and visitors must be accompanied by guides or rangers. The nearest towns to Maliau Basin are Tawau or Keningau From these towns, Maliau Basin is accessible via four-wheel drives and the journey to its security gate takes about five hours. Alternatively, helicopter rides are available.

 

Sabah Tea Garden

Ranau

 

Set against the beautiful backdrop of Mount Kinabalu, Sabah Tea Garden is an enclave of sprawling tea plantation. Enjoy a tour of the tea factory and plantation, or learn new skills such as surviving in a jungle and crossing a river safely. Visitors can also savour freshly brewed tea at the Tea House. Recreational activities such as juggle trekking, night walks and obstacle training are also available. Accommodation ranges from bungalows, longhouses to campsites.

~ Sabah Tea Garden is one of the few plantations in the world that has been certified to produce organic tea.

Opening hours: 8.00 a.m. - 4.30 p.m.

 

Sipadan

 

Sipadan is an internationally famous dive site surrounded by the Sulawesi Sea. The geographic position of Sipadan at the Indo-Pacific Basin (the centre of the richest marine habitat in the world) makes it a paradise for divers. The seascape is decorated with huge gorgonian sea fans, barrel sponges and gigantic soft tree corals. Steep walls form a stunning backdrop while pelagic species such as sharks and turtles swim gracefully.Further away, the Turtle Cavern contains skeletons of turtles that were lost in the tunnels. At Barracuda Point, divers can have exciting encounters with schools of barracuda. To preserve the delicate ecosystem, accommodation is only provided at the neighbbouring islands of Mabul and Kapai. Tours must be pre-arranged. The nearest airport to Sipadan is Tawau. From Tawau, take an hour's drive to Semporna before proceeding with a 40-minute speedboat ride to the island.
 
~ Sipadan was made famous by Jacque Yves Cousteau, a famous French oceanographer in his documentary "The Ghosts of the Sea Turtle'.
 
~ Sipadan's most thrilling feature is its Drop Off, where knee-high water suddenly gives way to a 600m drop!

 

Tawau Hills Park

Tawau

 

Stretching over 27,972 ha, this park is a haven for an amazing plethora of plants and flowers including the rare Elephant's Ear Orchid and the world's tallest tree, Siput Juning (shorea faquetiana). Attractions include a waterfall, suspension bridge, jungle trails and cystal clear river. The park is situated about 24km from Tawau.

Opening hours: 8.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.

 

Teck Huan Cocoa Village

Tawau

 

Teck Guan Cocoa Villages is situated at Quoin Hill, on the east side of Tawau. It is just 30 minutes drive from Tawau International Airport. The plantation is lined by miles and miles of cocoa trees stretching as far as the eyes can see, filling the air with the delicious scent of fresh cocoa fruits. Visitors can enjoy a two-hour of the village and watch how cocoa is cultivated, harvested, fermented and dried. Enjoy a variety of food, beverages and desserts made of cocoa at the refreshment kiosk. Its location at a scenic viewpoint offers a good view of Tawau.

~ Sabah is one of the world's top cocoa producers, earning it the title. 'Gourmet Chocolate Capital of the World'.

 

Teck Guan Cocoa Museum

Tawau

 

Said to be the only one of its kind in Malaysia, Teck Guan Cocoa Museum gives an insight into the history and development of the industry. This museum, located within the cocoa factory, has a range of exhibits such as fermented coca bean, shell nibs and many more. The video screening give more information on cocoa processing. Teck Guang Cocoa Museum is situated at tanjung Batu Laut, on the west side of Tawau. Guided tours of the actual prodction process and be arranged.

 

Mabul and Kapalai

 

Situated just 25 minutes from Sipadan, Mabul is another gem in the Sulawesi Sea. However, the seascape in Mabul is starkly different, yet equally stunning. A diversity of tiny marine life makes Mabul a great site for macro and muck-diving. Blue-ringed octopus, mandarin fish, lionfish, frogfish, moray eels and spike-fin gobies are definite show-stealers in the relatively-shallow waters. Mabul is slightly larger than Sipadan and has several resort as well as local village.

Kapalai is another great location for muck-lovers. In fact, this little island is rated by many diving journalists as one of best macro-diving destinations in the world. Mandarin Valley, Gurnard Ground and Stingray City are enchanting sites with a prolific marine life.

Just like Sipadan the jumping-off point to Mabul and Kapalai is Semporna. The boat ride takes about 45 minutes Semporna is about an hout's drive from Tawau airport. There are regular air services connecting Tawau and Kota Kinabalu. Transfers can be arranged with tour operation.

~ Kapalai is not actually an island, but a large sandbank where a resort has been built on stilts.

 

 

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Kota Kinabalu

 

Made up of two components, zoological and botanical, this park is a delight for chlidren and adults alike. Must-see attractions include tigers, proboscis monkeys, deer, orang utans and Borneo pygny elephants. A wide range of plants can be observed from the walking trails.

Opening hours: 9.30am - 5.30pm

 

Monsopiad Cultural Village

Kota Kinabalu

 

Situated about 16km from Kota Kinabalu, this cultural village pays tribute to the powerful and feared Kadazan warrior, Monsopiad, who lived about 200 years age. Visitors can gain an insight into the ancient culture. Don't miss the cultural performance which-re-enacts this legend. A very interesting point to note is that the village is managed by Monsopiad's direct descendents, on the very land where he once lived.
 
Opening hours: 9.00am - 5.00pm daily
 
~ The House of Skulls displays 43 skulls or 'trophies' collected by this legendary warrior.

 

North Borneo Railway

Tanjung Aru to Papar

 

Operating every Wednesday and Saturday, this three-hour ride takes visitors on a nostalgic journey along some of the most scenic spots in Sabah. The North Borneo Railway steam train service is a joint-venture between Sutera Harbour and the Sabah State Railway Department. It gives visitors a chance to experience the bygone British era through a journey on the steam engine train. Starting from Tanjung Aru, the train traverses the towns of Kinarut, Kawang and Papar. Highlights include the journey across the Papar Rive over a steel bridge and a stopover at the 'rice bowl' township of Papar. Visitors can also look forward to the tiffin-style meal that is typical of a railway meal at the turn of the century. The North Borneo Railway is compliant with international safety standards.

 

There's Much More in Sabah

The adventure does not end here! Sabah has numerous other attractions waiting to be explored. Visitors will find a number of sightseeing spots in Kota Kinabalu and its surroundings. Kudat, situated to the north of Kota Kinabalu, beckons with charming attractions such as the Rungus tribal village as well as Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, the tip of Borneo. In Sandakan, the second-largest town in Sabah, war-related sites and natural enclaves form the main tourist attraction. Be sure to visit these place before you leave, or come back again to experience the beauty of Sabah.

~ There are only three surviving buildings from World War II in Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu

  • Sabah State Museum

  • Museum of Islamic Civilisation

  • Tanjung Aru Beach

  • State Mosque

  • City Nosque

  • Sabah Tourism Building

  • Tun Mustapha Gallery

  • Menara Tun Mustapha

  • Signal Hill Observatory Platform

  • Atkinson Clock Tower

  • Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre

  • Petagas War Memorial

  • Double Six Monument

Sandakan

  • Gomantong Cave (bird's nest)

  • Agop Batu Tulug (historical cave)

  • Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctury

  • Rafflesia Information Centre

  • Lankayan Island

  • Libaran Island

  • Agnes Keith House

  • Sandakan Crocodile Farm

  • Sandakan Heritage Trail

  • Sandakan Memorial Park

  • Sabah Tea House

Kudat

  • Simpang Mengayau Bay

  • Rungus Longhouse

  • Kampung Gombizau (Honey Bee Farm)

  • Kampung Sumangkap (Gong Factory)

  • Kampung Tinagol (Rungus beads and handicraft-making)

Kota Belud

  • Mantanani Island

  • Kampung Siasai (matchete-making centre)

Penampang

  • Water World There Park

  • St. Michael's Church

Inanam

  • Orchid de Villa

Kinarut / Papar

  • KK Adventure Park

Ranau

  • Kampung Luanti (Fish Massage)

Kiulu

  • While Water Rafting

Tenom

  • Sabah Agriculture Park

Lahad datu

  • Madai-Baturong Forest Reserve Nature Centre

Semporna

  • Mataking Island

Kuala Penyu

  • Pulau Tiga (Survivor Island)

 

Shopping & Dining

 

Shopping

Have an exciting time hunting for unique souvenirs and handicrafts! The State is known for its bewildering array of ethnic-style crafts, beads, pearls, accessories ad other unique collectibles. For a novel shopping experience, head to the open-air markets called tamu or visit the bazaars.

The popular shopping spots in Kota Kinabalu are:

  • Kadaiku

  • KK Handicraft Centre

  • Wawasan Handicraft centre

  • Gaya Street

  • Tamu Kota Belud

Modern shopping malls are mainly centered in Kota Kinabalu. Among the malls are 1Borneo. KKTimes Square, Warisan Square, Centre Point, Wisma Merdeka, KK Plaza and Wawasan Plaza.

 

Dining

There is a wide range of indigenous specialties awaiting adventurous visitors. The rare ferns, greens, fruits and vegetables here are whipped up into a myriad of lip-smacking dishes. Aside from the local delights, Continental cuisine is widely available at major hotels while fast food can be found in big towns. The cool mountain air and hilly terrain make Sabah a great place to grow tea and coffee. Don’t miss a cup of the locally grown Sabah tea or Tenom coffee.

Authentic local favourites include:

Tuaran Mee - A famous hawker dish made from a batter of egg yolk and flour. It is stir-fried with local vegetables and garnished with slices of roast chicken (or pork) and more eggs.

Ambuyat – Sometimes known as Nantung, this is a thick gluey porridge made of sago, tapioca or rice. Don’t let the appearance stop you from trying it out – the sticky treat is rolled or twisted around a chopstick and savoured with a sauce.

Hinava – A salad made of raw fish or prawns, hinava is especially popular among the Kadazandusun community. The most essential ingredient in hinava is bambangan, or grated seeds of a wild mango that is indigenous to Sabah.

Tuhau – Another dish for the health conscious, tuhau is a fresh salad made from a ginger-like plant. It is pounded and mixed with lime juice, onions and chillies. Tuhau can be eaten by itself, or savoured together with rice.

Kelupis – Aromatic, filling and delicious, kelupis is made of glutinous rice wrapped in a fragrant leaf called daun nyirik. It is cooked in coconut milk.

 

Transportation

 

Getting There

By Air

Sabah is well-connected domestically and internationally. The main gateway to Sabah is the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) situated about 20 minutes away from the city. Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia provides daily direct flights to Sabah from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city.

Internationally, Sabah is accessible from Brunei Darussaalam, China, Hong Kong, Taipei, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore and South Korea. The flights that operate here include Silk Air, Royal Brunei Airlines Korean Air, Dragonair and Asiana. Visitors from Australia can also arrive in Sabah via Kuala Lumpur.

Sabah has a second airport called the Low Cost Carrier Terminal or Terminal Two. This terminal is situated about 7km from Kota Kinabalu International Airport. The budget carrier AirAsia operates from this terminal.

By Sea

Visitors from Labuan, Indonesia and Philippines can arrive in Sabah by sea. Ferry terminals and immigration checkpoints are situated at Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau.

The Sutera Harbour Marina in Kota Kinabalu Welcomes foreign guests who wish to berth their yachts in comfort and convenience. Vessels are required to do port clearance before their crew is allowed ashore.

By Land

Overland travel between Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Brunei Darussalam is possible via the Trans Borneo Highway. However, visitors are advised to be prepared for long journeys. Those who are intending to self-drive should plan their routes and rest stops.

Getting Around

Local buses and taxis are easily available in Kota Kinabalu although tour operators normally arrange most of the overland transfers. The local train service that connects Tanjung Aru to Beaufort and Tenom is a refreshing alternative to enjoy the scenery.

A good network of rural air service connects Kota Kinabalu to the gateway towns of Sandakan, Tawau and Lahad Datu. The smaller towns of Kudat and Semporna are equipped with airstrips.

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