Have you ever dreamed to travel Sabah and dreamed of seeing orangutans in the wild, diving with turtles in crystal clear waters, or climbing the highest peak in Southeast Asia?
If yes, then Sabah is the perfect destination for you. Sabah is one of the most popular and diverse destinations in Malaysia, offering a range of attractions and activities for every type of traveler.
Sabah is also known as the Land Below the Wind, as it is located below the typhoon belt and enjoys a tropical climate all year round. In this article, we will show you why Sabah is a wonderland for nature lovers, culture enthusiasts, and foodies alike.
We will also give you some tips and resources to help you plan your trip to Sabah. So sit back, relax, and get ready to be amazed by Sabah.
Travel Sabah – Nature & Wildlife
Sabah is home to some of the most biodiverse and pristine ecosystems in the world, such as the Kinabalu Park, the Danum Valley, the Maliau Basin, and the Sipadan Island.
It is exciting to travel Sabah as you can explore these places and witness the amazing flora and fauna that Sabah has to offer.
Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you will find something that suits your level of adventure and interest. Here are some of the activities that you can do in these places:
- Hiking: Sabah has many trails that will take you through lush rainforests, misty mountains, and scenic waterfalls. You can hike to the summit of Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. You can also hike in the Danum Valley, one of the oldest rainforests in the world, and spot wildlife such as orangutans, gibbons, hornbills, and pygmy elephants. If you are looking for a more challenging hike, you can try the Maliau Basin, also known as Sabah’s Lost World, where you can encounter rare and endemic species such as the clouded leopard, the banteng, and the pitcher plant.
- Birdwatching: Sabah is a paradise for birdwatchers, as it has more than 600 species of birds, many of which are endemic or endangered. You can visit the Kinabalu Park, which has more than 300 species of birds, including the mountain serpent eagle, the whitehead’s trogon, and the crimson-headed partridge. You can also visit the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to more than 200 species of birds, such as the storm’s stork, the rhinoceros hornbill, and the oriental darter. You can join guided tours or rent binoculars and cameras to capture these beautiful creatures.
- Rafting: Sabah has many rivers that offer exciting rafting experiences for all levels of thrill-seekers. You can raft on the Padas River, which has rapids ranging from grade 3 to 4, and enjoy the adrenaline rush as you navigate through the rocky terrain. You can also raft on the Kiulu River, which has rapids ranging from grade 1 to 2, and enjoy the scenic views of the countryside and villages along the way. You can choose from half-day or full-day packages that include transportation, equipment, lunch, and insurance.
- Caving: Sabah has some of the most spectacular caves in Southeast Asia, such as the Gomantong Caves, the Madai Caves, and the Deer Cave. You can explore these caves and marvel at their natural formations, such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and flowstones. You can also witness the amazing phenomenon of millions of bats flying out of the caves at dusk. You can join guided tours or rent helmets and torches to explore these caves on your own.
- Diving: Sabah is one of the best diving destinations in the world, as it has some of the most diverse and colorful coral reefs and marine life. You can dive in Sipadan Island, which is ranked as one of the top diving spots in the world by many divers and magazines. You can see more than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of species of coral in Sipadan Island, such as barracudas, sharks, turtles, manta rays, and hammerheads. You can also dive in other islands in Sabah, such as Mabul Island, Kapalai Island, Lankayan Island, and Mataking Island, which have their own unique attractions and features.
Hiking Tips in Sabah
If you really want to travel Sabah, here are some tips for hiking in Sabah:
- Choose a trail that suits your fitness level and experience. Sabah has many hiking trails that range from easy to hard, so you can find one that matches your abilities and preferences. You can use websites like AllTrails or Amazing Borneo to browse through the different trails and see their ratings, reviews, and difficulty levels.
- Prepare the necessary equipment and supplies. Depending on the trail and the weather, you may need to bring items such as hiking shoes, backpack, water bottle, snacks, sunscreen, hat, raincoat, insect repellent, first aid kit, flashlight, and map. You can also check with the local guides or authorities if you need to register or pay any fees before hiking.
- Follow the safety rules and guidelines. Always hike with a partner or a group, and inform someone of your itinerary and expected return time. Stay on the marked trails and do not wander off or take shortcuts. Respect the wildlife and the environment, and do not litter or damage any plants or animals. If you encounter any emergency or problem, seek help from the nearest ranger station or call 999.
- Enjoy the scenery and the experience. Sabah has some of the most beautiful and diverse natural landscapes in the world, such as mountains, rainforests, waterfalls, and islands. You can see many unique and endemic species of flora and fauna, such as orangutans, hornbills, pitcher plants, and rafflesia. You can also learn about the culture and heritage of the various ethnic groups that live in Sabah, such as the Kadazan-Dusun, the Bajau, and the Murut. Hiking in Sabah is a great way to appreciate the beauty and diversity of this land.
Travel Sabah – Culture and Heritage
Sabah has a rich and diverse cultural heritage, as it is inhabited by various indigenous groups, such as the Kadazan-Dusun, the Bajau, the Murut, and the Rungus. Among them are:
- Festivals: Sabah is famous for its colorful and lively festivals that celebrate the harvest, the sea, the moon, and the culture of its people. One of the most popular festivals is the Pesta Kaamatan, which is the harvest festival of the Kadazan-Dusun people. It is held in May and features traditional dances, games, rituals, and food. One of the highlights of the festival is the Unduk Ngadau, which is a beauty pageant that honors the legendary Huminodun, who sacrificed herself to save her people from famine. Another famous festival is the Regatta Lepa, which is the water festival of the Bajau people. It is held in April and showcases the lepa, which are traditional wooden sailboats decorated with colorful flags and fabrics. The festival also includes boat races, cultural performances, and fireworks2.
- Traditions: Sabah has many unique and fascinating traditions that reflect its diverse ethnicities and religions. One of the most distinctive traditions is the Magavau, which is a ritual performed by the Bobohizan or priestesses of the Kadazan-Dusun people. The Magavau is done to appease the rice spirit or Bambaazon and to ensure a bountiful harvest. The Bobohizan wear elaborate costumes and accessories and chant prayers and songs in an ancient language. Another interesting tradition is the Mongigol Sumundai, which is a ritual performed by the Rungus people. The Mongigol Sumundai is done to bless a new house or longhouse and to ward off evil spirits. The ritual involves sacrificing a chicken or a pig and sprinkling its blood on the house pillars and walls.
- Crafts: Sabah has a rich and varied craft heritage that showcases its artistic and creative talents. One of the most famous crafts is the beadwork or manik-manik of the Bajau people. The beadwork is used to adorn clothes, accessories, hats, bags, and even horses. The beadwork is done by hand using colorful glass beads and intricate patterns that symbolize different meanings and values. Another renowned craft is the gong-making or tatabu of the Murut people. The gong-making is a skill that has been passed down for generations and involves forging metal into different shapes and sizes of gongs. The gongs are used for musical instruments, ceremonial objects, and currency.
- Music: Sabah has a vibrant and diverse musical heritage that reflects its cultural influences and musical instruments. One of the most popular music genres is the sumazau, which is a dance music of the Kadazan-Dusun people. The sumazau is played by using bamboo flutes called sompoton and bamboo zithers called togunggak. The sumazau is usually performed during festive occasions such as weddings, harvest festivals, and cultural shows. People choose to travel Sabah and come to listen to another famous music genre which is the kulintangan, which is an ensemble music of the Bajau people. The kulintangan consists of a set of small gongs called kulintangan that are arranged in a row on a wooden frame. The kulintangan produces melodic tunes that are accompanied by larger gongs called agung and drums called gandang.
Food and Drink
Sabah has a mouthwatering cuisine that reflects its multicultural influences and its abundant natural resources. That is why you should travel Sabah as you can experience:
- Hinava: Hinava is a traditional Kadazan-Dusun dish of raw fish cured in lime juice. Typically, firm fleshed white fish like mackerel (hinava sada tongii) is marinated with lime juice, sliced shallots, chopped chilli, julienned ginger and grated dried seed of the bambangan fruit. Optional additions may include sliced bitter gourd and pineapples. Hinava is usually served as an appetizer or a main dish with white rice or sandwich bread.
- Bambangan: Bambangan is a seasonal wild mango fruit that has a thick brown skin and a bright yellow flesh when ripe. Bambangan is sour in taste, and locals usually pickle it with salt, grated bambangan seed and chilli. Bambangan can be eaten with white rice or fish dishes, or as a snack on its own. You can find this fruit at tamu markets during the harvest month from July to August.
- Nasi kuning: Nasi kuning is a dish of turmeric rice cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaves. Nasi kuning is usually served with various side dishes, such as fried chicken, beef rendang, sambal ikan bilis (anchovies in spicy sauce), boiled eggs, cucumber slices, and keropok (fish crackers). Nasi kuning is often prepared for special occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, and festivals.
- Bambangan juice: Bambangan juice is a refreshing drink made from the pulp of the bambangan fruit mixed with water and sugar. Bambangan juice has a tangy and sweet taste, and is rich in vitamin C. Bambangan juice can be found at some restaurants and stalls in Sabah, or you can make your own by blending the bambangan pulp with water and sugar.
- Lihing: Lihing is a traditional rice wine made by the Kadazan-Dusun people. Lihing is made from glutinous rice fermented with yeast and ragi (a type of mould). Lihing has a sweet and sour taste, and can be drunk on its own or mixed with other drinks. Lihing is often served during festive occasions, such as the Harvest Festival or Tadau Kaamatan.
Let’s Travel Sabah!
Sabah is truly a wonderland for travelers who love nature, culture, and food. Sabah has so much to offer for every type of traveler, from hiking to diving, from festivals to crafts, from hinava to lihing.
Sabah is not only a paradise for nature lovers, but also a melting pot of cultures and flavors. If you are looking for an unforgettable adventure in Malaysia, don’t miss out on Sabah. You will be amazed by its beauty and diversity.
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