Sabah Attractions: Top Places to Visit in Malaysian Borneo

Sabah is a Malaysian state located on the island of Borneo, known for its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. With its diverse range of attractions, from pristine beaches and lush rainforests to vibrant markets and ancient temples, Sabah offers something for everyone.

One of Sabah’s most popular attractions is Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia. Rising to a height of 4,095 meters, this majestic mountain offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and is a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers.

Another must-see attraction in Sabah is the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, a sanctuary for orphaned and injured orangutans. Visitors can watch these amazing creatures as they play, eat, and interact with each other in their natural habitat, and learn about the efforts being made to protect them from extinction.

Natural Attractions

Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak in Southeast Asia, with an elevation of 4,095 meters. It is located in the Kinabalu Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mountain is a popular destination for hikers and climbers, with a challenging but rewarding trail to the summit. The trail takes around two days to complete, and hikers can stay overnight in mountain huts. The views from the summit are breathtaking, and the experience is one that visitors will never forget.

Kinabalu Park

Kinabalu Park is Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the heart of Sabah. The park is home to diverse flora and fauna, including many endemic species. Visitors can explore the park’s many trails, which offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The park also has several hot springs, popular with visitors looking to relax after hiking.

Sipadan Island

Sipadan Island is a world-renowned diving destination, located off the coast of Sabah. The island is home to an incredible variety of marine life, including turtles, sharks, and schools of colorful fish. Divers can explore the island’s many dive sites, which offer a range of depths and difficulty levels. The island also has several resorts, making it a popular destination for divers and non-divers alike.

Sabah’s natural attractions are some of the most stunning in the world. Visitors to the region will be treated to breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences, whether hiking to the summit of Mount Kinabalu, exploring the diverse flora and fauna of Kinabalu Park, or diving in the crystal-clear waters of Sipadan Island.

Cultural Attractions

Mari Mari Cultural Village

Mari Mari Cultural Village is a living museum that showcases the traditional houses of Sabah’s indigenous tribes. Visitors can learn about the customs, beliefs, and lifestyles of the Bajau, Lundayeh, Murut, Rungus, and Dusun tribes. The village also offers cultural performances, traditional food, and handicraft demonstrations.

Sabah State Museum

The Sabah State Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history and culture of Sabah. The museum has several galleries that showcase the state’s natural history, ethnography, archaeology, and art. Visitors can see exhibits on the flora and fauna of Sabah, the traditional costumes of the state’s various ethnic groups, and the history of Sabah’s colonial period.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Anemonefish during a leisure dive in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is a group of five islands off the Kota Kinabalu coast. The park is named after Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, who was instrumental in the country’s independence. Visitors can enjoy snorkeling, diving, other water sports, hiking, and birdwatching on the islands. The park is also home to several resorts and restaurants.

Overall, Sabah has a rich cultural heritage that is worth exploring. Visitors can learn about the state’s indigenous tribes, colonial history, and natural wonders at these cultural attractions.

Adventure Attractions

Danum Valley Conservation Area

Danum Valley Conservation Area is a protected area of virgin forest in Sabah, Malaysia. It is home to various flora and fauna, including orangutans, gibbons, and pygmy elephants. Visitors can hike through the forest, take a canopy walk, or take a night safari to see the nocturnal animals. The conservation area also offers accommodation for those who want to stay overnight.

Poring Hot Springs and Nature Reserve

Poring Hot Springs and Nature Reserve is a popular destination for those seeking relaxation and adventure. The hot springs have healing properties; visitors can soak in the warm waters while surrounded by lush greenery. The nature reserve offers hiking trails, a butterfly farm, and a canopy walkway. Visitors can also see the Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower blooms in the reserve.

Klias Wetlands

Klias Wetlands is a mangrove forest located about 2 hours from Kota Kinabalu. Visitors can take a river cruise to see the proboscis monkeys only found in Borneo. The wetlands also have various bird species, including kingfishers and eagles. Visitors can also see fireflies at night, which light up the trees like Christmas lights.

Overall, Sabah offers a wealth of adventure attractions for visitors to explore. Whether hiking through a virgin forest, soaking in natural hot springs, or taking a river cruise to see unique wildlife, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Food and Nightlife

Gaya Street Sunday Market

The Gaya Street Sunday Market is popular in Sabah every Sunday morning. The market is a great place to try local food and drinks and purchase souvenirs and handicrafts. Visitors can find a variety of food stalls selling traditional Sabahan dishes such as Nasi Lemak, Laksa, and Satay. There are also stalls selling fresh produce, seafood, local pastries, and desserts.

Waterfront Kota Kinabalu

The Waterfront Kota Kinabalu is a lively area in the city that offers a great selection of restaurants, bars, and cafes. Visitors can enjoy a variety of cuisines, from traditional Malaysian dishes to international cuisine. The area is also known for its nightlife, with many bars and clubs offering live music and entertainment. The Waterfront is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, and is a great place to spend an evening.

Tanjung Aru Beach

Tanjung Aru Beach is a popular spot for locals and tourists to enjoy the sunset and relax by the sea. The beach is also home to various food and drink stalls, offering a range of local and international cuisine. Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood, grilled meats, and refreshing drinks while taking in the beautiful views of the ocean. The beach is a great place to unwind after exploring Sabah’s attractions.

Overall, Sabah offers visitors a great selection of food and nightlife options. Whether you’re looking for traditional Sabahan dishes or international cuisine, there is something for everyone to enjoy.