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.
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
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
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
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.
- 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
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
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.
Tabin Wildlife Reserve
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.
- 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
Rainforest Discovery Centre
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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!
Teck Guan Cocoa Village
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 proud
Teck Guan Cocoa Museum
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
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
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
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.