February 8, 2023
Tourist Attractions In Sabah

Sabah is diversity, rough and rugged and then again tame and lovely.

Mount Kinabalu dominates the surrounding landscapes; At 4101 meters, it is also the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. This state has flora and fauna that are considered to be rich in varieties. There are diving spots off the coast that enthusiasts can dream of.

Sabah is located on the northeast side of Borneo and has been known as the “Land under the Wind” since time immemorial, because it is just below the typhoon belt. In the past, the sailing ships took shelter here from the murderous storms.

There are around 32 tribal groups of various ethnic origins here: The most important are the Bajau, Bisaya, Kadazan, Kedayan, Murut, Minokok, Rumanau, Rungus and Sulu tribes.

The capital of Sabah is Kota Kinabalu with Malaysia’s third international airport, which has regular flights from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Kuching and Brunei as well as from Hong Kong, Manila, Jakarta, Seoul, Taipei and Singapore. Sabah is a vast country, the places Lahat Datu, Sandakan and Tawau as well as the island of Labuan are served daily in domestic service. Some areas of Sabah are still completely inaccessible, but others have very good roads with buses running on them. The boat is also an important and convenient means of transport because of the many rivers. There is also a small railway line from Kota Kinabalu to Tenom.

Tourist Attractions In Sabah

Sabah’s state mosque

Tourist Attractions In Sabah
Sabah State Mosque, photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

This mosque is splendid to look at with its mighty dome, which sparkles in the sun in blue-gold mosaic. It is a remarkable structure that influences the entire cityscape of Kota Kinabalu. It is also the religious center of Sabah and is also popular with visitors who do not come from Muslim countries.

The Sabah Foundation/ Tun Mustapha Tower

Tourist Attractions In Sabah
Sabah Foundation Building, Formerly Tun Mustapha Tower, Photo credit: https://www.shoreexcursions.asia

This 30 storey high glass building is a technical masterpiece and also an architectural attraction in Kota Kinabalu. It was built from high-strength, elastic steel and there are only three of these futuristic buildings in the world. It is the seat of the important Sabah Foundation, which takes care of charitable tasks.

Kota Belud

This there is a festival for every photographer when the extensive, colorful market takes place here on the weekend. Then the country folk come from everywhere and offer their goods – a lively and colorful picture full of fascination. The “Tamu” is a real highlight among the many sights of Sabah. Kota Belud is located about 77 km north of Kota Kinabalu on the Kudat Strait.


The place also in the north of Kota Kinabalu is worth a trip, because there is a model farm for agricultural research. Nearby is Mengkabong, a Bajau village built on stilts over the water, and Tamparuli, where you can buy good handicrafts.

Penampang Village

This is a village of the Kadazan tribe in the south of Kota Kinabalu and it shows a lot of the lifestyle and everyday life of this large ethnic group in Sabah.

Kudat Rungus Long Home

Tourist Attractions In Sabah
Rungus Longhouse, photo via https://activities.marriott.com/

The place also marks the northern tip of Sabah, from Kota Kinabalu it is about 238 km away. It is worth visiting once when in Sabah. This is where the Rungus live, who are known for their picturesque clothes, their beautiful fabrics and their very colorful festivals. On the way there you drive through a breathtaking scenery of tropical landscapes with jungles, mountains and deep valleys.

Sandakan Cruise Port

Sandakan City, Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

The small busy port on Lake Sulu is also the main town in northeast Sabah. It is about 386 km away from Kota Kinabalu and can be reached with Malaysia Airlines or via the trunk road. Here is the forest museum with an overview of the flora of the country as well as the well-known “Sabah Orchid House” with a magical collection of rare orchids.

On the 7th milestone on the road from Sandakan to Labuk is the entrance to a crocodile farm, where over 1000 animals live. It is mainly used for rearing purposes. From here, the stocks in the wild are replenished with young animals.

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center

Tourist Attractions In Sabah
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

Sepilok Station is just a 20 minute drive from Sandakan and is the largest orangutan rehabilitation center in the world. In an area of ​​around 4000 hectares of almost untouched rainforest, many young great apes are properly taught and trained. They are animals that were found motherless or were born in bondage. In Sepilok they are prepared for the demands of the wild before they are released back into the jungle.

Gomantong Caves

Tourist Attractions In Sabah
Gomantong Cave, photo via exploresandakan.com

These caves can only be reached from Sandakan by boat or land rover. It takes a whole day to do this, because the last part can only be covered “on foot”. You have to have good shoes and the right clothing for jungle tours here. Tours to the caves must always be arranged with the Sabah authorities in Sandakan. It is best if you leave that to a tour operator.

The Gomantong Caves are home to numerous swallows that have built their nests in the walls of the caves. These nests are collected using long bamboo poles to climb up, which looks dangerous. The nests also form the basis for the well-known swallow’s nest soup, an old specialty of Chinese cuisine.


From the small coastal town of Semporna you cross over to beautiful and interesting diving areas. The island of Sipadan is here in the open sea. It is one of the diving paradises that Cousteau described early on. The island of Gaya is also worth mentioning, because this is where the mussel farm is located, where Sabah’s cultured pearls are grown.

Kinabalu National Park

This large national park lies at the foot of Mount Kinabalu, Sabah’s local mountain. It is 4102 meters high and overlooks the lush flora of almost all climatic zones: from typical tropical vegetation as found in the plains to mountain oaks, rhododendrons and conifers to alpine flora and the stunted bushes in the heights and on the summit. In this concentrated type and diversity, this vegetation is probably unique in the world. To climb to the top, which offers a fantastic view of the entire national park when the weather is clear, you need a good two days. A permit is required for the ascent and the accommodation after the first stage must be booked in advance.

This should be done in the Kinabalu National Park office at least one week before the mountain tour. It is especially crowded here during the school holidays, so you have to book earlier.

Do not forget to make a detour to the hot springs in Poring, because a “refreshing” bath in hot water is also very good in the tropics.

Cape of Aru, Tanjung Aru

The well-known luxurious beach hotel of the same name can be found at Tanjung Aru. There are also small hotels on this first-class beach and inexpensive beach bungalows can also be rented. This suburb of Kota Kinabalus can be reached quickly and easily by taxi, bus or just walking.

Sipadan Island

It should be mentioned again here as it is an important attraction in Sabah. We cannot point out their extremely beautiful diving areas often enough.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

This national park in the sea includes five idyllic islands and is a few nautical miles off the coast at Kota Kinabalu. From there it is a maximum of 30 minutes to the islands with a fast boat. These are the islands of Gaya, Sapi, Mamutik, Manukan and Sulug: each of them has its own charm, what they have in common is the clear water around them, with a rich marine life and coral reefs that are well worth seeing. Small, hidden bays with white, lonely beaches invite you to rest, swim and relax in no vain. On the islands of Sapi and Manukan there are rest areas with sanitary facilities, on the island of Mamutik you can stay in simple accommodations.

Layang-Layang Island

Tourist Attractions In Sabah

Layang-Layang Island is about 165 nautical miles northwest of Kota Kinabalu. Until 1991 it was only a small coral atoll in the South China Sea. Then they filled it up with sand that was pumped up from the seabed and brought culture soil here by ship.

Today it is a little paradise for both fishermen and divers. Their deeply descending reefs are rich in fish, aquatic plants and other marine life. Well furnished bungalows are also available. Layang-Layang Island is only 1.2 kilometers long and only seven square kilometers in size. It is home to the terns, many of which live here in their thousands.

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