Wild, beautiful, unspoilt and teeming with natural wonders and once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters, Sabah is the ultimate travel destination for 2019.
Cruise through magical jungle waterways, hike to the summit of Mount Kinabalu, visit the orphaned orangutans in the rainforests of Sepilok, scuba dive in gin-clear waters and immerse yourself in the culture and warm hospitality of this fascinating destination.
Feast of festivals
A rich melting pot of cultures, traditions and communities, a great way to experience the diverse culture of Sabah is at its annual festivals. One of the largest festivals is the Harvest festival, held every year in May. July is another key festival month where visitors will be treated to colourful processions, dancing, music and performances around the capital and beyond.
Sabah is an unrivalled natural paradise and one of its greatest attractions is the world-famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Located near Sandakan and set amid lush hillsides cloaked in emerald rainforest, the centre is one of the best places to see orangutans in the world. There are beautiful boardwalks and trails through the forest leading to viewing platforms where you can watch as these endangered animals feed, play and swinging from the branches. For animal lovers, the thrills keep coming as the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary is around a 30-minute drive away.
Take a cruise along one of the longest rivers in Borneo, Kinabatangan River and discover a jaw-dropping ecological paradise that’s home to orangutans, Pygmy elephants, hundreds of species of tropical bird, and the Proboscis monkeys. Found only in Borneo, proboscis monkeys will be easy to spot thanks to their long rubbery noses! After a memorable cruise, stay the night under the lush canopy in the heart of the jungle at a rainforest lodge for an once-in-a-lifetime jungle adventure.
Fondly referred to as KK, the cosmopolitan, fun-loving capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, is a bustling hub of markets, stalls, entertainment and culture and a superb jumping off point for jungle, river, wildlife and scuba adventures nearby. Tour the Handicraft Market for some souvenirs to take home, wander around the bustling stalls on Gaya Street every Sunday, and visit the delicious night food markets.
Culture in KK
With a rich history and culture, KK has a bounty of unique experiences for first-time visitors. Relish a total change of pace and tour the traditional Mari Mari Cultural Village, where visitors will see the Dusun, Rungus, Lundayeh, Bajau, and Murut tribes and their traditions. Or for a modern take, Sabah Art Gallery displays outdoor sculptures and contemporary art exhibitions and is the first ‘green’ building in the state.
Cocktails in KK
For evening entertainment, KK’s Waterfront is the place to be. Relax at one of the waterside bars for cocktails in time for a magical sunset, dine at a huge array of local, Malaysian and international restaurants, and let your hair down at the bars, clubs and karaoke lounges along the waterside esplanade. KK’s Art Festival and Jazz Festival comes to town with a fantastic array of open-air productions.
Fit adrenaline junkies can scale Malaysia’s tallest peak on an escorted tour. Spectacular Mount Kinabalu rises 4,095 metres (13,435 feet) and is an UNESCO protected paradise. There are smaller trails and hikes through the jaw-dropping Kinabalu National Park, which is home to more than 5,000 species of flora and fauna, including the rarest orchid in the world; the Rothschild Slipper Orchid.
Highly regarded as one of the world’s premier scuba diving hotspots, Sabah’s vibrant coral gardens are home to stingrays, blue spotted rays and clown fish, barracuda and more. With almost 400 islands, Sabah is home to some of the most diverse marine systems in the world. From the famed diving hotspot of Sidapan to Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, which is handily located just a short boat ride from Kota Kinabalu, visitors have a pick ‘n’ mix of spellbinding underwater worlds to explore.
With gorgeous beaches and crystalline waters, there’s always time for some beach action in Sabah. Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park is perfect for leisurely days on the water whether you fancy paddleboarding, snorkelling, swimming, kayaking or enjoying rest and relaxation by the pool at one of the resorts in the islands.
Spot elusive whale sharks
Sabah is one of the few destinations in the world where visitors can glimpse these elusive creatures as they migrate. The best season for whale shark spotting is from November to May, when phytoplankton around the outskirts of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park blooms and attracts the majestic whale sharks to the area.