Most visitors to Sabah come here for one thing: to trek up the mighty Mt Kinabalu. Or is it to dive around the Sipadan reef? Or to see the orang-utans at Sepilok? Or to explore the riverine forest around Sungai Kinabatangan? Or to get lost in the remote Maliau Basin? The trouble is, Borneo’s northernmost state is so rich in treasures that it’s hard to know where to start, and once you get stuck in there’s always just that one more thing you want to see.
As well as its host of natural features, Sabah has an equally fascinating ethnic heritage, visibly distinct from the indigenous peoples further south. The largest group is made up of the Kadazan and Dusun tribes, known as the ‘Latin lovers’ of Borneo thanks to their healthy appetite for music and life in general, and visitors can also enjoy close encounters with friendly Rungus, Murut and Bajau communities around the state.
In order to make the most of your trip, we strongly encourage you to plan ahead. Sabah’s jungles may be wild and untamed, but they’re covered in streamers of red tape. With a bit of patience and a lot of preplanning, you’ll breeze by the permit restrictions and booked beds. Independent travellers may find Sabah a bit frustrating, but we promise that the hoop-jumping is well worth it.
Ready to go?
These tours & activities make it easy:
Best places to stay in Malaysian Borneo - Sabah
Lonely Planet's Best in Travel: top 10 regions for 2012
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Sabah destination guides
Shawn Low's travel picks for 2011
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Kinabalu Park Canopy Walkway and Poring Hot Springs Full-Day Tour from Kota Kinabalu
Trek across Kinabalu Park for a magnificent view of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mt Kinabalu.
Kota Kinabalu Shared Arrival Transfer: Airport to Hotel
Save time and money and book your transfer services for Kota Kinabalu before you arrive! Upon landing in Kota Kinabalu International Airport, you will be met by a friendly and professional driver and transferred to your hotel. This is the ideal way to start your holiday or business trip.
Be a travel pioneer: discover the hidden parts of Borneo
As a Lonely Planet author, I thought I worked hard to find some of the most tucked-away, wonderful experiences on the planet, but there are people who do me one better in this regard. Take the Brit I met in Kudat, in northwest Sabah, Borneo. We sat on a porch drinking 3 Amigos beer from Vietnam...