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.
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Best places to stay in Malaysian Borneo - Sabah
Novice diving off Sabah’s coast
The state of Sabah, on the island of Borneo, is often promoted as an outdoorsman’s paradise. And Sabah’s Semporna archipelago -- particularly the island of Sipadan – has been described by Jacques Cousteau as some of the best diving in the world...
Sabah destination guides
Borneo’s biological treasure trove
The Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo is probably not what comes to mind when thinking of alpine highs -- but topographically Mount Kinabalu is one of the most prominent peaks in the world. Soaring up from sea level to 4,095m, Kinabalu makes Borneo the planet’s third highest island after Hawaii and New Guinea...
Explore a mystical land of incredible natural beauty and rare wildlife on this Sabah Adventure tour. With its collection of exotic animals, ancient traditions, hot springs, tribal villages, loveable orangutans and incredible views, Sabah has something for everyone.
Sarawak is one of South-East Asia's best kept secrets. Encounter an orangutan, hike through virgin rainforest in Bako National Park, tour through the vast Mulu cave systems, stay in a traditional longhouse and discover the fascinating culture of this region of Borneo.
Lonely Planet author: why sometimes I leave the camera behind
Sometimes, I leave the camera behind. You know how it is. You go somewhere and spend the whole time seeing it not with your naked, soft eyes, but through the narrowed scope of a viewfinder, or the pixelated screen of a digital camera...