Despite being only a few hours from Kota Kinabalu, there's a dreamy, end-of-the-world feeling in Kudat. Maybe it's the drowsy quality of the air; Malaysian towns don't get much more laid-back and friendly than this. You can thank the local Rungus people. Filipinos too – there's loads of them around. Kudat is a quiet port that rewards a bit of initiative.
Mt Kinabalu & Kinabalu National Park
Gunung Kinabalu, as it is known in Malay, is more than the highest thing on the world's third largest island. And it is more than scenery. Mt Kinabalu is ubiquitous in Sabah to the point of being inextricable. It graces the state's flag and is a constant presence at the edge of your eyes, catching the clouds and shading the valleys.
Maliau Basin Conservation Area
In the minds of most travellers, and certainly the entire marketing division of Malaysia's tourism board, Sabah is associated with wild adventure. But while there are many wild stretches of Sabah, this state has also been heavily impacted by logging, oil palm and, on a smaller scale, suburban sprawl. This pocket of truly untouched, Eden-as-God-made-it wilderness remains.
Pulau Tiga National Park
Outwit, outplay and outlast your fellow travellers on what is known throughout the world as 'Survivor Island'. The name Pulau Tiga actually means 'three islands' – the scrubby islet is part of a small chain created during an eruption of mud volcanoes in the late 1890s.