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.
It’s full of car exhaust and has a marked lack of footpaths, but George Town is able to woo even the most acute cityphobe with its explosive cultural mishmash in a scene fit for a movie set. Dodge traffic while strolling past Chinese shophouses where people might be roasting coffee over a fire or sculpting giant incense for a ceremony.
OK traveller, you’ve been sweating through the jungles, the beaches and the lowlands of Malaysia for weeks now. Another sticky day will make your clothes unwearable. Another sweaty night and you’ll lose the ability to sleep. We grant you a reprieve. Come to the Cameron Highlands.
Danum Valley Conservation Area
Flowing like a series of dark, mossy ripples over some 440 sq km of central Sabah, the Danum Valley is a humid, cackling, cawing mass of lowland dipterocarp arboreal amazement. The forest here is thick – so thick that it has never been (to the best knowledge of anyone living) settled permanently. By humans, that is.
Langkawi is synonymous with ‘tropical paradise’ – and with good reason. Since 2008 the archipelago’s official title has been Langkawi Permata Kedah (Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah), no doubt inspired by the island’s clear waters, relatively pristine beaches and intact jungle. The district’s been duty free since 1986 and roping in tourists well before that.