Sabah occupies a relatively small chunk of the world’s third-largest island, Borneo, yet what a punch it packs: the treasure of turquoise-fringed desert islands with coral reefs swarming with marine biodiversity; trekkers' paradise Mt Kinabalu reaching 13435ft (4095m) into the clouds; and jungles pulsing with a menagerie of bug-eyed tarsiers, gibbons, pythons, clouded leopards and huge crocs. Around 55% of Sabah is forest, and protected areas such as the Maliau Basin and the Danum Valley Conservation Area are more accessible than ever.
Getting from one of Sabah’s highlights to the next is eminently doable. Whether it’s coffee-shop haunting in Kota Kinabalu, watching baby orangutans learning to climb at Sepilok, beach flopping on the northern Tip of Borneo, or searching for pygmy elephants near Tawau, your time here will feel like five vacations condensed into one.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Sabah.
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Sabah.