Sabah, Land Below the Wind is located on the third largest island in the world. It is also known as the second largest state out of Malaysia’s thirteen states. This heavenly state is a mysterious bliss that is are rapidly evolving as one of the top holiday destinations not only in Malaysia but worldwide too. Abundantly blessed with a various range of wildlife, unique cultures, and national parks, it is not a surprise that this state is gaining its popularity among avid travellers.
When you think of Sabah, what springs to mind? Well, the common places and activities like climbing the Mount Kinabalu, or go diving in Mabul Island, or perhaps visit the Philippine Market in the city centre. Right? In this article, I will take you to 12 hidden places and remarkable experiences you can get while in Sabah. Nothing too common. Trust me, when I say hidden, not many people out there know these places yet. You are about to get that first class “secret” scoop! Also, discover these beautiful places that will make you fall in love with Sabah!
1. Cruising on Kilas River
Klias River is an iconic river which is situated about 2 hours away by vehicle from the city center, Kota Kinabalu. Located strategically in a Mangrove Forest River and within this forest reserve, visitors can easily see the tree-dwelling animals, the Proboscis Monkeys while cruising on this river. The long-nosed monkeys enjoy settling down for the night amongst green trees by the banks of Klias River. Thus, it gives a golden opportunity for visitors to observe them in a really close vicinity. Snap some pictures, and do say hello to them!
2. Be amazed by the Sabah’s Lost World (Maliau Basin)
Located in central Sabah, one of two east Malaysian states on the island of Borneo, Maliau Basin Conservation Area is accessible from Tawau or Kota Kinabalu and it takes around 4 to 5-hour drive. The 4wds vehicle is recommended as part of the journey is on dirt or gravelled road. Nature lovers will be remarkably amazed by the beauty of Maliau Basin as it is truly an outstanding site for jungle trekking and bird watching. The highlight of an adventure in Maliau Basin is to trek the majestic 7 tiers, Maliau Falls. So don’t forget to try it out!
3. Feel the Mongolian experience at the Mongolian Yurt, Sabah
Have you heard of the Mongolian Yurt? Nope, it is not in Mongolia, but you can find it in Sabah, the Land Below the Wind! A Mongolian yurt is a transportable, bent dwelling structure conventionally used by nomads in Mongolia as their shelter or house. In Central of Asia, Yurts have existed for 3000 years, to say the very least. The Mongolian Yurt in Kundasang, Sabah was built since 2011 and all the circular-shaped yurt they have in Kundasang is superbly comfortable too! There are many activities you can do if you ought to try and spend the night here such as stargazing, having a BBQ session with your friends and family, as well as farm visiting as it is located very near to some interesting vegetable farms.
4. Visit Mari Mari Cultural Village
Mari Mari Cultural Village is situated deep in the countryside away from the urban and hectic Kota Kinabalu city. This cultural village operates as a museum that preserves Sabah’s authentic cultures. Its main goal is to share the knowledge, history, culture, and tradition of Borneo with you so that it will always be preserved. The village features 5 different ethnic tribes in one village namely the rice farmer Kadazan-Dusun, the longhouse resident Rungus, the hunters and fisherman Lundayeh, the cowboy and the sea gypsy Bajau, and the famously feared headhunting tribe, the Murut! This is a great way for you to get to know the wonders of Sabah through the indigenous people.
5. See baby turtles on Selingan Island
Located in the city of Sandakan, Selingan Island is the second-largest island of the clusters of islands that makes up Turtle Island. In this island, it contains the park’s headquarters, a visitor’s centre, basic tourist amenities, accommodation and also a turtle hatchery. There are chalets on this Island and they can lodge up to a maximum of 60 people a night, limiting the number of visitors on the island at any given day. This is to avoid pressure on the environment and to the turtles as well. So, if you are visiting Sabah, do not miss this golden chance to witness the elusive turtles lay their eggs on the beach shores. Priceless moment I can say!
6. Turn your world upside down at the Borneo’s Upside Down House
If you are in hope to experience something rare when you visit Sabah, this is the perfect place for you to stop by. The ‘Rumah Terbalik’ which translates to ‘Upside Down House’ is one of the firsts of its kind in South East Asia. This house is brilliant because of its main “feature” which is everything inside the house is upside down. From household appliances, furniture, even the insects portrayed in the house is upside down. Visitors will also be able to see some Sabahans’ décor portrayed in this house. It has a garage and the car parked in the garage is also upside down! Imagine how fun that is? And for your information, this architectural marvel has also been included in the Malaysia Book of Records as it is the first of its kind in the country. WOW!
7. Go diving at Sibuan Island
SIbuan Island is part of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park, which is the biggest marine park in Sabah. There is a total of 8 islands in this Park namely Bodgaya, Bohey Dulang, Sibuan, Tetagan, Sebangkat, Selakan, Maiga, and Mantabuan. The area is very famous among divers for its wide range of marine life and an abundance of beautiful corals. So, if you are an avid diver, this is the spot for you! Something not too commercialized like Mabul or even Tiga Island.
8. View Sabah from high above the sky by Paragliding at Kokol Hill
Bukit Kokol Paragliding Park offers one of the finest paragliding locations in Malaysia with spectacular views and stable weather that makes everything easy to handle. The take-off site is located at Kokol Hill, Manggatal and it is 2600 above sea level. When you try this activity, your flight will bring you over the ridges giving you a bird’s eyes view of the spectacular Kota Kinabalu City, TARP – Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (Gaya Island, Mamutik Island, Manukan Island, Sapi Island and Sulug Island) and, of course, the majestic view of Mount Kinabalu as the perfect backdrop!
9. Experience fish spa at the Tagal Tinopikon Park
Placed at Notoruss Village, Penampang, Sabah, Malaysia, Tagal Tinopikon has been actively operating since February 2014. It is situated just 40 minutes from the central city of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu. To get here, one needs to pass through Donggongoon Town heading towards Tambunan road. Visiting this park is so rejuvenating and fun. The amazing part of this whole experience is the “Pelian Fish” which is famously known as the gem of the river whereby it can give you some sort of fish spa therapy that provides health benefits. Vacation while improving your health, this is it! You must try this out as it is so enjoyable. The Tagal Tinopikon Park is a perfect hideaway for anyone who yearns to revitalize or recharge from an uptight lifestyle and work.
10. Rejuvenate at the cozy Sinurambi Bed & Breakfast
Superb place, Sinurambi is set on a Crocker Range mountain top with awe-inspiring views of the grandiose Mount Kinabalu. It is situated in Inobong, Penampang. Categorized as Bed and Breakfast in terms of accommodation, this private and unique country house is an architectural delight with well-appointed, perfect, impressive rooms and cabins, all accompanied with remarkable sceneries! I highly suggest that you try and spend the night here as it is so peaceful and very tranquil giving you a stress-free getaway experience.
11. Dig deeper about the legend of the Supirak Island
Located in Pitas, this is a unique travel destination in Sabah and I bet some of you are clueless about this spot. If you are familiar to some of the Malays olden folklores, the story of Supirak Island is quite similar to the story of Tanggang. The place and time are the only difference between these two stories. Both of these folklores’ have been around since decades ago. To get to this one of a kind island, you can take a boat ride in Malubang jetty which is located very near to a school.
It takes only 5 minutes, but if you depart from Bengkoka, the journey will be around an hour. Upon reaching the Island, one will surely be mesmerized by the exquisiteness and splendour of stone as it really resembles a humongous ship! I can assure you that this place can impress you and give you a diff feel about all the common places you have heard about Sabah.
12. Try the Coral Flyer Zipline in Sabah
This activity will surely give you an adrenaline rush and fits those who are looking for more adventures while having a vacation in Sabah’s beautiful islands. The zip line stretches across a passage that divides Sapi and Gaya Island, at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. It offers 250m of exciting zip lining experience that provides a once of a lifetime chance for you to be mesmerized by Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park from a whole new perspective!