Often called the “Land Below The Wind' because it lies below the typhoon belt, Sabah occupies the eastern part of North Borneo and is East Malaysia's second largest state, with an area of 28,764.61sq.miles. Sabah is mountainous with lush tropical rainforests and its population of nearly 2 million is made up of 32 colorful ethnic communities. Kota Kinabalu, the capital, is a fertile lowland plain where most commercial and administrative activity is concentrated. It is the eastern gateway to Malaysia, with direct air links to Brunei, Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan.
Places of Interest
|Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
A 20-minute speedboat ride from Kota Kinabalu brings you to this 50-hectare marine park. The five islands that make up the park are great getaways for simply lazing on the clean, white beaches or for more strenuous activities like snorkeling, diving, or indulging in underwater observation of the plentiful marine life or underwater photography.
|Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center
The word ‘orangutan' means man of the jungle. Orangutans that have been rescued from illegal captivity or have lost their mothers are rehabilitated until they adapt to the natural conditions of the jungle. Facilities here include chalets and a cafeteria.
|Getting there: The center is located in town of Sepilok, 15.53 miles west of Sandakan. Local buses are available from Sandakan while long distance coaches operate from Kota Kinabalu.|
Kinabalu Park, the entrance to Mount Kinabalu, is located at 5,200 feet above sea level and is the main starting point for the summit trail that leads to the top of Mt. Kinabalu. Its covers an area of 468 sq miles and is made up of Mount Kinabalu, Mount Tambayukon and the foothills. The mountains have a fascinating geological history, taking 'just' a million years to form. The mighty Mount Kinabalu is actually a granite massif that was later thrust upwards through the crust of the surface.
KK Heritage Walk is a unique way of introducing Sabah's Heritage to visitors. A walk allows tourists to visit historical sites and structures, stroll down the oldest street in Kota Kinabalu, learn about its pre-war history, when Sabah was known as North Borneo, and post-independence eras while mingling with the locals.
North Borneo Railway
This unique attraction will be a sure hit with the romantics. Built in the mid 1880s by the British North Borneo Company, the train served as the major form of transportation between towns. Today, it offers a memorable ride from Tanjung Aru to Papar, a nostalgia reminder to passengers of bygone colonial days, while showing the best of Sabah's countryside.
Getting there:The train operates twice weekly. Bookings may be made with selected travel agents in Kota Kinabalu or directly with the railway company.
Danum Valley Conservation Area
The Danum Valley Conservation Area is rich in wild life. The rare Sumatran rhinoceros, orangutans, gibbons, mouse deer and bearded pig can all be found here. Some 270 species of birds have been recorded in the area. The Danum Field Research Center is located within the confines of this 440 sq km forest reserve. It also boasts one of the first eco-resorts, known as the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, which features a restaurant, bar, and comfortable chalets overlooking the Danum River. Jungle treks, river swimming, bird watching, night jungle tours and excursions to nearby logging sites and timber malls are some of the activities offered here.
Set in a rainforest, The Rafflesia Center has several live specimens of the largest flower in the world, found natively on Borneo island.
Getting there: Local transport is available to Tambunan, 49.7 miles from Kota Kinabalu.
The Tamu weekly bazaar at Kota Belud celebrates a carnival atmosphere. Every Sunday, village horsemen dressed in traditional garb ride in from the countryside to trade their produce. The Bajau tribesmen also demonstrate how to make parangs, a local form of the machete.
Getting there: Local transport is available to Kota Belud, 46.60 miles northeast of Kota Kinabalu.
List of Islands
One of the islands off Sandakan is Berhala, easily reached by motor launches. The place is ideal for picnicking and swimming. A lighthouse on the highest point offers photographers captivating views.
Lying 40km north of Sandakan in the Sulu Sea is Turtle Islands Park, a group of eights islands. The largest of them are Pulau Selingaan, Pulau Bakungan Kechil and Pulau Gulisan. From July to October, Green and Hawksbill turtles come to lay their eggs. Chalets are available on Pulau Selingaan. The boat ride from Sandakan to the island takes from 1-3 hours.
Layang Layang Island
Approximately 525 feet northwest of Kota Kinbalu is Layang Layang Island. All around its rim, the sea-bed drops 6,561 ft m and visibility averages 180 ft. The marine life in the waters around Layang Layang include: hammerhead sharks, manta rays, hawksbill turtles, tuna and corals. The best time to visit Layang Layang is the calm months from February to September.