Sea Turtle spotted at Sabah Malaysia

The state of Sabah is where adventurous travellers can climb one of south east Asia’s highest mountains, enjoy renowned scuba diving spots, explore caves, trek lush jungles and tackle almost any water sport you care to mention. Making a trip there even more worthwhile is the fact that Sabah has retained an easygoing and charming hospitality.

Sabah is located on the north west coast of Malaysian Borneo, a short two hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, and is home to some of Malaysia’s most loved tourist attractions.

 There are two main airports in Sabah – in Kota Kinabalu on the west coast, and Sandakan on the east coast.

 Top five unforgettable experiences in Sabah include:

 1) Climb Mt Kinabalu

Climbing Mount Kinabalu is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and something all adventurous travellers should try! The climb will put your fitness to the test, with most climbers tackling the 4090 metre peak over two days.

You’ll set off in the morning and climb for the day, before staying at comfortable huts at Low’s Peak to acclimatise overnight. The best time to reach the summit on day two is at sunrise – watching the sun come up over the Kinabalu National Park is a sight you will remember for years to come.

If you don’t wish to climb the mountain, a trip to Kinabalu National Park is still a must-do – there are fantastic walking tracks, which offer spectacluar views and allow you to leave the ‘real’ world far behind.

How to get there: Mount Kinabalu is located 90 minutes from Kota Kinabalu airport, and the majority of the main accommodation options.

Insider tip: There are only a limited amount of climbers allowed on Mount Kinabalu each day, so ensure you book a few days before you wish to participate in your climb.

2) Dive Sipadan Island

If you prefer to get your action under the water, Sipadan Island is the spot for you.

Sipadan Island is not only Malaysia’s only oceanic island, it’s regularly voted one of the top places in the world for scuba diving. Here you can dive with swirling schools of barracuda, graceful turtles, white tip reef sharks and bumphead parrotfish amongst many other species that frequent the island.

Accommodation is no longer available on Sipadan Island, but divers can be ferried from the mainland or a nearby island such as Mabul or Kapalai, in a short boat ride.  

How to get there: From Kota Kinabalu, take a 55-minute flight to Tawau and enjoy an hour’s drive to Semporna. From Semporna, Sipadan is another 40 minutes by speedboat.

Insider Tip: Be sure to pre-arrange transportation with your respective resort/dive operator, to ensure access to Sipadan Island and your divers permit.

3) Take a cruise down the Kinabatangan River

From orangutans, to elephants, to rhinoceroses , a cruise up  the banks of the Kinabatangan River offers a unique opportunity to spot some of Asia’s most diverse wildlife. If you’re a wildlife lover, there a few better places in the world to be, than Sabah.

The best time to arrange a trip up the river is at dusk or dawn, but you can also arrange night safaris to spot crocodiles, birds and nocturnal animals.

Getting there:Sukau is located 135km from Sandakan Airport, with 42km of the journey taking place on gravel roads, and  through palm oil plantations. A 350km drive from Kota Kinabalu is also possible but will take at least six hours.

Insider Tip: Many major local tour companies run lodges in the Sukau area with packages that include accommodation, transportation, meals and guided tours.

4) Relax in style in Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu is one of Malaysia’s biggest cities, and is the perfect place to relax in style, away from the bustle of daily life. In Kota Kinabalu you will find a string of resorts and hotels  alongside a world class sailing marina, championship golf course, and picture-perfect beaches.

The enormous Sutera Harbour is a popular choice for visitors. Sutera Harbour’s upmarket

Magellan or affordable Pacific Sutera properties are located just ten minutes from the airport and five minutes from the heart of Kota Kinabalu and are a great base to spend a few days discovering Kota Kinabalu.

With a private beach, views of the sparkling coral islands, and legendary attentive service, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa offers the serenity of a secluded tropical luxury resort just 10 minutes away from the centre of downtown Kota Kinabalu.  

In Kota Kinabalu you can also spend your days shopping up a storm at the markets and malls, sampling the sumptuous cuisine, or visiting the city’s museums and mosques. From the city you can also plan day trips to the nearby islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, virgin coral reefs, tropical rain forests, and the mighty Mount Kinabalu which is only 90 minutes away. 

Getting there: Kota Kinabalu is a two hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, with regular flights available, daily.

5) Get to know Sabah’s official mascot – The Orangutan

At the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary you can see and learn more about these amazingly human-like creatures and watch them as they go about their curious daily business.

The best time to get a good view of these mystical mammals is during feeding time, which normally takes place in the morning and afternoon. 

While orangutan rehabilitation is still the primary goal at Sepilok, it also educates the public on conservation, research and assists other endangered species such as the rhinoceros.

Getting there: Regular domestic flights are available from Kuala Lumpur to Sandakan, and you can get to Sepilok from public buses or taxis in Sandakan. The distance between the town and Sepilok is approximately 23km. There are also regular tours, which can be easily organised on arrival in Sandakan.

Insider Tip: The ticketing counter is open daily from 09.00 – 11.00, and 14.00-15.30. Admission is RM30 for adults (approximately $AUD 10) and RM15 for children (approximately $AUD5).

Best time to visit: Sabah is a great place to visit year round, however it generally receives higher levels of rainfall in December and January.

For more information on Sabah go to: or download the Sabah information pack.

Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

At the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary you can see and learn more about these amazingly human-like creatures and watch them as they go about their curious daily business.