If you are planning a trip to Sabah province in Northern Borneo, Malaysia, you are most likely visiting for the stunning wildlife and natural beauty. And there is certainly a lot to see! But Sabah makes a good allround vacation destination, with beaches for some relaxing in the sun and plenty of restaurants, bars and shops in the capital city Kota Kinabalu to keep you entertained in the evenings. Here are my top recommendations for things to see and do in Sabah!
1. Danum Valley: One of the most remote and unspoiled wildlife experiences in my life has been a visit to the Danum Valley. It’s a large preservation area that is a favorite with wildlife researchers and photographers for its unusual wildlife. And you can get access to it without having to fund your own expedition. The Borneo Riverlodge is a comfortable base to explore the surrounding nature on jungle walks, to spot anything from tarantulas to orang utans in the wild!
2. Sepilok: While Danum Valley gives you a chance to see apes in the wild, the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center at Sepilok allows you to see our orange haired cousins up close and personal. While you are not guaranteed to see them, the chances are very good that you can observe them closely playing, eating or quarreling – just as they seem to observe you, making it easy to believe that they share 97% of our DNA!
3. Mount Kinabalu gives the name to the capital city and provides a stunning backdrop to Sabah with its height of 4,095m! It’s sacred to the locals, a national park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular hiking destination. If you don’t have the energy to make the tough climb to the peak, you can enjoy the views from afar, more leisurely walks around the base and a swim in the pools of the park!
4. Sabah Museum & Heritage Village: If you want to understand a little more about the history of Sabah and its people, you should plan a few hours at this museum in Kota Kinabalu. Fortunately, the practice of headhunting on Borneo is history, but it comes alive in an exhibit at this museum. You’ll also get to see some traditional homes rebuilt in the heritage village!
5. Beach Getaway: And after all that exploring you deserve some time on the beach. While I don’t consider them among the best in South East Asia, the sun is bright and the water is warm – that still beats many popular beaches in the Northern Hemisphere. So, relax a little after your nature and wildlife exploits, enjoy the local food in the many restaurants of Kota Kinabalu or enjoy a happy hour drink watching the sunset over the waterfront, it all adds up to a great vacation in Sabah, Borneo!
Sounds like things you want to do, read my travel tips How to get great flight deals to Sabah as well as How to get around Sabah and Where to stay in Sabah!
If you’d like some ideas on a possible itinerary and the cost, check out my Dream Trip Itineraries Luxury Trip from Europe and Mid-priced Trip from the US!
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