FlyKLIA Travelling Guide: Sabah, the Land Below the Wind

FlyKLIA Travelling Guide: Sabah, the Land Below the Wind

Sabah is the northern neighbour of Sarawak over in Borneo, the largest island in Asia. While it may not be “Down Under”, as the Land Below the Wind, it still has plenty of amazing experiences to offer. Aim to conquer the tallest mountain in Malaysia, or experience a leisurely cruise along the second-longest river in Malaysia. Additionally, there are so many islands to explore in Sabah—a total of 394—that the islands of Sabah would be a feature article of their own. The food culture of Sabah is also very extensive, so we’re here to show you all the things you should try in Sabah.

Advisory:

At the moment, entry into Sabah from other Malaysian states, including Sarawak, requires visitors to undergo RT-PCR tests three days prior to entry.

Destinations

Mount Kinabalu

The top destination in Malaysia is quite literally Mount Kinabalu as it’s the highest peak in Malaysia at 4,095 metres above sea level. Despite its height, no mountaineering equipment is necessary to climb to the top, but regulations require climbers to be accompanied by accredited guides at all times. Mount Kinabalu is located within Kinabalu Park, which was designated by UNESCO in December 2000 as Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site. It has been identified as a Centre of Plant Diversity for Southeast Asia as well as a globally important Centre of Plant Endemism due to the presence of an estimated 5,000–6,000 vascular plant species, including 1,000 orchid species. Kinabalu Park is perfect for free climbers and nature lovers alike.

  • Entrance Fee: 
    • Non-Malaysian: RM15 for adults, RM10 for children
    • Malaysian: RM3 for adults, RM1 for children
  • Other fees:
    • Mountain Climbing Fee: RM120 + RM7 for insurance
  • Opening times: 7 AM–5 PM daily
  • Contact: 08-888 9888

Poring Hot Spring

Poring Hot Spring is the best spot to visit after climbing Mount Kinabalu. The natural hot springs soothe the tired and aching muscles of hikers with mineral-filled warm waters. The outdoor hot springs are among the most popular. There are several areas with different features, such as a small shallow pool for soaking one’s feet and outdoor bathtubs of several sizes for a different number of people from couples to large families. The outdoor bathtubs are shaded from the sun. If you wish for more privacy, there are also the indoor bathtubs, but they require additional purchasing of tickets and are priced by the hour. If you don’t fancy hot water, they have rock pools filled with ice-cold mountain water. For those looking for a bit more excitement, there’s a slide pool. Access to the outdoor hot springs and the rock pools comes at no additional cost, but the slide pool incurs an additional RM3 per person. Apart from purchasing entry tickets, all other additional tickets such as admissions for indoor bathtubs and the slide pool are also purchased at the entrance.

  • Entrance Fee: 
    • Non-Malaysian: RM15 for adults, RM10 for children
    • Malaysian: RM3 for adults, RM1 for children
  • Other fees:
    • Standard Indoor Bathtub: RM15 per hour
    • Deluxe Indoor Bathtub: RM20 per hour
    • Slide Pool: RM3 per person
  • Opening times: 9AM–5PM daily
  • Contact: 08-887 0102

Poring Canopy Walkway

Poring Canopy Walkway is just a 5-minute walk away from Poring Hot Spring. It features the highest canopy walkway in Sabah, at up to 41 metres above ground level. Look up, and you can see the canopy of trees with beautiful patterns against the blue sky. With the canopy walkway, you can observe many animals that spend most of their time in the canopy rather than on the ground. If you’re planning to take photos or videos, however, beware the additional charges.

  • Entrance Fee:
    • Non-Malaysian: RM5 for adults, RM2.50 for children
    • Malaysian: RM3 for adults, RM1.50 for children
  • Other fees:
    • Camera Fee: RM5 per visitor
    • Video Fee: RM30 per visitor
  • Opening times: 8AM–4PM daily
  • Contact: 08-887 0102

Kinabatangan River

The longest river in Sabah and the second-longest in Malaysia, Kinabatangan River is part of the Sukau-Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. It is also one of the world’s richest ecosystems, being one of only two places in the world where 10 species of primates can be found, including the famous proboscis monkey and orangutan, not to mention the fact that all eight species of hornbill in Borneo can be found along the river too. Did we mention that pygmy elephants, crocodiles, and even freshwater sharks and Irrawaddy dolphins can also be observed on occasion? For animal lovers, a cruise along the Kinabatangan River would make for an unforgettable experience.

Mari Mari Cultural Village

The five main tribes of Sabah are Dusun, Rungus, Lundayeh, Bajau, and Murut. There’s one place in Sabah where you can observe and appreciate the cultures and customs of all five tribes together, and that is in Mari Mari Cultural Village. You get the opportunity to experience the cultures of these five tribes with all five of your senses, as you participate in their customs and activities, including making and eating their food. Choose either the Morning Session or Afternoon Session.

  • Package Fee: RM175 for adults, RM155 for children (inclusive of activities, a meal, and pick up from hotels within Kota Kinabalu)
  • Opening Times: 10AM–6PM daily
  • Contact: 013-881 4921

Food

Sabah has many unique delicacies that cannot be found elsewhere. Rather than a list of restaurants, here is a list of these delicious foods for you to search for along your trip there.

Hinava

One of the first foods you should try when you’re in Sabah is called Hinava, which is a special dish made using fresh raw fish slices mixed with lime juice, cili padi, bitter gourd, and bambangan seeds. Usually, tenggiri (mackerel) is used, but sometimes instead of mackerel, squid, prawns, and even shark can also substitute the fish. The freshness of the raw fish is brought forth by the lime juice, and the other ingredients add a few extra layers to the flavour and texture of this dish. Traditionally served during weddings and the Kaamatan Festival, it can also be found in several restaurants in Kota Kinabalu.

Pinasakan

Pinasakan is another fish dish. Ikan basung are slowly braised over a low fire together with a sauce made from turmeric, lemongrass, ginger, chillies, salt, and slices of asam keping. This was originally done to preserve the fish, but nowadays with refrigeration, this dish is made this way to preserve the delicious flavours of tradition.

UFO Tarts

You’ll come across these tiny tarts with a unique shape, and they’re called UFO tarts after the shape they came to resemble (though they have a less appetising Chinese name). These tarts are topped with custard and meringue or fresh honeyed cream, and they need to be eaten fresh for the full flavours to be enjoyed.

Travel

Flight

Flights from other states to Kota Kinabalu International Airport are available.

Accommodation

There is a wide variety of places to stay surrounding Kinabalu Park. This is recommended for those looking to hike up Mount Kinabalu, especially when Kinabalu Park is about two hours’ drive from Kota Kinabalu. Those looking to hike up all the way to the peak of Mount Kinabalu should also consider lodging overnight at the Panabalan Base Camp before continuing the journey up to the peak.

And there you have it! Some of Sabah’s most interesting destinations and foods, not including the islands of Sabah! What are some of your best experiences in Sabah? Let us know in the comments down below!

Your Gateways to Getaways,
FlyKLIA

Facebook Comments

Written by FlyKLIA

Your Gateways To Getaways. Get inspired to travel the world, share exciting travel stories and be rewarded for being a part of Malaysia’s Largest Travellers Community.