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Sabah and Sarawak; an alternative asia destination.

Updated on June 20, 2011

Sabah: climb to new heights

Mount Kinabalu, Sabah.
Mount Kinabalu, Sabah.

Sabah; an adventurers paradise.

 Sabah; one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo in south east asia, has everything you need for an amazing asia experience away from the norm. Sabah's capital, Kota Kinabalu has an international airport and is easily reached from around the globe. The modern capital is the gateway to many an adventure.

For the climbers amongst you, Sabah has it's own peak. Standing at 4,095m, Mount Kinabalu is an achievable climb for most. Needing no special equipment or training, it is climbed regularly by tourists. Mount Kinabalu is an iconic symbol of Sabah, as it's peak can be seen from afar poking up out of the tropical mist.

Travel is relatively easy in Sabah, so the bus journey to the foothills of the Mountain is easily organised, and the climb, including both well maintained paths and steep rock sections is well set up for the regular tourist looking for excitement and a stunning view of Sabah.

Mamutik Island, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Sabah; Paradise Islands on the doorstep

 To relax your aching muscles following your summit of Mount Kinabalu, head back to Kota Kinabalu for a day on a paradise island. There are 5 to choose from within 20 - 30 minutes of the city. Catch a water taxi and enjoy a day relaxing on golden sands and gazing at blue skies. Sabah has an amazing ecological history, with a huge variety of flora and fauna. You are ensured to see a tropical mix of marine life in Sabah, as coral reefs attract many a species, making the pure blue waters off Kota Kinabalu excellent for diving and snorkeling.

Sepilok Orangutan sancturay, Sabah

Sabah's Orangutan haven

 Orangutan in Malay means 'man of the forest'. Unfortunately due to the popularity of palm oil in the western world (used in soaps, moisturises etc.) Sabah's rainforest, home to the Orangutan has been densely logged. The beautiful rainforest that once inhabited the vast majority of Sabah has now been replaced by more profitable palm oil plantations. Sadly, in many areas leading to the 'man of the forest' being killed, or left without a home. The Sepilok Orangutan sanctuary, about a days bus ride away from Kota Kinabalu has tried to address the growing concerns for the Orangutan community. The sanctuary rescues Orangutans from their destroyed homes around Sabah. The sanctuary provides a haven for the Orangutans following their often distressing ordeals. Sabah's Sepilok Orangutan sanctuary is also a great treat for the animal loving visitor. Gain a highly anticipated look at the animals as they are in the wild; see them swinging in the trees, feeding and enjoying the company of their friends, from platforms built into the forest. A fantastic nature experience and wonderful photo opportunity!

Danum Valley Rainforest, Sabah.
Danum Valley Rainforest, Sabah.

Danum Valley; primary rainforest.

One of the areas of Primary Rainforest still to exist in Sabah is Danum Valley. A famous area for it's ecological diversity, visiting Danum Valley is truly a trip into a different world. Situated 44 miles west of Lahad Datu, Sabah, Danum Valley is a conservation area that spans 170 square miles. A visit to Danum could lead to you bumping into a range of rare species, including the Sumatran rhino, Asian elephant, Clouded leopard and happily, the famous 'man of the forest'.

The accommodation at Danum is limited to the 'Rainforest Lodge', a small slice of luxury in the jungle! Although the choice is limited, this enhances it's exclusive reputation; it is predominantley a conservation area rather than a tourist resort. Whilst in Danum you must be prepared for the heat and the insects of Sabah. Wearing long sleeves, especially at night is a must to keep the moscito away. Yet, rest assured, the plight of the moscito is easily forgotten as you enjoy majical rainforest walks deafened by jungle noise. Also partake in night safari's to spot the elusive rhino or leopard and climb to 100m viewing towers to sit amongst the monkeys in the tree tops. Truly a once in a lifetime destination!


Sarawak traditional dance
Sarawak traditional dance

Sarawak; a cultural mixing pot.


Gunung Api (Fire Mountain) Sarwak

Sarawak Fire Mountain
Sarawak Fire Mountain

Adventures of Sarawak.

Sarawak, the other Malaysian state on the Island of Borneo is easily reached from Sabah and Kota Kinabalu. Sarawak 'the land of the hornbill', like Sabah, is a mixing pot of excellent holiday experiences. Sarawak is the home of the 'headhunter', so no trip to Sarawak would be complete without treading the highly acclaimed Headhunter trail. The trail traces the route of ancient tribesman, traversing valleys, hills and rivers. Amongst the highlights of the route; Gunung Api (Fire Mountain). Climb to the pinnacle of 2,377m to be amazed by towering 40m razor sharp limestone pinnacles and a panoramic view that makes the effort worth while ten times over.

Sarawak is also a mountain bikers heaven, having numerous trails that include a wide range of adventurous tracks travelling between beaches, waterfalls and local villages.

For the climbing enthusiast, Bario the main town is 1000 m above sea level and flanked by Mount Murud (2,454 m) and Batu Lawi (2,043 m) which is more challenging. Treks vary in length; some last up to seven days and cross into Indonesia. However, the cool air and friendly Kelabit folks make it an irresistible climb.

Diving in Sarawak

Sarawak Diving
Sarawak Diving

Sarawak from the sea

Sarawak offers excellent water based activities, with jet skiing, paragliding, windsurfing and sailing all on offer. Sarawak however is most well known for it's beautiful dive spots. Often compared favourably to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, Sarawak has many unexplored sites. This sense of adventure, together with the turquoise waters makes diving a popular excursion. There are many wreck dives to be explored to possibly find some hidden treasures of Sabah's past.

Sabah and Sarawak are in my opinion an excellent alternative to your regular asian destinations. Sabah and Sarawak have a sense of charm and history that makes you feel welcome and wanting to return. Sabah and Sarwak also offers a whole host of different adventures for all the family. If you are looking for other ideas for asian holidays , check out my other articles on 'Kota Kinabalu' and the 'Temples of Angkor Wat'.


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    • borneo profile image


      6 years ago from Austria

      Hi there! I visited Sarawak and Sabah last year and I think that they are truly amazing places. Anyone who visits Singapore or Kuala Lumpur should also travel to Borneo!



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