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Best Places to Visit in Sabah in 2019

  • Kota Kinabalu

    Kota Kinabalu
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    Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah, Borneo. This place is gaining increasing popularity as being the perfect resort destination especially due to the island city’s proximity to beautiful locations such as the luscious, green rainforests, the pretty tropical islands and the spectacularly heighted mountains.

    Kota Kinabalu is situated on the west coast of Sabah and is the largest city in the state. The location serves as the main gateway into the island of Borneio. This island city overlooks the grand South China sea which is essentially bordered by hills and the very famous Crocker Range. The urban, bustling life of Kita Kinabalu can be discovered in the northern and southern region of the city.

    The city is developing at an extremely fast pace too. The place now consists of 500,000 inhabitants and has experienced a surge of economic growth being the sole result of its instant development.

    Kota Kinabalu which was previously recognized by the name, Jesselton was initially under the British colonial rule between the years, 1880 and 1963. It was only after the British left that Sabah along with Kota Kinabalu became a part of Malaysia.

    Although most of the town was destroyed during the bombings of the second world war, the city developed greatly. These ruins still remain as a form of memory of what took place back then.

    As far as the tourism experience is concerned, the place is quite friendly. For the convenience of the tourists, there are endless resorts, restaurants and hotels designed to suit the varied needs to the people staying. Transportation wise, the city is well connected and therefore, you can definitely experience a smooth stay and touring around.

  • Kota Kinabalu Attractions

  • 01 Sapi Island

    Sapi Island
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    The smallest yet most enticing island in Malaysia, Sapi Island welcomes you with a potpourri of adrenaline activities. From sea-walking to scuba diving, snorkelling to coral flying, there are several activities which will make you fall in love with this charismatic island.

    With its sandy beaches, azure waters, dense forests, and rich aquatic life, Sapi is no short of a wonder. On the weekends, the island bustles with life as a large number of natives and outsiders flock this destination. Hence, if you want to experience serenity, visit here during the weekdays.

    Location: Sapi Island, Sabah, Malaysia

  • 02 Mataking Beach

    Mataking Beach
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    Another resort island with one of the best beaches in Malaysia, Mataking Island is the furthest from Semporna in east coast Sabah where a boat trip takes nearly an hour one way. Just stroll around the island to look for your own secluded place. One of the unique things about the island is that they have an underwater post office where you can literally post a letter or postcard. Highly recommended for those who want a 'Maldives' experience in Malaysia.


    Highlights: This is the perfect romantic getaway as the island has a spa, private bungalows, an outdoor Jacuzzi by the sea and all the romantic walks by the beach you want. Special arrangements can be made for honeymooners, weddings or private parties. The only way to get here is by booking a tour package from the resort. There are no day trips or visits here.

     How to Get There: It is about 40 minute’s boat ride from the mainland of Semporna in the province of Sabah.



  • 03 Tabin Wildlife Reserve

    Tabin Wildlife Reserve
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    Are you a wildlife enthusiast looking for an ideal location to spot vibrant wildlife of Sabah? If yes, then Tabin Wildlife Reserve is an apt place to visit in Sabah. A tourist spot enveloped with immense natural beauty, Tabin reserve welcomes you with a bundle of priceless experiences.

    It is spread across an area of 1120 Sq Km which remains covered with mangrove forest.  The most important animal species found in the reserve include gibbons, elephants, macaques, red-leaf monkeys, and orangutans. On your visit to Tabin Wildlife, soak in the charm of its natural surroundings or spend your time capturing its exotic wildlife in your camera.

    Location: Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia

    Entry fee: There is no entrance fee for getting inside Tabin Wildlife Reserve

  • 04 Layang-layang Island

    Layang-layang Island
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    Also known as Swallow Reef, Layang Layang is one of the islands located towards the north of Sabah Coast in Borneo Island.

    Highlights – This is a very remote island, as it located in highly deep waters. The diving spots are close to 2000m deep. There is a naval base here and tourists are prohibited from entering into this area. There are lots of restrictions for tourists in these waters, due to which marine life is well-preserved. You will be able to spot Hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and abundant coral reefs here. Scuba diving is the main activity here, with the island providing maximum depths of up to 40m. Some famous diving spots in Layang Layang are Crack Reef, D-Wall, The Point, Pier Diving, Dog Tooth Liar and Wrasse Strip.

    Location – 300km towards the north the Sabah Coast, Borneo Island.

    Timings – March to August.

    Price – Depends on the package.

  • 05 Mount Kinabalu

    Mount Kinabalu
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    If you want to experience adventure amidst mesmerising Borneo Island, there can’t be a better Sabah tourist place for you than Mount Kinabalu. Standing at an altitude of 4095 metres, Mount Kinabalu is the tallest peak in Malaysia.

    This World Heritage site is known for its exotic flora and fauna which adds to the fun of hiking. Mount Kinabalu trek is a 5-hour long journey which takes you through spectacular landscapes to Panalaban. On your hiking trip, don’t forget to get up early and witness the panoramic sunset view from the hilltop.

    Location: West Coast, Sabah, Malaysia

    Entry fee: RM 120 per person

  • 06 Bohey Dulang Beach

    Bohey Dulang Beach
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    Bohey Dulang Island is a mountainous island forged by the remains of an ancient volcano. The southern side of the lagoon is open but just below the surface is a protracted stretch of reef which represents the southern cratered fringe. The island is best known for its spectacular views at the top of its peak. It is possible to trail around the island at low tide by following the narrow edges of the beach and mangroves, although this involves scrambling over rocks or through vegetation's.

    Highlights: Prepare to be greeted by a host of tropical flora and fauna during the arduous but rewarding hiking trail to the top of Bohey Dulang Peak. Majestic views of the sapphire blue lagoon await those who make it through the hour long climb.

    How to Get There: Bohey Dulang is located about 35 minutes by boat from Semporna, 20 minutes from Pom Pom, 30 minutes from Mataking and 1.5 hours from Mabul.


  • 07 A'Famosa Theme Park

    A'Famosa Theme Park
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    Looking to rush to a water park during the harsh summers? A’Famosa Theme Park is the place where you have to head to, with your families and friends and splash away to glory to beat the scorching heat.

    – This is believed to the biggest theme park in Malaysia and contains a lot of entertaining game pool and water slides that provide you highly thrilling experiences of your lifetime. If you are tired of playing water games, you can relax at the white sands here and enjoy some serene blissful moments.

    Location –
    Simpang Ampat, Malacca. Activities – Arabian Villages, Kids’ Adventure Play Pool, Sandy Beach, Lazy River, Wave Pool, Inner Tube Slides, Family Raft Drive, High Speed Slides, Body Slides, Splash and many more.

    Price –
    Water Park plus lunch rates are RM43 and RM 38 for adults and kids respectively on weekdays; it is RM49 and RM43 for adults and kids respectively on weekends.

    Timings –
    11AM to 7PM (Monday to Friday) and 9AM to 7PM (Weekends, School & Public Holidays).

  • 08 Manukan Island Resort

    Manukan Island Resort
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    The Manukan Island Resort is a luxury private island resort. This serene retreat offers exquisite accommodation, sophisticated cuisine and unparalleled water sport activities in one of the most pristine corner of the world. Manukan Island is surrounded by a protected coral reef, and the island boasts a pristine rainforest and beautiful white sand beaches.

    Location: Manukan Island, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

    Highlights: This resort features an outdoor pool, a restaurant and spacious villas with private terraces and dining areas. The resort offers a wide range of activities such as diving, snorkeling and trekking. For views of marine life, glass-bottomed boat rides are available.

    Price: Approximate price for a room starts at 700 MYR.

  • 09 Poring Hot Springs

    Poring Hot Springs
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    Your Kinabalu tour is incomplete without a visit to Poring Hot Springs. This place is often frequented by locals and tourists who want to release their stress by stepping into the warm sulphuric mineral spring. In addition to Poring Hot Spring, you can also explore tropical gardens, butterfly farm, Poring canopy walkway, Rafflesia flower site and Orchid conservation centre.

    With its alluring landscape and relaxing environment, it is one of the most sought-after places to visit in Sabah.

    Location: Ranau, Sabah, Malaysia

    Timing: 7:00 AM-6:00 PM

    Entry fee: MYR 15 per person

  • 10 Signal Hill Observatory Tower

    Signal Hill Observatory Tower
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    Do you want to relish the bird's eye view of Kota Kinabalu? If yes, then head towards Signal Hill Observatory Tower and capture some of the best shots of Sabah. The mesmerising views of Kota Kinabalu, its coastline, and lush green patches from the highest point of the city are totally worth it.

    One can also catch a glimpse of Likas Bay, Abdul Rahman Park and Tanjung Aru from this point. The tower can be easily reached by climbing the wooden steps through the dense forests. If you are a nature buff, this is one of the most charismatic places to visit in Sabah.

    Jalan Bukit Bendera, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

    Entry fee:
    Entry into this tower is free of cost.

    9:00 AM -11:00 PM

  • 11 Kokol Hill

    Kokol Hill
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    If you are done visiting the islands and beaches and are looking for some scenic beauty in the Kota Kinabalu, Kokol Hill is a place you must go. It is a place, which can give you a perfect view of Mount Kinabalu and you can also enjoy a serene and elegant sunset with your someone special. The place is a must visit, especially if you are looking some quiet time, away from the hustle and bustle of the city amidst hills and close to the nature. You can even spend some great nights over the Kokol Hill as there are various home stays and resorts allowing you to enjoy the weather and scenic beauty of the place.

    How to reach: The Kokol Hill is just a 1-hour drive from the main Kota Kinabalu city

  • 12 Gaya Street Sunday Market

    Gaya Street Sunday Market
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    Also known as the Sunday market, Gaya Street should be in every traveller’s bucket list. The place has been of importance to the traders for over a hundred years. It’s the perfect place for those who want to tour the local markets. Tourists can buy a variety of things like, authentic Malaya ingredients, a large variety of sea food, Malayan art and craft etc.

    Highlights: If you are looking to buy some souvenirs to take back home, then this is the correct place to do so. People can also find traditional Malaysian artifacts. If you are a food lover, then you can explore the various ingredients for authentic Malaysian cuisines.

    Location: It is located in the center of the city; hence people can stroll down to this place. The market is well connected with the public transport as well, so reaching there is not a problem.

    Timing: The best time to visit the market is during the daytime on Sundays.

  • 13 Mantanani Island

    Mantanani Island
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    Mantantani Island ( a group of 3 islands) is a paradise for ornithologists as different species of birds come here during the migratory period.

    Highlights – Mantanani Besar, Mantanani Kecil and Lungisan are the 3 islands that make up this group. The beach of this island runs up to 2500m. The island itself is shaped like a knife and provides great opportunities for marine life viewing up to 40m in depth. One of the major beauties of this island is that it is not visited much by tourists. Therefore, you can view the unspoilt beauty of the island in its fullest form when you come here. Do not miss to see the Scops Owl when you come here, as it is the only place in Sabah where you will get this chance.

    Location – Sabah State, north Borneo Island.

     Timings – April to November.

    Price – Activities start from RM20 per person

  • 14 Pulau Kapalai Beach

    Pulau Kapalai Beach
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    Beautifully impressive and romantic but the island is actually a sand bank island and is one of the most enchanting islands in Sabah Borneo. What makes this beach special is that the resort is a stand-alone unit with no one else around it. Usually when the tide is down, the sand bank becomes a spectacular beach, otherwise, they have an elevated man-made beach deck with special white sand where you can chill.


      Highlights: This private island is well known as the romantic paradise for special honeymooners and exclusive private weddings.

      How to Get There: The unique Kapalai Island stands above a huge sand bank which is about 1 hour by boat from Semporna in east coast Sabah. It is also a 10 minute boat ride from the well-known  Mabul Island.

  • 15 Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

    Lok Kawi Wildlife Park
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    If you are a big-time wildlife buff, this place will certainly appeal to you. Lok Kawi Wildlife Park houses different wildlife species including Malayan Tiger, Borneo Pygmy Elephants, and Proboscis Monkeys. Marking its presence since 2007, this wildlife hub consists of two sections, namely Zoological and Botanical. It is a family-oriented place where you can spend peaceful time with your family or friends amidst natural landscapes.

    If you are visiting here along with your kids, explore the Children Zoo and gift them a trip for a lifetime. You can also head for a jungle trek in its botanical trail which is around 1.4 Km long.

    Location: Jalan Penampang, Sabha, Malaysia

    Timings: 9:30 AM-5:30 PM

    Entry fee: The entrance fee for Malaysian adults and Malaysian kids is RM 10 and RM 5, respectively. For foreign adults, the fee is RM 20, while for foreign kids, it is RM 10.

  • 16 Mamutik Island

    Mamutik Island
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    In the group of five islands among the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, the Mamutik Island is the second furthest. Though the waters of Mamutik Island is not as clear as the Sapi Island, but you do get to indulge in some amazing water sports activity and some world-class beach side cafes and restaurants serving the lip-smacking Malay and continental cuisines. There are also some beautiful souvenir shops from where you can take some to your family or friends.

    Location: The island is located in the downtown area of Kota Kinabalu and is off the coast. From the hotel Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, you can reach to the Jesselton Jetty point with 2 minute drive or by taking a 10-minute walk from where there are boats available regularly to reach the island.

    Price: You have to pay an entree fees of 10 MYR per person once to get inside the island.

  • 17 Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

    Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
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    Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park features five spectacular islands including Pulau Manukan, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Mamutik, Pulau Gaya, and Pulau Sulug. Pulau Gaya is the largest of all the islands and offers a comfortable stay to the visitors looking for a peaceful overnight escape from the city.

    The park is known for its enthralling beach activities that set the visitors in a perfect mood. On your visit to the national park, explore the charm of the marine world or set your adrenaline pumping by engaging in water sports like scuba diving and snorkelling. This tourist magnet is just 20-minutes drive away from Kota Kinabalu.

    Location: Sabah, Malaysia

    Timings: 8:30 AM-5:00 PM

    Entry fee: 53 MYR per person

  • 18 Lankayan Beach

    Lankayan Beach
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    Lankayan Island is a tiny tropical coral resort island in the Sulu Sea, northeast of the island of Borneo, in the state of Sabah. This beautiful little island with thick tropical growth and sandy beaches offers an absolutely pure tropical wildlife experience. It's situated in a National Park region. A Turtle Rehabilitation centre is present on the island and is open to the visitors and you can watch egg laying and turtle hatch lings at times.


    Highlights: The island is also one of Sabah's top diving spots with the availability of jungle interior and interesting diving attracts both divers and non-divers love to tour Lankayan.

     How to Get There: The island is also one of Sabah's top diving spots with the availability of jungle interior and interesting diving attracts both divers and non-divers love to tour Lankayan.


  • 19 Pulau Mantanani Beach

    Pulau Mantanani Beach
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    Pulau Mantanani is a cluster of three isolated tiny islands to the northwest of Kota Belud. It was so isolated in fact that not until recently, only a few locals knew the existence of the islands. One of the main reasons that Mantanani Islands is popular among tourists is because of its picturesque scenery, cool breezes and serene environment. But most popular attraction of Pulau Mantanani are the dugongs. The Mantanani Islands seem to provide the ideal habitats for dugongs with sea grass beds and shallow sandy areas within the encircling fringing reef of the islands.


    Highlights: These islands present popular diving and snorkeling destinations because of their crystal clear waters and colourful coral reefs.

    How to Get There: The islands are accessible by a one-hour speedboat journey from Kuala Abai jetty, Kota Belud, 80 km north-east of Kota Kinabalu.

  • 20 Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

    Kota Kinabalu City Mosque
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    Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is the second most important mosque in the whole Kota Kinabalu after the State Mosque, located in Sembulan. It is a perfect blend of modern and Islamic architecture and can hold more than 12,000 people in a single time. The architecture of the mosque highly resembles the Nabawi Mosque in Medina. The man-made lagoons surrounding the mosque gives its visitors an elegant and dramatic look, especially on a full moon night and is the largest mosque in Kota Kinabalu.

     Location: The mosque is just 3 KM from the main Kota Kinabalu City and is easily accessible.

     How to reach: Either you can take a local taxi, which will cost you around 15 MYR per way or you can take Bus No. 5A from the front of Hotel Shangri-La, which will cost you around 1.50 MYR per  person per way.

     Timings: 8 AM to 5 PM (Fridays closed)

  • 21 Tanjung Aru Beach

    Tanjung Aru Beach
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    One of the most secluded attractions in Sabah, Tanjung Aru Beach is an ideal getaway for peace seekers and nature buffs. This picturesque sandy beach stretches from Tanjung Aru resort to the south of the airport. The beach flaunts the best shoreline in the town where visitors can relish the view of turquoise blue ocean and fine-powdered sands.

    Take a plunge into its deep waters or see the sun going down by the beachside; there are ample of activities that you can do on this spectacular spot. With its panoramic sunset views, azure water, and a plethora of water activities, Tanjung Aru has emerged as the most sought-after picnic spot in Sabah.

    Location: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia