Friday, September 25, 2015

Why Sabah in Malaysian Borneo Should be on Your Travel List

If you have never heard of Sabah before, you are not alone. This Malaysian state is located on the island of Borneo and welcomes just 3 million visitors per year. Sabah occupies an area of 73,631 km2 and shares Borneo with Indonesian Kalimantan, Malaysian Sarawak and the Kingdom of Brunei. Despite its small area, the state is chock-full of attractions and experiences that make it by far the most interesting part of Borneo.

Earlier this month (September 2015) we spent 2 weeks exploring Sabah’s main attractions and off the beaten sights. Here are just a few reasons why we think you should consider adding Sabah to your next vacation plans.

1. Feel the Pulse of Modern Malaysia

When we arrived in Kota Kinabalu, the main city of the Sabah region, it was obvious – this isn’t just another chaotic and impoverished SEA city. Kota Kinabalu’s modern hip vibe, great nightlife, luxurious hotel scene, beautiful harbour, and well developed infrastructure, make it one of the most orderly and enjoyable cities we have ever visited in SEA. Kota Kinabalu or KK, as the locals refer to it, is more like a younger cousin of Singapore than a Kuala Lumpur wanna-be.

There is enough to do in KK and its surroundings to warrant a week long trip to Sabah. You can spend your days hiking, snorkelling, or diving on the nearby islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (TARP), or spend your evenings dining at the seafood restaurants by the waterfront. Shop till you drop at one of KK’s many shopping centres or if you are like us, you might opt for a more local shopping experience by visiting the Handicraft market, the Sunday market, or the night market.

2. Experience World Class Diving at Sipadan

Sipadan Island almost always occupies a spot on the list of top 10 dive sites in the world, and we now understand why. Sipadan Island, located in the South east of Sabah, is teeming with marine life.

Here schools of jack fish don’t just swim by you, they completely surround you, schools of humphead parrotfish get so close you struggle to not run into them. Barracuda, giant trevally, Napoleon Wrasse and pretty much every other kind of fish you could expect to find in the the waters in S.E.A. will likely make its appearance at Sipadan. Even though diving in Sipadan is pricey and Sipadan permits can be tough to come by, this is an absolute must for any avid diver!

But even aside from Sipadan, the waters along Sabah’s coastline offers a number of different regions where divers can enjoy the beauty of Sabah from below.

3. Get Up Close and Personal With the Elusive Orang Utans

Due to the large scale deforestation that has taken place in borneo over the last 30-40 years, population of Orang Utans have been put at risk of extinction. Sabah remains one of the few places left in the world where you can come face to face (or back to face in Max’s case) with wild Orang Utans.