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25MAYThe Maldives of Malaysia: Reasons to Add Sabah to Your Bucket List

When tourists look for a paradise-like place to visit for vacation, the Maldives or Bora Bora comes to mind. Yes, these are breathtaking destinations but there are other places you may be sleeping on.

Sabah, a state of Malaysia in the northern part of the island of Borneo, has much to offer. From lush rainforests and magnificent mountains to turquoise waters and sub-aquatic friends, there are numerous reasons why Sabah should be your next touristic destination, whether you are living in or out of the country. Especially now that Malaysia is open to tourism. So, here are just 5 reasons why you should add this slice of heaven to your bucket list.


1# Sandy White Beaches & Turquoise Waters

Source: Elvira Liudinina on Medium

These pictures alone give us travel FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). In Semporna, a town in Sabah, there are many island day trips you can hop on. One of the most attractive features of Semporna is the chalets built on stilts or water villages above pristine waters.


Source: Elvira Liudinina on Medium


Source: Elvira Liudinina on Medium

In Sabah, you won’t find yourself lacking beach options. There are almost 400 islands in this Malaysian state. The Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park consists of five islands off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. Others include Kota Belud’s Mantanani Islands, Pulau Tiga: The Survivor Island, and the world-famous diving hotspot, Sipadan.

Scroll down to read more about why Sabah is a haven for divers and snorkellers internationally.


2# The Highest Mountain in Borneo & Malaysia

Holding the title as the highest peak in Borneo and Malaysia at 4,095 metres (13,435 feet), Mount Kinabalu is a go-to for travellers looking for a bit of adventure and thrill. However, it is worth remembering that climbing the mountain is no easy task. You would have to stay on the mountain overnight and secure your spot months in advance.

Source: Peripitus/WikiCommons

Yet there’s more to this mountain that tourists are generally unaware of. Mount Kinabalu holds spiritual significance to the locals. The mountain is considered a sacred site for the Kazadan-Dusun people. Chat with the indigenous peoples in the area to learn more about the culture and history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.


3# Local Food Experiences

Source: Borneo Travel

If you’re seeking a delicious gastronomic adventure, Sabah will warm your heart. The multiculturalism of Sabah is displayed in its many cuisines, which include Chinese, Japanese, Malay, Indian, and a variety of other indigenous cuisines. You also want to savour a blend of recognisable sour, spicy and sweet flavours, all of which serve to validate your visit to Sabah. Browse booths on Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens to sample grilled fish and crabs straight from the sea to get a taste of Kota Kinabalu’s nightlife.

What about a tasty noodle dish? Yes, please! Sabah features a number of iconic local comfort dishes, including the popular grilled fish with spicy shrimp paste (Ikan Bakar), fish curries and stew with hot and sour spices locally known as Oxtail Assam Pedas.


4# A World-Class Diving Site

Source: Chen Wu on Flickr

Whether you choose snorkelling or scuba diving, there are numerous diving sites in Sabah. With its reputation as a favourite site for divers around the world, Sipadan Island in Semporna is a regular stop for scuba diving and snorkelling activities.

In Sipadan Island’s Barracuda Point, a coral reef has formed around the rim of an ancient, dormant underwater volcano. In crystal-clear waters, there are over 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of kinds of coral. There are also dozens of sea turtles, reef sharks, bumphead parrotfish, and others.

Pro tip: A permit is required to dive at Sipadan Island so make sure you plan in advance.


5# The Cultural Diversity

Source: Nokuro on Shutterstock

Apart from its indigenous culture, Sabah’s main culture consists of a jumble of cultures, each of which was brought in by various groups of immigrants. Sabah’s population is made up of over thirty distinct ethnicities and races, with over eighty different languages and dialects.

The most remarkable aspect is that all of these tribes coexist and constitute a single community, each with its own culture, customs, traditions, art, and festivals. Today, each unique tradition and dialect is widely practised, so take advantage of this opportunity to learn about Sabah’s history and culture. Discover the five main ethnic groups at Mari Mari Cultural Village in Kota Kinabalu, or enjoy the Kadazan-Dusun Sumazau dance and the Murut’s Magunatip bamboo dance.



There are other unique reasons why Sabah should be on your travel list. However, we hope this list has inspired you with the many compelling reasons to visit Sabah this summer.

Not sure where to begin? All you have to do now is to book your travel and live life to the fullest. Enjoy the stunning vistas and delectable aromas as you make your way to the greatest restaurants in the region. What’s the wait? Sabah is calling!

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