A recent commission from Lonely Planet has me reminiscing over Sabah, her blood red sunsets and bold, bewildering wildlife.
Often overlooked in favour of sister state Sarawak, Sabah mixes up bright cities, lemongrass, turquoise water and eco-reserves and rude-looking monkeys like nowhere else on earth. Without further ado, here's our inside guide to the stunning places of interest in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently has some travel warnings in place regarding Sabah, so please consider this when planning a trip.
Disclosure -I visited these beautiful places of interest in Sabah as part of a project with iAmbassador and Sabah Tourism Regardless of it all, I always keep the right to write whatever I like over here. Because
I'm a closet megalomaniac that's the way I think the world should be. Also, if you book through these links then I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Here endeth the legalese.
At 4095 metres high, Kinabalu is the highest mountain in the country and a sacred spot for locals. It's possible to reach the peak in a day (without climbing skills) but it's still a tough gig. The path is uneven, the air sticky, and... well, it is 4095 metres high.
Only two places on earth house these magnificent ginger-bearded friends: the rainforests of Borneo and the rainforests of Sumatra. Endangered as they are, you're unlikely to simply stumble across one. Key spots to find them include the Orangutan Sanctuary in Sepilok, near Sandakan, and the nursery at the Shangri-La near Kota Kinabalu.
Related: Beautiful places to stay in Sabah
Not content to stop at saving the orangutans, conservation efforts continue in earnest for the endangered green turtles (Chelonia mydas.) The small but charming Marine Sanctuary on Gaya Island offers an introduction to their life span as well as allowing access to the rescued baby turtles in the centre.
While the wilderness steals the show, Sabah isn't shabby when it comes to resorts. If you want to play golf while crocodiles wait in the bunkers, then try a spot of night golf in Borneo.
Likewise, expect to find some of the best spas in the world at some of the top resorts in Sabah.
Less famous but potentially far cuter, sun bears also thrive in this rainforest environment. Around the size of a large hog but fluffy and dark chestnut brown, the Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sepilok both educates and makes everyone go "ah."
Found throughout Sabah, night markets aren't just for shopping, they're the place to see and be seen. Amid chatter and bare light bulbs, men, women and children gather to shop and to eat, gathering durian, pineapple and fermented shrimp paste onto plastic plates on shared tables.
Erm. It does what it says on the tin. It is a house that is upside down. As are the furniture and fittings. The house itself, sugar-shock pink and tilting at a jaunty angle on its roof attracts coach loads of visitors who want to see the world upside down.
The Coral Flyer Zip line from Gaya Island to Sapi Island claims the world record for its length but it deserves an award for its beauty. Over white sand and shallow clear waters, it's almost worth falling in.
According to divers (I'm not one, although I have done it a handful of times), Sipadan is one of the best diving spots in the world.
Learning to cook beneath the canopy of the rainforest with lemongrass and galangal gathered right from where you stand is a thrill. Finding out that the Malaysian recipes are actually fairly easy is even better!
Take a night cruise in the smallest boat on the calmest water from the Sukau Rainforest Lodge to see proboscis monkeys leaping at twilight.
Want to read more about Sabah? Here you go...
Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.
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