Situated on the beautiful island of Borneo, Sabah is one of the thirteen states which Malaysia is made of. Sabah is the second largest state in Malaysia and shares the island of Borneo with Sarawak, Brunei, and Indonesian Kalimantan.
Sabah is richly blessed with nature diversity, unique cultures, fun adventure, beautiful beaches, and fantastic cuisines for the adventurous taste buds. We have it all, from the world's largest flower - the Rafflesia, one of the highest mountains is South East Asia - Mount Kinabalu, to one of the world's top dive sites - Sipadan Island.
Not only will you be amazed by the places to see and things to do here, you will also be treated with unique Sabahan hospitality. Explore the unique culture and tradition of Sabah and get ready to experience sweet memories to last a lifetime!
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located at the centre of the Maritime Southeast Asia. This island is divided between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
Nevertheless, for people outside of Indonesia, “Kalimantan” refers to the area which is occupied by Indonesia on the island of Borneo. Malaysia's region of Borneo is called East Malaysia or Malaysian Borneo. The independent nation of Brunei occupies the remainder of the island, being the wealthiest of the rest.
Once known as North Borneo, Sabah was under the British colony during the late 19th century till the early 20th century. Sabah gained its independence through Malaysia on September 16, 1963. At 76, 115 square kilometers large, Sabah is the second biggest state in Malaysia after Sarawak.
The people of Sabah are known as Sabahans. Sabah is the third most populous state in Malaysia after Selangor and Johor; it also has one of the highest population growth rates in the country.
There are currently 32 officially recognized ethnic groups in Sabah with the largest non-indigenous ethnic group being the Chinese and the largest indigenous group being the Kadazan-Dusun people. Two other larger ethnic groups in Sabah are the Bajau and Murut, compared to other states in the country; Sabah has relatively very small population of Indians and South Asians.
Apart from the Sabahans' very own diverse mother tongues, Bahasa Malaysia (national language) and English is widely spoken; Mandarin and some Chinese dialects are also widely spoken.
In Sabah, we greet people by saying “selamat datang” (welcome) and/or “terima kasih” (thank you) with a smile. Due to religious reasons, some may prefer not to have physical contact with others. However, a handshake is generally acceptable as a way of introducing oneself.
It's customary to remove shoes before entering a mosque as well as homes. In places of worship, visitors are required to dress modestly. Nude sunbathing is not allowed and is very frowned upon. Avoid pointing your index finger at others, as this is considered rude in the local custom.
Visitors must be in possession of a valid passport or travel documents with a minimum validity of six months beyond the intended visiting period. Citizens of most countries do not require visas for social or business visits. For further information, please visit or call the nearest Malaysian diplomatic mission or Tourism Malaysia office.
The main gateway to Malaysia is through the new Kuala Lumpur International Airport(KLIA) at Sepang, which is located approximately 50km south of Kuala Lumpur. Other major international airports that serve as entry points are situated in Penang, Johor Bahru, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and the island of Langkawi. Malaysia has two Low Cost Terminals (LCCT), which are situated in Sepang and Kota Kinabalu
Over 40 international airlines fly into the country while the national carrier, Malaysia Airlines, has a global network that spans six continents. It is complemented by the budget airline AirAsia as well as Firefly. The main entry point by sea is at Port Klang, about 50km away from Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia is also accessible by rail and road from Singapore and Thailand.
Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is the second busiest airport in Malaysia with 98% of visitor arrivals into Sabah is by air. As the capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu (KK) is the main entry point to Sabah, and several budget airlines have selected KK as one of their destinations, including Malaysia Airlines, MASwings, Air Asia, Malindo Air, Royal Brunei Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Cathay Pacific, Dragon Air, Silk Air, Spring Airlines, Eastar Jet and Asiana Airlines. Most of the major towns in Sabah (Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Tawau) have airports for domestic flights.
There are two major airports in Kota Kinabalu, the largest is the KKIA Terminal 1 (domestic and international flights from around the world) and Terminal 2 (operated by budget airlines, domestic and international flights). Both airports are less than 10 km from Kota Kinabalu city center. You also can fly to Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Tawau by domestic flights, served by Air Asia and MASwings daily.
Sabah is a state with a democratic political system with universal suffrage. Here, the Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Head of State of Sabah) sits on top of the hierarchy, followed by the State Legislative Assembly and the State Cabinet. A general Election takes place every five years for both the State and the Federal level officials.
Sabah's economy was traditionally lumber dependent. However, with the increasing depletion of natural forests as well as ecological efforts to conserve the rainforest; palm oil has proven to be a more sustainable resource.
Other than that, Sabah's economy is highly dependent on agricultural products such rubber and cocoa. Sabah also exports other produces such as vegetables and seafood. Tourism, particularly eco-tourism, is presently the second largest contributor to the economy.
Malaysian Ringgit (RM)
Travelers' cheques and foreign currencies can be changed for Malaysian Ringgit at banks and hotels. However, there are also money changer kiosks available at major shopping complexes and airport. Most major hotels charge a nominal fee for currency conversion.
VISA, MasterCrad, American Express, Diners Club - credit and charge cards are accepted in almost all departmental stores , supermarkets, petrol stations and restaurants.
Standard Malaysian Time is 8 hours ahead of GMT (GMT+8)
Monday through Friday from 9.30am to 3pm
Monday to Friday from 8am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm; Saturday from 8am – 1pm
Shopping centers, supermarkets, restaurants and mini markets are generally open daily from 10am to 10pm
As for tipping; food and beverages in exclusive restaurants, cafes and clubs, as well as accommodations normally include 5 per cent service charges.
Tipping is not obligatory in most places.
Electricity is on the 240 Volts AC/ 50-Cycle system; treated pipe water is available in most urban and sub-urban areas.
Mobile telecommunications cover many parts of Sabah with the exception of some remote areas. Public phones are scarcely available in most places.
Government hospitals, clinics and dispensaries are available in all towns. The list of private medical practitioners and pharmacies are available in the local phone directory. However, those with specific medical needs are advised to have a good supply of medications.
Equatorial/Tropical—the climate is generally hot and sunny all year round; visitors need to wear comfortable clothing to avoid heatstroke. We also have scattered unpredictable rains, therefore, it's advisable to always bring an umbrella in case it rains.
Lowlands (Kota Kinabalu, Kudat, Sandakan, Tawau) – 32 degrees Centigrade
Highlands (Ranau, Kundasang, Tambunan) – 21 degrees Centigrade
Bear in mind though, that Mount Kinabalu has its own climate. Temperatures can drop to freezing level above 3500 meters.
Sources: Sabah Tourism