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  • Writer's picturethenextcheckin

Why Sabah Is A Dream Travel Destination

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

I am a beach person”, “All I want to do it sit in a hammock and chill this holiday, please!l”

I preferably want to be among the mountains, breathing fresh air

I want to be inside a forest, see some exotic wildlife and hear bird calls when I w

ake up!”

I want to do some heart-racing adventure sports this trip

How often do you come across a location where four holiday-needs can be fulfilled in the same location? It sounds too-good-to-be-true, right?

An orange sunrise over Mount Kinabalu as seen from Shangri La Rasa Ria Resort

Welcome to Sabah-- ‘Negeri Di Bawah Bayu’, The land below the wind as the state lies below the typhoon belt of East Asia and never battered by any typhoons. Sabah is a small state beloved by divers, surfers and mountain climbers in the Island of Borneo, away from mainland Malaysia.

With a myriad mix of activities ranging from water sports to experiencing the culture – Sabah has to be in everyone’s bucket list. Adventure lovers, honeymooners and solo travelers can all enjoy under the tropical Borneo sun.

Kota Kinabalu

The capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu has sprawling beaches, rain forests and lively street art. The scenic charm of KK leaves everyone in awe.

We landed in Kota Kinabalu on a crisp June afternoon. The landing was spectacular because of galore of islands near Kota Kinabalu that are fringed by corals and azure blue waters.

We checked into Hotel Avangio. I opened the curtains of my room and saw the tip of ravishing Mount Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in Malaysia, in all its glory. Just like how Paris has Eiffel Tower, Sikkim has Kanchenjunga, Kota Kinabalu has Mount Kinabalu.

Thara and Sakshi enjoying the character-filled sunset from the Waterfront in KK

The Island Life

Sabah has one of the best beaches and marine life in the world. In fact, it's considered number ONE for diving. Not the Maldives. Not the Great Barrier reef but Sipadan in Sabah.

The island game near Kota Kinabalu is very strong as well. Look out of the window when you land in KK and you’d know. The sandy white beaches surrounded by clear blue waters can be found within the Tunku Abdul Rahman MarinePark, which stretches across islands and seas. There are other public Islands you can visit from KK city which are equally clean and stunning!

An aerial shot of Manukan Island, Sabah

UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Kinabalu National Park

The Kinabalu National Park surrounds the Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Borneo and Malaysia has an abundant natural attraction. Climbing Mount Kinabalu does not require prior mountain climbing experience and is a 2 day hike to reach the summit. Did you know? The Kinabalu Park is home to the famous Rafflesia, the biggest flower in the world. ( A little refresh from 5th class geography)

Dreamy Sunsets

Out of all the days I was in Sabah, I never saw a dull sunset. It was always vibrant and the sun, clouds and the sky put out a spectacular show! Sabah sunsets were once voted as the best sunset in the WORLD! Even the locals flocked to Tanjung Aru Beach or the waterfront to witness this marvel everyday!

A spectacular sunset in Sabah!

The Culture Of Sabah

Do you love to hear about what the tribes ate? How their lifestyle was? How they got married? What kind of wicked games they played on their enemy? Their dance forms? The Mari Mari Cultural Village in Kota Kinabalu gives you a peep into their life. They have recreated the lifestyle and the homes of different tribes. No visit to Sabah is complete without understanding the lives of tribes who lived there. It says so much about the region.

Murud Tribe's Traditional Attire

"Would you like to taste chicken cooked with a local ginger inside a bamboo? "

Ingredients used by the Bajao tribe to cook their meal. As seen in Mari Mari Cultural Village

Adventure lover’s paradise

Para Sailing. Scuba Diving. Mountain Climbing. Trekking. Camping. Jungle Safari. Snorkeling. Fireflies Safari. Zip lining. Undersea Walking. Meeting the sea gypsies. Just a few things you can experience at Sabah. There are very few places in the world that's as versatile and offers as much to its visitors like Sabah!

Zip lining between two islands in Sabah

Rafting around Mount Kinabalu

Cool things to do in Sabah, you absolutely must try.

Snorkell/Scuba/Seawalk in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.

Visit the famous ‘Sea Gypsies’ near Semporna.

See the Orangutans in the wild in Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center.

Pygmy Elephants of the Borneo jungle.

See the Fireflies in the mangrove forest during a night cruise.

Witness the blooming of World’s Biggest Flower, Rafflesia.

Trek Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia.

See the famous Proboscis monkey in Kinabatangan River, Sabah.

Zip-line between two islands near Kota Kinabalu.

Go River Rafting around the Mount Kinabalu.

The famous Proboscis monkey seen inside the mangroves in Sabah!


Indian passport holders can apply for Malaysian E-visa or ENTRI visa online through this link.

Malaysia just takes 48 working hours to respond regarding your visa status.

The two types of visas: E-visa and ENTRI

The E-Visa takes 48 hours to acquire after submitting your application successfully through the online portal provided above. This is a multiple entry visa for entries up to 3 times within 3 months of the application.

ENTRI visa can be acquired immediately after submitting your application successfully through the online portal provided above. This is a one-time entry only.


There aren’t any direct flights to Kota Kinabalu ( yet ) from India so the easiest way is to fly via Kuala Lumpur. There are a couple of airlines that fly in including Malindo, Airasia, Malaysian aiwayrs. I flew via Malindo from Bangalore and had a seamless experience. They served Good Indian food, with very good leg space and polite staff.

Goodbye, Sabah!


Shangri La Rasa Ria – A paradise: With it’s own private beach, private forest and a golf course, staying in Rasa Ria is an experience by itself. Read about my experience of staying in Shangrila Rasa Ria here.

Avangio – A part of Accord Group Of Hotels it is a 20 minute grab ride from the city center. There are a couple of local restaurants and stores right next door so it’s still a convenient option. The rooms are clean, there’s a swimming pool.

The view from the room in Shangri La Rasa Ria


  1. Moving around Kota Kinabalu is pretty easy, there’s a better version of Uber called Grab. A very safe and quick way to move around the city.

  2. We got a local sim card with 10 GB of data outside the airport in Kota Kinabalu from Digi at 20 MYR (Rs 360). The data was seamless and it really helped when we wanted to Instagram some pictures of sunsets or to Call Grab.

  3. Carry a bottle of mosquito repellent. Borneo is a jungle and there are a lot of mosquitoes even on the beach.

  4. Reach out to Sure Go Borneo for helping you with local transport and the sightseeing. They were amazing

So, with so many interesting things to experience isn’t it time you ask yourself #WhyNotsabah and plan a trip to this magnificent place?

Disclaimer – This post was written in association with Sabah Tourism and Travel Earth as part of Digital Influencers' Convention I attended in Kota Kinabalu. The thoughts and opinions are mine :)

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