About Sabah

  • About Sabah

    Sabah is a Malaysian state and one of two that form the Malaysian portion of Borneo. It is a beautiful island rich in geographical diversity in both plant and animal species. This is also the reason why many visitors flock to this location, planning their vacations here. In Sabah one will be able to experience the beauty and serenity of lovely white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, Rocky Mountains and many other natural wonders that nature lovers will truly enjoy. Fall in love with the beauty in Asia that is Sabah.

    Sabah is located in the northern area of Borneo and is the second largest of the states in Malaysia. Sabah Negeri Di Bawah Bayu, as known by the locals, has a total area mass of 28,429.1 square miles. 2010 Census dictates that its population is at a total of 3,120,040 with a density of 109.7 per square mile. The state is commonly referred to as the Land below the Wind as it is commonplace for typhoons and storms, due to its geographical location on the map.
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    The etymology of the state is still uncertain as many locals argue where the name originally came from. Theories state that it is due to the availability of the pisang saba, a type of banana that is widespread in the region. Others claim it is because of the Bruneian Malay word which means upstream or up the river. There are many other theories that people argue as the original etymology of the state yet the actual reason why still remains a mystery to this day.

    The terrain in Sabah is generally mountainous and has three of the highest mountains in the country. The highest mountain in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu, can be found here. He plan diversity and animal wildlife that flourishes here makes Kinabalu National Park one of the most visited nature reserves in the world. Mount Tambuyukon at 2,579 meters and Mount Trus Madi at 2,642 are the other two that are found in Sabah.

    There are several national and state parks that can be found here as the state if full of natural reserves to help preserve the beauty and flourishing plant and animal wildlife at an abundance in the area. These parks include the Tawau Hills Park, Pulau Tiga Park, Crocker Range Park, the Kinabalu Park, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sipadan Park, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Turtle Islands Park and the Danum Valley Conservation Area.

  • History

    It is believed that Sabah was originally inhabited by the Negrito or Australoid people then later by the Austronesian Mongoloids in 3000 BC. It was not until the 7th century that the Brunei Empire came to settle at Sabah. This first settle Bruneian community known as Vijayapura, existed in the Northeast of Borneo. After the emperor embraced Islam, the Sultanate of Brunei was born.
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    The British later inhabited Sabah in 1761 as a trading agreement with the Sultan of Sulu and the British East India Company. Later in 1888 the United Kingdom held North Borneo as its protectorate.

    In the Second World War, Japanese occupied Sabah in an attempt to invade the rest of Borneo. The fights that ensued forced the Japanese to relocate and later leave the country to the British Military Administration. The federation of Malaysia was formed after the war, being backed by the British.

  • Getting There

    Getting to Sabah and Around

    The easiest way to get to Sabah is through its main gateway airport, Kota Kinabalu International Airport. Simply take a direct or transfer flight to Malaysia and land in the airport. Most international flights offer direct transfers as Malaysia is one of the busiest tourist destinations in Asia, and the KKIA the second busiest airport in the Malaysian region. An alternative route to getting to Sabah would be through Sarawalk with Kunching as the main entry port, or to come through Brunei.
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    If you plan on travelling to Sabah by road you can pass through Sarawak, then take the border crossing at Merapok or in Brunei through the Bandar Seri Begawan. By boat you can reach Sabah via the Philippines, at Labuan in Zamboanga in the south. Another boat alternative would be in Indonesia at Nunukan of East Kalimantan.

    One in the Sabah state, you can get around through the road by either a rented vehicle, or the public bus and train. Experience the train ride at the North Borneo Railway which is the only railway available in all of Borneo, stretching across a mere 134 kilometers.

  • Useful Information


    Climate in Sabah is at a maximum of 32 degrees Celsius and can sometimes drop to around 20 degrees Celsius during the night time. This is because Borneo has an equatorial climate. The North East Monsoon or rainy season is usually between October up to February while the South Monsoon dry season is between March and September. The rainfall is common however all throughout the year. The tropical climate makes for hot weather with scattered rain showers during the rainy seasons.
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    The currency in Sabah is the RM Malaysian Ringgit. One Ringgit is equivalent to 100 sen or cents. This currency comes in bill denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 while the coins are in 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 sen. Since Sabah is a popular tourist attraction, most establishments accept dollars or euros. This however depends on the establishments you transact with. Therefore it is always a good idea to have your money changed at the airport or commercial establishment you go to when in the country.


    Electricity in Sabah is at a 240 voltz AC 50 Hz current and uses a 3 flat pin plug.

    Time Zone

    Sabah follows the local time zone of GMT +800 and is known as RM or the currency code MYR. The time zone does not follow the daylight savings time.


    Phone lines around the region are widespread as there are many available in almost every establishment. Pay phones can also be found and cellular sites are common here. With that you may purchase your own local cellular provider if you wish as they do not come at very expensive prices. Prepaid services are available, same with the internet. The internet connection in establishments varies however and whether or not they are available at a price or for free will depend on the establishment itself.


    Getting to the mainland will require you to have the appropriate paper works such as a visa and passport before you can anywhere around Malaysia. It is important to settle these when you plan your trip. Have all the necessary identification and valid ID’s with you in case of emergencies.

    Sabah Frequently Asked Questions

    Sabah has always been an attractive diving destination for tourists around the globe and remains so till this day as many of its natural beauty remains preserved in the various nature reserves around the area. There is more than just meets the eye when in Sabah ad there are certain things you may want to keep in mind before you visit the place.

    When is the best diving season in Sabah?

    Diving in Sabah is all year round because of its geographical location on the map, it is a tropical equatorial destination for all level divers. The best diving conditions however would be in the months between April to October. In January to March the weather may be unsettling for some divers, especially beginners and amateurs, yet will be quite an adventure for professionals.

    How easy is it to get to Sabah?

    Getting to Sabah is relatively easy especially with regards to the mainland Malaysia where many major airlines have direct flights to most airports in the country. Once there you can simply rent a four wheel drive to get to Sabah. Other alternatives include using the public transport like buses or railway. The railway stretches all across the area of Sabah. Boats and Ferries are other alternatives if you are coming from any neighboring islands.

    What is the common language in Sabah?

    The national language used in Sabah and the entire Malaysia Borneo region is Bahasa Malaysia or the Malay language. The other languages used here include Mandarin, Kadazan and English, which is the most widely spoken and understood foreign language. Since there are various ethnic groups that reside in the region, significant dialects may also be spoken by the locals.

    What are the other attractions in Sabah?

    Most visited places in Sabah include those in Kota Kinabalu, Semporna, Tuaran, Sandakan, Kudat, Sukau, Pulau Sipadan, Pulau Gaya, Sepilok and Tambunan.

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