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. Indonesians refer to the Borneo Island as “Kalimantan”.
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.
About the city
Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of the state of Sabah which is part of Malaysian Borneo, is conveniently situated within hours by air from major cities in South East Asia. It is directly linked by air to Kuala Lumpur, HongKong, Singapore, Bandar Seri Begawan; Manila, Cebu in the Philippines; Kaohsiung and Taipei in Taiwan; Tokyo in Japan; Seoul in Korea; Guangzhou and Shenshen in China; Perth from Australia and other regional destinations.
Sabah with its rich natural history and its wealth of cultural diversity, has much to offer for visitors , friends, families and those who appreciate culture, nature and adventure. For those who prefer to laze under the sun, go swimming, snorkeling or simply relax on the sandy beach of a typical tropical island, the outlying islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park off Kota Kinabalu , are only about 7 to 15 minutes away by boat.
Trips to see the Orang Utans at the largest successful Orang Utan Sanctuary in the world in Sandakan and join in on the white river rafting trip at Kiulu or Padas Rivers, are popular tours. For those who enjoy a more active holiday, one should not miss climbing Borneo’s highest mountain, Mount Kinabalu 4,096 meters above sea level with its granite massif which, dominates the surrounding landscapes and diving too.
For nature enthusiasts, visit the Kinabalu Park, famous for its endemic flora and fauna and the Klias River Safari, well known for its riverine wildlife such as Proboscis Monkeys.
For culture enthusiasts, visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village and the Monsopiad Cultural Village and try out a cooking lesson in ethnic cuisine. Probably the most popular festival in Sabah is the “Pesta Kaamatan” or Harvest Festivals celebrated by the Kadazans / Dusuns during the month of May. This is ritualistic celebrations greeting the successful harvesting or the rice, and it is a good time to see the Kadazan / Dusun exhibiting traditional performances. You will experience the natural warm hospitality of its people, a great asset of Sabah.
On the 30th and 31st May, every year, the Harvest Festival Celebration will be held at Hongkod Koisaan, the Kadazan Cultural Association ( KDCA) Hall, located about 15 to 20 minutes from the Sutera Harbour Resort. Join in the merriment as the local folks sing, dance , eat and play traditional games.
Climate: Sunny blue skies typify most days; it is summer all year around with occasional rain showers.
People, language and customs
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.
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.