38 Gorgeous Photos To Prove That Sabah Is Truly A Rare Gem Of Southeast Asia

Malaysia truly never fails to amaze!

Cover image via flickr/MEMANG RIZALIS ENT.

Taking a step away from all the heat, haze and madness clouding the nation, we take a look at why most refer to Sabah as the jewel of Southeast Asia:

Bodgaya Island, Sabah, Malaysia

Image via flickr/MEMANG RIZALIS ENT.

1. Stunning, jaw-dropping islands!

One of the first things that come to mind when one thinks of Sabah, would definitely be its breathtaking beach strips with blue-green crystal clear waters. With islands like Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai and more 'virgin' beaches, Sabah serves as the ideal destination to satisfy all your beach holiday cravings!

Bohey Dulang, Sabah

Image via flickr/MEMANG RIZALIS ENT.

Mabul Water Bungalows, Mabul Island, Sabah

Image via flickr/pygmyseahorse

Maiga Island, Sabah

Image via Alfred Molon

2. Locals there are probably the warmest and friendliest in the country

If there's anything that travellers most often worry about, it would most probably be language barrier. However, Malaysians or in this case, Sabahans are mostly multilingual, with many that can speak at least three languages including English, Bahasa Baku, Mandarin, and other indigenous dialects.

3. There's lip-smacking CHEAP seafood and a delectable selection of local cuisine

One of the most popular local fruit in Sabah, 'Bambangan' is a type of wild-mango fruit that is known for its durian-like distinct scent. The fruit is usually pickled, fried with onions and chillies to make sambal or tossed into a fresh salad. Bambangan fruits are easily available in wet markets around the state.

Being a coastal state that is pretty much surrounded by the South China Sea, seafood is not only easily available but is also reasonable and rather cheap in Sabah, compared to other states in Malaysia. To top it off, the eclectic blend of cultures add an interesting twist to the local dishes!

Image via Today Online

'Hinava', a famous Kadazan-Dusun salad that is prepared with fresh raw mackerel fish, onions, shavings of ginger and chili with a splash of lime juice

Image via Borneo Holidays

Sambal bambangan

Image via Sky Blue Melley Mey

4. There are even dairy farms that resemble quaint little Swiss villages

Located at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu, Desa Cattle Dairy Farm offers one of the most amazing scenery one could envision. Often chosen as a wedding photography destination, with the majestic Mount Kinabalu overlooking beautiful green pastures, the scenery is breathtaking, not forgetting the cool breeze that Kundasang has to offer.

The real attraction here is the cattle farm, producing about 900,00 litres of milk per year. The farm is 199 hectares and most of the milking cows are Friesians, the highest milk producers of all cattle breeds.

Desa Dairy Farm, Sabah

Image via Sini

Desa Dairy Farm

Image via loveneddy

A mini bonus if you are visiting the Desa Dairy Farm; the Kundasang War Memorial which is located just minutes away from the farm, will surely remind you of the majestic, medieval Scottish highlands!

Kundasang War Memorial

Image via flickr/Lan Rasso

5. Its lush rainforests could easily rival the Amazon

Did you know that the Borneo tropical rainforest is about 130 million years old, making it one of the oldest in the world? While many parts of the country is covered in degraded jungles and secondary forests, Borneo's forest remains the only undisturbed virgin forest in the country, with a dizzying number of exquisite flora and fauna.

Image via Roving Turtle

Tambunan, Sabah

Image via flickr/bob|P-&-S

Trus Madi Forest Reserve, Sabah

Image via flickr/sunriseOdyssey Follow

6. Did you know that just 10 square kilometres of the Sabah rainforest has more flora and fauna than that of North America and Europe, combined?!

The rainforest of the Sabah is a kind of botanical paradise with one of the most rare combination of plant species and wildlife in the world. In 2000, the Kota Kinabalu Park was officially named as an UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its high biodiversity. Also, the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilation Center in the first official orangutan sanctuary and rehabilitation center in the world!

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher at Kinabatangan River, Sabah

Image via flickr/shankar s.

Proboscis monkey that is endemic to the southeast Asian island of Borneo

Image via flickr/shankar s.

An orangutan in the wild, along the river on the way to Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan

Image via flickr/Rainforest Action Network

7. Home to more than 30 ethnic groups, Sabah is a melting pot of cultures

The state's population is made of about 33 indigenous groups, communicating in over 50 languages and 80 ethnic dialects. While the Kadazan-Dusun group make up almost 30% of the community, the largest immigrant ethnic group in Sabah is the Chinese. Other main ethnic groups include the people of Kwijau, Murut, Bajau, Ringus, Lotud and Kedayan.

'The groom and his best men; This outfit is known as "Sinipak" and usually worn only during wedding ceremony for the indigenous Kadazandusun tribe in Kota Belud, Sabah, Malaysia

Image via flickr/Pison Jaujip

Ladies of Dusun Liwan ethnic, Sabah, Malaysia

Image via stevie 1985

People of the Kadazan Dusun tribe in Sabah

Image via Thajonboard

8. The eastern state's turn-of-the-century North Borneo Railway would take you back to the glorious, English golden yesteryears

Operated by the privately owned Sutera Harbor Resort, the historic North Borneo Railway is a tourism-only steam train service than runs between Tanjung Aru, near the Kota Kinabalu International Airport and the town of Papar, about 38.5 kilometers southbound. English breakfast is served on board before the train departs while authentic local style lunch is served upon reaching its final destination at Papar.

North Borneo Railway

Image via flickr/stratman² (2 many pix!)

9. Sabah’s beautiful native cultures will draw you into a rich history of tribal rituals like blow-pipe making and tattooing

With three-hour tours at 10am, 2pm or 6pm, Mari Mari showcases various traditional homes of Sabahan ethnic communities – the Bajau, Lundayeh, Murut, Rungus and Dusun – all of which are built by descendants of the tribes they represent. Along the way you'll get the chance to see blow-pipe making, tattooing, fire-starting, and an insight into the mystical belief systems of each of these groups, as well as a notable culinary nibble from each tribe!

Mari Mari Cultural Village

Image via flickr/Chris Smallwood

'Sabah-born Carlos Benny Majakil is bringing his passion for tattoos back to his hometown for the Borneo state's first tattoo convention'

Image via The Malay Mail Online

Mari Mari Cultural Village

Image via flickr/Chris Smallwood

10. Sabah has one of the best diving spots in the world!

Dubbed as the haven for divers, Sabah offers an exceptional marine-biodiversity with beautiful coral reefs and an array of critters that can be photographed during your diving sessions. Three of the most diverse and magnificient diving sites in Sabah are the Sipadan, Mabul and Layang Layang island with some of the most amazing coral reefs in the world.

Barracuda Point, Sipadan

Image via flickr/Chen Wu

Leaf Scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus) at Eel Garden, Pulau Mabul, Sabah

Image via flickr/Bernard DUPONT

Tree Coral (Dendronephthya sp.) at Black Ray Channel, Pulau Kapalai, Sabah

Image via flickr/Bernard DUPONT

11. And the perfect view of the horizon from the peak of Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu

Image via flickr/johnjodeery

The peak of Mount Kinabalu

Image via flickr/Adrian Lim

'Low's Peak, the summit of Mount Kinabalu. 4095m above sea level'

Image via flickr/HK.Colin

12. Last but certainly not the least, the beautiful resorts perched on slopes and beaches will give you a taste of paradise. We'll let the photos speak for themselves...

With resorts that look like the gardens of Eden, Sabah offers a great variety of places to stay for travellers. Want to dip your feet in crystal clear waters first thing in the morning? Try spending the night at one of the Mabul Water Bungalows, or if you love the feeling of being surrounded by the nature, stay at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge, quietly nestled by the Kinabatangan River.

Gaya Island Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Image via flickr/Phalinn Ooi

Kapalai Water Village

Image via esguerra

Bunga Raya Island Resort Spa

Image via Traveler Folio

Basically, the nation's second largest state, Sabah, offers everything that Asia promises; nature, culture and cuisine, all wrapped in a majestic packaging that would definitely leave a lasting impression on your mind!

Bohey Dulang, Sabah, Malaysia

Image via flickr/MEMANG RIZALIS ENT.

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