Photo by Greg Rodgers
Selamant datang (welcome) to Sabah!
Sabah is located in the northern part of the magnificent island of Borneo and shares the island with neighboring Sarawak, Brunei, and Indonesian Kalimantan. The capital of Sabah is Kota Kinabalu, Borneo’s busiest tourist city.
Sabah is also known as “Sabah, negeri di bawah bayu”, which literally means “Sabah, the land below the wind”. The name comes from Sabah’s location below the typhoon belt territory of the Philippines.
Sabah is one of those few places left in this world where you can still find flawless rainforests, endangered wildlife, spotless beaches with superb underwater marine life and local treats for adventurous taste buds.
Sabahans – as the natives are sometimes called – are very interesting people. Currently there are 32 officially recognized ethnic groups. The largest non-indigenous group is Chinese; the largest indigenous group is the Kadazan-Dusun people.
The national language is Bahasa Malaysia, although each ethnic community has their own mother tongue. Mandarin and some other Chinese dialects are also widely used. You might get away with using English only, but it is useful to learn a few words in Bahasa. Even if you do not plan to get off the beaten track, the locals always get a giggle when you try to use their language.
With the tour companies seemingly running the show, backpacking in Sabah can sometimes be challenging. Planning and thinking ahead are required. Obtaining the special permits for activities such as climbing Mt. Kinabalu and diving Sipadan has to be booked in advance; there are queues in the busy season. Some of these activities might reach deep into your pocket, but with our Borneo travel guide you can do it cheaper!