5 Reasons Why Singaporeans Should Visit Sabah, Malaysia

How a Singaporean Fell in Love With Sabah, Malaysian Borneo — and Why You Will, Too

It’s the all-encompassing haven we’ve all been waiting for.

If the past two years have been centred on the stress brought about by city life, then what you might need now is a well-earned break. On that note, how does an idyllic landscape where nature reserves, breathtaking sunsets, and marvellous islands lie sound? 

Nope, we’re not talking about faraway holiday destinations like the Maldives or Bora Bora, but one that lies on the turf of a neighbouring country: Sabah

As it’s said to boast a tranquil lifestyle, we’re sure that reading this article will convince you to explore the gem of east Malaysia on a future holiday. Who knows — you might even fall in love with Sabah, too. 

Image credit: North Borneo Cruises

And what better way is there to celebrate that love than to embark on the Amazing Love Luxury Yacht with North Borneo Cruises? We’re talking about the salty sea breeze, a picture-perfect sunset, and a drink in hand — all encapsulated into one perfect evening.

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1. Revel in picturesque tranquility, which lies just moments away from you

Ultimately, the best part about this serene destination is its accessibility from Singapore. Gone are the days of long, anxiety-inducing flights; after your 2.5 hour flight, the laid-back charm of Sabah will surely make you forget about Singapore’s hustle and bustle. 

Note: Before the pandemic, there were three flights operated by AirAsia and Scoot per day connecting Singapore to Kota Kinabalu. However, there is currently no direct Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between the two cities; this will only be reinstated once the international borders reopen. 

2. Explore a plethora of nature destinations and attractions under one roof

If you’re a nature enthusiast, it’s a no-brainer that you should explore Sabah at least once in your lifetime. Boasting mountainside hotels, hiking trails, and crystal clear waters, Sabah offers the perfect rejuvenating experience to mentally unwind. 

Sabah’s jungles are renowned for its array of plant and animal species. For instance, the Crocker Range National Park is Sabah’s largest, with forests and a water catchment reserve; while Kinabalu Park is a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site for its impressive biodiversity of over 4,500 species of flora and fauna. 

Fun fact: The tallest tropical tree in the world resides in Sabah’s Danum Valley Conservation Area! Known as the Yellow Meranti tree, it rises above the canopy at 100.8m. 

Image credit: Sutera Sanctuary Lodges

If you’re venturing to Kinabalu Park, why not stay at Sutera Sanctuary Lodges for a delightful nature getaway? Immerse yourself in a haven of comfort and splendour at 1,584m above sea level at one of the nine accommodation types. Whether you’re travelling in a group or heading there with that special someone, choose from their luxurious range of lodge and suite choices; some even come with an attached Jacuzzi, sauna, and fireplace! 

Take me to Sabah

3. Venture to hidden offshore gems

Away from the crowded beaches of Phuket and Bali lie Sabah’s peaceful islands. Put simply, you’ll feel as if you’ve got an oasis of turquoise and aquamarine waters and white sandy beaches all to yourself! 

Take Dinawan Island, a haven for water sports like snorkelling and kayaking. Or how about the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, which boasts a vast nature reserve and serene beaches? Regardless of where you’re headed, we guarantee that even a day at an offshore beach will be the welcome reprieve you need.

Also read: ​​7 Hidden Hotspots and Gems To Explore in Sabah

Image credit: Bungaraya Island Resort

Spend your days basking in the blissful sun at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park’s Bungaraya Island Resort, a magnificent hillside resort tucked away on the coastline of Gaya Island. From its 48 timbre villas to the surrounding forests and pristine beaches, there’s no better place to unwind.

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4. Dig into remarkable food with familiar flavours

Despite how adventurous our taste buds might get when we’re overseas, there comes a time when we’ll start to get homesick for food. Fortunately, Sabahan cuisine bears resemblance to food we’re familiar with; it features a playful amalgamation of spicy, sour, sweet, and savoury flavours!

Noodle dishes like Sang Nyuk Mian will remind you of Bak Chor Mee, while Tuaran Mee contains that signature barbeque roast pork, much like Wanton Mee. On the other hand, seafood and barbeque flavours feature heavily throughout Sabah, which are perfect if you love shellfish, ikan bakar, and so much more! 

Also read: ​​Seven Foods in Sabah and Singapore That Are Similar Yet Different

reasons singaporeans visit sabah

Image credit: Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu

For the best of both worlds, head to Rooftop @ Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu. This rooftop bar serves locally inspired signature cocktails and a slew of fusion dishes. As for the cherry on top? You’ll get to dine on local flavours amid a phenomenal panorama of the South China Sea. 

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5. Conquer Malaysia’s tallest mountain

No talk of Sabah would be complete without mentioning that it’s home to the highest mountain in Borneo and Malaysia, Mount Kinabalu

If Singapore’s Bukit Timah Nature Reserve just doesn’t do it for you anymore, then what better reason is there to plan for a trip to Sabah than its majestic mountain? We’re not talking about a few hours out of your day; your ascent to the peak will be a 2D1N activity. 

So, while it may prove to be a little more strenuous than most of us are used to, we promise that the awe-inspiring sunrise views at the top will be more than worth it. 

reasons singaporeans visit sabah

Image credit: Sabah Tourism

To truly experience all that Mount Kinabalu has to offer, the Mountain Torq package is the way to go. With their carefully planned itineraries, follow the skilled guides as they bring you up to the peak by hiking and mountain climbing. Finally, recuperate and fuel up for another full day of fun-filled activities at the charming Pendant Hut.

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6. Get acquainted with the incredibly diverse culture

Of Sabah’s 3.5 million people, did you know that approximately 60% are indigenous? Sabah is home to more than 30 indigenous groups with over 80 spoken dialects. In fact, the largest indigenous group is the Kadazan-Dusuns, which occupies about 18% of the indigenous population.  

As you make your way around Sabah, take a moment to appreciate and respect these indigenous groups’ customs and traditions. You’ll soon realise that Sabah is a beautifully culturally diverse place where peace-loving and friendly people live. What’s more, many of them even speak English, giving you the opportunity to make a friend or two while you’re here! 

That being said, the dishes of the Kadazan-Dusun tribe will prove to be a real food adventure, too; raw, salty dishes marinated with citrus and spicy flavours feature heavily. Hinava (raw fish salad), butod (sago worms that taste like coconut milk), tuhau (wild ginger served with lime, chilli, and vinegar), and bosou (fermented freshwater fish) are truly unique to Sabah and can’t be found anywhere else. 

Sabah offers that perfect all-in-one escape to momentarily sweep you away from hectic life back home. From stunning views to a wonderful culture, don’t you think you’ll soon fall in love with Sabah, too? 

Brought to you by Sabah Tourism Board.

About Author

Cassandra Nerva
Cassandra Nerva

Cassandra seeks comfort in warm blankets, period dramas, and all things hazelnut. If she's not getting carried away with a wartime novel or decorating her house with plants & fairy lights, she's uncovering hidden gems around her as she continues to embrace her keen sense of adventure.