Reasons to Travel to Sabah, aka The Perfect ‘Lazy’ Traveller’s Destination

5 Reasons Why Sabah Is Every ‘Lazy’ Traveller’s Best Friend

We’re not just talking about the iconic Mount Kinabalu.

Sabah is the perfect destination for laid-back travellers who prefer not to plan too much ahead of time, and just want to enjoy their vacation. Whether it’s revelling in the scenic landscape or feasting on the eclectic mix of food, here are just some of the reasons why Sabah makes for the ideal lazy traveller’s destination! 

1. It’s extremely accessible and convenient

While we can’t drive there, Sabah is only a two-hour direct flight away from Singapore! In other words, from the moment the plane takes off till it lands, there’ll only be enough time for a quick snooze or a short in-flight movie. 

Furthermore, once you land at Kota Kinabalu International Airport, you’re a mere 15-minutes away from the city centre; best of all, it’ll take only about two hours to drive from the city to the gem of Sabah, Mount Kinabalu. 

reasons to travel to sabah

Image credit: Sabah Tourism / Tirado Jupirin

Pro tip: To immerse yourself in the picture-perfect surroundings of breathtaking views and chilly mountain air, we recommend you to set up camp at Polumpung Melangkap View Camp Site

Image credit: Sabah Tourism

Fancy treating yourself by venturing off-the-beaten path? Then, how about hopping on a 20-minutes boat ride to a nearby island? Just picking one choice out of many, the tranquil environment of Dinawan Island is home to lush beaches and pristine waters. After being confined to our Little Red Dot’s city gardens, the charming lushness of the state makes for a convincing reason to travel to Sabah. Don’t you agree? 

Also read: 6 Offbeat Places to Visit in Sabah to Bring Your Travelling Experience Up A Notch

For a really immersive experience of island life, stay at the Manukan Island Resort!

Located on the famous Tunku Abdul Rahman Park Manukan Island, you’re in an aquatic playground of clear waters and sandy shores perfect for snorkelling and diving, all without the crowds.

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water sports sabah

Image credit: Ropeskills Rigging

Furthermore, thrill-seekers will be thrilled to know that Sabah is home to Borneo’s longest zipline! Known as Coral Flyer, feel the wind in your hair as you fly from Gaya Island to Sapi Island; also, don’t forget to marvel at the clear blue water beneath you. 

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 2. It’s a multilingual state

Rich in its multiculturalism, travellers won’t have to worry about any language barrier when in Sabah. Aside from a majority being able to speak and understand English, locals are also fluent in Malay and Mandarin; not to mention, even dialects like Hakka, Cantonese, and Hokkien. Fun fact: Having attended local Chinese schools, some non-Chinese locals can even speak fluent Mandarin!

Therefore, getting around will be easy and stress-free as you won’t need a translator. Not to mention, you’ll be able to explore even the most outlying spots! 

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

P.S. — The easiest way to integrate yourself into the mode of communication on-the-ground is to add a “bah” to what you’re saying, regardless of whether you’re speaking English or Malay! For instance, someone asks if you want to grab a coffee. You can reply “Bah, let’s go”! The colloquial word can even be used to express anger, or even on its own as a sign of agreement: Instead of “okay”, you can reply “bah”. 

Prefer exploring Sabah with a handy e-brochure that has everything you need to know?

Hint: It even comes in multiple languages!

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3. It’s home to a diverse range of cuisines

Likewise, the multiculturalism of Sabah is reflected in its gastronomic playground! The smorgasbord of cuisines — like Chinese, Indian, Malay, Japanese, Korean, Western, and native food — and amalgamation of familiar flavours — from sour to spicy and sweet — makes for fantastic reasons to travel to Sabah. 

Say you’re craving a noodle dish: How about a classic local comfort food like Sang Nyuk Mian (noodles with tender pork served in a rich broth) or Tuaran Mee (egg noodles with roasted pork belly or pork slices)? Ikan Bakar (grilled fish with spicy shrimp paste), Oxtail Assam Pedas (stew with hot and sour spices), and fish curries also featured as local favourites. 

reasons to travel to sabah

Image credit: Sabah Tourism

If you’re an adventurous foodie, why not try the dishes of Sabah’s Kadazan-Dusun tribes? Think of raw, salty dishes marinated with citrus and spicy flavours! 

For example, Hinava (raw pickled mackerel), 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. 

Since the city centre lies near the South China Sea, you can also expect some tantalisingly fresh seafood at the many restaurants scattered around! The next time you travel to Sabah for its picturesque natural attractions and laidback lifestyle, don’t overlook the outstanding selection of food you can find here, too.  

Not sure whether to bask in scenic views or tuck into delicious food?

How about hopping aboard North Borneo Cruises instead? With the Sunset and KK City Night Dinner Cruise Route, be treated to uninterrupted sunset views over the horizon and feast on a sumptuous dinner buffet at the same time!

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4. Its locals are the epitome of hospitable

Known for being peace-loving and friendly, Sabahans are eager to help any first-time travellers to the state. Whether you’re looking for directions or want some advice on the best eating spots, locals will never hesitate to make you feel welcome — and make you feel like you’re one of them!

Fun fact: Sabah is home to more than 30 indigenous groups! The largest indigenous group is the Kadazan-Dusuns.

sabah farmstay

Image credit: Sabah Tourism

To experience Sabahan hospitality at its finest, how about opting for a countryside staycation at Kiulu Farmstay? Whether you’d like a tent, camp bed, or an eco chalet, this farmstay puts you right in the heart of Sabah’s lush natural attractions. 

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 That being said, it’s no surprise that Sabah is one of the most laid-back and pleasant places in Southeast Asia; on its own, this makes for a great reason to travel to Sabah. 

5. Its natural landscape offers the perfect environment away from stressful city life

Most importantly, it’s truly remarkable that such an easygoing and tranquil environment lies just two hours away from Singapore; the latter essentially defined by a city life of hustle and bustle. 

For one, a myriad of beach resorts and villas line the coasts of Sabah — letting you stay close to nature without sacrificing comfort and luxury. Not to mention, round-the-clock picturesque seaside views from the comfort of your room make it hard to imagine a more perfect vacation. 

reasons to travel to sabah

Image credit: Chong Chao Sheng via Sabah Tourism

For instance, within the coastal five-star luxury of Shangri-la’s Tanjung Aru Resort is Sunset Bar; from its name, it’s no surprise that it’s also one of the world’s best places to watch the sunset! With a fresh coconut or an ice-cold pint in hand, being here will surely make you forget about the hustle and bustle of city life. 

Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu | Image credit: Sabah Tourism

Moreover, with many of these accommodations near popular spots like Tanjung Aru Beach, Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu, and the bustling KK Waterfront offering a myriad of al fresco bars and restaurants, you’re a stone’s throw away from the best that Sabah has to offer! Put simply, you won’t have to do much planning beforehand; A trip to Sabah affords accessibility that makes moving around easier for easygoing travellers like you.

Alternatively, true adventurers can consider Kokol Haven Resort! A 40-minute drive from the city, this mountainside hotel also lies 730m above sea level. Picture chilly mountain air and stunning views of the city and sunset over the horizon as you wake up to a balcony shrouded in clouds — talk about a tranquil vacation, right?

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 Hopefully, this list has convinced you of the amazing reasons to travel to Sabah! After all, what better reason to travel to Sabah? Practically all you have to do now is book your flight and relish the stay. Once you’ve arrived, just walk around to bask in the dazzling sights and savour the delicious scents leading you to the area’s best eats. Rest assured, your itinerary will easily fill up on its own. 

Brought to you by Sabah Tourism.

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.