Whether you’re an adventure seeker or an avid foodie, Sabah promises an unforgettable experience to delight your senses. There are countless reasons to keep coming back to these parts of Malaysia, but here are three irresistible attractions that prove why Filipinos love Sabah!
Filipinos love Sabah for its wildlife, beaches & food
Wild for wildlife
Did you know the Bornean rainforests are older than the Amazon? At an estimated 130 million years old, it is home to more than 230 species of mammals, over 400 resident birds, some 100 species of amphibians, and 15,000 plants! Phew.
If you go wild for wildlife, you’ll absolutely love Sabah. Visit the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan, a 30-minute flight from Kota Kinabalu, for an up-close experience with the ‘Man of the Jungle.’ Its not-so-distant relative, the Proboscis Monkey, is also much-loved and endemic to Borneo. It’s hard to miss this long-nosed, pot-bellied primate — you’ll find the alpha male lounging by the river banks with his harem of females.
When cruising the Kinabatangan River, you might just encounter a family of Borneo Pygmy Elephants. Found only in this part of the world, these elephants are the smallest of the elephant subspecies, hence the name.
Is birding your thing? Head to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu or Poring Hot Springs in Ranau for a glimpse of the elusive Bornean Bristlehead or Blue-banded Pitta. Just make sure to keep your eyes peeled for this one — and also, let’s remember to respect these beautiful creatures’ habitats during our visit!
Also read: Pinoy Traveller Must-Haves: 16 Eco-Friendly Travel Items
The ultimate beach trip
If sunblock, swimsuits, and snorkels are on the top of your packing list, we’ve got you covered. The Philippines may have its fair share of sandy paradises, but beaches here are enough to make Filipinos fall in love with Sabah!
In Kota Kinabalu, spend your sunny days island-hopping within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (made up of the islands of Sulug, Gaya, Manukan, Mamutik, and Sapi). Also a stone’s throw away from the Kota Kinabalu coast is Mari Mari Sepanggar island.
Travel tip: Sepanggar is lesser-known than top picks Mamutik and Manukan, which makes it perfect if you want a little more privacy.
Most islands offer a myriad of activities, including banana boat rides, parasailing, scuba diving, snorkelling, and even sea-walking (ideal for non-divers who want to explore the deep blue: think aquanaut!). For a romantic getaway, head to the East coast and rekindle that spark with long walks on the beach, with turquoise-tinged waters beckoning you to explore some of the best diving sites in the world. Here, you’ll discover just how postcard-worthy Sabah is: lazy days swinging in a hammock, dinner under the stars, and the ocean literally at your doorstep.
Mataking, Lankayan, Mabul, or Pom Pom; whatever your pick, the east coast will entice you with its tropical treasures.
A love affair for the palate
“Bah, makan!” says the locals. And makan (eat), you should. Take your palate on an adventure in Sabah and dive into the local favourites for starters. Coffee shops, known as kedai kopi, are a good place for getting acquainted with the flavours of Sabah.
Have a plate of kon lou mee (home-made noodles blanched and tossed in a tasty sauce, served with your choice of pork, chicken, fish, or duck) or Tuaran mee, fried noodles named after its district of origin.
For lunch, treat yourself to a bowl of laksa: noodles in a soupy concoction of spices, coconut cream, shredded chicken, and shrimp. Bah kut teh (pork served in herbal soup) is also a must-try for the adventurous foodie; its signature herbal aroma will leave quite the impression.
Travel tip: When in Kota Kinabalu, check out the laksa at Kedai Kopi Yee Fung or Kedai Kopi Kinabalu — arguably the best ones in town!
On the other side of Sabah, Sandakan — also known as ‘Little Hong Kong’ — offers a smorgasbord of snacks and distinctive dishes. From UFO tarts to roadside ikan bakar (grilled fish), you can be sure your foodie trail will be nothing short of an adventure.
Also read: KOTA na Tayo! Kota Kinabalu Post-COVID — 5 Reasons to Pack Your Bags For KK
It’s clear how easily Filipinos can fall in love with Sabah on their first visit alone. From wildlife encounters and beaches to its food havens, its attractions certainly make for a memorable getaway. See you in Sabah soon?
Brought to you by Sabah Tourism Board.