Sabah — the Heart of Borneo

Sabah is one of two Malaysian states located on the island of Borneo. The country below the typhoon belt offers a colorful variety of activities.

For all nature fans, be it adventurous or culturally oriented, Sabah with its diverse landscapes and the fascinating indigenous peoples is a piece of land full of attractions. Whether you opt for climbing Mount Kinabalu, immersing yourself in one of the most beautiful dive sites in the world, or learning the culture and traditions of Sabah’s people, the country never gets short of sights and nature spectacles — stretching from the lowland rainforest to an altitude of 4,095 meters to the summit of Mount Kinabalu.

The Kinabalu National Park is one of the most impressive parks on earth and was the first World Cultural Heritage in Malaysia. The area offers everything the mountaineer and nature lover heart desires — from the largest flowers in the world, called Rafflesia, to the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu. Climbing Kinabalu is worth every effort because the view from the summit to the 754 square kilometer area is incomparable. Tropical islands and atolls are waiting to be discovered.

World famous is the coral island of Sipadan off the northeast coast of Borneo. Around this small coral island, encounters with turtles and barracudas are guaranteed. Due to the protection status of the island and its maritime wonderland, only day trips are allowed to Sipadan. Only 150 visitors per day have the chance to be enchanted by the beauty of the sea. The Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is also the ideal destination for snorkelers and diving beginners with its clear, turquoise blue waters and its diverse aquatic biotopes.

Sabah is home to over 30 different ethnic groups. The three main groups are the Kadazan Dusun, the Murut, and the Bajau. An insight into the life of the locals is very popular with both national and international tourists. This is possible, for example, in the “Mari Mari”, a small settlement not far from the capital, Kota Kinabalu, which consists of typical houses of the various ethnic groups and serves as a kind of “museum” for those interested in culture. Guided tours take place every day, where the architecture, traditions, and ways of life of the tribes are illustrated.

The Kadazan-Dusun are famous for their traditional rice specialties. These religious ceremonies are directed by the Bobohizan, a female priestess. The Muruts still live in traditional longhouses and are mainly farmers and hunters. It is quite different with the Bajaus, which live on the east and west coast of Sabah. While the East Coast Bajaus are lake nomades and only come to the country to bury their dead, the West coast bays are known for their skillful riding skills. These beautifully dressed “Cowboys of the East” bring a distinctive Sabah note into every local festival.