10 Exciting Things You Never Knew You Could Do In Sabah (Besides Mt Kinabalu!)


Cheng Sim •  Jun 27, 2018

It’s natural to think of Mount Kinabalu whenever a trip to Sabah comes to mind. Malaysia’s highest mountain is a famous World Heritage Site after all, and a must-do bucket list for mountaineers far and wide. The reality is, there are many things to do in the Land Below the Wind than a climb to the peak.

Credit: giphy

If you have additional days to spend in Sabah, you have to make the best out of it. Go ahead and make your holiday worthwhile with these interesting activities instead ?

1. Whitewater rafting at Padas River

Situated away from Kota Kinabalu, you need to take the train from Beaufort Railway Station to reach the raging Padas River. In this trip alone, you can experience the contrasting views of Beaufort’s scenic landscape and Padas’ River's merciless current.

Credit: @fadhzly on Instagram

The river’s wild rapids aren’t made for the weak. Spanning 9KM, thrill seekers will explore seven different rapids such as the Merry-Go-Round to Scooby Doo rapids. To find out why the rapids are named in such a way, you have to ride these wild waters yourself. There are many whitewater rafting packages around, so compare with different tour agencies for the best rates ?

Credit: @riverbugmalaysia on Instagram

#HHWT Tip: Depending on the number of participants, the rates can go between RM230 and RM250 per person, which normally includes hotel pick-ups and drop-offs, light refreshments, and rafting equipment.

Address: Sungai Padas, Beaufort, Sabah

2. Ziplining at Kiulu River

Apart from being the second spot for whitewater rafting, Kiulu River is also famous for ziplining. If you enjoy elevating your bravery to new heights, this one's for you. Featuring Borneo’s longest zip line, you must climb your way up to the 18-meter tower before you begin ?

Credit: @zipborneo on Instagram

Shut your eyes in fear, and you’ll miss out the jungle scenery down below. Hence, survive it like the brave man or woman that you are. If you’re adventurous enough for a double ziplining package, you can continue with a second zip lining flight to the adventure center!

Credit: @zipborneo on Instagram

#HHWT Tip: At Zip Borneo, a single zipline costs RM60 per pax whereas the double zipline package is priced at RM75 per pax.

Address: Kiulu Valley, 89250 Kiulu, Sabah, Malaysia

Contact No: +60 13-808 8075

Opening hours: Tue - Sun, 8.30am - 4.30pm, CLOSED on Mondays


3. Jungle trekking at Danum Valley

Danum Valley occupies a very special place in every Sabahan's heart. Hunting and logging are strictly prohibited in this conservation area, so it is as pristine as it gets. Truth be told, local hikers and wildlife enthusiasts enjoy spending their time here amid the canopies of dipterocarp trees ?

Credit: @mazidi.ghani on Instagram

This rainforest is home to various species of birds, reptiles, and mammals. If you pay close attention, you’ll find red-leaf langurs, gibbons, and hornbills hiding amid the trees. Danum Valley is best explored with a tour guide - we wouldn’t want you to get lost! Hence, you should sign up for an eco-tour to make the most of your jungle trekking experience.

Credit: @harriadams on Instagram

Address: Lahad Datu, Sabah

Contact Info: +60 88 486 168 or email [email protected]


4. Spelunking at Gomantong Caves

If you’re keen on exploring the dark corners of Gomantong Caves, this spelunking adventure is tailored for your adventurous spirit. For starters, Gomantong consists of two cave complexes. For those who prefer leisure exploration along the boardwalk, opt for Simud Hitam where bird’s nest can be found ?

Credit: @misavol on Instagram

Simud Putih cave, on the other hand, is only open to experienced explorers. Since the complex is larger than Simud Hitam, you’re required to prepare some caving equipment, a special permit, and a guide. Due to the steep climb and complex climbing passages, the general public should skip this one and stick with Simud Hitam instead.

Credit: @eliseormston on Instagram

#HHWT Tip: The Simud Hitam cave is open to the general public for a fee of RM5 for Malaysians and RM30 for tourists.

Address: 90000 Kinabatangan, Sabah, Malaysia

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm daily

5. Adopt a sun bear

Did you know you can adopt a sun bear in Sabah? If you happen to swing by the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSCC), pledge a yearly donation to support their wellbeing. Known as a sun bear rehabilitation and rescue center, there are currently 43 sun bear residents at BSCC.

Credit: @fulwood77 on Instagram

If you sign up as an adopter, you will receive a sun bear gift, an adoption certificate, a photograph and a special e-newsletter. Alternatively, you can provide gifts for these sun bears too. Imagine buying a pot of honey, a comfortable hammock or a toy for the smallest bears in the world ?

Credit: @lawhyms on Instagram

#HHWT Tip: BSCC also accepts donations online, so head over to their official website to find out more.

Address: Sabah Wildlife Department, W.D.T. 200, Sandakan, Jalan Sepilok, Sepilok, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

Opening hours: 9am - 3.30pm daily

Contact No: +60 89-534 491


6. Bird watching at Tabin Wildlife Reserve

It pays to have the best concentration in the world. At Tabin Wildlife Reserve, you can join other bird watchers to spot the most exotic species amid the lush trees. Recognised as one of Malaysia’s best birding destinations, you can treat a bird watching afternoon at Tabin Wildlife Reserve like a game of hide and seek ?

Credit: @wander_ful_world on Instagram

Currently, there are 300 species of birds that call Tabin Wildlife Reserve their home. Bring out your binoculars and professional cameras, and let’s spot some Rhinoceros Hornbill, Blue-Headed Pitta, Malaysian Blue Flycatcher, and Purple-throated Sunbird together. 

Credit: @charles808 on Instagram

Address: KM 49, Jalan Tungku, Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Contact No: +60 88 267266


7. Daytime Cruise at Kinabatangan River

Exploring the second longest river in Malaysia provides a different nature experience altogether. Generally, the boat ride along Kinabatangan River begins with a view of the local villages. As the journey progresses, the boat ride will lead you to the natural ecosystem that this river is best known for.

Credit: @mereces_lo_que_suenias on Instagram

Some of the fantastic wildlife you’ll discover include the Bornean Pygmy elephants, Crested Serpent eagle, Stork-billed Kingfisher, and Proboscis monkey. If you want to spot some nocturnal creatures instead, local agencies offer night time cruises for a glimpse of saltwater crocodiles and owls in the dark.

Credit: @thuykhuetran on Instagram

8. Swim in the Kiansom Waterfall

If you happen to drop by Mari Mari Cultural Village, set aside an hour to visit the Kiansom Waterfall, which is located a short drive away. Deep in the natures of Inanam, Kiansom Waterfall is a famous weekend spot among the locals. When Sabahans aren’t at work, they’ll unwind with a cold dip and delicious picnic at Kiansom Waterfall with their family and friends ?

Credit: @jollence on Instagram

This hidden gem isn’t widely advertised, and you might face some challenge getting here. Before you drive to the Kiansom waterfall, ask the locals for some direction and they’ll direct you to this weekend hideout of theirs. Remember to bring your best zen spirit with you!

Credit: @krrsabah on Instagram

Address: Jalan Kionsom, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm daily

9. Sea walking at Borneo Reef World

Besides snorkeling and scuba diving, there's another aquatic adventure that awaits you at Borneo Reef World - and it’s called sea walking. For this activity, you don’t need any diving experience to appreciate the beautiful coral reefs ?

Credit: @borneoreefworld on Instagram

All you need is a see-through helmet to immerse yourself in this underwater excursion. Keep a lookout for exotic and colorful fish swimming around you. Essentially, it’s a great up-close experience for anyone without a diving know-how.

Credit: @travis_chong on Instagram

Address: Lot No. 3A-2, Level 3A, Bay 21, Jalan Bayu 21, Off Jalan Istiadat, Likas, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Contact No: +60 88-277 454


10. Shop in the Tamu Markets

For an authentic Sabahan experience, one must visit the tamu markets (tamu means "meeting") in Sabah. This is a one-of-its-kind traditional open-air market of Sabah. Every city has a popular tamu market where locals go to shop for wet and dry goods. Apart from meeting local farmers, young homegrown artisans are also making their presence known with handmade crafts.

Credit: @chef_kelvin_1978 on Instagram

While you navigate the tamu labyrinth for tidbits and fresh fruits, keep an eye out for take-me-home souvenirs such as handmade baskets and handicrafts. Tamu is also a place for old folks to meet and mingle with their friends, old and new ☺️

Credit: @jaim6019 on Instagram

There’s more to Sabah than climbing to the peak of Mount Kinabalu. Truth be told, there are many things you can do to maximise your vacation time in Sabah. From spelunking at Gomantang Caves to zip lining at Kiulu River, the Land Below the Wind promises a rewarding adventure for those who seek them ?