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Sabah, Land Below the Wind
Discover Sabah
  • Sabah, Land Below the Wind
    Jesselton, Borneo

    Sabah is the second largest state in Malaysia and shares the island of Borneo with Sarawak, Brunei and Indonesian Kalimantan. Sabah is richly blessed with nature diversity, unique cultures, fun adventures, beautiful beaches,and fantastic cuisines.

    The capital of Sabah is Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton of North Borneo. Sabah is often referred to as "The Land Below The Wind", a phrase used by seafarers in the past to describe lands south of the typhoon belt.

    Mount Kinabalu
    Gunung Kinabalu

    Mount Kinabalu is a prominent mountain on the island of Borneo in South East Asia. It is protected as Kinabalu National Park, a World Heritage Site. In 1997, a re-survey using satellite technology established its summit (known as Low’s Peak) height at 4,095 metres (13,435 ft) above sea level.

    The mountain and its surroundings are among the most important biological sites in the world, with between 5000 and 6000 species of plants, 326 species of birds, and more than 100 mammalian species identified. Among this rich collection of wildlife are famous species such as the gigantic Rafflesia plants and the Orangutan. Mount Kinabalu has been accorded UNESCO World Heritage status.

  • Divisions
    Administrative Divisions

    Sabah consists of five administrative divisions, which are in turn divided into 25 districts.

    These administrative divisions are, for all purposes, just for reference. During the British rule until the transition period when Federation of Malaysia was formed, a Resident was appointed to govern each division and provided with a palace (Istana). This means that the British considered each of these divisions equivalent to a Malayan state. The post of the Resident was abolished in favour of district officers for each of the district.

    Divisions: West Coast Division, Interior Division, Kudat Division, Sandakan Division, & Tawau Division

    25 Districts

    West Coast Division: Kota Belud, Kota Kinabalu (Capital City), Papar, Penampang, Putatan, Ranau, Tuaran
    Interior Division: Beaufort, Nabawan, Keningau, Kuala Penyu, Sipitang, Tambunan, Tenom
    Kudat Division: Kota Marudu, Kudat, Pitas
    Sandakan Division: Beluran, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Tongod
    Tawau Division: Kunak, Lahad Datu, Semporna, Tawau

  • Climate
    Tropical Rainforest

    Equatorial / Tropical—the climate is generally hot and sunny all year round; visitors need to wear comfortable clothing to avoid heatstroke. We also have scattered unpredictable rains, therefore, it’s advisable to always bring an umbrella in case it rains.

    Average Temperatures
    Wet & Sunny all throughout the year

    Lowlands (Kota Kinabalu, Kudat, Sandakan, Tawau) – 32 degrees Centigrade
    Highlands (Ranau, Kundasang, Tambunan) – 21 degrees Centigrade

    Bear in mind though, that Mount Kinabalu has its very own climate. Temperatures can drop to freezing level above 3500 meters.

    Flora & Fauna
    Rafflesia, Orang Utan, Borneo Pygmy Elephant

    Sabah's Flora & Fauna has about 1,200 species of orchids, 26 species of rhododendrons, 9 species of Nepenthes pitcher plants, over 80 species of fig trees, over 60 species of oaks and chestnut trees. 100 species of mammals, 326 species of birds - the list goes on! The Park has continually attracted top naturalists and botanists from around the world and been proclaimed an area with the richest diversity of flora and fauna. Examples of Sabah’s fauna are the Orang Utan, Borneo Pygmy Elephant, the Sumatran Rhinoceros and Hornbills.

  • Currency
    Malaysian Ringgit (RM)

    Malaysian Ringgit (RM)

    Travelers’ cheques and foreign currencies can be changed for Malaysian Ringgit at banks and hotels. However, there are also money changer kiosks available at major shopping complexes and airport. Most major hotels charge a nominal fee for currency conversion.

    Credit Cards
    VISA, MasterCard, American Express

    VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club — credit and charge cards are accepted in almost all departmental stores , supermarkets, petrol stations and restaurants.

    5% service charges included

    Shopping centers, supermarkets, restaurants and mini markets are generally open daily from 10am to 10pm. As for tipping; food and beverages in exclusive restaurants, cafes and clubs, as well as accommodations normally include 5 per cent service charges.

    Tipping is not obligatory in most places.

  • Language
    Malaysian Ringgit (RM)

    English and Bahasa Malaysia is widely spoken; Mandarin and some Chinese dialects (ie. Hakka, Cantonese) are also widely spoken. All throughout the districts of Sabah, the Kadazan, Dusun, & Murut languages are widely spoken.

    Local Time
    South East Asia Timezone

    Standard Local Time is 8 hours ahead of GMT (GMT+8)

    VISA, MasterCard, American Express

    The people of Sabah are known as Sabahans. Sabah is the third most populous state in Malaysia after Selangor and Johor; it also has one of the highest population growth rates in the country. There are currently 32 officially recognized ethnic groups in Sabah with the largest indigenous group being the Kadazan-Dusun people and the largest non-indigenous ethnic group being the Chinese. Two other larger ethnic groups in Sabah are the Bajau and Murut.

  • Activities
    Things to Do

    Sabah is a naturalist's paradise that offers an abundant array of nature-related activities such as diving, jungle trekking and wildlife spotting. Be adventurous and opt for adrenaline-pumping activities such as paragliding and white water rafting. Otherwise, take things down a notch and go golfing while enjoying the beauty of Sabah's natural terrain. For a dose of cultural exposure, check out the weekly tamu markets.

    Climbing, Water Rafting

    Adrenaline junkies and sports enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice with the variety of adventure and sporting activities available in Sabah. From the exhilarating Mountain Torque Via Feratta, to the Kiulu White Water Rafting, to jungle trekking expedition in Mesilau—Sabah is abound with challenges to suit the wild at heart.

    Cultural Experience
    Indigenous Groups

    As a melting pot of 32 diverse ethnic groups; Sabah is the ultimate destination to experience dense cultural heritage. Be spellbound by the graceful traditional dances, vivid ornamental costumes, and be enticed by the exotic cuisines we serve. In Sabah, culture vultures will have a blast!

  • City Bus
    Tropical Rainforest

    For a mere RM0.50, you can hop on any of the 4 routes and get to anywhere in the central business district between the Wawasan bus terminal and Jesselton Point, Sabah Trade Centre or the Berjaya Palace Hotel. Assuming you can find a space, of course, because the service is popular.

    With reportedly 15 buses on the route, the target time for each bus is every 5 minutes. However, if you know Kota Kinabalu traffic you’ll realise that isn’t always possible, and practically the buses appear anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes.

    Click to View the Google Map of Bus Routes in Kota Kinabalu Map.

    Wet & Sunny all throughout the year

    They can be found hanging about hotels, shopping centres, one or two actual taxi stands dotted around town or really anywhere where you can flag them down safely (and sometimes not so safely too).

  • Electricity
    Power Plug

    Electricity is on the 240 Volts AC/ 50-Cycle system. It is a rectangular blade plug.

    Mobile telecommunications

    Mobile telecommunications cover many parts of Sabah with the exception of some remote areas. Public phones are scarcely available in most places.

    Treated water

    Treated pipe water is available in most urban and sub-urban areas. It is advised not to drink tap water without heating it first.

  • Kota Kinabalu Street Map
    Capital City

    Maps were provided by the Sabah Tourism Board. Click here to Download the "Kota Kinabalu Street Map"

    Sabah Fun Map
    Map of the whole of Sabah

    Maps were provided by the Sabah Tourism Board. Click here to Download the "Sabah Fun Map"

  • Common Customs
    Selamat Datang

    In Sabah, we greet people by saying “selamat datang” (welcome) and/ or “terima kasih” (thank you) with a smile. Due to religious reasons, some may prefer not to have physical contact with others. However, a handshake is generally acceptable as a way of introducing oneself.

    It’s customary to remove shoes before entering a mosque as well as homes. In places of worship, visitors are required to dress modestly. Nude sunbathing is not allowed and is very frowned upon. Avoid pointing your index finger at others, as this is considered rude in the local custom.

    General Advice
    Take care

    It is recommended to take care of your belongings while travelling. Just be careful of the pickpockets and it is better to use your credit card only in big trustworthy shops.

    Due to recent confrontation in March 2013 between insurgents and Malaysian security forces, it is advised to exercise extreme caution when traveling to eastern coast of Sabah and in particular on the islands close to the Philippines border.

  • Sabah & Mount Kinabalu
  • Districts & Divisions
  • Nature & Temperatures
  • Currency & Credit Cards
  • Language, Time & People
  • Activities & Adventure
  • Transportation
  • Electricity & Water
  • Maps of the City & Sabah
  • Word of Advice
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