Sabah is a place of incredible landscapes, magazine-worthy beaches, magnificent mountain ranges and mouth-watering food which means that in order to experience it all, you will need a well-planned out itinerary to make sure you don’t miss anything. I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to travel to Sabah as a travel blogger for Travel.earth and the Borneo Trails group planned out the perfect itinerary for us. I have reworked this itinerary to feature the best of what we were given as well as activities that you may find in other parts of the world but ones I feel would be better experienced in Sabah so scroll down for more!
Being that there are no direct flights from India to Sabah, we were thankful for Malindo Air for their quick and convenient flights which connected us from Kuala Lumpur to Sabah. We were a little tired after our journey which is inevitable which is why I suggest that for your first day, you opt for the river rafting activity. We chose the easiest level (grade 1&2) which meant that our journey was both exciting and relaxing (If you’re more daring and not too exhausted, you can go for a higher graded route). The guide Andre and his team were extremely experienced and will make sure you feel safe throughout and they even allow you to stop and body surf on the water- if you’re up for it! We had moments where we had our hearts in our mouths and others where we could just sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty around us and after we were done, we were treated to some of the best food I had eaten in Sabah and being the foodie that I am, I have high standards for food that are often not met, but at Extreme Paddlers, I had more than two helpings of the scrumptious food and juicy fruits that followed. If you think that river rafting is something you would enjoy (which I doubt you wouldn’t), click the following link for more information on Extreme Paddlers…https://www.travelritetours.com/xtremepaddlerskadamaianriver
After your eventful day 1, its time to hit the road! Catch up on your sleep in the two-hour drive to the world famous Kinabalu National park.This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts of 4500 species of plants and animals, many of which are endemic to the region. If you would like to trek up the mountain, you will have to keep aside two days to do so as it is a time consuming and physically taxing climb. We spent about an hour in the park as it was just a pit stop on our way to the Sabah Tea Resort, but I suggest that you keep aside a few hours to discover the park and all its hidden treasures.
From the National Park, head to the Sabah Tea Resort for an overnight stay and wake up bright and early the next morning for a breath-taking view of the sunrise over Mt. Kinabalu. Follow this up with a feast of some of the incredible local foods the restaurant has to offer like the fried rice sprinkled with crispy anchovies or the more popular matcha tea infused pancakes.
For information on the National park and the Sabah Tea Resort, please click on their respective links..http://www.sabahtourism.com/destination/kinabalu-park; https://www.sabahtea.com.my/resort/
On day 3, Borneo Bayau is the place to be. After a traditional Malaysian breakfast at the Sabah Tea Restaurant, you can head to Borneo Bayau to get there in time for tea (you can stop at a local food joint for lunch, the food is mouth-wateringly good and very affordable). Once you reach your destination and are done with your nice cup of hot tea, you set off in a speedboat in a scenic search for the endemic Proboscis Monkey. After the river cruise, you are treated to a buffet of some delicious hot dinner and dessert followed by a night firefly cruise where you will quietly cruise on the river in complete darkness as the guide beckons the fireflies towards you. These two activities make for a lovely, unique experience and a relaxing one as well.
Day 4 & 5
The next two once-in-a-lifetime experiences can either be spread out over two days or completed in one day depending on the energy you have left after your thus-far jam-packed trip. The first activity (and my personal favourite) is the Ocean Walk which involves you wearing an oxygen helmet and taking a stroll underwater(I have written a separate article on my Ocean Walk experience if you would like to know more). You get to have a very interactive experience with Sabah’s abundant aquatic life and they even document your entire experience for proof!
The second, more thrilling, activity is the 250m long island to island zipline. Zip from one island to another with the crisp ocean breeze in your hair and the incredible view of the water and greenery all around you and you’ll find yourself wanting to go back(I know I did!)
All in all, this itinerary covers the activities that I took part in and enjoyed the most and I tried to fit in the best of what I experienced into a short span of 5 days (keeping in mind that sometimes you may not have the luxury of week-long holidays). That being said, there is a lot more that Sabah has to offer and you might take more than one trip to discover it all (I know I’m definitely going to return!) so don’t waste another minute because you know what they say…there’s no better time than now!