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    Pocket Guide: Sabah

    On the world’s third largest island is a Malaysian state full of adventure. An iron-rung trail takes you to the top of one of Asia’s highest mountains. Tropical islands with sandy beaches are gateways to dive sites with rare sea creatures. The world’s largest flower bursts into life from the vines of a jungle reserve. Welcome to Sabah. There’s a lot to see here, so book one of our Sabah hotels and stay a while.

    History

    Sabah is Malaysia’s third most populous state and shares the island of Borneo with Brunei and parts of Indonesia. The history of the region is tied up with the history of the three countries, with the Sultan of Brunei giving the eastern part of Sabah to the Sultan of Sulu in 1658. In 1963 Sabah became part of the Federation of Malaysia, and today it’s home to 32 recognised ethnicities.

    Things to see and do

    At 4095.2 metres, climbing Mt. Kinabalu is definitely a challenge. But the views from the top of its rocky summit are worth the two-day hike, and on the way you can enjoy rainforest and waterfalls. If you’re feeling adventurous, climb to the top using the world’s highest Via Ferrata, a mountain-side trail made of cables and iron rungs. You’ll be strapped in and led by a trainer, and if you can steady your nerves the views are awesome.

    Sabah is home to a number of blissful dive sites like Sipadan Island, Mabul Island and Kapalai Island. Take a dive from these islands and you can see unusual species like the Harlequin Ghost Pipefish (great name, great fish) and the mimic octopus. Want to go under the sea without having to learn the ways of the scuba? Book a Sea Walk, strap on a helmet and wander along the ocean floor.

    Kota Kinabalu is Sabah’s capital city. It has a scenic waterfront boardwalk with a fancy shopping mall, and historic structures like the Atkinson Clock Tower and the City Mosque, nicknamed "the Floating Mosque" because of its position on a man-made lagoon.

    Shopping and dining

    For a relatively small city, Kota Kinabalu has a decent amount of malls like the 1Borneo Leisure and Lifestyle Hyper Mall. At dinner time you can also find a decent amount of Asian restaurants – including Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Thai – and experience the street food and busy atmosphere of Kota Kinabalu’s night market.

    Getting here and around

    Ready to experience Sabah? Check out our cheap flights to Kota Kinabalu. Here, you can hire a car, ride in a taxi or take the bus between towns if you have a little more time on your hands. Feel the full force of nature when you book your Sabah accommodation with us.

    Image credit Barry Peters under Creative Commons
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    Best Hotel Destinations in Sabah

    Sabah Hotels
    Sabah Hotels

    Hotels in Kota Kinabalu

    Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai - Kota Kinabalu Hotels
    Rating: 4.5 Stars
    $163

    Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai

    Off Jalan Sepangar Bay, Kota Kinabalu - Map
     
     
    3.7 out of 5 (247 reviews)
    Offering direct access to the beach, this Karambunai resort is within 12 mi (20 km) of 1 Borneo Hypermall, University of …More
    Best Western Kinabalu Daya Hotel - Kota Kinabalu Hotels
    Rating: 3.0 Stars

    Best Western Kinabalu Daya Hotel

    Lot 3 & 4 Block 9 Jalan Pantai, Kota Kinabalu - Map
     
     
    3.3 out of 5 (161 reviews)
    Located in the heart of Kota Kinabalu, this hotel is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Wisma Merdeka and within 3 mi (5 km) of Sabah State …More
    Shangri La's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa - Kota Kinabalu Hotels
    Rating: 5.0 Stars

    Shangri La's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa

    No. 20, Jalan Aru, Kota Kinabalu - Map
     
     
    4.4 out of 5 (323 reviews)
    This Malaysia beachfront resort on Borneo's northern coast is a 10-minute drive from downtown Kota Kinabalu and Kota Kinabalu …More

    Hotels in Sandakan

    Sabah Hotel Sandakan - Sandakan Hotels
    Rating: 4.0 Stars

    Sabah Hotel Sandakan

    Km 1 Jalan Utara, Sandakan - Map
     
     
    4.2 out of 5 (67 reviews)
    This family-friendly Sandakan hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Agnes Keith House, Sandakan Harbour Mall, and Saint Michael's …More
    Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan - Sandakan Hotels
    Rating: 4.0 Stars
    $150

    Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan

    Lot 106 & 107 Blk Hs 11, Sandakan - Map
     
     
    4.6 out of 5 (229 reviews)
    This family-friendly Sandakan hotel is located on the waterfront, within 1 mi (2 km) of Sandakan Harbour Mall, Saint …More
    Sepilok Jungle Resort - Sandakan Hotels
    Rating: 2.0 Stars

    Sepilok Jungle Resort

    Jalan Rambutan, Mile 14 Sepilok, Sandakan - Map
     
     
    3.7 out of 5 (35 reviews)
    Situated in a rural location, this resort is within a 15-minute walk of Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary and Rainforest Discovery …More
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