When I got the opportunity to experience Sabah, I grabbed it and planned my trip so I could at least cover most of the places I have seen before in the travel magazines and TV show. Some of the more common words to describe the place: beautiful, exotic, unique and adventure.
My traveling companions echoed these sentiments (there were six of us). A friend of mine, who’s from there, told me to try the food, go to the island and experience the foothill of Mount Kinabalu.
Creativity has no bounds when it comes to exploring Sabah. Based on your own level of comfort and curiosity you can walk, hike, cycle, kayak, climb, dance, rent a car, hire a guide, take a bus or swim and enjoy the beautiful corals at the beautiful islands.
Kota Kinabalu (KK) is a great place to begin. As the capital of Sabah, the city offers a whole range of unique food that you can only find them here, affordable places to stay (especially if you are on a budget) and a half-an-hour boat ride to the islands off the shore of the mainland such as the Manukan Island.
While KK remains a gateway for tourists to fly into Sabah, it is not really a walkable city. But that shouldn’t stop you. You can find cheap taxis and cars for rent quite easily around the city. I would recommend you to stay around the Jesselton Point harbor area as I believe, that is one of the most strategic locations in the city.
BUT, WHY IS IT STRATEGIC?
You can take the boat to the islands, there are plenty of shopping malls near Jesselton and a lot of restaurants and bars if you want to enjoy cold beers and crispy fried prawns by the seaside at night and the hotels around the area are not too expensive either.
Oh, don’t forget that just a five minute taxi ride from the Jesselton point, you can go to the famous Filipino Market to buy fruits, fresh fish from the sea and lots of restaurants to try seafood at relatively affordable prices.
We spent a full-day on the island. It was not the best time of the year, unfortunately. While we were there to enjoy the beauty of the place, the haze caused by the forest fire from Indonesia obscured the view though, which is otherwise undoubtedly majestic.
However, let it not dampen our spirits. For our return trip from the mainland to the island and back, lunch and snorkeling, we spent less than $50 each.
THE MAJESTIC MOUNTAIN
The following day, down the road to the north, we rented a car to drive to Kundansang, the foothill of the Kinabalu Mountains. For a memorable immersion into Sabah’s experience, you should not cross Kundansang from your places to go whenever you are coming over to Sabah because the view is simply breathtaking!
Along the way to Kundansang, we made several stops. This was one of the reasons why we didn’t opt for a tour guide for our holiday; by having a guide would have restricted our explorations and the tight schedule would not really give us the space to do anything unplanned.
We visited the museum called the Upside-down House Museum, the cows at the Kundansang Dairy Farm, Nabalu Town for our lunch and even stopped by the roadside stall that served me with the barbecued wild boar meat (it was delicious!).
When we reached the Kinabalu Park, the lodgings for those who are climbing the Kinabalu Mountains, the view, you can hear the sound of the tranquil streams and birds chirping in the trees. It is really easy to fall in love with the place.
All of these–the cows at the Dairy farm, the small towns, the museum, the Kinabalu Park and also roadside stalls that sell fresh fruits and flowers and of course, the wild boar barbecue, all in the shelter of the Kinabalu Mountains. Another note to make, our trip down to Kundansang cost us less than $150 (for the six of us) and it covered our car rental fee, gas and lunch. But I prefer to look at it as the fee for our freedom to explore without being tied down by a strict schedule.
It was an invigorating, educational and photographic experience.
If you are an adventurous soul that loves taking photos of landscapes, this place would not disappoint you.
Here, I’ve prepared a video for you. My apology, however, that no English-version has been released for the videos.
So, if you are looking for a place for an adventure, I’d highly recommend you to consider Sabah as your destination.
Our stay there, for five days, only cost us around $125 each. Mind you, this includes accommodation, meals and transportation. Not bad?
If you want to know anything you’re quite unsure about Sabah that you’ve read over the internet, write down your questions in the comment section below.