Superstitions to be aware of in Sabah Borneo

Superstitions to be aware of in Sabah Borneo

Superstitions need to be aware of in Sabah Borneo


December, 2017

Our Kota Kinabalu Tour!

KK city tour

TARP island hopping

North Borneo Cruise

Almost every culture in the world has their own set of rituals, behaviors or beliefs that were set by their own ancestor and some of it requires the need to follow or act out. In addition, these superstitions sometimes refer to any belief or practices surrounding luck, prophecy, and certain spiritual being, particularly the belief of future events which can be foretold through unrelated events. Some people may think superstitions is kind of irrational with the current modernization, but to some, they still practice it until today.

In Borneo Island, superstitions are deeply rooted in the cultures here in Borneo, and some are still widely practiced by the older generations especially. Borneo Island is the third largest island in the world (after Greenland and New Guinea), and it is the largest island in Asia too! Mount Kinabalu is situated in Sabah Borneo, is the highest point in Borneo Island, with an elevation of 4,095m. Still wondering where is Borneo? Click here to see the Borneo map.

The superstitions in Borneo Island, especially Sabah Borneo, were mostly handed down generations by way of Oral Tradition, such superstitions mostly concern on bringing good or bad luck. In addition, the superstitions in Sabah Borneo can be different from generation to generation or places to places, due to the reason of different ethnicity residing in different locations. For travelers who are interested in learning about the cultures here in Sabah Borneo, this is the article for you!

Here are some of the superstitions that you need to be aware of while traveling to Sabah Borneo.

1) Respecting Mount Kinabalu

Going to climb Mount Kinabalu can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience in one’s life. Apart from that, the locals in Sabah Borneo, especially the Kadazandusun tribe, believe that Mount Kinabalu is sacred to them as it is the “the revered place of the dead”. Feel free to read here to know more about “The Legends of Mount Kinabalu“.

Mount Kinabalu climb

Mount Kinabalu summit trail

So, whoever plans to climb Mount Kinabalu, especially for first-timers, these are the things that they need to know beforehand:

  • One should not shout, curse, or make loud noises while climbing Mount Kinabalu, as to avoid bad spirits from disturbing them or whoever is climbing with them.
  • Do not pluck any plants or pick a stone from the mountain and bring it back home; locals believe (and still do!) that some plants or natural objects have “residents” in them. Taking them with you will only aggravate them and cause them to retaliate
  • Ask for permission before peeing or throwing your empty canisters; you’ll never know if the place you’re throwing has spirits roaming around there or whether it’s their home you’re invading

2) Hunting in Borneo Jungle 

Superstitions Sabah Borneo

Wild Boar hunting. Photo by: Kenneth Sorento

In the olden days, it is believed that when a man is going for hunting in Borneo Jungle for food, he will need to be very careful when having spotted a snake. This is because if the man meets a snake along his path, he will need to turn back home. Moreover, meeting a snake is a bad sign, and if the man continues further to hunt, he will not catch anything or worse, get hurt.

3) Sogit 

Superstitions Sabah Borneo

Sogit can be in form of livestock, agricultural produce such as tajau or gongs. Photo by: Rabani HM. Ayub

Superstitions Sabah Borneo

Kadazandusun ritual by a group ofg Bobohizan or Shaman to appease the mountain spirit. Photo by:

Sogit is a Kadazandusun term which means penalty or fine, it is also considered as “peace-offering”. Imposing a Sogit depends on what kind of mistake that particular individual did, such as fighting, indecent acts, and so forth. In addition, Sogit is usually in form of livestock, agricultural produce, or items such as knives, machetes, tajau (crock), or gongs. The Sogit is dependant on how serious the individual’s offense is; the heavier the offence, the heavier or bigger the penalty will be. For example, if a man were to marry a woman who is of far relations to them (3rd cousin from either parent’s side), they will need to cut a whole pig and offer the whole village a portion of the cooked pork as compensation as well as to wash away all the bad luck that might hit them in the future (both future bride and groom cannot eat the pork however).

In 2015, there was an Earthquake in Sabah Borneo, which caused death to 18 innocent people. The locals believed that this event was caused by the indecent behaviors of a group of tourists, which angered the mountain spirits (the tourist undressed and were butt naked on the Summit; indecency overkill). The locals were enraged and believed it was the spirits being angry when the earthquake happened. The tourists were caught and was imposed with Sogit, in which the tourists have to pay 10 heads of Buffalo, in order to appease the mountain spirits for their awful behavior.

4) Funeral 

Kadazandusun tribe believed that when someone died in a certain village, everyone must be informed. Thus, nobody should do any kind of work on the day of the funeral (eg: planting rice). They believed that doing any work during this occasion will bring misfortune and disrespect to the deceased. Apart from that, the body will be placed in the house for 3 days before the burial and the occupants in the house must stay awake to accompany the body because they believed that a devil which disguise in form of a large bird will fly away with the body. Some also believed that the spirit of the dead is still wandering around the house for the last time, so by keeping awake will show some respect to the dead. Thus, whoever fall asleep will be doused with water and they should not be offended by it.

Moreover, no cats are not allowed to be near to the dead body. This is to prevent the cats to jump over the body, which Kadazandusun believed that the dead body will awaken but obviously possessed by an evil spirit.

5) Moths/ Butterfly fly into the house 

Superstitions Sabah Borneo

Huge moth outside the house. Photo by: the longerthebetter

Some locals in Sabah Borneo believed that when a big moth flies into the house in the middle of the night, it is actually a spirit of their recently departed relatives coming for a visit. The old folks will advise not to chase the moth out from the house or kill it, as a way to respect their departed relatives’ spirit.

Apart from that, the locals also believed that when moths/ butterflies came flying into the house during the day, it means the house owner will be expecting guests, either from a long-lost relatives or friends, coming to the house.

6) Tapun  

For Kadazandusun people, the concept Tapun is basically about food and it is still practiced until now. There is no easy word to describe the word Tapun, but it is the locals’ way of saying this word when they could not eat some food that they thought about or when offered by others. By saying the word Tapun, they can avoid any harm when going out from the house.

7) Other Superstitious  

There is also a minor superstitious which some Kadazandusun people still believe until today. Such as, whistling at night is prohibited, because it will invite the devil in a form of a snake to come. Apart from that, children are not allowed to point the rainbows using their fingers, because if they do, their fingers will be bent and become stiff.

Picnic by the river in Borneo Jungle can be so much fun and excitement, however, Kadazandusun people believed that some of the food must be “shared” with the guardians of the place before they eat, in order to avoid getting sick when they return home.

Such superstitions among Kadazandusun tribe in Sabah Borneo is not all that bad, but it is best to have some of the knowledge of the superstitious and do respect it. Moreover, it would make your trip to Sabah Borneo much more interesting after knowing some of the superstitious, and it can be a good story to share with your family and friends back in your hometown! 

Get to know more about Kadazan tribe, one of the major tribe in Sabah Borneo, here in our other blog post!


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Insta-worthy spot in Sarawak Borneo

Insta-worthy spot in Sarawak Borneo

Insta-worthy spot in Sarawak Borneo for Borneo Holidays


December, 2017

Our Sarawak Borneo Tour!
Sarawak wetland national pak

sarawak longhouse adventure

Sarawak iban adventure

Sarawak Borneo is the largest state in Malaysia, and it is located in Borneo Island ( the third largest island in the world after Greenland and New Guinea). Sarawak Borneo is known to many for its tropical rainforest and myriad species of Borneo Wildlife, as well as rare plant species. Apart from that, its natural wonders of cave systems and the longest river in Malaysia, Rajang River, can be found within Sarawak Borneo. Moreover, Sarawak Borneo also holds many interesting histories and exotic culture for travelers to experience. From the unique architecture of longhouses to the beautiful British Colonial buildings, Sarawak Borneo is truly an admirable place for travelers to experience the difference for their Borneo Holidays.

Looking at these wonders in Sarawak Borneo, either it was natural or man-made, it is not a surprise that Sarawak Borneo offers an insta-worthy spot for travelers. “Insta-worthy” means a picture with value and beautiful enough to be uploaded in the Instagram application, which will influence the followers to track the location and eventually contribute on the tourist arrivals to the destination. Here are some of the insta-worthy spot that travelers should go to Sarawak Borneo and share it with their Instagram followers:

a) Chinatown, Carpenter Street 


insta-worthy spot in Sarawak Borneo for Borneo Holiday

Chinatown Street

Chinatown Arch. Photo by: Lanakhlaken

Table with a view of the iconic Dewan Undangan across the river. Photo by: Uisa278

Good morning world! Nice place to do remote work😃

A post shared by Daren Tan (@heisdaren) on

An iconic place to explore in Kuching city during the day or night. The red archway indicates the entry point of this Chinatown in Kuching city, known to many locals for being the popular shopping and eating spot. Apart from that, the refurbished of old shophouses are surprisingly nice to look at, as the walls and doors were painted brightly. Most of the shops in Carpenter Street are selling non-touristy stuff, such as bicycle shops, bookstores, hardware stores, antique furniture shops and local coffee shops. Take a stroll along the Carpenter street, and be amazed at garbage-free, amazing mural paintings on the wall and less vehicle moving around the area.

b) Cat Statues in Kuching City 


A family of Cats in Kuching city. Photo by: worldaccordingto_njd  

Kuching city’s name was believed to have come from the word Kucing in the Malaysian Language, which means cat. There are few cat statues that can be found in Kuching City, where it does not only give a unique feel to the city but can also be a perfect photography subject. This is, after all, Kuching City known as “Cat City”, so, taking photos of the cat statues is obligatory and a thing to do when in Kuching!

c) Mulu Pinnacles  

Natural wonders in Sarawak Borneo will never cease to amaze visitors of its awesome creations, especially the Mulu Pinnacles which located in Gunung Mulu National Park. Centuries of water have eroded and dissolved the rock forming into razor sharp spikes that tower about 45-meter high above the surrounding vegetation. Travelers would need to go through a tough and challenging trail in order to witness the pinnacles. Somehow, looking at the pinnacles will make some believe that they are in one of the scenes in The Lord of The Ring movie!

d) Mulu Caves – Deer, Lang’s, Clearwater & Wind Caves

Mulu Show Caves. Photo by gettonknow.msia

Exploring caves in Sarawak Borneo. Photo by chemistry_of_travel

Adventure caving and a bit of sunlight. Photo by ashtonpikec21

These amazing caves can be found in Mulu National Park, where travelers can witness its uniqueness or sheer beauty. All the caves can be accessible by plank walks and well-lit concrete paths, which offers travelers a chance to see the impressive formations of stalagmites and stalactites, as well as witnessing the spectacular bat exodus at sundown.

e) Kuching Waterfront

Epic photo of Pinnacle stone formations. Photo by travellady23

insta-worthy spot in Sarawak Borneo for Borneo Holiday

Dewan Undangan view at night from Kuching Waterfront. Photo by wanfariszain

#kuchingwaterfront #kuchinggoldenbridge

A post shared by Jiu VoonFy (@jiu621) on

Amazing sunset view and local activities at Kuching Waterfront. Photo by acevie

Kuching Waterfront. Photo by thegohjo

The serene river, beautiful landscapes and a relaxing walk along the Kuching Waterfront are truly one of the insta-worthy destination in Sarawak Borneo. Most locals and tourist will just go for a stroll along the esplanade or just go for river cruise using the small passenger boat or “Tambang”. During daytime, it offers a scenic view of the historical buildings such as Astana, Fort Margherita and the Malay villages. However, travelers can be expected to witness the beautiful lights coming from the newest icon of Kuching city which is The Golden Bridge, and the lights from Astana at nighttime. Moreover, there is work of arts and sculptures can be seen at the waterfront area, making it perfect for travelers to capture it for their Instagram account!

e) Grand Old Lady, Canada Hill, Miri 

Witness the spectacular view of Miri city from the top of Canada Hill and the “Grand Old Lady” situated on top of Canada Hill. It is to mark the birthplace of the petroleum industry in Malaysia, where the first oil well was drilled by Shell company. Apart from that, travelers could drop by a visit to the Petroleum Museum to learn the history and technological development oil and gas in the country.

f) Damai Beach, Santubong 

insta-worthy spot in Sarawak Borneo for Borneo Holiday

Hornbill landmarks at Damai Beach Central. Photo by Ochonolsen

insta-worthy spot in Sarawak Borneo for Borneo Holiday

Damai Beach.  Photo by WilsonHows

Damai Beach is Sarawak Borneo most famous and beautiful beach which located on the Santubong, about 35 minutes away from Kuching city. Travelers can just laze around and relax on the white sandy beaches, join the water sports activities, trekking into the Borneo Jungle, birdwatching activities, or experience Borneo culture in Sarawak Cultural Village. Apart from that, travelers should check out the beautiful sunset by the Damai Beach and take a photo of it for their Instagram profile.

g) Longhouses in Sarawak Borneo 

In Sarawak Borneo, there are some local families in different tribes still practices living in longhouses, because they feel a strong spiritual connection to the rainforest. Mostly they will grow rice, fruits, vegetables, hunting and fishing as their source of income. Nowadays, there are some of the longhouses in Sarawak Borneo becoming tourism destination that will enable travelers to experience living in a longhouse for a chance of a lifetime and learn the Borneo Culture. The surrounding area of longhouses is quite unique and authentic, making the location an insta worthy for anyone who visits longhouses in Sarawak Borneo.

After looking at the Instagram photos taken by travelers from around places, ready for a Sarawak tour for this coming 2018? Make your plans now! For further information on Sarawak Borneo, feel free to read our experience a tour in Kuching city and caving adventure in Sarawak Borneo.

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Packing tips/list for Borneo Holiday

Packing tips/list for Borneo Holiday

Travel Packing List/Tips for

Borneo Holidays


December, 2017

Our Kota Kinabalu Tour!

Mari Mari Cultural Village

Taste of Borneo Cooking Class

Travel Packing List/Tips for Borneo Holidays
Borneo is one of the main spots for travelers around the world who craves for the sun, virgin forests, top of the notch diving havens, as well as endemic wildlife. Straddling the equator, Borneo is the world’s third largest island, after Greenland and New Guinea, and is divided into 3 countries, namely Malaysian Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak), Indonesia, and Brunei.
However, traveling to Borneo for the first time can be intimidating, especially the part to know “What to pack” for your Borneo holidays. Fret not, here are some of the packing tips/list for your Borneo Holidays.

a) Borneo Jungle Trekking 


Borneo is 365 days tropical climate, therefore, it is recommended for you to pack some lightweight cotton clothing while traveling around in Borneo. Apart from that, wearing a pair of long trousers and t-shirt is recommended when you are going for jungle trekking in Borneo Jungle. While going for trekking in Borneo Jungle, do not forget to pack sunscreen, raincoat/poncho, insect repellent, and leech socks, as you will venture into the Borneo Jungle with unpredictable weather (it can be very hot and rain the next second) and full of creepy-crawly leeches (Yikes!!).

If you find the leech has attached itself to your skin, don’t panic, you can just put salt and it will recoil quickly. No salt? Get tobacco mixed with a bit of water and rub it near its mouth, and watch the leech fall right after! Apart from that, pack comfortable hiking shoes which can handle the muddy trails and jungle streams. However, we recommend you to purchase the most practical and local’s favorite footwear – Adidas Kampung or rubber shoes. It is cheap, light, and easy to dry for your jungle trekking activity in Borneo.

Want to know more tips on how to avoid leeches while trekking in Borneo Jungle? Read our tips here. In addition, if you are planning to go for jungle trekking activity for your Borneo Holidays, click here to download our free guide for trekkers in Borneo.

Borneo Jungle Trekking

b) Mount Kinabalu Climb

Mount Kinabalu Climbing

On the other hand, if you are going to climb Mount Kinabalu for your Borneo Holidays, warm clothing is essential. Wearing a good waterproof windbreaker, fleece jacket, and a beanie would be enough. Once you reach the summit, the temperature will drop as low as -3 to 5-degree Celsius!(Burr….) Don’t forget to pack good trekking shoes with excellent grip for your Mount Kinabalu climb, because it can help you when it gets steep and slippery (if it is raining).

Moreover, headlight and trekking pole is very much needed for your climb too if you are not as fit as a fiddle. You will continue to hike to reach the summit as early as 2 am, which is still dark at that time. Therefore, packing headlight could be very useful to illuminate your path while climbing. Apart from that, trekking poles are best to help you especially descending down from the summit and you will not suffer from sore muscles after your climb.

Tips: Don’t forget to pack some snacks, such as chocolates; energy bars; nuts; biscuits; sweets; glucose or bananas to provide you some energy to climb Mount Kinabalu.

Wondering what’s the duration to climb Mount Kinabalu in your Borneo Holidays? Click here to read more information on it.

c) City/Populated area  

Borneo is engulfed in rich culture, tradition, and religion, which Islam is the official religion in whole of Malaysia. Therefore, traveling around the city area in Borneo, it is recommended to dress modestly, especially for female travelers. Female travelers should keep their shoulders and knee covered; tops should not be above the waistline of the trouser which will expose the midriff; as well as the neckline should not show some cleavage.

Wearing casual wear is acceptable, and you can also wear shorts, tank tops or bikini if you are going to the islands or the beaches. As long as you are not wearing a revealing attire while crossing down the busy road! However, if you are visiting the temples or any holy places in Borneo, it is best to cover yourself fully as respect. For female travelers, don’t forget to pack a scarf or shawl to cover your hair when visiting these holy places.

Dressing code to visit holy places in Borneo

d) Borneo Diving

Borneo Diving

Borneo is also blessed with an array of marine life, which makes it one of the world’s top diving spot. Sipadan Island is one of the islands that can fulfill every diver’s dream with its outstanding marine life, high numbers of Turtles, Whitetip Reef Sharks, Barracuda, and countless sea creatures that you will not want to miss.

If you are planning for a diving activity in your Borneo Holidays, plan ahead and let your tour providers know what’s your size! Apart from that, pack a dry bag to keep your wet clothes and swimwear, flip-flop sandals, extra dry clothes and beach towel. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, a hat that can cover your face and perhaps a lightweight windbreaker to cover your shoulders from the sun. Remember to pack your camera in order for you to capture your diving moments and to witness the underwater world. If you are going for snorkeling on the islands, be sure to bring a rash top or skinny diving suit, in order to avoid some miniature jellyfish that can sting you (don’t worry, it won’t hurt you that much, but prefer to avoid it!).

e) Misc/other travel packs

There are also some of the important and minor things that you will need to pack for your Borneo Holidays, such as:

  • Anti-malarial tablets (pack these and other personal medications in your hand luggage). Click here to download our free guide on Travel Health Sheet to Borneo.
  • Pack a travel (plug) adapter for your electronic devices. In Borneo, the power sockets are type G, which is British origin type.
  • Don’t forget to bring an empty water bottle, fill it up, and keep yourself hydrated while going around in Borneo.
  • Bring a foldable daypack so you can easily carry around some essentials while going for a day tour in Borneo.

Dressing code to visit holy places in Borneo

Getting to know what to pack for your Borneo Holidays can be a bit difficult, but, fret not, we will provide a Borneo packing list guide for travelers who wish to travel to Borneo in the future. Download your Borneo packing list now!

Related article: 5 things need not pack to travel to Malaysian Borneo

Check out our video below for Travel Packing to Borneo:

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Things to do in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Borneo – Jesselton Artisan Market

Things to do in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Borneo – Jesselton Artisan Market

Things to do in Kota Kinabalu,

Sabah Borneo – Jesselton Artisan Market


November, 2017

Our Kota Kinabalu Tour!

Mari Mari Cultural Village


Taste of Borneo Cooking Class

Jesselton Artisan Market

A trip to Sabah Borneo will grant any of us (as travelers) a promise to experience the wildest adventure in our life by going for a trekking expedition to Borneo Rainforest or spot some wildlife that is endemic in Sabah Borneo. Our Sabah Borneo Holiday will begin in the capital city of Sabah Borneo, which is Kota Kinabalu City. Kota Kinabalu City was formerly known as Jesselton City and is located on the northwest coast of Borneo, facing the South China Sea. Some might think staying in Kota Kinabalu City can be tedious, but with its own modern hip vibe, well-developed infrastructures, delicate taste of local food, breathtaking sunset view, its diverse local culture, the exquisite locals’ handmade of arts and craft, eventually will make us fall in love with Kota Kinabalu City in a day. Some might consider on extending their holiday just to explore more of the charms of Kota Kinabalu City.

One of the activity that we should not miss out to do in Kota Kinabalu City, is a chance to visit the Jesselton Artisan Market. Jesselton Artisan Market is an inspiring arts and craft bazaar, which showcases the locals’ own skilled and handmade of decorative arts, jewelry, clothing, home decorations, furniture and more interesting stuff that might amaze us. Moreover, there will be food stalls, food trucks, mini handcraft workshops, and class sessions by the artisan itself will be held during the bazaar.

A visit to Jesselton Artisan Market for a day will never make anyone feel bored. I have gone to many Arts and Craft Bazaar before, but I always end up feeling bored after spending about half an hour there. Unlike Jesselton Artisan Market, I can literally spend half a day walking around there! My last visit to Jesselton Artisan Market was on 7th October 2017 and I can say that there was never a dull moment! I was in awe to see some of the creative handmade arts and crafts, as well as listening to the music performance by the local bands/artists.

Jesselton Artisan Market is a new event in 2017 and organized by Salt X Paper. In addition, the Jesselton Artisan Market sometimes collaborate with other creative groups (such as Doodle Malaysia, Inktober Malaysia, etc) for this event.

Let me share with you some of the interesting things that can be expected in Jesselton Artisan Market:

Jesselton Artisan Market

Handmade coin purse and pieces of jewelry by The Pink Dinosaur

Jesselton Artisan Market

Handmade jewelry and crafts by iCare Crafts

Jesselton Artisan Market

Aren’t these cute cupcakes? But these are not edible cupcakes, these are handmade soaps!

Jesselton Artisan Market

Travel quote postcards

Jesselton Artisan Market

Woven Rattan of Sabah Borneo Mini Bag

Jesselton Artisan Market

“ I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”…
A wood engraving of Marauder’s map from the movie of Harry Potter by YBcuts

Jesselton Artisan Market

A drawing of Malaysian favorite desserts, ABC or shaved ice

Jesselton Artisan Market

“Colourful drawing of Mount Kinabalu as a postcard

Jesselton Artisan Market

Pick your favorite characters of lego keychain

Jesselton Artisan Market

Handmade metal necklaces based on Borneo motives by Pogunsavat Craftwork

Jesselton Artisan Market

Aww…so cute the watercolor drawing of a baby Orangutan…

Jesselton Artisan Market

A hand-drawn mandala on wood by Henna Sapok

Apart from that, handmade arts and crafts are not the only attraction we can see during the Jesselton Artisan Market, there are also some food stalls and food trucks to fill up our hungry tummy. The food itself are creatively designed and the taste are oh-so-delicious! One of the interesting food that I have tasted (and it was my first time too!) during the Jesselton Artisan Market is the beef bacon flavored popsicle (yikes!) by Pops and Pints. They do have other flavors of ice cream, such as strawberry, yogurt, sweet potatoes, and laksa flavor too.

Jesselton Artisan Market

Lime Mint flavor(left) and Beef Bacon flavor Ice Cream (right)

Jesselton Artisan Market

Unicorn Yogurt Ice Cream by Gelato Lab

For this coming Jesselton Artisan Market, it will be held on 2nd-3rd December 2017, this time the organizer will do a Christmas themed event! (yeah!) There will be about 100 local artisan brands selling their original handmade creations, a chance to participate in a sing-along Christmas Carolling, Christmas theme of art installations and displays, as well as a Christmas Charity where we can donate to the poor and needy. Feeling excited? Save the date and see you there!

Missed out on this event? Worry no more, there are other things that we can do in Kota Kinabalu city. Read here for a travel guide to Kota Kinabalu.


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Don’t be a Borneo tourist, be a Borneo traveler!

Don’t be a Borneo tourist, be a Borneo traveler!

Don’t be a Borneo tourist,

be a Borneo traveler!


November, 2017

Our New Tour Packages!
Discover Borneo Scuba Diving

Danum Valley

seaventures dive rig

Don't be a Borneo Tourist, Be a Borneo Traveler

Borneo, is the third largest island in the world, after Greenland and New Guinea. It is divided into three states, which are Malaysian Borneo (Sabah & Sarawak), Indonesia, and Brunei. In addition, Borneo Island is dominated by one of the oldest tropical rainforests (estimated about 140 million years old), making it home to many rare species of wildlife and plants. Being an island that has an abundance of natural wonders, it is not a surprise that Borneo Island has become one of the favorite holiday destinations for many people from around the globe.

Before visiting Borneo Island, think over your purpose to visit Borneo Island. Are you going for hiking to Mount Kinabalu and see Orangutans in Sandakan? Or are you going to discover and learn the diverse culture in Borneo? If you are only interested to go for popular sightseeing in Borneo island, then you are considered as a Borneo tourist. In contrast, if you are keen to experience the culture and seeking for off-the-beaten-track in Borneo, then you can consider yourself as a Borneo traveler. Both trips provide the clarity and refreshment for your trip to Borneo, but have different ways of travel approach.

So, what makes Borneo tourist and Borneo traveler different from each other?

1) Group/ Solo travel

Don't be a Borneo Tourist, Be a Borneo Traveler

Borneo tourist usually will travel in a group, while, Borneo travelers will travel solo

News flash! If you are traveling in a large group or with families/friends, then you are a Borneo tourist. While, traveling solo or with one other person, you are considered as a Borneo traveler. Traveling in an organized group can be daunting, as you may not have any privacy while traveling, or clashing personalities and self-interests for you to deal with. For example, you want to taste out the delicious noodle that you’ve seen from other travelers posts, but you have to follow the majority’s decision to go to a specific restaurant to eat. In contrast, being a Borneo traveler, you are the BOSS! You can decide where and what you want to eat while traveling in Borneo.

Being a Borneo tourist, you will always travel in your own circle and eventually restrain yourself from asking locals or random person for any piece of informations. While, being a Borneo traveler is fun as it can ‘force’ you to engage conversations with locals, as well as sharing personal experience or hobbies together.

2) Sights/ Attractions in Borneo


Don't be a Borneo Tourist, Be a Borneo Traveler

Borneo tourist visit the popular attractions, while, Borneo travelers will go for non-touristy part in Borneo

A Borneo tourist doesn’t go on trips to experience something new or unknown places. They will be very comfortable with a guided tour in Borneo, and simply just stick to places that are popular attractions in Borneo. In addition, if you are a Borneo tourist, you may not get the chance to meet different people or locals except those who you were traveling with. A Borneo traveler will also go to see some of the main attractions in Borneo, but they tend to seek more than the usual attractions in Borneo. They will be looking for more authentic Borneo culture, non-touristy part of destination, as well as to discover local stories that they won’t find in any travel guidebooks. Therefore, a Borneo traveler will know that the locals are the best tour guide to explore some of the off-the-beaten places in Borneo. 

Related article: 5 Off-The-Beaten-Path Destinations in Borneo

3) Food in Borneo

Don't be a Borneo Tourist, Be a Borneo Traveler

Both Borneo tourist and Borneo travelers tasting the local dishes in Borneo

Travel to Borneo will offer you a chance to taste some of the dishes that you won’t taste in your hometown. Apart from that, having taste the food in Borneo will give you an insight of history and cultures in Borneo. Both Borneo tourist and Borneo traveler will go to eat some of the local dishes of Borneo in a local cafe. However, some Borneo tourist will prefer to eat the dishes that are familiar to them. While, some of them who are adventurous enough, they will tend to taste the exotic Borneo dishes once in their life. Meanwhile, a Borneo traveler, seeking to learn more on Borneo’s culture, is always ready to challenge themselves, to step out from their comfort zone, stay at the homestay and try out some of the exotic dishes that are served in the homestay.

Want to know what kind of exotic and traditional dishes offers in Sabah Borneo? Read our blog entry here.

4) Languages in Borneo

Don't be a Borneo Tourist, Be a Borneo Traveler

Borneo tourist will not speak with locals as they will be on a guided tours, while Borneo travelers will ask the locals for directions

Being a Borneo tourist, they will be always in a guided tour, making it hard for them to get the chance to speak with locals and learn some of the local languages in Borneo. While being a Borneo traveler, they are free to go anywhere they want. Therefore, they will need to learn and know at least a few phrases to use to communicate with locals while traveling in Borneo Island. The main language that is spoken in Borneo will be the Malay language. So, learning to say simple things like “Selamat Pagi” (Good Morning), “Terima Kasih” (Thank You),“Di Mana” (Where),“Berapa” (How much), and many more, can make a difference when trying to communicate with locals. Borneo locals tend to feel nervous when a visitor trying to communicate with them because not all of them can speak English very well. Therefore, if any visitor could speak with them in language that they are familiar with, they will feel at ease to converse with them and eventually this will develop into friendship.

Check out this information for you to learn one of the Sabah Borneo’s colloquial terms – “Bah”.

5) Packing Style

Don't be a Borneo Tourist, Be a Borneo Traveler

Borneo tourist will pack a lot of things to travel, while, for Borneo travelers, they chose to pack light

Here’s one quick question for you. Have you ever pack a lot of unnecessary stuff, such as extra clothes, jeans, shoes, electronic gadgets, toiletries, travel guidebooks, and more before coming to Borneo? If your answer is YES, then you are a Borneo tourist. In addition, you should know that not every item in your bag are needed for your trip to Borneo. It’s better to lighten your load by removing some of the unnecessary stuff so that you will feel the ease and flexibility while traveling to Borneo.

When it comes to packing for Borneo travel, a Borneo traveler will pack as light as possible. They would only need to bring their camera and few necessary items for their trip. Apart from that, Borneo traveler will not only pack comfortable clothes, but they will choose the best outfit that can match in any destination. For example, packing practical pants for trekking, hiking, or even walk in the park that suits the climate in Sabah Borneo.

Check out our tips for packing when traveling to Borneo :

6) Buying Souvenirs

Don't be a Borneo Tourist, Be a Borneo Traveler

Borneo tourist will buy souvenirs at the souvenir shop, while, for Borneo travelers, will take small things (eg: entrance ticket) as a memento

A Borneo tourist will be easily drawn to the awe of the local souvenir shops, which some of the souvenirs tend to be overpriced! Although from the outside, you may think that the souvenir shop is the perfect place to find some of the unique items that you can bring home, wait until you see the souvenirs’ price. Moreover, the same souvenirs are often available in other souvenir shops but with a different price. For Borneo travelers, they will be looking for smaller items ( because they want to avoid heavy baggage!), but with great memories to cherish. For example, keeping entrance tickets from Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre or Kinabalu National Park, they will either frame it or stick it into their travel journal. Apart from that, Borneo travelers will choose something that is not more than their budget for souvenirs, knickknack of any sorts such as keychains or seashell bracelets.

After reading this, which one of the categories that you think you fall into? Whichever it is, being in both of the categories will also grant you the chance to enjoy your trip to Borneo. Being a Borneo tourist will also give you a memorable experience that you will not get from anywhere. In addition, it would be a double bonus for you if you can meet an English-speaking local that can provide you with some good advice and tips for your travel in Borneo. Apart from that, don’t stop being a Borneo traveler. Continue to learn more about Borneo culture, develop friendships along the way, as well as seeking some of the off-the-beat destination that can be found in Borneo!

Planning to travel Borneo in 2018? Check out our Travel Hacks to Borneo!

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People of Sabah Borneo – Kadazan Tribe

People of Sabah Borneo – Kadazan Tribe

People of Sabah Borneo –

Kadazan Tribe


November, 2017

Borneo Tour Packages

Taste of Borneo Cooking Class

Mari Mari Cultural Village

Sabah Borneo Culture - Kadazan tribe

A group of Kadazan tribe. Photo by: Willbord Sikodol

Kadazan is one of the biggest indigenous ethnic group in Sabah Borneo. They are predominant in West Coast of Sabah Borneo; Penampang, Kota Kinabalu, Papar, Tuaran, and Ranau.

What is the meaning of “KADAZAN”?

As a Kadazan myself, I never knew the history of the word “Kadazan”. After reading several articles on the internet, I found out there are many theories on the origins of the word “Kadazan”. A former principal of SMK Majakir Papar in 1979, Mr. Richard F. Tunggolou, stated that the word “Kadazan” comes from :

1)  “Kakadazan”, which means “town”, in Tangaa’ dialect due to the reason that Kadazan people mostly live in towns. We need to know that there are several Kadazan dialects predominant to different districts.

2)  Kadazan term was adapted from the word “Kedayan”, which is an ethnic group from Brunei and Labuan. However, there is no valid explanation and it was just an assumption which is in a linguistic way that the word “Kedayan” sounds similar to “Kadazan”.

3)  According to a high priestess or Bobohizan, the true meaning of the term “Kadazan” means ‘the people of the land”.

In short, the Kadazan term means “the people”. Thus, I will be sharing some of the values that are practiced among the Kadazan people.

Paddy Rice as their source of income

Sabah Borneo Culture - Kadazan tribe

The tapai will be put in a jar to preserve the taste of the alcohol

Sabah Borneo Culture - Kadazan tribe

Tapai drinking session

The Kadazan people, originally Borneo headhunters, are the first Borneo people that uses the plow for farming rice and it became as their main source of income. Prior to that, they are known as agriculturalists, where almost all the rice cultivated in Sabah Borneo is grown by them. As a result, they can create the rice into various delicacies and alcoholic drinks through home-brewed fermentation processes. Tapai and Lihing are an example of Kadazan alcoholic drinks that are made from rice.  Therefore, these alcoholic drinks are usually served during any festive season (Kaamatan or Harvest festival), social gatherings and wedding ceremonies.

Sabah Borneo Culture - Kadazan tribe

Performing ritual by a group of Bobohizan( priestess of Sabah Borneo) during the Kaamatan celebration

Kaamatan or Harvest Festival is the main festival for Kadazan people, making it one of the main highlight of annual celebrations done here in Sabah Borneo. This festival is not only to honor Bambaazon, which is the spirit of rice paddy for the beginning of harvest, but it is also as a thanksgiving to Huminodun, the daughter of Kinoingan (which means God) for sacrificing her life to save her people from famine. Read here to know more about Kaamatan story.

Today, Tadau Kaamatan festival is celebrated with a lot of interesting and fun activities, such as exhibitions of Borneo culture, sports competitions, traditional handmade crafts, food and beverage exhibition, performances by local artists and traditional musical group, as well as the Unduk Ngadau beauty pageant.

Sabah Borneo Culture - Kadazan tribe

One of the important ritual during the Kadazan wedding, Miohon Pinisi, as a symbol of a reunion of two people

A long time ago, Kadazan culture believed in arranged marriages, as the children in the olden days did not have money or dowry required to get married like today, making them highly dependent towards their parents for choosing a lifetime partner for them. Initially, the parents from the young man side will go visit the family of a prospective bride and discuss to wed their son to the future bride. The parents of the bride will be left to consider the proposition, sometimes they will ask for a picture of their future son-in-law. Most importantly, they will want to know if the young man’s family will be able to come up with the required nopung (which means dowry).

Once the parents of the bride agrees, there will be a second visit in order to arrange the date for engagement and the discussion of the dowry. Some parents of the future bride may ask for a higher price on dowry and bargaining will be expected until reaching to both side’s agreement. I was told by my grandmother that Kadazan women from Penampang are known to have the most expensive dowries! (How lucky I am! Hahaha…)

Sabah Borneo Culture - Kadazan tribe

The gongs are beaten by some of the local Kadazan women

When there is a wedding ceremony or any festive seasons, you will have the privilege to witness the Kadazan tribe’s own traditional dance. We called it “Sumazau”, and usually, we will dance with the sound produced by “Magagung” (gong beating), “Bungkau”, “Sompoton” and “Suling” (Flute). The dance consist of a couple of males and females, dressed in beautiful traditional attire, accompanied with the rhythm from the traditional music instruments. However, different districts in Sabah Borneo will have different ways of beating the gong and dance style.

Want to learn the Sumazau dance in Sabah Borneo? Participate in any Harvest Festival or get invited to a Kadazan wedding ceremony!

Sabah Borneo Culture - Kadazan tribe

Kadazan delicious delicacies. Photo by: Tourism Malaysia

For Kadazan people, the food is basically cooked in a healthy way. Either we boil or grill using a little bit of cooking oil, and use some of the locally available ingredients, such as bamboo shoots, sago, and freshwater fish. One of the famous traditional dishes would be “Hinava”, a raw fish salad that is freshly cut fish into small slices, mix, and marinate with diced red onion, ginger, red chilli, bitter gourd, grated Bambangan seeds and lime juice. Apart from that, there are also Tuhau (wild ginger), Pinasakan ( Braised fish mixed with wild fruit, takob akob, turmeric, and salt), and more. Read here to know more other traditional dishes in Sabah Borneo.

Wherever we travel, understanding one’s culture is what makes the travel worth it. So, when traveling to Sabah Borneo, don’t be surprised to meet few other cultures in Sabah Borneo, as there are about 32 recognizable ethnic groups in Sabah Borneo that you need to discover, and Kadazan is one of it. Isn’t this interesting to know some of the Sabah Borneo cultures? Kadazan culture is definitely the biggest representative culture of Sabah Borneo, the land below the wind.

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