Travel Sabah Borneo for your vacation of a lifetime

June, 2018

So you have a few vacation days coming up. Do you spend it going with a group of strangers on a cookie-cutter tour? Or do you make an informed decision of going where you know is gonna make it to your “memories-of-a-lifetime” wall of fame?

Decisions like that can be tricky but with a little bit of knowledge, you can definitely come out on top.

If Sabah Borneo is on your bucket list of places to go then here’s a list of 5 destinations that you definitely need to check out. It may not be on that cookie cutter tour of every tour provider in Borneo but it’s on ours and it’s definitely worth the trip. We promise.

Deramakot Forest Reserve

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Sunrise view from Deramakot Forest Reserve. Photo: lachibum

This is pristine forest, one of the few last remaining intact lowland Dipterocarp forest in Borneo. You can learn more about this type of forest here.

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
A group of Proboscis Monkeys on the tree. Photo: Mike Gordon
Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Orangutan in Deramakot Forest Reserve. Photo: Mike Gordon

About 75% of mammals in Sabah Borneo can be found in Deramakot. This forest reserve is a key habitat for five globally threatened large mammals, namely Orangutan, Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Tembadau (Banteng), Proboscis Monkey and Clouded Leopard. If you visit, make sure to bring your best camera lenses and binoculars.

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Going on morning safari in Deramakot Forest Reserve on 4WD vehicle.
Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Sunda Clouded Leopard. Photo: Whitworth Images

Going thru the forest either by foot or vehicle, you will soon come to realise how this forest is teeming with wildlife. Marbled cats, bearded wild pigs, tarsier, slow loris, flying squirrels, leopard cats, macaques, hornbills and the list just goes on.

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Bornean Slow Loris. Photo: Ichabum

Do both the day and night safaris. Don’t miss out on the diverse wildlife that come out both in the daytime and at night. Of course, remember that this is a jungle and not a zoo. So animal sightings are purely based on luck. But when you do spot them, that’s when the magic happens.

To quote a fellow traveler “ ethereal experience”…

Kawang Forest Reserve

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Kawang Forest Reserve

This is a recreational forest, and makes an excellent spot for camping as well as other recreational activities. In 1957 it was gazetted in an effort to preserve and maintain its biodiversity.

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Twisty tree found Kawang Forest Reserve
Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Wild Mushrooms in Kawang Forest Reserve

Kawang Forest Reserve affords you the experience to marvel at the diverse species of flora and fauna that it has to offer. It is a nature lover’s paradise. As you enter, you can see a river that runs near the entrance and this has been landscaped to form a beautiful picnic and swimming area. A great setting for some R&R time with friends and family.

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Tanaki Waterfall in Kawang Forest Reserve

For the more adventurous ones, there’s definitely no shortage of exciting nature activities for you to explore. From jungle trekking to waterfall swims to exploring the bat caves, it doesn’t disappoint. Take your time to breathe in the fresh forest air while you camp out in the wilderness.

Best part of it all is that it’s only a short 30 km drive from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah Borneo.

Libaran Turtle Island

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Sunrise view at Libaran Island. Photo: Jensen Chua
Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Beautiful view from the Libaran Island

Libaran island is located about 45 minutes away from Sandakan, the second largest town in Sabah after Kota Kinabalu.

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Turtle Hatchlings released in Libaran Island. Photo: Slovenia- Explorer

Libaran combines something for both the conservationist and traveler in you. Libaran is home to a Turtle Conservation Program that collects and rescues eggs to ensure they hatch safely before being released back to sea.

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Glamping type accommodations in Libaran Turtle Island

Instead of the normal resort infrastructure, Libaran offers a low impact accommodation set up. Don’t be fooled tho, you won’t be expected to rough it on the beach, instead you will find they have taken camping to another level – with glamping.

Definitely not a bad way to disconnect from the rest of the world. Not bad at all.

Read all about it here in our Complete Guide to Long Pasia

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Long Pasia Villages

Located more than 250 km from Kota Kinabalu, Long Pasia has so much to offer not only in its rich plant diversity but also with its bountiful culture, history and natural heritage.

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Locals in Long Pasia harvest the rice paddy

The journey overland to Long Pasia is in itself an adventure. It is best to go in a four wheel drive. There are no hotels or resorts in Long Pasia, only homestays with a host family. A great way to really learn and immerse yourself in the culture of the locals.

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Nooh Dawa – Man of the Jungle

Long Pasia is home to an amazing tropical rainforest. Mostly untouched as the locals are very protective of the forest. One of the great legends to meet there is Nooh Dawa, better known as King of the Jungle. Read about him here.

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Maga Waterfalls in Long Pasia

Apart from the great treks along the scenic rivers and lush rainforest, one of the finest highlights of Long Pasia is the 5 tier waterfall known as the Maga Waterfalls.

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Maga Campsite in Long Pasia

Here’s a short video of what lies in wait for you at Long Pasia.


Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Rice Paddy Field in Tambunan. Photo: Sylvia Soyoon

Located about 80 km east of Kota Kinabalu, Tambunan is a picturesque town with lush paddy fields lining its valleys.

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Mount Kinabalu view from the summit of Mount Trus Madi. Photo: Oliverd

Although always in the shadows of the more popular Mt Kinabalu, Tambunan has its own impressive Mount Trusmadi which is the second highest mountain in Malaysia at 2,642 metres. The trails are less tourist friendly. The hike is very challenging and requires great physical fitness.

Vacations in Sabah Borneo
Mahua Waterfall.Photo: Edmond Teng

Tambunan is also home to Mahua Waterfall which is nestled in the Crocker Range Park. This is a plunge type waterfall and offers an amazing experience. The trail leading to the majestic waterfall is just as beautiful as the waterfall itself. And the cold water that awaits at the end is the best reward of all.

Although small in comparison to Kota Kinabalu, Tambunan definitely has its weight in gold with all its amazing little nuggets such as the Kipandi Butterfly Park, Rafflesia Information Centre, Trusmadi Forest Reserve and so much more.

Now, are you ready for that vacation of a lifetime? Top Peak Travel Borneo does Sabah Borneo like no other, that’s for sure.

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