Rejoice in the natural beauty of our country on Malaysia Day with a trip to Sabah or Sarawak
IT was almost half a century ago on Sept 16 that Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore joined to form the Malaysian Federation.
Singapore later became an independent nation while North Borneo came to be known as Sabah and Sarawak. Malaysia Day (on Sept 16) is a momentous occasion for Malaysians.
To commemorate it this Sunday, Hotels.com invites you to explore Sabah and Sarawak — home to unique flora and fauna found only in this part of the world.
For adventurers: Climb Mt. Kinabalu
If you’re itching for adventure, challenge yourself and make an attempt to climb to the highest peak in the Malay Archipelago.
Located in Kinabalu National Park in Sabah and standing at 4,095m, Mt. Kinabalu is Southeast Asia’s tallest peak.
If this sounds intimidating, don’t worry. It is one of the world’s easiest peaks to conquer and it’s safe even for climbers with no climbing experience.
The ascent begins at Timpohon Gate near the park’s headquarters, with climbers reaching the summit in the early morning to get a spectacular view of the sunrise.
The entire climb and descent usually takes two days and anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and willpower can reach the summit — just don’t forget to wear proper shoes and climbing attire!
Where to stay
Located in Ranau in Kinabalu National Park is three-star Kinabalu Park Hotel. Rooms feature balconies with mountain views and include rustic fireplaces. Prices start from RM566* per night on Hotels.com.
For water babies: Dive in Sipadan
It’s no secret that our country is home to many world-class dive sites, but none more so than Pulau Sipadan. So vast is the array of marine life here that the famous marine explorer Jacques Cousteau declared it an “untouched work of art”, earning it the title of Crown Jewel Of Diving in Malaysia.
A tiny island located less than an hour away from Semporna, Sipadan offers divers plenty of encounters with big fish. For example, at Barracuda Point, divers can sometimes find themselves surrounded by a spiralling vortex of barracuda so large that the sunlight is often blocked out.
Divers can also feast their eyes on magnificent marine creatures at other dive sites around the island, including reef sharks, massive bumphead parrotfish and even turtles.
Where to stay
All resorts on this tiny island are now closed to keep the dive site in pristine condition but travellers can find accommodation in nearby Semporna. Borneo Global Sipadan Backpackers & Dive Centre offers travellers affordable and clean accommodation and staff can also help with arranging tours and transport to Pulau Sipadan. Prices start from RM76* per night on Hotels.com.
For culture vultures:
Stay in an Iban longhouse
Fancy a whole new vacation experience? Intrepid travellers can immerse themselves in history by staying in a traditional Iban longhouse and getting up-close and personal with the indigenous people of Borneo in the jungles of Sarawak.
The Iban are nomadic headhunters who were active as recently as 50 years ago. They lived for centuries in longhouses, which sat on stilts and were built to last 15-20 years or until the farm land in the surrounding area was exhausted.
Visitors are usually treated to a traditional music and dance performance and spicy rice wine.
Where to stay
Several tour companies and hotels can help travellers book accommodation in an Iban longhouse for a night or two, but those looking to do just a day tour can stay in nearby Kuching.
The Grand Margherita Hotel in the heart of Kuching, offers a picturesque view of the Sarawak River and colourful Malay villages.
Travellers who can’t get enough of history can easily find their way to other historical attractions such as Fort Margherita and Tua Pek Kong Chinese Temple. Prices start from RM381* per night on Hotels.com.
For nature lovers:
Explore the forests
Besides being a food haven and a melting pot of different cultures, we are home to a vast array of flora and fauna, usually found in Sabah and Sarawak’s national parks.
For instance, at Crocker Range National Park you get to see the rafflesia, the world’s largest flower. Measuring up to one metre in diameter, the rafflesia is a unique bloom with a foul odour, a marvel of nature that defies the convention that all flowers are fragrant.
If plants are not your cup of tea, a trip to Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary is a must-do for any visitor to Sabah. Opened for the rehabilitation of this endangered species, the sanctuary employees care for orphaned or injured Orang Utan with the aim of releasing them back into the wild.
The highlight is feeding time, when visitors can observe these “men of the forest” in their natural environment.
Where to stay
The Swiss Inn Waterfront Sandakan makes a great base for exploring Sabah’s national parks. Other nearby attractions include the Sandakan Crocodile Farm and Turtle Islands Park.
Strategically located at the Sandakan Harbour Square, the hotel puts guests within walking distance of the town’s historical and architectural sights. Prices start from RM140* on Hotels.com.
* Prices are subject to change