Sabah Quick Guide
QUICK GUIDE TO SABAH
Sabah is one of two Malaysian states located on the island of Borneo.
It is rich with natural diversity, unique cultures, fun adventure, beautiful beaches, and fantastic cuisines for the adventurous taste buds.
It has the appeal of a tropical beach destination, adventurous landscapes and the cultural kick of Asia.
So what do you need to know before you go?
Who goes there?
Travellers to Sabah range from families to the intrepid solo traveller. This is because of its diverse tourism offering. There are beaches to flop and drop on, attracting couples who seek the romantic sunsets and luxurious resorts and families who want a simple holiday where everyone can enjoy the destination. For the adventurous traveller, Sabah offers jungles to explore, coral reefs to dive and mountains to climb. Travellers seeking culture can enjoy a rich history of culture past and present. Solo travellers can feel safe in knowing the destination is easy to navigate.
The main airport is Kota Kinabalu International Airport. There are no direct flights from Australia, or most other countries in the world, however, there are a number of airlines which offer fast connection through a number of Asian ports. Royal Brunei Airlines departs Melbourne, Australia, or London England, via Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei, to Kota Kinabalu. Malaysia Airlines connects its far reaching network via Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore Airlines/Silk Air via Singapore.
When to go
Sabah is Equatorial/Tropical, meaning the climate is generally hot and sunny all year round.
It is affectionately named “the Land below the Wind” due to its sheltered position south of the typhoon belt. While it escapes the worst of the storms, there are certain times of the year which are better than others to visit the island paradise.
Sabah wet season falls roughly from late October/early November through to February or early March, although being covered largely by tropical rainforest and with an annual average of 2000 mm rainfall, the “dry” season is a relative term.
Generally, May to September is the best time to visit Sabah, and with trees fruiting at this time, orang-utans and other animals can be seen grazing closer to the ground.
Travellers looking for a cheap deal, however, may look at these wetter months to travel as there is more likelihood of cheaper flights, accommodation and tours, lodges, parks and dive sites will be much quieter.
Do check for local holidays and festivals, as while it is a wonderful time to experience Sabah, be aware that you may need to book early to secure a room.
For divers, the rainy season brings murkier waters with lower visibility. It is recommended those travelling to dive head to Lankayan in April to May for the chance to see whale sharks, and to Sipadan in July to August to swim with turtles heading to the shore to nest.
Need to know
The currency used in Sabah is Malaysian Ringgit (RM in Malaysia but MYR elsewhere). Foreign currencies can be exchanged for Malaysian Ringgit (RM) at a few 5-star hotels and foreign currency exchange counters located in major shopping complexes. Most major hotels charge a nominal fee for currency conversion.
Standard Malaysian Time is 8 hours ahead of GMT (GMT+8). As with most countries located in the tropics, there is no daylight saving (summer time).
Shopping centers, supermarkets, restaurants and mini markets are generally open daily from 10am to 10pm
It is recommended for food and beverages in exclusive restaurants. Cafes and clubs, as well as hotels normally include a 5 percent service charge in the bill. Tipping is not obligatory, and is certainly not expected.
Electricity & Water Facilities
Electricity is on the 240 Volts AC/50-Hertz system – uses the standard bulky UK 3 pin plug; treated mains water is available in most urban areas. Drinking water is provided in most hotels.
Mobile telecommunications cover many parts of Sabah with the exception of some remote areas. Public phones are scarcely available in most places.
Government hospitals, clinics and pharmacies are available in all towns. The list of private medical practitioners and pharmacies are available in the local phone directories. Those with specific medical needs, however, are advised to have a good supply of medications with them.
Malaysian Goods & Services Tax (GST) for tourists
Read more on Malaysian Goods & Services Tax (GST) for tourists here