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Sabah

Sabah, the second largest state of Malaysia, is located on the north-east tip of Borneo, 6 degrees North of the equator. Its neighbours include its sister state of Sarawak, Brunei Darussalam and Indonesian Kalimantan. Sabah has a 73,620 sq km land area and the coastline stretches for 1,440 km.

History
Sabah's recent history can be traced to 600 AD when the Chinese merchants first arrived on Borneo to trade. In return for spices and birds nests, they exchanged porcelain and jars with the local inhabitants.

The British first arrived in Borneo in 1665. In 1773, the East India Company started a settlement at Balembangan, near Kudat which burnt down in 1775. In 1847, Sir James Brooke, White Rajah of Sarawak, became the first Governor of Lacuna and Her Majesty's Consul-General in Borneo.

In 1877, part of North Borneo was ceded by the Sultan of Sulu (who had been granted the area by the Sultan of Brunei as a thank you for helping defend his territory in what is now know as the Philippines, from the Spanish) to the British North Borneo Chartered Company. British North Borneo would eventually become know as Sabah. In 1888 British North Borneo became a British protectorate. This lasted until the Japanese occupation from 1942-1945. In 1946, it became a British Crown Colony and, in 1963, Sabah became part of Malaysia together with Sarawak and Peninsula Malaya.  The federal Malaysian government in KL still pays the annual rent for Sabah to the present Sultan of Sulu.

Climate
Sabah is hot and humid, with little variation in temperature year round. In the lowlands, temperatures range from 23 to 33 degrees Celsius. In the hilly regions, the temperatures vary from 13 to 24 degrees Celsius. The rainfall average is around 2,000 mm per annum.


Infrastructure
The main airports in Sabah are in Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau, and Lahad Datu. There is a railway line between Kota Kinabalu and Tenom that runs through Beaufort. In addition, there are numerous tar-sealed roads that run through Sabah.


Parks
Crocker Range National Park
Originally gazetted to protect the water catchment area, the Crocker Range National Park runs along the west coast of Sabah. The top of Crocker Range rises up to 1676 m, and the park encompasses a full 139,919 ha. It is in Crocker Range that you will find the Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world as well as countless species of orchids.

Kinabalu Park
Undoubtedly Sabahs most famous park, this 75,370 ha park contains the inspiring Mt. Kinabalu (in local folk-law, originally named Chinabalu). Rising to a substantial 4,101 m., Mt. Kinabalu is the second highest peak in South-East Asia (the highest is in Indoneia's Irain Jaya). From the bottom at Timpohon gate to Lows peak there are several different types of vegetation which include the tropical rainforest, montane forest, cloud forest and the sub-alpine. Flora and fauna are abundant in this area with over 1,000 species of orchid, 27 species of rhododendron, 9 species of Nepethes, Rafflesia, 450 species of fern, 28 species of squirrel, and more than 300 species of birds. 

For those with no intention of climbing the mountain, ther are numerous local walks at teh national park accommodation areas. Relaxing hot springs can be found at Poring, 43 km from the Parks headquarters with spectacular scenery, cold nights and comfortable accommodation at Mesilau Resort. There are also many jungle trails to be explored. The Kinabalu Park headquarters is less than 2 hours drive from Kota Kinabalu.

Pulau Tiga Park
This 15,864 ha. park was gazetted in 1978 and includes the islands of Pulau Tiga and Kalampunian Besar. Mud volcanoes and coral reefs teeming with rich marine life are also found in this park.

Tawau Hills Park
Gazetted in 1979, the Tawau Hills Park covers the volcanic peaks and water catchment area of Tawau. The 27,972 ha. park consists mainly of lowland and hill dipterocarp forest.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
Named after the Father of Malaysia, the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park includes five islands off the Kota Kinabalu coast. One of the islands, Gaya, was formerly a settlement of British North Borneo in 1882. In 1897, however, the settlement was burnt down by Mat Salleh, a local rebel leader. The other islands in the park are Mamutik, Manukan, Sapi and Salug. Jungle trails are found all across the island. Boat services are available daily.


Turtle Islands Park
Selingan, Bakungan Kecil and Gulisan islands form the Turtle Island Park. Gazetted in 1977, the islands play host to Green and Hawkbill turtles every night throughout the year.
Selingan Island has 3 chalets which can accommodate a total of 28 people and is an hours boat ride away from Sandakan.

Places of Interest0 km. south of Sandakan, a 2-hour drive using a 4
Gomatong Caves lie 10 x 4. Witness the birds nest harvest, which takes place 3 times a year.

Kota Belud is the place to go to experience the tamu. Every Sunday local produce, handicrafts and animals, including the large buffalo, are traded in this large weekend market. The route to Kota Belud takes you 73 km. from Kota Kinabalu on winding roads over the Crocker Range.

The financial, administrative, and political heart of Sabah is found in Kota Kinabalu, on the west coast of Sabah on Tanjung Aru Beach. Places of interest in Kota Kinabalu include Signal Hill, Sabah Museum, State Mosque, Chinese Temple, Prince Philip Park, the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Tanjung Aru Beach, Kampung Ayer, the Sabah Foundation Building, Atkinson Clock Tower and the Sunday tamu at Gaya.

The original capital of Sabah, from 1881 to 1884 was Kudat. Inhabited by the Rungus, longhouse dwelling folk, Kudat is also famous for its sandy beaches.

Kundasang in Sabah, is the centre for temperate vegetable farming. You can also find a dairy farm, a war memorial and the Mt. Kinabalu Golf Club here.

The Bajau, a Muslim gypsy people who were once-feared pirates, inhabit Mengkabong. This water village which features houses built on stilts, is only a 30 minute drive from Kota Kinabalu.

Sandakan is a former capital of Sabah and it also contains the largest seaport in the state. Outside the city, Sandakan becomes a nature-lovers haven with the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Nature Education Centre, Forestry Museum, crocodile farm, Proboscis Monkey reserve, orchid farm, log ponds, Gomatong Caves and the Turtle Island Park all found a short distance away.

An old stone on a grassy plain marks Mat Sallehs last fort in Tambunan. This is also the place to meet the Kandazan, one of the indigenous groups of Sabah.

The hilly inland town of Tenom is inhabited mainly by the Murut, former headhunters of Borneo. The main attractions in Tenom are the Tenom Agricultural Park with it's magnificant displays, the Kemabong Murut villages, and the Kallang waterfalls.


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