When you are traveling to Sabah, you might wonder which cities are worth a visit. We will take a look at Top 5 cities in Sabah. Let’s start off with Kota Kinabalu. Kota Kinabalu or in abbreviation, KK, is the capital city of Sabah. It is a delightful and vibrant coastal city that is abundant with tradition, heritage and history which intrigued the locals and even international travelers to wander and discover many fascinating places it has to offer. Even though it is the capital, it is not that packed and filled with skyscrapers like other big cities in other countries, in fact, visitors still can expect to find dazzling rainforests, natural ecosystem, stunning reefs at amazing islands and even diverse culture. Visiting Kota Kinabalu is like having a taste of the whole Sabah just in one city.
Secondly, Sabah proudly present to you Ranau, a district which is located approximately 108 km east of Kota Kinabalu. It is a significant agricultural and tourism center in Sabah. These two sectors have been the main economy contributor for the district and state itself. Tourism businesses in Ranau are centered on the Highlands of Kundasang which is the sub-district in Ranau while its agricultural businesses widespread all over the district. Examples of famous tourism attractions in Ranau are Kinabalu National Park, Poring Hot Spring, Sabah Tea Garden as well as Kundasang War Memorial. Most people of Ranau work as farmers or operators of their own businesses although there are white-collar workers too whom mainly work in the government sectors like health, education, and administration.
Next, let’s take a look at the second-largest town in Sabah after the capital city, Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan. It is located on the north-eastern coast of Borneo and formerly known as Elopura. It used to be the former capital of British North-Borneo. This town is known as one of the port towns in Malaysia and it has a strategic location as it is facing the Sulu Sea. This beautiful town possessed a tropical rainforest climate under the Köppen climate classification which attracts lots of tourism activities to this town. Not very far from this town, there are three Malaysia Turtle Islands can be found which are Gulisaan, Selingaan and Bakkungan Kechil. Sandakan has no cosmopolitan pulse like Kota Kinabalu, but in contrast, Sandakan feels like a provincial city that conveys calm provincial horizons. Some of the famous activities to be done by visitors here are cruising at Kinabatangan River, visiting the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary, or having tea in the English Tea House and Restaurant which is located on a little hill overlooking the majestic Sandakan Bay.
Moving on to the Northern side of Kota Kinabalu is a town called Kudat. It is originally named ‘Tomborungan’ by the locals specifically, the Rungus natives. It was named after a river called ‘Tomborungus’ river which no longer exist. Based on legends, when British settlers inquired about the name of the place, the locals misunderstood the question and thought they were asking for the name of a coarse grass species which grows abundantly in that area. The grass is particularly known as ‘Kutad’ in Rungus dialect, which was eventually changed to ‘Kudat’ and replaced the old name ‘Tomborungan’. Even though it is merely a small city, it contributes to Sabah’s tourism industry actively, as visitors from all over Sabah come to Kudat to purchase its fresh seafood and also to experience the beauty of a typical Sabahan country town. Famous tourist attractions in Kudat are located in the town proper such as Kudat Golf Club, Sidek Esplanade, central market and fish market. This city is also famous for its beaches which are among unspoilt in Sabah. Other than that, visitors can also be immersed in its rich cultural diversity by visiting The Rungus Longhouse or be mesmerized by a breathtaking view when visiting The Tip of Borneo (Tanjung SImpang Mengayau).
The final city that we will take a peek on is Tawau. This city is located on the southeast of coast Sabah and is surrounded by the Sulu Sea in the East and Celebes Sea to the South. It shares a border with North Kalimantan. The main town of Tawau is divided into three sections, namely ‘Sabindo’, ‘Tawau Lama’, and ‘Fajar’. ‘Sabindo’ itself is a plaza, whereby ‘Tawau Lama’ is the original part of this city and ‘Fajar’ is a commercialized area of Tawau. More than half of the area surrounding Tawau is either mountainous or high hills. There are many exciting things can be done by visitors when touring Tawau, for instance, if you come at the right time, you can experience The Tawau International Cultural Festival which is an annual event first held in 2011. Visitors can also visit many historical sites in this city like Japanese War Cemetery, Confrontation Memorial, The Public Service Memorial and The Twin Town Memorial. Tawau is also one of the top cocoa production centres in Malaysia. There is a famous museum that has become one of the most important historical attractions in the town which also sells varieties of cocoa products called The Teck Guan Cocoa Museum. Tawau is also famous for its diving attractions like Mabul, Mataking and Sipadan Islands.