I grew up hearing a lot about Sabah because it’s near the Philippines. So when my friends at Nomads Travel reached out about a trip with Sabah Tourism Board, I immediately said yes! I’ve been to Malaysia quite a few times but I’ve never really explored out of Kuala Lumpur so it was refreshing to see a different area in Malaysia! One thing I was excited to check out was the Orang-utan Rehabilitation Center in Sandakan.
From Manila, we flew to Kota Kinabalu and spent the night there before flying early morning to Sandakan the next morning. We arrived in Sandakan and was greeted by our tour guide. We decided to pick up coffee before starting the day. As much as we’d love to stay and have a quick snack here, we had to already go to our first stop: Puu Jih Shih Temple.
We arrived in Puu Jih Shih and we were greeted by a lot of colorful lanterns! We were told that there might have been a celebration prior to our visit as they were about to take the lanterns down when we got there. Luckily, we were still able to snap photos of the lanterns and the temple while they were up.
After the temple, we grabbed lunch and headed to our hotel. One of the things I loved so much about our hotel is it gave us a beautiful view of the town! There was even a funny thing that happened after checking in. Our tour guide told us that he will pick us up at half past three to check out the next place in our itinerary. for some weird reason though, our tour guide never showed up! It even came to a point that we were getting really worried that something might have happened to him (thankfully he’s safe!) So we just decided to walk and check the town near our hotel. To be honest though, it was quite nice to be able to check out the town on our own. One of the things I loved about the town is everyone was really friendly! Everyone was smiling every time they’d see us walking around and checking out the different establishments!
Dinner time came and someone finally picked us up! Another tour guide came for us and we couldn’t stop asking him what happened to our previous guide. He told us he wasn’t sure what happened too. And that disappearing act became our little inside joke between us. Haha!
The following day, we were finally picked up and we got to see the Orang-utans! From where we were, the drive was about 30 minutes to the rehabilitation center. It was really nice to see a sanctuary for these orang-utans. It was so refreshing to be surrounded by nature and to be away from the city. Sadly, I wasn’t able to capture a close photo of the orang utan! Boo! But it was nice to just appreciate them from afar. There is also a feeding schedule so if you come at the right time (we went early morning at around 9-10am because feeding time was at around that time!) Funny though because you don’t only get to see Orang-utans but there are also other monkeys that come and join feeding time.
Right after Orang-utans, we checked out the Proboscis monkey which you can also find in Sabah! For this monkey, we really got close to them (or rather they got close to us! Haha!) I really appreciate how these organizations are taking steps in making sure that these animals have a place to call home and a place where they can run around and be safe.
Above: Candid photo of Lissa, one of the best people to travel with! Unlimited laughs!
The following day, we flew back to Kota Kinabalu and had sunset dinner near the city! Such an amazing way to end the day. The food was amazing and for the first time during our whole trip, we finally got to see the sun! It has been very cloudy and rainy our whole trip so it was pretty awesome to have a beautiful sunset during our sunset cruise.
Big smiles while watching the sunset
Next day was spent at the beach the whole afternoon! Finally got to relax and get a tan! Haha!
And lastly, before catching our flight back to the Philippines, we checked our Mari Mari Cultural village! This is a place that I highly recommend if you ever come to Kota Kinabalu! I learned so much from this place and loved learning about the different ethnic groups that are in Sabah.
We also got to try different dishes from the tour so I think that this tour was definitely worth it.
That’s it for our quick trip in Sabah! I’ll definitely plan another trip here! And maybe one day I get to conquer Mt. Kota Kinabalu when I get back—ahaha!
Here’s a quick video of our time in Sabah: