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Exploring Paradise


A Memorable 5-day Getaway in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Welcome to my travel diary as I recount my incredible 5-day journey to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. This tropical paradise, known for its cultural richness and natural wonders, left an indelible mark on my heart. Join me as I take you through each day of this unforgettable adventure.

Day 1: Arriving in Paradise

The warm breeze and the blue South China Sea immediately attracted me to Kota Kinabalu. The anticipation of exploring this tropical gem was palpable as I checked into my cozy accommodations at the Hilton Hotel. The adventure had begun!

Day 2: Cultural Immersion at Mari Mari Cultural Village

On the second day, I went on a trip to the Mari Mari cultural village that taught me about Sabah’s indigenous cultures and left a lasting impression on my heart. Mari Mari Cultural Village is just a short drive from the Hotel.

Getting There

Reaching Mari Mari Cultural Village was a breeze.. As we approached, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of anticipation. What awaited me inside these traditional houses, nestled in the heart of the rainforest?

The Experience

Stepping into Mari Mari Cultural Village felt like stepping into a time machine. The guided tour was my passport to the rich tapestry of Sabah’s indigenous cultures. Our first stop was the house of the Rungus tribe, where the intricate bead work and woven baskets caught my eye. Our guide shared stories of her people’s history and lifestyle.

We moved on to the houses of the Bajau, Lundayeh, Murut, and Dusun tribes, each distinct in its architecture, artifacts, and way of life. It was a privilege to witness firsthand the preservation of these ancient traditions. The guide offered us a window into their worlds, answering questions and engaging in enlightening conversations.

Cultural Performances

The highlight of the visit was undoubtedly the cultural performances. The stage came alive with vibrant colors and rhythmic beats. Dancers from the various tribes donned their traditional attire, and the atmosphere was filled with the melodies of gongs and drums. The highlight of the show featured the Murut dancers jumping in and out of moving bamboos sticks without getting their feet caught!

The dances were more than just performances. They were living traditions that told stories of love, unity, and the connection between the indigenous people and their cultures.


After immersing myself in the rich cultural experience, it was time to tantalize my taste buds. Lunch was a feast of Sabah’s culinary delights. From the fragrant aroma of bamboo chicken to the exotic flavors of local vegetables, every dish served as a tribute to the region’s diverse cuisine.


As I left Mari Mari Cultural Village, I carried with me more than just photographs and souvenirs. I had gained a profound appreciation for the diverse cultures that call Sabah home. This incredible experience was not only educational but also deeply moving. It reminded me of the importance of preserving and celebrating indigenous heritage.

Mari Mari Cultural Village is a must-visit. It’s a place where history, traditions, and hospitality converge, leaving you with a lasting appreciation for the cultural mosaic that defines Sabah.

Dancers in tribal customs

Day 3: Sabah Museum

Day three’s highlight was a visit to the Sabah Museum, a place where history, natural wonders, and indigenous heritage converged. In the main hall, a magnificent whale skeleton stood proudly, serving as a formidable guardian. The museum tour guide’s explanation of the exhibits deepened my understanding of Sabah’s unique identity.

It was a journey of self-discovery, and cultural immersion into the enduring spirit of the Sabahan’s rich heritage, and culture. The museum left me with a profound appreciation for the wonders of Sabah’s past and present.

Immersed in History

The Sabah Museum, established in 1965, serves as a guardian of Sabah’s heritage, preserving centuries-old artifacts, manuscripts, and traditions. It was a privilege to explore this treasure trove of knowledge.

A Kaleidoscope of Cultures

One of the most enchanting aspects of the Sabah Museum is its ability to showcase the rich and diverse cultural tapestry of the state. It was like embarking on a journey to discover Sabah’s soul, one gallery at a time.

Borneo Heritage Gallery

My journey commenced in the Borneo Heritage Gallery, where I was introduced to the indigenous communities that call Sabah home. The displays were intricate, providing a window into the lifestyles, rituals, and beliefs of these communities. From the fearsome headhunters of the past to the vibrant artistry of today’s indigenous people, this gallery paints a vivid picture of Sabah’s native cultures.

Islamic Civilization Gallery

Next, I ventured into the Islamic Civilization Gallery, which offered insights into the influence of Islam on Sabah’s culture, education, and daily life. It was a testament to the harmonious coexistence of different faiths in the region, a living testament to the spirit of unity.

Chinese and South China Sea Gallery

The Chinese and South China Sea Gallery explores Sabah’s Chinese heritage and their important role in shaping the state’s history through migration. It was a testament to the resilience and contributions of the Chinese community.

Colonial Era Gallery

The Colonial Era Gallery was a poignant reminder of Sabah’s history under British and Japanese occupations. The artifacts and documents on display shed light on this transformative period, highlighting the resilience of the Sabahans in the face of adversity.

Nature’s Wonders

Beyond the cultural treasures, the Sabah Museum houses a Natural History Gallery that introduced me to the state’s awe-inspiring flora and fauna. It celebrated Sabah’s lush rainforests and the mesmerizing marine life that graces its shores. It was a reminder of the delicate balance between humans and nature.

The Sabah Museum visit is an unforgettable experience. It’s a journey through time, a celebration of culture, and a reminder of the beauty that lies within Sabah’s diverse heritage.

Gala Night

I was absolutely delighted by the incredible buffet dinner showcasing the extraordinary flavors of the Sabahan cuisine that tantalized my taste buds. The Gala Night that followed was a true spectacle, with mesmerizing performances, music, and the chance to connect with fellow travelers. It was a night of camaraderie and unforgettable memories.

Sabah Museum

Day 4: Island Hopping Thrills

On day 4, I embarked on the Sabah Island Hopping Tour, starting my journey from Sutera Harbour, just a short bus ride away from the hotel. The adventure kicked off with an adrenaline-pumping speedboat ride to Manukan Island, where the waves gave us quite a thrill. Once we reached our destination, I was greeted by the sight of a pristine beach and crystal-clear waters. While some of my fellow travelers opted for snorkeling, I chose to relax on the beach, taking in the stunning surroundings.

Our next stop was Sapi Island, and after a delicious lunch, we hopped back on the boat for more island exploration. However, our adventure took an unexpected turn as our boat experienced a mechanical problem while out at sea. Despite the initial scare, our capable crew managed to ensure our safe return to Sutera Harbour, adding an unexpected twist to an otherwise memorable island-hopping experience.

South China Sea

Day 5: Home Sweet Home

Day 5, checked out of Hotel after breakfast to catch the return flight to KLIA.

In just 5 days, Kota Kinabalu, had stolen my heart. Whether you seek cultural immersion or thrilling island escapades, this tropical paradise promises an abundance of unforgettable memories.

Have you visited Sabah? Share you adventure on the comments below.

Bamboo dance
Murut warrior in traditional attire
Teh Tarik
Sabah Museum