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Travel Tips

Travel Tips

It is very hot and very HUMID in here. So, put on comfortable cotton clothes, good pairs of comfortable walking shoes, bring your sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and make sure to drink lots of water (bottled / filtered water).

The climate in Sabah is tropical. It is hot and humid for most of the year and the wet season is traditionally from November to February, but it can get very unpredictable. It is best to accept the possibility of rain at any time.

Temperatures tend to remain fairly constant throughout the year averaging between 21 – 32°Celsius, with temperatures in the higher lands being a little cooler (but still humid).

The local currency in Sabah is in Ringgit Malaysia (RM). Banknotes come in denominations of RM1, RM5, RM10, RM50 and RM100. Coins are issued in 1 sen, 5 sen, 10 sen, 20 sen, 50 sen and RM1 denominations.

ATMs are widely available throughout major towns and cities, although quite sparse in outlying districts and the islands. Foreign currency is not generally accepted when making purchases in Sabah. Licensed money changers can be found in many shopping centres and malls, which will also be able to cash most popular types of travellers checks.

Sabah is a multicultural society with Malays, Chinese, Indians, Indigenous peoples including the tribal peoples of Sabah. From the indigenous Kadasan and Dusun jungle tribes of Sabah living in traditional houses; to the subsistence farmers living around Sabah; to the cutting edge middle classes of the cities – each group have their own unique customs, religions and sometimes even languages / dialects.

The locals of Sabah are generally very friendly and keen to help visitors during their stay. Although the national language is Malay, in practice, many people in Sabah are able to speak in English, especially in urban or tourist areas. Apart from the Malay language and its regional variants, various dialects of Chinese and Indian are commonly used by the respective ethnic groups, whilst the more remote indigenous tribes speak their own languages, including Kadazan, Dusunic, Bajau and Murut.

When calling Sabah from another country , the country code is +60. When placing an international call from Sabah, the international access code is 00. GSM and 3G network coverage is generally good, unless in very remote areas. Although international roaming is possible if your carrier allows it, prepaid SIM cards (including micro and nano-SIM) are widely available, with all of the major local carriers offering competitive rates.

Internet access for travelers is widespread and reasonably priced with a good choice of connection options. Our Borneo Sandakan Backpackers offer free usage of a laptop with free WiFi access to be used in our common living area!

Sabah has one time zone and is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+8) and does not implement daylight saving.

Electricity in Sabah is delivered at 240 volts / 50Hz. Electrical plugs are type G, which have three rectangular pins as found in the UK. If you plan on using your own electrical equipment with a different plug configuration in Sabah, you will require an adaptor. If you’re staying at our Borneo Sandakan Backpackers, you need not worry about adaptors, we will have it covered.

Malaysia Entry Requirement

All foreign nationals entering Malaysia including Sabah must hold a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months upon arrival and MUST ENTER Malaysia through Airports only. Passports are required for travel between Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak). Visitors from many countries may enter Malaysia without a visa, for periods of between one and three months, including Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Canada and the U.S., whilst visitors from other countries will need to be granted a visa.

These visas are categorised as either a visa without reference (VWTR) which is issued by the Malaysian mission in a visitors home country, or a visa with reference (VWR) approved by the Immigration Department. In some cases, an extension of up to four months may be applied for.

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for any traveller arriving from a yellow fever infected country including – Angola, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Djibouti, Equador, Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Venezuela, Zaire and Zambia.

As entry requirements may change from time to time it is strongly advised that you check with the department of foreign affairs or your local consulate or embassy for the current requirements.

More information can be found at the Immigration Department of Malaysia website.

Malaysia (including Sabah) has very severe and strict laws and penalties for drug use and drug trafficking (even tiny amounts for recreational use). DO NOT possess, use or traffic drugs in Malaysia.

Health & Safety

It is never a bad idea to get a good quality travel insurance before traveling. Malaysia (including Sabah) is a tropical country. Before starting your travels, we highly recommend you to consult a doctor with experience in the field of travel medicine, especially for those who are intending to be involved in action sports such as water rafting, diving, mountain climbing or hiking. You should do this at least 8 weeks before you plan to leave, to give time for vaccinations if necessary.

Because of the heat and humidity, visitors should apply sunscreen and be sure to drink adequate amounts of water to keep hydrated. Nowhere in Sabah (and Malaysia) is it advisable to drink tap water without boiling or filtering first. We highly suggest you to buy and drink bottled water at all times.

Regardless of where you are around the world, always be safe. You should always be alert and exercise caution when traveling.

If you find yourself in any kind of emergency in Malaysia and Sabah, dial 999. If you are calling from a mobile phone, either dial 999 or 112.

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for any traveller arriving from a yellow fever infected country including – Angola, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Djibouti, Equador, Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Venezuela, Zaire and Zambia.

Typhoid is caused by bacteria found in contaminated food and water. Nowhere in Sabah (and Malaysia) is it advisable to drink tap water. When it comes to food, we don’t think we are in the position to represent all restaurants in Sabah (and Malaysia). Some restaurants have good and hygienic food handling procedures, and some don’t, and we believe this is the case for many restaurants in any parts the world. The best advice we can share is to go to proper restaurants, and to avoid shady-looking street food vendors.

Malaria is transmitted by a type of night biting mosquito. Risk of malaria is pretty high in deep jungle / hinterland / very rural areas which are not covered in any of our tour packages. Whilst cases of malaria do occur in rural & undeveloped areas of Sabah, risk of malaria is quite low in towns, cities, busy and touristy areas.