Category Archives: Travel

Top 10 Islands of Sabah

Corals in Mabul island

Nobody can resist the tranquil sea and white sandy beach of tropical island. Sabah, as a “Maldives of South East Asia”, has dozens of islands open for tourists. Below is the list of Top 10 Islands in Sabah. Each island has its own features and beauty, you may click the Island Name to know more about them.

Sea Tango

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Murphy Ng Murphy Ng
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Top 10 Islands of Sabah

Your date will love you for bringing her there.


Nov 01, 2012 - - 19160
Kapalai Island

Kapalai Island is a pearl in Celebes Sea of Semporna. This island is so isolated and look like another world. Its "magical" beach only appears during low tide.

Nov 01, 2012 - - 17611

Sipadan Island is one of the top 3 diving sites in the world. This only oceanic island of Malaysia has been featured many times in National Geographic and Discovery Channels. You can easily spot over 10 sea turtles in a dive. But what thrills divers the most is the barracuda tornado.

Nov 01, 2012 - - 16578
Mabul Island

The nearest island to Sipadan. Mabul itself is also an island full of corals and one of the best muck diving sites in Malaysia. In the past, the corals of Mabul was badly damaged by blast fishing. After many years of restoration, the fishes and turtles are coming back.

Nov 01, 2012 - - 16176
Bohey Dulang

Also nicknamed as Pearl Island, Bohey Dulang has the most stunning sea view in Sabah. It's located in Semporna Islands Park, which has one of the richest marine ecology in Malaysia, and it's also a favorite photography site for many world's renowned photographers.

Nov 01, 2012 - - 15884

Sea turtles call this island their paradise. The sea and beach of Pom-Pom Island is just unforgettable. At night, you can lay on the jetty to look at the starry sky and listen to the sound of ocean.

Nov 01, 2012 - - 14803

Well-known for whale shark sighting and turtle nesting. All the chalets of Lankayan are facing the sea. In the morning, you would see many fishes, turtles and baby sharks swimming in front of your balcony.

Nov 01, 2012 - - 17088

Famous honeymoon destination for Europeans. Mataking is a picturesque tropical island with white sandy beach, crystal clear water, romantic sunset and luxurious resort. You can have your wedding underwater or in the chapel on the island.

Nov 01, 2012 - - 17049

Mantanani is also known as the Mermaid Island because a friendly dugong living in this sea. The moment you see its turquoise sea, you know you have fallen in love with this island.

Nov 01, 2012 - - 15944
Pulau Tiga

The filming site of first TV reality show named “Survivor”. Pulau Tiga is the most unique marine park of Sabah because it has mud volcano and snake island. Its hidden gem is the snowy pristine beach on Sands Spit Island.



Nov 01, 2012 - - 17049

Sapi Island is only 15 min by boat ride from Kota Kinabalu City. This small island seems to have more fishes than other nearby islands. Tourists feel a bit intimidated by harmless wild boar and monitor lizards that wander around, but they also love such nature experience.

Sea Tango

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Other Islands of Sabah

There are nearly 400 islands in Sabah, but only some of them are developed for tourism purpose. Below is a list of other islands that travellers can visit.

Other Sabah’s Top 10

Top 10 Destinations of Sabah

Top 10 Food of Sabah

Top 10 Adventures of Sabah

Top 10 Accommodation of Sabah

Top 10 Sunset of Sabah

Sunset, Fireflies, Sambah River Cruise

Beautiful sunset at Tenghilan

River cruise in mangrove forest is one of the most popular tours in Sabah. Normally tourists pay about MYR200 to see long-nosed monkey, sunset and fireflies in wetlands of Klias, Weston or Kota Belud.

Sambah River Cruise

FYI you can see these in Tenghilan (in Tuaran district) for about half of the price (MYR80), but without wildlife such as proboscis monkey. Anyway, its advantages are: (1) the destination is less than an hour drive from Kota Kinabalu City (KK), (2) You will have a chance to sample a delicious snack called Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps).

smoking fresh shrimps

Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps) is a special product of Sambah Village

This tour is named Sambah River Cruise because it is based in Kampung Sambah (Kampung means Village in Malay language). Before the river cruise, my group was invited to the house of David (our host) in Kampung Bunga, where welcoming drink and light refreshment were served, and an introduction about the trip was given.

Briefing at Kampung Bunga, Tenghilan

Briefing at Kampung Bunga, Tenghilan

Then we moved to the jetty in Kampung Nouga (GPS: 6.233895, 116.307495) around 5pm to start our first river cruise in mangrove forest.

Jetty in Kampung Nouga, Tenghilan

Jetty in Kampung Nouga, Tenghilan

Mangrove Forest

As part of the Sulaman Lake, this wetland has been a fishing zone. If you are an avid angler, you can request them to include fishing as part of the activities.

river cruise in mangrove

Mangrove is the breeding place for seafood.

Technically this swamp is a lagoon as it is directly connected to the sea via a channel. During high tide, fishes such as grouper follow the sea current to enter this mangrove to forage and breed, so it’s not uncommon that you can catch very big fish here.

River cruise at Kg Sambah

The river cruises are between 5pm to 8:00pm

Tuaran has one of the best mangrove forest near KK. The area we visited was mostly intact and large. The brackish water may look dirty, but crabs and prawns grow faster and fatter in such environment. The mudflat of mangrove is also the best place to harvest clams.

Navigate in maze of mangrove forest

Navigate in maze of mangrove forest

Located between sea and river, mangrove swamp is one of the most peculiar forest in the world. The trees can grow in the water and tolerant to saline water, and they breathe with roots. Living among the trees are some weird animals such as the walking and jumping fish, mud-skipper and colorful fiddler crabs with huge pincer.

Approaching Kampung Sambah, a fishing village

Approaching Kampung Sambah, a fishing village

Our boat navigated in a maze of mangrove forest network. The panoramic view of lush mangrove forest is impressive. Some trees grow over 10 Meters. I think Sabah Wildlife Department can bring in some proboscis monkey families. I’m sure they can live happily here.

Group photo at jetty of Kampung Sambah village

Group photo at jetty of Kampung Sambah village

59% of the mangrove forest of Malaysia is located in Sabah. Do you know Sabah has both the smallest (KK Wetland) and largest (Kinabatangan) Ramsar sites of Malaysia? Ramsar Site is a wetland site designated of international importance in terms of conservation, ecology and biodiversity.

Kampung Sambah next to Sulaman Lake of Tuaran

Kampung Sambah is a small fishing village next to Sulaman Lake of Tuaran

Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps)

Around 5:30pm, we arrived Kampung Sambah, a water village next to the lake.

Taking a stroll in Kampung Sambah Village

The tour includes a stroll in Kampung Sambah Village

stilt houses in Kampung Sambah village

The houses in Kampung Sambah are on stilt to avoid flood and high tide

We took a walk in the village, which has a population of 200 of mainly Bajau people. Most of them live in wooden houses on stilt on the mudflat of mangrove, a typical view of fishermen village in Sabah.

Smoke House for making Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai)

Smoke House for making Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai)

Only two villages, Kampung Sambah and Kampung Penimbawan, produce Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai)

Only two villages, Kampung Sambah and Kampung Penimbawan, produce Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai)

However, this ordinary village has an extraordinary snack called Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps). Believe me. The taste of Udang Salai is unforgettable. Once you try it, you would crave for it occasionally.

The burning wood for Smoked Shrimps

The burning wood gives Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai) very nice aroma

Shrimps are abundant in this area. Only fresh shrimps (no frozen shrimp) are used in making Udang Salai.

Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps) is one of the tastiest Sabah snack

Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps) is one of the tastiest Sabah snack I’ve ever tried

They have a simple small hut with wood burning stove to smoke the shrimps. The small shrimps are placed on mesh wire above the burning wood and being smoked until they are totally dry and cooked. The taste is yummy and crunchy with nice barbecue flavor. Even the shell is edible. You can’t stop once you start eating it.

Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps) in a plate

A small pack of Udang Salai can cost about MYR30

Sambah Village is one of the largest producers of Udang Salai, apart from its neighbors Kampung Penimbawan in Tuaran. Smoked shrimps are sold at tamu (morning open market) of Tenghilan on Thursday and Tuaran on Sunday. It’s always sold out before 8am.

Making Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai)

You can buy Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai) in weekly open market (tamu) of Tenghilan (Thu) and Tuaran (Sun)

Sunset & Firefly

Though I wanted to stay back to eat more Udang Salai, we had to start our second river cruise at 6:10pm.

Departing for sunset and firefly cruise

Departing for sunset and firefly cruise

Waiting for the magic hour of sunset

Waiting for the magic hour of sunset

Soon our boat approached the estuary, where we could see the sun started sinking into the ocean. The blazing sun ray gradually turned into warm and golden beam, marking the start of twilight.

Love shape cloud

See the love shape cloud?

nice sunset at estuary


The sunset view was hypnotizing. Even though it rained earlier, the extra moisture in the air is the recipe for making of a beautiful sunset. The colors of the sky and cloud went wild and intense, and we were lucky to see the famous flaming sunset of Sabah.

Beautiful sunset at Tenghilan

Spectacular sunset at Tenghilan

After the sunset, our boat cruised slowly in the total darkness in mangrove. We saw some congregating fireflies flashing on the mangrove tree like summer Xmas tree. The density and scale of fireflies here are small, but good enough for people who never see firefly.

Dinner at the end of tour, rice with fried chicken, crabs, mixed vegetables and some fruits

Dinner at the end of tour, rice with fried chicken, crabs, mixed vegetables and some fruits

Fresh crabs from the mangrove

Fresh crabs from the mangrove

The river cruise ended around 7:30pm and we enjoyed our dinner at David’s house.

How to get there

This destination is less than 50 Kilometers from KK. The tour operator can pick you up at your hotel. The fee is about MYR80 (about USD$20) per person for this half-day tour (3:30pm-8:30pm).

Below is contact information and more details for you to find out more:
Tel: +60 14-6751256
Facebook: sambahrivercruise
Instagram: @sambah_river_cruise

Photos taken in Tenghilan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo