BEST Sabah Road Trip With Itinerary

If I would have to pick the most beautiful state in Malaysia, Sabah would be my choice because it has so much to offer from the scenic landscape, spectacular mountain, blue beaches, surreal sunset, rich culture, friendliest people, curvy roads, tall waterfalls, national parks and many more!

In this article, I’ll share my suggestions for a road trip in Sabah and the places of interest along the way that you can visit in Sabah

Sabah Road trip map
Red lines – Routes traveled by Chris
Sabah Tourist Attractions Map
Sabah Tourist Attractions Map

KK City Trip

If you’re planning to just drive/ride around KK, have a look at my other post about Places of Interest in Kota Kinabalu.

Sabah Road Trip Routes

Below are the towns/cities that you will be vising along the way whilst on your Sabah road trip.

  1. Kota Kinabalu (Start)
  2. Tuaran
  3. Tamparuli
  4. Kundasang
  5. Kota Belud
  6. Kudat
  7. Ranau (marak parak)
  8. Sandakan
  9. Kinabatangan
  10. Lahad Datu
  11. Kunak
  12. Semporna
  13. Tawau
  14. Tenom
  15. Sipitang
  16. Beaufort
  17. Kuala Penyu
  18. Kimanis
  19. Keningau
  20. Tambunan
  21. Penampang
  22. Kota Kinabalu (End)

Sabah Road Trip Map

Sabah Road Trip suggestion
Sabah Road Trip Map Suggestions

Above is the map that I suggest you to follow as it would cover most of the interesting places in Sabah.

  • Google Overall Map View: Link
  • Distance (Estimation): 2000 +/- KM
  • Roads condition: 90% Good, 10% Broken (Passable)

Sabah Road Trip Itinerary

If you don’t have the time or budget, you can always skip some places and/or modify the itinerary accordingly.

Day 1

  • Routes: Kota Kinabalu – Tuaran – Tamparuli – Kundasang
  • Map: Google Link
  • Travel Distance: 151 KM
  • Accommodation: Homestay in Kundasang

Places of Interest:

Sabandar Cowboy Town (Tuaran)

Sabandar Cowboy

Sabandar Mangrove Park (Tuaran)

Sabandar Mangrove Park

Both Sabandar Cowboy Town and Mangrove Park are located in the same area. This place offers horse riding (at RM10 per 1 small round) and there are pathways made from wood at the Mangroove area which I think it’s the highlight of this place.

Pagoda Ling San (Tuaran)

Pagoda Ling San

A relatively small but beautifully built pagoda. A great spot for a bird’s eye view of Tuaran town from the top.

Upside Down House (Tamparuli)

Upside Down House (Tamparuli)

Upside down house is called Rumah Terbalik in Bahasa. If you’re into photography, this place would be interesting as they also have a 3D museum. Please note taking photo Inside the upside down house is prohibited. People often spend about 30 minutes here.

Kiulu River White Water Rafting (Tamparuli)

Kiulu River White Water Rafting (Tamparuli)

If you’re in groups/family, River rafting for 7km down the Kiulu River would be a great fun adventure that you can try. It’s also suitable for beginners and you can book this tour via Amazing Borneo website.

Desa Cattle Farm (kundasang)

Desa Cattle Farm (kundasang)

Desa Cattle Dairy Farm is a dairy farm located at the foot of Mount Kinabalu in Kundasang Valley, Sabah. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery and view of Moutn Kinabalu. You can also buy local products like Milk, Ice cream etc.

Please note that you can only get clear view of Mount Kinabalu from 05:30 AM – 08:00 AM. Plan your trip accordingly to avoid disappointment or put up a night in Kundasang so you’ll have more time to view the beautiful Mount.

Kinabalu War Memorial (kundasang)

Kinabalu War Memorial (kundasang)

Located about 5KMs away from Desa Dairy Farm, Kundasang War Memorial was built out of respect for those that died in the Sandakan to Ranau “Death Marches”. It is an excellent place to visit and try to imagine the unspeakable horror and atrocities that were inflicted on our soldiers with only 6 survivors out of some 2350 that were forced to march.

I recommend you first visit the audio room for a 20-minute presentation on some of the histories to get acquainted. The memorial is divided into 4 gardens. The Australian, British, Malaysian Borneo, and the garden of Contemplation where an honour role lists each soldier that died on the 3 marches. You will probably spend an hour here by the time you pay your own respects. It s a place that touches your soul and leaves a lasting effect.

Day 2

  • Routes: Kundasang – Kota Belud (Polumpung Melangkap View Camp Site)
  • Travel Distance: 46KM
  • Map: Google Link
  • Accommodation: Polumpung Melangkap View Camp Site (PMVCS)

Places of Interest

PMVCS (Kota Belud)

Polumpung Melangkap View Camp Site

If you’re looking for a great campsite and/or crystal clear river, this place should not be missed! For the purpose of overnight camping, check-in hour is from 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm. Contact: PMVCS

If it’s not raining and you are a camper here, a splendour scenery of Mount Kinabalu will astonish you from 5.45 am to 7.00 am. If you wish to stay indoor, there are a few homestays available around.

Day 3

  • Routes: Kota Belud – Tip Of Borneo – Kudat
  • Travel Distance: 183 KM
  • Map: Google Link
  • Accommodation: Hotels at Kudat Town

Places of Interest:

Tip of Borneo (Kudat)

Tip of Borneo (Kudat)

The Tip of Borneo is the northernmost tip of Borneo located in the district of Kudat, in the state of Sabah, Malaysia. The tip marks the meeting point of the South China Sea and Sulu Sea

Beach next to Tip Of Borneo (Kudat)

Beach next to Tip Of Borneo (Kudat)

Kampung Bavanggazo (Rungus long house in Kudat)

Kampung Bavanggazo
Image Credit: Sabah Travel

Experience the longhouse constructed entirely from traditional materials before it gets wiped away in the future.

Day 4

  • Routes: Kudat – Marak Parak – Ranau
  • Travel Distance: 182 KM
  • Map: Google Link
  • Accommodation: Hotel at Ranau Town

Places of Interest:

Poring Hot Spring (Ranau)

Poring Hot Spring (Ranau)

Honestly, the hot springs aren’t that exciting, they are hot tubs which you can sit in & relax. What is more picturesque & a definite is to walk through the rain-forest to the first waterfall, it is a beautiful walk, not too strenuous on the body. Also during your walk you can enter the butterfly garden & do a canopy walk, both though have an extra charge.

Marak – Parak Route Landscape

Drive/ride along the most beautiful route in Sabah which has about 80+KM long twisty corners. Check out the video below.

Marak-Parak Road (Sabah)

Day 5

  • Routes: Ranau – Sandakan
  • Travel Distance: 238 KM
  • Map: Google Link
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Sandakan Town

Places of Interest:

Sabah Tea Garden (Ranau)

Sabah Tea Garden (Ranau)

Home to famous Sabah Tea, this valley is like the mini version of Cameron Highlands‘ tea plantation. The roads to get here can be a little challenging as it’s not paved.

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (Sandakan)

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (Sandakan)
Image by Amazin Borneo

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre was conceived in 1961 and by 1964 had become reality, funded by the Sabah Government. The reserve is named after the two rivers flowing into the Sandakan Bay. The aim of Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is to return orphaned, injured or displaced orangutans back to the wild.

Sandakan Memorial Park (Sandakan)

Sandakan Memorial Park (Sandakan)

The Sandakan Memorial Park is a memorial site built in the former grounds of the former Sandakan camp in the Malaysian state of Sabah. The site is dedicated as a memory for all prisoners in the camp who died during the Sandakan Death Marches, and to those died during a march to Ranau.

Agnes Keith House (Sandakan)

Agnes Keith House (Sandakan)
Image by ExpatGo

Agnes Keith House is a historic house museum named after Agnes Newton Keith, an American author known for her three autobiographical accounts of life in British North Borneo.

St. Michael’s and All Angels Church (Sandakan)

St. Michael's and All Angels Church (Sandakan)

St. Michael’s and All Angels Church is the oldest stone church in Sabah. The impetus for the construction of the church dates back to the clergyman William Henry Elton, who is also known as the founder of St. Michael’s Secondary School, located next to the church.

Day 6

  • Routes: Sandakan – Kinabatangan – Lahad Datu – Kunak – Semporna
  • Travel Distance: 351KM
  • Map: Google Link
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Semporna Town

Places of Interest:

Kinabatangan River

Kinabatangan River

The Kinabatangan River is the second longest river in Malaysia with a length of 560 km from its headwaters in the mountains of southwest Sabah, to its outlet at the Sulu Sea, east of Sandakan.

Gomantong Cave (Sandakan)

Gomantong Cave (Sandakan)

The Gomantong Caves are an intricate cave system inside Gomantong Hill. The hill is the largest limestone outcrop in the Lower Kinabatangan area. The view is great but be aware, there are thousand of cockroaches and the smell in the cave is unpleasant. However, the view is worth it.

Danum Valley Conservation Area (Optional)

Danum Valley Conservation Area with Sticky Rice Travel

Danum Valley Conservation Area, considered as one of the world’s most complex ecosystem. This forest serves as a natural home for the unimaginable number of plants and wildlife species such as banteng, clouded leopard, orang utan, slow loris, proboscis monkey including the endangered Bornean pygmy elephant.

Day 7

REST DAY – Island hoping in Semporna

Sibuan Island
Sibuan Island

Have your well deserve break at the islands around Semporna and enjoy its clear water. You can sign up for the tour package which is easily available at the town/hotel.

I have a separate post about Semporna Attractions which I would suggest you to read.

Day 8

  • Routes: Semporna – Tawau
  • Travel Distance: 120 KM
  • Map: Google Link
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Tawau

Places of Interest:

Bukit Tengkorak (Skull Hill in Semporna)

Bukit Tengkorak (Skull Hill in Semporna)
Image by Sabah Rural Tourism

A great place for a quick hike / walk to the peak of the hill. It only takes 15 minutes or so to reach the top. The views from the peak are nice. If you are into photography, this place is a must go.

Tanjung Parapat (Semporna)

How to get to this HIDDEN GEM in Semporna, Sabah | TANJUNG PARAPAT

Another hidden gem in Semporna, Tanjung Parapat Water village which is recommended for you to visit.

Day 9

  • Routes: Tawau – Kalabakan – Nabawan – Keningau
  • Travel Distance: 343 KM
  • Map: Google Link
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Keningau Town

Places of Interest:

Tawau Hills Park (Optional)

This park has the tallest tree in Sabah; a beautiful waterfalls, hotspring and water crystal clear river for rafting.

Maliau Basin Conservation Area (Optional)

If you’re into hiking, you can visit this place. I have not been into the deep inside the forest (Only at the main area).

Maliau - A Land Lost in Time

Day 10

  • Routes: Keningau – Tenom – Sipitang
  • Travel Distance: 125 KM
  • Map: Google Map
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Sipitang Town

Places of Interest:

Tenom Railway Station

Tenom Railway Station

Take a look at classic train of Borneo which you can also enjoy the ride from Tenom to Beaufort (or vice versa) and see beautiful scenery along the way.

Tenom Coffee Valley

Tenom Coffee Valley

Tenom Coffee Valley is a cafe which is located next to the Tenom Train station.. This building houses a restaurant offering western and fusion food while serving a selection of fine coffee famously acquainted with the small town of Tenom.

Sipitang Esplande

Sipitang Esplande

Enjoy beautiful sunset at Sipitang and walk around the beautiful and clean park.

Long Pa Sia (Optional)

Long Pasia is a small Lundayeh village, a dwelling lush with an array of plants. Read more here.

Rundum Highlands (optional)

Escape from the heat at stay at Rundum Highlands which has camp area and also traditional dance performed by the locals.


Day 11

  • Routes: Sipitang – Beaufort – Kuala Penyu – Kimanis – Keningau – Tambunan
  • Travel Distance: 264 KM
  • Map: Google Link
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Tambunan Town

From Kimanis – Keningau, you will be driving/riding along the steepest road in Malaysia ranging from 10% to about 25% steep gradients along the Crocker Range National Park followed by the longest straight road in Malaysia, Jalan Apin-Apin Keningau towards Tambunan which is about 20KM long.

Kimanis – Keningau highway
Kimanis – Keningau highway
Jalan Apin-Apin
Jalan Apin-Apin – Image by Nelson Michael

Places of Interest:

Kuala Penyu Beach

Kuala Penyu Beach

Sinurambi Tambunan (Tambunan Viewing Point)

Sinurambi Tambunan (Tambunan Viewing Point)

Enjoy 360 degree view of Tambunan from this tower and the entrance is free. The road towards Sinurambi Tower was fun to ride as it was almost all dry off-road condition but I wouldn’t recommend you to ride there on raining day as it can be real pain in the *ss

Day 12

  • Routes: Tambunan – Penampang – Kota Kinabalu
  • Travel Distance: 101 KM
  • Map: Google Link
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Kota Kinabalu

Places of Interest:

Mahua Waterfall (Tambunan)

Mahua Waterfall (Tambunan)

The trail to this waterfall is excellent and it will take you only about 5 minutes to reach. It’s a must visit if you’re in Tambunan.

Rafflesia Information Centre (Tambunan)

Rafflesia Information Centre (Tambunan)

If you’re lucky enough, you will be able to see the biggest flower in the world called Rafflesia. The entrance price here is quite steep, RM 50 for Malaysian.

Gunung Alab (Rest Area)

From Tambunan, you can have a break here at Alab mountain which is usually cold before heading back to Kota Kinabalu.

Sabah Destinations. GUNUNG ALAB

Renting Car/Motorcycle

I would suggest that you rent a motorcycle/car from as they are quite affordable and provide good service. For navigation, you can use Google Maps or Waze.

Shipping Car/Motorcycle To Sabah

If you’re from Peninsular Malaysia, you can ship your vehicle via RoRo to Sabah or Sarawak. More information about this can be found here.

How Many Days Do I Need To Complete Sabah Trip?

Honestly, the longer the better! If you don’t have any idea, I would suggest that you do it 14 days because some places you may want to spend more time and you can also visit the attractions in KK as mentioned at the top of this article.

When Is The Best Time To Sabah?

March to October is usually the dry season and if you’re not into any outdoor activities, Sabah is a year-round destination.

Other Related Articles

Final Say

That’s it! I hope you’ll like the suggestions I’ve made and I am sure you’ll enjoy your road trip in Sabah. If you need any information, please let me know via comment box below.

Have you been to Sabah? Which place you liked the most?

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Hey Bro, what’s the rough budget for travelling around this road trip?
For food and accommodation?

wan muhd muhsin

Hi bro, can you share with me how you ship your bike from peninsular to Sabah? awesome trip you got there and thank you for sharing.

Azdan b udin

Congrats bro!!thank you for sharing,awesome journey