Next door to the orangutan rehabilitation centre, this site started life as an education centre for local schoolchildren and is often overlooked. Fortunately this means fewer crowds with your orangutans. Cross the 28m-high canopy walkway to see flying squirrels, and explore the botanical gardens. This is a phenomenally informative Sabah vacation excursion, for adults as well as kids.
You don't travel all the way to Borneo for its cities - but when you land in Kota Kinabalu, you'll be quite relieved to discover it's a pleasant place to stop for a few days while you recover from jetlag and recharge before heading into the wilderness. There's a marvellous mix of Malay, Chinese, expat and indigenous cultures - with fab food, walkable streets and lovely beaches just a short hop away.
This classic desert island is found in the "Sea Turtle Corridor", and hawksbill and green turtles crawl ashore here to lay their eggs from June to August - away from Selingan Island's crowds. The Marine National Park surrounding the island also shelters whale sharks, sunken wrecks and yellow tail barracudas- snorkellers and divers will be treated to a submarine show. Sea kayaking and windsurfing are also popular.
Orangutans get all the glory in Sabah, but the exquisite sun bear is long overdue for credit. The gentle demeanour of the world's smallest bear may have been its downfall - poached and trafficked; it's now classified as vulnerable. But the world's only sun bear sanctuary opened to visitors near Sepilok in 2014, educating people about these animals, and rehabilitating as many as it can for re-release.
Kinabatangan's lakes, mangrove swamps and lowland forests comprise one of the planet's richest ecosystems, and river cruises here are amongst Borneo's most tranquil wildlife experiences. It's one of only two places on earth where 10 primate species are found. Dawn and nocturnal cruises and treks to an oxbow lake reveal crocodiles, proboscis monkeys, rhinoceros hornbills, river sharks, orangutans and pygmy elephants.
This virgin tropical forest shelters endangered orangutans, proboscis monkeys and pygmy elephants - as well as newly discovered species and rare birds. There are numerous waking trails, a 300m suspended walkway and a panoramic viewpoint; night time safaris reveal the nocturnal creatures that call this forest home. You really will feel like you're in forgotten world.
Regularly appearing in "Top Ten" lists, Sipadan draws divers from around the world to discover its vertical topography, tornadoes of barracuda, parrotfish, white-tipped reef sharks and sea turtles. But if you don't book in time to get a permit during your Sabah vacation, all is not lost. Whale and hammerhead sharks frequent the island of Lankayan, and closer to KK, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park offers unspoiled islands and wildlife-filled reefs.
With over 30 ethnic groups, each with their own language and customs, you can take your cultural pick during your Sabah vacation. There are traditional longhouses inhabited by the descendants of headhunting warrior, nomadic sea gypsies - also renowned for their horse riding skills, vibrant dances and the worship of rice spirits. Local guides reveal fascinating secrets, and a home stay will give you a taste of Sabahan life.
The famous orangutan rehabilitation centre is a must-do on just about every Sabah vacation itinerary - as it is the only place you are virtually guaranteed to see orangutans. You are also guaranteed to see hundreds of other tourists, who flock here at feeding times. Come here to support Sepilok's fantastic work, but do make time to track these creatures in the wild. It's harder - but the rewards are immense.
Volunteering with endangered orangutans offers of wonderfully romantic images of feeding ginger-tufted babies and cuddling lonesome orphans. This should never, ever happen: our genetic similarity means diseases are easily transmitted, and human habituation makes releasing them into the wild virtually impossible. Stick with constructing enclosures, and know that this is the best way to secure the future of these creatures.
Used in foods, cosmetics and so-called bio fuels, palm oil is one of the biggest threats to Borneo's orangutans - and to everything and everyone else that inhabits its forests. Tourists expect to be awestruck by the rainforests during their Sabah vacation, but most are shocked by the scale of the palm plantations, and how little jungle remains. Spend your money wisely, and demonstrate that virgin forest is worth much more than exhaustively farmed land.
Sea turtles are beautiful and mysterious creatures, but on Borneo's beaches they are abundant, crawling ashore most nights to lay their eggs. The popular Selingan offers overnight turtle tours - yet dozens of tourists crowded around each turtle mother is not the magical experience many wish for , and is certainly less than pleasant for the turtle. Look into less visited islands for a more ethical turtle encounter during your Sabah vacation.