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solo travel in Sarawak & Sabah

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posts: 8
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solo travel in Sarawak & Sabah

Hello fellow travellers

I am considering travelling to Sarawak and Sabah around August/September 2013 and can anyone help me with the following questions

is it safe for females to travel alone in Sarawak and Sabah

is it cheaper to travel these states solo rather than with a tour company - tour companies appear to be quite expensive.

is it easy to travel in these states, eg: using local bus services or can you hire a taxi driver for a day?

thank you for your time

Sue L.


posts: 8,300
reviews: 46
1. Re: solo travel in Sarawak & Sabah

DIY is extremely easy at Sarawak and Sabah.

Absolutely safe,definitely cheaper.

Domestic flight




There are express bus connecting cities to cities,extremely cheap

or 4WD that carry fewer passenger from cities to cities.

Passenger Taxi not so popular due to unable to carry more passengers

Sabah info


Edited: 10:05 pm, January 05, 2013
posts: 8,300
reviews: 46
2. Re: solo travel in Sarawak & Sabah

Sarawak information


Malaysian airline


Rural airline,google


Edited: 10:10 pm, January 05, 2013
Kota Kinabalu...
posts: 190
3. Re: solo travel in Sarawak & Sabah

Dear Sue,

DIY travel in S & S is not easy because public transport is basic. These cover mainly major towns or major tourist destinations only. If that is what you are looking for, that is fine.

However, if you wish to explore beyond major towns, you'll need your own transport (including 4-wheelers if going into the villages & interior). E.g. visiting Lok Kawi Zoo or Monsopiad or Mari-Mari Cultural Villages near Kota Kinabalu are an effort, via public transport. This means learning the bus routes (i.e. ask the right persons/no noticeboards), long waiting times (30-50 mins), extended times on the buses (they stop at various points to wait for more passengers) & bus/minvan changes (may need to change from buses to minivans) to reach your destinations. Danum Valley/Meliau Basin & much of Sarawak's interior are reachable only by 4-wheelers. Taxis from Kota Kinabalu airport to town start at RM30 per cab.

My suggestion would be to book local tours, upon arrival. Otherwise, hire a Kancil car to explore beyond the towns, except for 4-WDs noted, above.

Alternatively, stay with a native homestay family in each district you visit, who is prepared to make selected arrangments for you or take you there themselves. Of course, you'll enjoy the hospitality of the locals & learn their daily routines, fun activities & their unique culture, at the same time.

Edited: 10:59 pm, January 05, 2013
posts: 2
reviews: 32
4. Re: solo travel in Sarawak & Sabah


I am a female solo traveller currently in Sandakan. I've had no difficulties so far, just be careful with the teenagers. In Sandakan, they just look at you and say "hello miss" but sometimes it is overwhelming. Just ignore them.

Kitabatangan river trip, sepilok orangutan center and proboscis monkeys are highlights of the trip. You can go Sepilok by public bus no 14, paying only 4-5 ringit. For Prosboscis monkeys there is a shuttle bus departing everyday at 9.30 in front of Sandakan Hotel. You will need travel agency only for Kitabatangan river trip. 1night, 2 days will be enough to see everything about. Today i am flying to Kota Kinabalu, i' ve hired a car 120 ringit per day to go to poring hot springs and the mountain. Kota Kinabalu is a more touristic area so i dont think it will be difficult.

posts: 8,300
reviews: 46
5. Re: solo travel in Sarawak & Sabah

Domestic travel within Sabah and Sarawak is extremely easy to plan.

Goto www.airasia.com

and Malaysia airline for on line booking.

Renting a small car for local travel is very easy and simple,most local can communicate in English

posts: 8
reviews: 1
6. Re: solo travel in Sarawak & Sabah

Thank you to the lady from Turkey for responding to my questions. I have fond memories of travelling through Turkey and part of travel there was done on my own. A great country and lovely people. I wish you safe and good travel wherever you go



posts: 2
reviews: 32
7. Re: solo travel in Sarawak & Sabah

Thanks Sue. I am in Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah, at the moment. I 've hired a car at the airport. Yesterday i drove to Kinabalu Mountain and hot springs without any trouble. Sometimes i stopped and asked directions to people, they were very helpful. I felt safe. Car hire was 120 ringit per day, so my trip was more reasonable than travel agencies, I was away from tourist crowd.

The important thing is where you stay here in KK. Cos here is bigger than Sandakan. Pay few ringits more and stay in the center, so you wiill not need any taxi driver because they tend to charge more from solo ladies.


London, United...
posts: 483
reviews: 117
8. Re: solo travel in Sarawak & Sabah

Hi Sue, I'm currently in Sabah (Tanjung Aru) and have to agree with hpvl. When doing some initial planning it looked as though traveling around independent of tour operators would be easy but its proved slightly difficult. When we arrived I was told there is a bus to KK from near where I am but I haven't yet seen it. Tried to arrange transport to the Mari Mari cultural show and was advised i'd have to find a driver who knew where it was as apparently all taxis didn't and then pay RM50-RM60 each way plus a waiting fee. In the end we just booked it through a tour operator for ease as I wouldn't have saved much anyway.

That said, getting to and from town centre is easy. I'm not travelling alone but we've been out quite late at night walking around with no hassle. Hiring a car as suggested by lady above might be an idea if you're okay to drive?

posts: 223
reviews: 15
9. Re: solo travel in Sarawak & Sabah

Can you tell me if the shuttle/public buses are air conditioned from Kota Kinabalu to Mt Kinabalu and the rest of the country as we are 4 mature couples who need a little more comfort these days.

We will be travelling for 3 weeks in Sabah and Sarawak in June and believe that time is very hot.

posts: 8,300
reviews: 46
10. Re: solo travel in Sarawak & Sabah

All express buses are air con and very comfortable.

Bus terminal at KK

Kota kinabalu Bus Terminal - Now replaced by Inanam Bus Terminal

The Kota Kinabalu Bus Terminal is located 10KM from the city centre

Local buses run once a day to Ranau from the bus terminal and can drop passengers off at Kinabalu park, enroute to Ranau .

The buses leave KK at around 7.00am reaching the Kinabalu park HQ at about 10.00am. It cost about RM15 to RM20 per person.

For other buses to Tawau, Sandakan, Lahad Datu -usually the same bus dropping passengers off at the kinabalu park. It will be the same road to the east.

Edited: 7:54 pm, March 20, 2013