It’s generally safe and easy to travel in Sabah. Most Sabahans are multilingual and are able to speak at least three languages – Bahasa Malaysia- the national language – English and their mother tongue. Chinese (Hakka) is also widely spoken. Most street signs are in Bahasa Malaysia. For ease of navigation, Jalan (Jln) means Street, Kampung (Kg) Village, and Bandar and Pekan means small towns. Sabahans are very friendly and if you need help getting around, just stop and ask someone and 99% of the time you will be greeted with a big smile. Self-drive holidays are also easy as the road systems to all major destinations are well maintained and road signs are very clear.
Some Helpful Tips:-
CLIMATE AND CLOTHING
Sabah has an equatorial climate. Temperatures rarely rise above 32 ° C (90 ° F) except on exceptionally hot days, and along the coastal areas rarely drop below 20 ° C (68 ° F) at night. Although in the interior and at higher altitudes it can get quite cold at night. Relative humidity is usually 85-95 per cent.
Rainfall is common throughout the year, and varies from about 150 cm (60 inches) to over 450 cm (180 inches) per year. In most parts of Sabah, the wetter period (or rainy season) occurs during the North East Monsoon from October to February and the drier season during the South West Monsoon from March to September, but often there is no sharp division between the two. It is sufficient to say that overall, sunny blue skies are the norm but when it rains, the heavens open.
Living in a tropical climate, we dress very informally (e.g. lightweight linens & cottons, T-shirt, shorts, jeans). For dinners and nightspots, smart casual wear is the norm. Either safari suits or lounge suits are acceptable for business meetings. Topless or completely naked sunbathing is not allowed.
Most hotels and establishments accept credit or charge cards such as VISA, American Express, Master Card and Diners Club. Travellers cheques may be encashed at major hotels and are accepted by all banks, hotels & major department stores.There are money changer kiosks available at major shopping malls and the airport. Most major hotels charge a nominal fee for currency conversion. Withdrawals from ATMs are also available at banks.
One Malaysian Ringgit (RM 1) is made up of 100 sen. Currency notes are issued in denominations of RM 100, RM 50, RM 20, RM 10, RM 5 and RM 2. Coins are in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 sen.
MAJOR CREDIT CARDS AND CHARGE CARDS
The MasterCard, VISA, Diners Club, American Express – These credit cards and charge cards are accepted in almost all departmental stores, petrol stations, restaurants and supermarkets.
The standard Malaysian time is 8 hours ahead of GMT (GMT +8).
Monday to Friday: 10:00 am to 03:30 pm
Saturday: 09:30 am to 11:30 am (every 1st and 3rd Sat / month is a bank holiday)
Government offices and most statutory bodies:
Monday to Thursday: 8:00 am to 12:45 pm, 2:00 pm to 04:15 pm
Friday: 8:00 am to 11:30 am
Saturday: 8:00 am to 12:45 pm (closed on 1st and 3rd Saturday every month)
Public Holiday: Closed
Shopping malls and supermarkets are generally open daily from 10am to 10pm. Restaurants are open daily from as early as 8:30am to 12 midnight. Mini markets open at 8am to 10pm.
ELECTRICITY AND WATER
Electricity and piped water are available in urban areas and outlying towns. Other remote areas rely on kerosene lamps for lighting and stream or well water for drinking and washing. Electric current is on a 240 Volts AC / 50-Cycle system using a square 3-pin plug. Visitors are advised against drinking unboiled water.
Government hospitals, clinics and pharmacies are available in all towns. However, those with specific and special needs are advised to have a good supply of their own medication. Those intending to visit remote areas are advised to take anti-malaria medication.
Most prices of retail (except for departmental stores) items can be bargained. Try out your skills!
Food and beverages in restaurants, cafes and clubs as well as accommodations normally include a 6% service charge to the bill. Tipping is not obligatory in most places.
Country Code: (60). Outgoing international code: (00). IDD is available. Sabahoffers efficient modern telephone, telex, telegraph and airmail communications both internally and globally. International cables or telegrams may be sent from any post office in Sabah. Telephone service is dependable and quick. Public phones are scarcely available in most places as everyone can afford to purchase a sim-card pack from any mobile telecommunications store.
For wireless communications, Sabah’s international roaming for most wireless GSM and PCN phone systems. Private GSM phone systems are:
Celcom Mobile – offering the widest mobile coverage in Malaysia with a variety of products and services. Code (019 / 013) Statewide coverage (Prepaid and postpaid basis)
Maxis Mobile – operating a nationwide GSM900 mobile network, a domestic fixed network and an international gateway. Code (012 / 017) Major towns coverage (Prepaid and postpaid basis)
Digi 1800 – providing a comprehensive range of affordable, convenient and easy to use wireless services. Code (016 /014) Major towns coverage (Prepaid and postpaid basis)
Internet services are widely available through out Sabah. Most lodges and budget hotels offer Wi-Fi or high-speed broadband internet access and all major hotels have excellent facilities. Or go around the block in KK and you will be able to find internet cafes that provide access to the net to check your emails and surf the net. In internet cafes, charges are as low as MYR2.50 per hour.
Bahasa Malaysia is the National language. English is widely spoken and understood. Other languages are Mandarin Chinese, Hakka, Cantonese and Kadazan.
Traffic drives on the left and signposting is easy to understand. Taxis are easily available at the airports and at hotels, as well as from many places downtown. Kota Kinabalu airport has a taxi service counter with fixed prices. Elsewhere, you are advised to fix the fare before getting into the taxi (in Sabah, taxis have no meter!). A number of local car rentals operate in Kota Kinabalu and are represented in most of the major hotels. Boats service the offshore islands. Malaysia Airlines has an extensive route network throughout Peninsula Malaysia & Sabah/Sarawak.
Do have a ready list of your passport, travel insurance policy and credit card numbers, emergency and other essential phone numbers. Make two photocopies of your travel documents, air tickets and travel insurance policy. Carry one copy with you at all times for identification purposes, whenever necessary. Make sure you have another photo ID besides your passport and keep it separately from your travel documents.
It is advisable to keep at least two recent colour passport-sized photographs handy to facilitate quick processing in case of lost travel documents in foreign countries.
- DO register with embassy of your home country or consulate upon arrival especially if you travel to an area where there has been civil war communal violence, kidnapping or terrorist attacks.
- DON’T take photographs of police stations, military installations, government buildings, airports, ports or train stations without first determining whether photography is allowed. If in doubt, ask uniformed personnel or security guards for permission before taking any photographs.
- DON’T discuss personal matters with strangers, including your itinerary, place of lodging or mode of transportation.
- DON’T take short cuts or go off well-traveled roads. Avoid walking alone at night.
- DO select your own taxi cabs at random or take those that are booked through the hotel. DON’T take vehicle that is not clearly identified as a taxi. Compare the face of the driver with photo on his or her displayed license. DO always keep small denominations of the local currency handy for various tips, bus tickets or taxi fares and phone calls.
- DON’T accept food or drink from strangers. Would-be criminals often try to drug their victims through food and drink. DO carry your own bottled water.
- DO ensure that your entire check-in luggage have your name and permanent home address on them. DO ensure the airline check-in staffs tags your bags correctly before you the check-in counter.