We all can admit that traveling is fun. Today people want to feel the destination than merely just visiting tourist locations. And homestays are a perfect way to explore a place. It gives you an opportunity to experience the region from a local’s perspective.
Sabah is an ideal destination for travelers and is absolutely perfect for homestays. It is known for its majestic beauty all around the world. It’s a place having vibrant coral reefs that are a diver’s dream. It inhabits the rarest flora and fauna in its dense rainforests.
Every district has its own uniqueness, like the wildlife, clear gushing waterfalls, interesting historical sites. One can gain the rich experience of native festivals, their culture, cuisines or the jungle produce. Of Course, you’ll get to hear fascinating stories of the local people too. Such encounters are hard to find otherwise.
Recognising this even government of Malaysia started the Sabah Homestay Programme. It is a relatively new tourism product that has already shown enormous potential. It covers almost all districts in the state.
Participating Homestay houses are certified by the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism (MOCAT) Malaysia and in many cases, assisted by local NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) in their promotions.
Though there are many homestay locations available we have curated the list of some of the best places for you.
1. Mitabang Homestay
Situated in kiulu, it is a scenic countryside area in the district of Tuaran, Sabah, Malaysia. This Borneon homestay village is accessible by road. It is one hour thirty minutes’ drive from Kota Kinabalu (kk) International airport.
Explore the life, culture and day to day living of the Dusun community through their homely abodes. You will be enchanted by their warm, friendly hospitality by staying with them.
The core activities will include educational, recreational and fun events. You could get to do planting and harvesting paddy, craft making, rubber tapping, traditional dance, and music, etc.
2. Moida Waloi Homestay Abai
Perched closest to the mouth of the Kinabatangan River, it’s a picturesque village. It hosts around forty homes and a small population of nearly a hundred people.
Each abode has a nice view of the river. Only one house is an exception as it sits on an elbow and has the river on both sides of it. The people here are a traditional fisherman and every home has a boat as a means of transportation.
The ancient durian trees in this village are a whooping sky high. In the fruit season the branches are laden with the thorny treasures known in Malaysia as the King of fruits.
3. Walai Tokou Homestay/ Walai Tokou Kampungstay
Located in kundasang, Ranau is the closest homestay to Mount Kinabalu. It is about 98 kilometers from Kota Kinabalu city and approximately 13 kilometers from the town of Ranau. It has a panoramic view of the mountain.
The famous native Dusun tribe inhabits the region and mainly cultivates temperate vegetables. In the Dusun language, “Walai Tokou” means “our home”.
The people welcome visitors with open arms. You can get to try the traditional dances and taste “Paku Dita”, their local drink. Soothe your nerves with a hot bath at Poring hot springs.
4. Mesilou Atamis Homestay
It is the village of the Kadazan-Dusun community. It is also located close to Mount Kinabalu in the district of kundasang, Sabah. It will take 2 hours to reach here from Kota Kinabalu and less than 10 minutes from Kundasang.
“Mesilou” is derived from the word “Osilou” meaning yellow in the Dusun language. It is so-called because the river that crosses this village is naturally yellow in color. While the word “Atamis” is referred to as the cold climate of the village.
Therefore it is famously known as “The Highest and Coldest Homestay Village in Malaysia”. The temperature can go as low as 15°C during the night as it lies at an altitude of 1600 meters above the mean sea level.
This place has well maintained natural resources especially the rivers. But the river landscape changed after the earthquake of 2015. Numerous activities make this village ideal for recreation. The friendliness of the local people makes the homestay lively.
5. Penampang Village Homestay
This homestay village is closely situated to the Kota Kinabalu/ Tambunan Highway. It is considered as a gateway to the interior of Sabah in Malaysia.
It is at a distance of about 17 kilometers from Kota Kinabalu. It is an ideal place to stay on holiday for both locals as well as foreign visitors.
6. Miso Walai Homestay Kinabatangan
It is nestled in the heart of the lower Kinabatangan River valley on the east coast of Sabah. It is a large fully serviced provincial centre lying 110 km south of Sandakan Town.
From the capital city Kota Kinabalu, it takes 5 hours by road to reach here. It is a 1 hour 30 minutes drive from Sandakan city. It has a population of 340,000 people.
The region hosts rare and endangered species like Bornean pygmy elephants, gibbons, orangutans, hornbills, proboscis monkeys. It is a hotspot for rare and spectacular birds and wildlife.
An evening or dawn boat ride is an experience that should not be missed. It provides a glimpse of rare and spectacular primates and birdlife species seen nowhere else. The sheer breathtaking beauty of the river is a humbling experience.
The local people are called “orang sungai” which means river people. They represent the rich ethnic and cultural heritage of Sabah. The historical records of this region dates back 1000 years.
Here one can find ancient burial caves hiding the glory of the preserved prosperity. Unique Bornean motifs can be seen carved ornately in the upper cave chambers.
7. Seri Sepang Homestay, Bongawan
Bongawan lies on the west coast division of Sabah. The town is located within the parliamentary constituency of Kimanis. It is about 60 kilometers south of Kota Kinabalu and 3 km inland from the South China Sea.
Kampung Seri Sepang is situated in Bongawan. Homestays and river cruise are available here. It is a 1 hour 30 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu. Enjoy the barbeque and seafood, sunset watching and river rafting and much more in this pristine town.
8. Taginambur Homestay
The town is situated in the plains of Kadamaian valley. It is about one hour drive from Kota Kinabalu city and 20 minutes from Kota Belud city.
The quiet tranquil environment of this place gave it the name “Valley of Peace”.
Around the village one can see rubber farms, orchard and paddy fields. You can have a first hand experience of these farms as well as of the local dishes and beverages.
9. Tanak Nabalu Homestay
Lying at about 650 meters above sea level, it is a beautiful place for you to explore. This homestay is located in Kampung lobong-lobong at the foot of Mt. Kinabalu in the district of Kota Belud. From city Kota Kinabalu it is approximately 43 km via Tamparuli-Ranau.
The village is known as the “lost village” because of its uniqueness and natural beauty. This place offers an opportunity to learn about the local culture. It allows you to venture into the native local lifestyle together with the natural environment and panoramic view of mount kinabalu.
10. Misompuru Homestay
It is settled in the district of Kudat which was Sabah’s first capital, north of Borneo. It takes two and an hour drive from Kota Kinabalu to reach here. It is extremely rich in culture, nature, history and tradition.
People of Rungus tribe live here in authentic and traditional Longhouse. Their activities include gong making, beads making, candle making, etc. They also have Honey Bee farm, agricultural farm, fruit orchids, historical natural oil well.
Geographic topography include primary mangrove forest, river, jungle, ancient cave. This place has some of the best secluded beaches in Malaysia as well as the tip of borneo. Here a rugged outcrop of rocks marks the northernmost part of the huge island of borneo.
Homestays are not only budget friendly but they let you view a completely different world. Merely visiting tourists locations keep you aloof from the reality of the place.
These are best for those who are keen to learn new stuff. Be it cooking, some traditional craftsmanship or just simply something known only to that region. This knowledge helps a person to understand life better and in general, makes you grateful towards life.
Most importantly, every person you meet will have a story to share. There’s nothing like stepping out of your boat and feeling a brand new perspective!