Sabah Homestay Programme from Coast to Coast

An interesting and unique way to really get to know the place you are visiting is by participating in a homestay programme. Come stay with local families and get a taste of their true culture and lifestyle—from their working life to the things they do for fun.

Each district in Sabah has its own charm and attraction. Some let you explore the wildlife, some have beautiful gushing waterfalls, and some offer an opportunity to study historical sites. Most importantly, every person you meet will have a story to share. There's nothing like stepping out of your boat and adopting a brand new perspective!

The Sabah Homestay Programme is a relatively new tourism product, but has already shown enormous potential, covering almost every district 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. Each district has a Coordinator who works with the authorities concerned.

Homestay: Locations

  • Bongawan

    Bongawan is a town in the West Coast Division of the state of Sabah in Malaysia. It is situated within the parliamentary constituency of Kimanis. The town centre is 3 kilometres inland from the South China Sea and approximately 60 kilometres south of Kota Kinabalu, the state capital. It is located on the A2 highway connecting Kota Kinabalu and the southern part of Sabah, and is a stop on the North Borneo Railway.

  • Kiulu

    The cool and hilly area of Kiulu is located about 45 minutes drive north east of Kota Kinabalu. From the famous Jambatan Tamparuli (Tamparuli hanging bridge), you continue uphill for most of the drive to get to the first Homestay at Kampung Pukak, about 30 minutes away. The drive provides the opportunity to enjoy scenic sights such as the Kiulu River, known to all white water rafters in Sabah, as well as terraced padi fields in various sizes.

  • Kota Belud

    Kota Belud is situated just about an hour’s drive away from Kota Kinabalu, along the Kota Belud Highway. It is a bustling town famous for its ‘Cowboys of the East’—the Bajau horsemen who add colour and excitement to every parade at the annual Tamu Besar. The Tamu Besar, which is known as the mother of all tamus in Sabah, is a big traditional alfresco bazaar which is perfect for culture vultures who want to soak in the rich cultural experience.

  • Kudat

    Home of the ‘Tip of Borneo’, Kudat is approximately 3 hours drive away from Kota Kinabalu. Located in the north of Borneo, it is extremely rich in culture and tradition—as well as coconuts! Kudat is also the home of the Rungus people, some of whom are still dwelling in traditional longhouses, one-village, one-industry kampongs specializing in gong-making, bead-making, and honey bee-rearing. Some of the best secluded beaches in Malaysia are also nestled in Kudat.

  • Kundasang

    This mountainous district enjoys a cool temperature all year round. Just 10 minutes away, the Kinabalu Park—a World Heritage Site is the starting point in climbing the majestic Mount Kinabalu. The Walai Tokou Homestay at Kampung Sinisian is only a stone throw away from Kundasang Town. Be warmly welcomed by traditional dances and a Paku Dita drink as you arrive. Visitors might also want to check out the Kundasang War Memorial and take a hot bath at the Poring Hotsprings.

  • Long Pasia

    Long Pasia is situated in the district of Sipitang, Sabah Malaysian Borneo. This homestay village is accessible by road. Come and experience the life, culture and livelihood of the warm, friendly and hospitable Borneo Lundayeh community by staying with them in their humble but homely adobe.

  • Papar

    Just about half an hour’s drive south of Kota Kinabalu lies Papar, a place deemed the ‘Rice Bowl of Sabah’. This fast developing town is an agricultural district teeming with local fruits like papaya, guava, rambutan, and langsat. Dropping by Papar during a fruit season will be every visitor’s dream come true!

  • Penampang

    The district of Penampang is located 10 km from the city of Kota Kinabalu. It is one of the districts nearest to the International airport. It is also the gateway from the west coast to the interior of Sabah. The name Penampang is derived from word Pampang which means ‘The Rock’, because of the presence of rocks in the village of Penampang.

  • Sandakan

    One of the great lures to Sabah is the fascinating Lower Kinabatangan region where five distinct habitats can be found—waterlogged and dry forests saline and freshwater swamps and limestone forests—which support some of the most diverse concentrations of wildlife in Borneo. Another amazing feature is the oxbow lakes, crescent-shaped lakes created by the river’s changing course. Many of the villages here are found along the riverbanks, which mean more boat rides for visitors.

  • Tambunan

    About 2 hours scenic drive from Kota Kinabalu, Tambunan enjoys a spring-like weather and is well-known for its bamboo produce. Bamboo trees can be seen growing in abundance alongside the road. Lucky visitors will have the opportunity to witness the world’s largest flower which blooms seasonally only for a week at the Rafflesia Information Centre. Other note-worthy attractions include the Mahua Waterfalls, Mat Salleh Stone Memorial, as well as the mysterious Batu Gong.

Did You Know

World’s Tallest Tropical Tree

The tallest documented tropical angiosperm is a 88.32 m tall Shorea faguetiana in the Tawau Hills National Park, in Sabah. It is almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty (93m)