Monthly Archives: May 2019

Top 15 Must Try Foods in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Sabah is a true melting pot of cultures and races and that is reflected by the plethora of delicious food that can only be experienced here. The natives of Borneo have welcomed people of all races for more than a century to their beautiful land and this has given birth to cuisines unseen (and we think you have never tasted!) in any other parts of the world. Taste the local cuisines prepared by the natives of Borneo, namely the 5 major ethnic communities – Kadazan Dusuns, Muruts, Lundayeh, Rungus and Bajau. Their diet rich with produces of nature, filled with leafy greens, wild meats, edible flowers and medicinal herbs sourced from the forest and sea. The naturally good nature of the locals has made other races feel welcomed and in return, Sabah can now boast of its multicultural community and immense selection of authentic local and fusion food! Here is our list of top 15 must try foods in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Hinava, Tuhau and Bambangan

Becoming increasingly easy to find in the city of Kota Kinabalu, these traditional dishes are some of the best of native food. Probably the most popular of all the Native’s traditional dishes and normally served as a side dish. Hinava is saliva-inducing dish that is made of fresh slices of fish, marinated with onion, lime juice, birds-eye chilli, bitter gourd, and ginger. Tuhau may be a wild ginger but when prepared correctly, it can be eaten as a condiment or on its own with just steaming hot white rice. Unlike its’ very popular cousin, Bambangan is a sour jungle mango that is dearly loved by locals and easily found in wet markets.

Sinalau Bakas

Touted as the must-have “pusas” (beer time snack), Sinalau Bakas literally means Smoked Wild Boar. Usually located  at the roadside along the winding roads towards Kinabalu Park, Kundasang. Take a break from your long drive up towards the majestic Mount Kinabalu and sample this local favourite snack. Squeeze some zesty lime on the wild meat for some extra flavor!

Tuaran Mee

Yellow noodles are boiled and then fried with your choice of topping. For something truly special, try the Beef Lihing Tuaran Mee. Chunks of beef marinated in Lihing ( local sweet rice wine) and fried with vegetables, and egg. Typically eaten in the morning before a fun day out at Tamparuli or a daytrip to Kundasang.

Fish Noodles

Depending on your preference, there are countless types of fish noodles available all around Sabah. For those who love something savoury for breakfast, try looking for a fish noodle shop that serves a clear fish broth cooked with preserved vegetables. Opt for Laksa if you like a bit of spice from chilli oil and creamy coconut milk in your meal. One may also settle for the typical local breakfast of Kon Lou Mee (dry tossed noodles in soy sauce) and a bowl of fish slices, prawns, and dumplings.

Kuih Cincin and Kuih Pinjaram

Quirky looking but oh-so-good! These teatime snacks are the childhood favourites of almost all locals. Kuih Cincin looks like an oversized flower and is made of rice flour, red palms and sugar, while Kuih Pinjaram is a teatime staple made of coconut milk, sugar and rice flour that looks like a fried UFO.

Ambuyat and Pinasakan Sada

Derived from the trunk of the Sage Palm, this starchy delicacy is eaten with prongs, or chopsticks! Twirling the gooey substance around the prongs, it is then dipped into Pinasakan which is a Kadazandusun stew made of the Basung fish broiled with Tumeric, Takab Akob (wild fruit) and Bambangan.

Sliced Pork Noodles

Better known locally as “Sang Nyuk Mian”, thinly sliced pork is blanched and served in a bowl of noodles, topped with scallions, deep fried shallots and lard. Most shops now serve it with a variety of stuffed tofu and meatballs.

Grilled Fresh Seafood

Be spoilt for choice when it comes to fresh seafood! There are countless seafood restaurants in Sabah but we like to go where the locals go! Take a walk along the Waterfront Kota Kinabalu towards the Handicraft/Fish Market during sunset and enjoy choosing your choice of seafood at the Seaside Night Market. Prepare to face a friendly crowd of vendors and please take care of your belongings!

Tawau Egg Noodles

Originating from Tawau, a plate of crispy fried meehoon is encased in a delicious egg pancake, stir fried pork,lobster balls, and fish balls are then added to the noodles and topped with gravy. Something truly different and very satisfying!

UFO Tarts

Made famous in Sandakan city, it is known in Mandarin as “cow dung tart”. This tart’s shape is similar to a UFO, a thin round slice of cake at the bottom is topped with custard and outlined with fresh honeyed cream or meringue. A sweet treat that leaves many travellers trying to bring it back home….and fail, as it has to be eaten fresh to retain its flavour.

Beef Soup Noodles

Arguably the most heartwarming of all dishes in this list. A great bowl of beef soup noodles should be served piping hot with its broth thick, fragrant, piled high with assorted cuts of beef. This dish is normally eaten for breakfast or lunch, and has many different types of noodle and broths to choose from.

Bah Kut Teh

A dark broth of herbs and marinated meat that is greatly sought after by locals and travellers alike. In the good old days, this dish was consumed in the morning before farmers went to work early in the morning. Now, it is mostly enjoyed during dinner and has a Halal version consisting of chicken, instead of pork. Bah Kut Teh is exceptionally enjoyable during cold and wet weathers as the medicinal properties of the soup will warm the body quickly.

Coconut Pudding

In the Borneo humidity and heat, an ice cold Coconut Pudding is a welcomed relief. Pandan coconuts are normally used for their fragrance and sweet coconut juice. Usually paired with Satays(grilled skewered meats) and Lukan (saltwater shellfish) to complete a quick meal during a roadtrip towards Kudat, Pitas and Kota Marudu(the east coast of Sabah).

Tenom Porkrolls

Famous for producing amazing coffee, this little town also has locals craving for their juicy porkrolls encased in thin sheets of egg. Made fresh at dawn everyday, it is sold out before noon at the town market.

Pineapple Buns

Order a Pineapple Custard Bun a.k.a “Polo Pau” at a famed family-owned Keng Wan Hing coffeeshop at Gaya Street, Kota Kinabalu. Easily spotted as a long line starts forming before lunchtime and the smell of freshly baked buns permeate the air!

Of course, there is a lot more delicious foods in Sabah but these are our top picks for now! Email us at or contact us at +60128661935 to enjoy a worry-free holiday filled with the best of what Sabah has to offer! Here’s a quick way to discover all the beautiful sights and smells of Kota Kinabalu, check out our Best of Kota Kinabalu day trip program. You can also book online too!

Top 15 Must Try Foods in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah2019-07-04T16:11:32+08:00

April 2019 Monthly Newsletter

Hi everyone! In this post, get to know Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures and read about our activities in the March 2019 Monthly Newsletter. We have gathered a selection of special happenings for your reading pleasure as well as to showcase the beauty of Sabah and give you an insight on us as a company. This month, it had been very eventful and lively as the PADI Instructor Development Course for April 2019 begins at Downbelow PADI 5 Star Career Development Centre, the much awaited Downbelow build project is on its way to completion and our Springboard volunteer group from London arrives to assist with the construction work, we welcome the second Danish Adventure Group to Sabah for their one-month exciting Expedition Borneo program, a rare wildlife was spotted in the ancient forest of Danum Valley, and more exciting news here in the April 2019 Monthly Newsletter!

To download the newsletter, click here. For further info, you can contact us at +6012 866 1935 or email us at

April 2019 Monthly Newsletter

April 2019 Monthly Newsletter

April 2019 Monthly Newsletter2019-05-07T14:10:28+08:00

What Is Scuba Diving Like In Tunku Abdul Rahman Park?

Dive Sites & Scuba Diving In TARP

There are not many places in the world that offer a bustling city full of modern facilities and then right on the doorstep, just 8 minutes by speedboat from the central entertainment district, a stunning tropical marine paradise. Sabah’s capital, Kota Kinabalu, is such a place and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, locally known as the TAR Park, is home to Downbelow’s PADI 5 Star IDC Dive & Adventure Centre on Gaya Island, just 8 minutes by speedboat from the mainland.

Named after Malaysia’s first prime minister, covering and area of 50km², the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park was gazetted as a national park in 1974. Consequently the area’s fauna, flora and marine eco-systems enjoy the protection of the government appointed environmental body, Sabah Parks. So, what is scuba diving like in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park? Read on and we will tell you it’s fascinating dive sites and marine life!

The Dive Sites

Dive sites within the park offer some great scuba diving for beginners and experienced divers alike. TARP is also great for underwater photographers, providing lots of macro subjects in relatively shallow calm water.

The coral reefs feature lots of very healthy hard and soft coral. Our scuba diving guests are often very surprised to see such healthy corals so close to a city. We have 49 dive sites to choose from & our divemasters will choose the best dive sites depending on the sea & weather conditions, plus individual diver ability on the day.

Dive sites are predominantly sloping coral reef and sand from 2m to 25m depth. We also have mangrove areas providing protection for juvenile fish. In the park, we have the KM Kuraman Wreck Dive Site which is home to a variety of critters and offers a great intro to wreck diving, especially for those completing a PADI Advanced Course.

What Diving Is Like In Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Coral Reefs In TARP Is Home To A Variety Of Marine Life

The Marine Life

Macro life is what we are passionate about, but having said that, there are plenty of larger marine creatures to be found. We regularly see turtles and rays and one of our nearby dive sites became home to a small group of Black Tip Reef Sharks.

February to April is traditionally whaleshark season however sightings are not guaranteed and quite rare but its fun to know we share their water and they could appear any time during the season. Schools of barracuda, snappers and fusiliers are common. We often see cuttlefish, moray eels, lionfish and pufferfish. Nudibranchs are common, so too are all 7 species of clownfish, all of which can be seen in just one dive site! Many species of crustaceans, scorpionfish, pipefish, demon stingers, cuttlefish and stonefish are also usual suspects. We often find frogfish, ghostpipefish and, once in a while, the highly prized blue ringed octopus!

Multiple day dive packages offer great value for money and you won’t see the same dive site twice – unless you wanted to of course, which does happen!

What Diving Is Like In Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Look Out For The Little Marine Life While In TARP!

Contact Us

If you are planning to travel to Sabah Malaysian Borneo and wish to experience what diving is like in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, we would be more than happy to arrange your scuba diving program at our Downbelow PADI 5 Star CDC Dive Centre Manukan Island or Downbelow PADI 5 Star CDC Dive Centre Gaya Island. Our knowledgable and friendly Travel Centre team can assist you with your enquiries about our packages, contact them at +60128661935 or email at today!

And if you have your mind set to explore the underwater world of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park with us, why not book packages easily online and get instant confirmation within minutes? Click here and you will be well on your way to discover the beauty the park offers!

What Is Scuba Diving Like In Tunku Abdul Rahman Park?2019-05-07T14:03:34+08:00