Most visitors make their way to Sabah and Sarawak with one goal in mind: encountering the beauty of nature and variety of wildlife in the states' national parks. The best parks in Sarawak are conveniently located close to the capital, Kuching, while Sabah's No. 1 attraction for trekkers is Kinabalu National Park.
Off the coast in Sabah, Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park is made up of five idyllic islands with palm-fringed beaches, tropical snorkeling, and wildlife such as bearded pigs and macaques. You can easily get to the islands from Kota Kinabalu by one of the many boats departing the ferry terminal.
Also in Sabah, Pulau Tiga National Park features two volcanic islands an hour southwest of Kota Kinabalu. The main island, Pulau Tiga, can be seen in the Survivor TV show, though its bubbling mud is usually overlooked in favor of the beaches, walking trails, and snorkeling opportunities. Tiga's smaller neighbor is best left to its original inhabitants, poisonous sea snakes. Tours and boats head to Tiga from Kuala Penyu and Kota Kinabalu.
In addition to the saltwater crocodiles living in Similajau National Park in Sarawak, there's coastal rain forest to hike through, beaches for lazing away the day, a huge variety of birdlife, and several turtle nesting spots along the coast.
Expect jungle waterfalls and rain forest scenery at Kubah National Park, which is threaded by hiking trails and rivers. Only half an hour west of Kuching, the park is in a rewarding location if you're into orchids and panoramic lookouts.