Styled after Murut and Rungus longhouses, the buildings of the Sabah State Museum are set in grounds that also hold several splendid steam engines. The botanical garden in front of the museum is bordered by finely crafted traditional houses, representing all Sabah’s major tribes and known as the Heritage Village (Kampung Warisan).

The other highlight of the complex, the ethnographic collection in the main building, includes human skulls dating from Sabah’s head-hunting days, and a sininggazanak, a totemic wooden figurine placed in the field of a Kadazan man who died without heirs. Photographs in the history gallery depict the city when Jalan Gaya still constituted the waterfront, lined with lean-tos thatched with nipah-palm leaves.

Exhibits on oil drilling in the Science and Technology Centre next door are less than gripping; head instead to the Art Gallery upstairs, where the centrepiece is a giant string of Rungus beads, created by Chee Sing Teck, hanging from the ceiling.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Malaysia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 places to get off the tourist trail in Malaysia

7 places to get off the tourist trail in Malaysia

Already gaped at the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, lazed on a white beach in the Perhentians, met orangutans at Sepilok and filled a whole SD card with…

31 Aug 2017 • Marco Ferrarese insert_drive_file Article
9 tips for backpacking Malaysia

9 tips for backpacking Malaysia

Despite having turquoise-ringed tropical islands, misty rainforests, cosmopolitan and arty cities, colourful festivals and one of the world's most interesting e…

08 Jun 2017 • Marco Ferrarese insert_drive_file Article
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month