Besides Sarawak, Sabah is also known for the multicultural state in Malaysia. There are 32 officially recognised ethnic groups in Sabah, and tourists are able to know more about some of these ethnics by visiting the cultural villages. Here is the list of known cultural villages in Sabah.
- KDCA Cultural Village
KDCA stands for Kadazandusun Cultural Association. As its name suggested, the village is catered for the Kadazandusun tribes in Sabah. There are four major Dusun tribes in Sabah in the village; Dusun Tindal Kota Belud, Dusun Papar, Rungus and Murut.
Visitors can try their ‘Lansaran’ (Borneo trampoline), enjoy various demonstrations such as beads-making, rice-wine sampling ,fire-making using bamboo, tattoo art, process of making blow-pipe, cigar-rolling and paddy processing. Besides, visitors can also enjoy some traditional musical show with the performers playing the native Sabahan’s instruments and their traditional dancing. There is also some Sabah traditional food for sampling.
The cultural village is located at Penampang district, 20 minutes’ drive from Kota Kinabalu. You can get to the KDCA by bus or taxi. If you want to go there by bus, you need to get aboard bus number 13A, headed for Penampang/Donggongon which will cost around RM1.60 per person, though you need to inform the driver in advance to drop you off near KDCA. If you want to go by taxi, it will cost you about RM30 per taxi.
- Mari-Mari Cultural Village
Mari-Mari Cultural Village is located in Kionsom, Inanam, where there are more trees than buildings surrounding the village.
The village features 5 different ethnic tribes in one village. They are Kadazan-Dusun, Rungus, Lundayeh, Bajau, and Murut. Kadazans are the people of the land, where most of them are rice farmers back in the day. Rungus are formerly a sub-group of the Kadazan ethnic but recently was announced as full ethnic. In the past, Rungus people are famous for their longhouses with over 70 rooms in each longhouse, though now the longhouses rarely exceed 10 rooms. Lundayeh is a minority ethnic group and they are also called Lun Bawang. Lundayeh means upriver people and also known to be hunters and fishermen. Bajau people are also known as the cowboy and sea gypsey people. The Bajaus of Kota Belud are called The Cowboys of The East because of their horse-riding ability, while the Bajau Laut tribes of Semporna are known as The Sea Gypsey for their seafaring skills. Murut tribe of Sabah were feared for their ancient tradition of headhunting practices.
When you visit the village, you can see and try their hands-on experience. You can check out the little huts in the village where daily routines of traditional Sabahan life come alive. Besides, you can see the blowpipe-making demonstration, fire-starting demonstration using bamboo, tattoo-making demonstration with an in-depth look at the mystical symbolisms behind them. Visitors can also try the Sabahan traditional delicacies from each ethnic group.
- Monsopiad Heritage Village
Unlike other cultural villages, this village is actually dedicated for Monsopiad, a fearsome warrior from Kuai Village around 200 years ago. The village was built on the land where Monsopiad lived by the descendants of the legendary head-hunter. In remembrance of the great warrior, his 6th and 7th generations have built the village on the very land where Monsopiad lived and roamed some three centuries ago to remember their forefather, and to give you an extraordinary insight into their ancient and rich culture. The village is privately owned and still managed by his direct descendants.
The main attraction of this village is the “Siou Do Mohoing” or popularly known as House Of Skulls where the enemies’ hunted skulls are kept and hang from the rafters. Visitors can also visit the “Tangkob” where the padi is housed and “Kotos Di Monsopiad” (Monsopiad’s Main House) to see rows of ceramic jars, padi grinders, bamboo items as well as the costume of Bobohizan Inai Bianti, direct descendant of Monsopiad and very senior high priestess.
The heritage village is opened daily from 9.00am till 5.00pm. To get there, you can take the bus, taxi or contact the village for shuttle services. If you want to go there by bus, take the No.13 bus to Donggongon town in Penampang from the bus stations in front of City Hall or Wawasan Plaza in KK City, then at Donggongon, board a minibus bound for Terawi and indicate your stop to the driver.
- Borneo Cultural Village
Borneo Cultural Village is the largest cultural village in Sabah. There are various traditional houses such as Brunei House, Chinese House, Penampang House, Murut House, Tidung House, Bajau House and Papar House. Each house was built by descendants of the tribes they represent. Tourists can enjoy cultural show dance, explore the traditional and ancient life style of each ethnic through a museum type cultural village. Visitors can also try the Rice Wine, getting a Henna Tatoo, starting fire using bamboo demonstration at Tidung House, Blow-Pipe demonstration by Murut Tribe, musical instrument performance at Bajau House, lesson for curry chicken & roti canai and many more.
You can also try out local delicacies such as Ambuyat (made of Sago), Sago worms, as well as local rice wine known as Tapai. At the end of your tour, you can go to the performance hall to watch the cultural performance.
To go to Borneo Cultural Village, you can go there by car. It is about 50 minutes’ drive from city centre. The entrance fee is RM30.00 for adults and RM15.00 for children. You can also book there full package at RM90.00 which includes guide, demo, show and lunch. Guide can be arranged at RM15.00.