Clearly, Sabah and Sarawak have a lot to offer ranging from offshore diving, out-standing landscape, indigenous culture, city life and more. Though they do have gleaming malls that can cater to travellers’ shopping desire, the local markets are not to be missed because they play a huge part in the locals’ daily life. Plus, if you have good bargaining skills, you could even bring back high quality dried food products in bulk! So read on to find out the seven local markets in Malaysian Borneo that you should not miss!
- Tamu Kota Belud – Sabah
One of the best ways to be immersed in local culture is to visit the local market and Tamu Kota Belud is a great place to start because it is the biggest and most famous market in Sabah! The name itself means ‘meeting’ and it used to be the place where farmers, hawkers and fishermen would meet up to exchange goods and gossip. If you’re a coffee lover, feel free to try the famous Tenom coffee, which is also the oldest coffee brand in Sabah. Besides fresh vegetables and fish, don’t forget to get your hands on local foods, ethnic textiles and apparels, Bajau knife and more.
Address: Tamu Kota Belud, Sabah., 89150 Kota Belud, Sabah
- Gaya Street Market – Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Only held on Sundays, this market is a must for travellers who are passionate about local culture and food. Originally known as Bond Street, this market is no stranger to the locals since most of the stalls here are family-run businesses passed down from one generation to the next. Go for a lazy Sunday morning stroll and dive into the vast selection of merchandises on sale! If you get a little too overwhelmed, take a break at any of the Chinese coffee shops or restaurants and simply enjoy the surrounding. Words can’t truly describe the vibe of the market, so head to Gaya Street Market and experience it yourself!
Address: Jalan Gaya, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
- Tanjung Tawau Market – Tawau, Sabah
Besides fresh seafood, Sabah is also renowned for its dried seafood loved by most Asians. If you’re ever in Sabah, it is sold everywhere here but locals claimed that the best dried seafood can be found at Tanjung Tawau market. This three-storey market is a heaven for dried seafood lovers as they are never short of products like dried fish, shrimps, anchovies, squids, seaweed and more! Don’t worry too much if you’re thinking about bringing them home because the local sellers are happy to pack your precious dried seafood properly that is fit for air travel.
Address: Bandar Tawau, 91000 Tawau, Sabah
- ASquare Container Market – Kota Kinabalu, sabah
Are you looking for an Instagram-worthy market to pose in your outfit of the day (#ootd)? ASquare Container Market is THAT place! It is not exactly a market that sells sundry goods and wares but actually a food court with stalls selling food out of cargo containers. Opens from 5:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m., you can try traditional Borneo delicacies with fairy lights dangling above your head. Each stall has its own way of cooking and menu but if you’re not into Borneo food, there are over 60 operating food and beverages stalls for you to choose!
Address: Jalan Centre Point, Lorong No 4a 88450, 1, Jalan Centre Point, Api-api Centre, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
- Serian Market – Serian, Sarawak
Serian market is ideal if you’re searching for fruits, even the most exotic ones. If you’re up for a challenge, you can even try their edible ferns and sago worms sold here. Most of all, Serian prides itself for its durian, claimed to be the best in Sarawak – one type of durian you must try is Durio Kutejensis, which comes highly recommended even if you’re not a fan of durian because it doesn’t taste or smell like the typical durian! Who knows by trying it, your love towards durian might bloom!
Address: 19, Jalan Bandar Serian, Bandar Serian, 94700 Serian, Sarawak
- Medan Niaga Satok – Kuching, Sarawak
Though it is still called as ‘Satok Weekend Market’ by the locals, the market is no longer located on Jalan Satok (Satok Street) since it has now moved to Kubah Ria, a complex with better facilities in 2013 by the government. Fret not, for the market is still a mess of colourful stalls dedicated to food! Walk around and see whether you can recognise the exotic vegetables and fruits that you may have not seen before! There is also a section of souvenirs where most of the items are handcrafted by locals themselves if you’re not interested in fresh fruits or vegetables .
Address: Q309, Petra Jaya, 93050 Kuching, Sarawak
- Serikin Border Market – Serikin, Sarawak
Serikin is located on the border of Indonesia and Malaysia – that’s the main reason why the market is managed by locals from both sides of the border. The market is well known among tourists since it offers the chance to witness the convergence of different ethnic groups and cultures all in one place. If you’re a big fan of craftworks, be prepared to feast your eyes as they have everything such as rattan furniture, ornamental wood carving, kitchen utensils and more! Girls should not miss the chance to get yourself a ready-to-wear stunning dress with a touch of Indonesian-inspired design.
Address: Q509, Serikin, 94000 Bau, Sarawak