Best Gifts and Souvenirs from Sabah, Malaysia

Can you smell the salty ocean when you think of Sabah? Or does the majestic views of Mount Kinabalu come to mind? As a state with the tallest mountain peak in Southeast Asia, Sabah attracts hikers and travellers from all over the world to seek thrill and adventure.

It has become a custom for any visitor to East Malaysia to bring back little mementos from all the places visited here. These precious tokens will keep your memories of Borneo alive for many years to come. By doing so, you are also supporting local sellers to help them make a living!

Ready to shop? Save this useful list for your upcoming trip to Sabah to help you hunt for the best souvenirs that you will surely cherish!

Read also: Best Gifts and Souvenirs from Sarawak

Table of Content

Best Gifts and Souvenirs from Sabah, Malaysia

Dried Seafood

Sabah is well-known for its seafood. Since it is highly unlikely to bring fresh seafood back, you can easily settle for the dried versions. There are a plethora of choices to choose from such as anchovies, shrimps, fishes of many kinds, octopuses - the list is endless! Anchovies and dried shrimps are popular for their affordability and as delicious additions to food. Almost all Southeast Asian dishes can benefit from these rich umami-packed ingredients, so remember to drop by the nearest markets during your next visit to Sabah and get these in the kilos!

Local Sabah Souvenirs
Sabah is well-known for its fresh & dried seafood
sabah local food products
Don't forget to drop by the Kota Kinabalu's dried seafood market!

Sabah & Borneo Pearls

Thinking of getting something white and shiny? Sabah pearls are known and loved for the impeccable quality and delightful affordability. These exquisite and beautiful pearls are usually sold in the form of bracelets and necklaces to give a touch of elegance to your everyday ensemble.

Each pearl is meticulously and naturally cultivated in a pollution-free environment. You can find them in two main variations: saltwater or freshwater pearls. If you need tips on how to distinguish real pearls from counterfeit ones, always ask the seller to do a quick test - which is typically done by scraping the surface of the pearls.

pearls in sabah
These beautiful Sabahan pearls are the best gift ideas from the state

Jade Jewellery

In the past, jade is seen as a status of wealth. As it became more accessible, people began wearing it as jewellery not just to symbolise their social status, but also as a durable adornment option. There is an old wives’ tale that if a married man buys his wife a jade bangle, their love will be long-lasting and this has become a custom among many Chinese families to date!

jade in sabah
Jade makes a great souvenir from Sabah

Beadworks & Handicrafts

The craft of beading is ancient and it has been part of the world’s oldest traditions. As industrialisation has made it possible for a faster and cheaper production using machines, many customs around the world are slowly disappearing. However, when it comes to Sabah, many indigenous tribes are striving to keep their customs and practices alive. In fact, this is a source of livelihood for them and many have made beading into a full-time career.

Beadwork is a highly respected art form in Sabah. There is an annual Borneo International Beads Conference for men and women all over the region to come together and share their stories and heritage. Presenting items made of beadwork to women is seen as a form of respect, so don’t miss out on your chance of buying them for all the special women in your life.

Sabah beadworks
Sabah has a unique relationship with the beads of Borneo
sabah handicraft centre
The bead culture in huge and respected in Sabah, Sarawak and across the Borneo region
cheap sabah handicraft markets
You can find all kinds of handicrafts and jewellery when visiting the markets of Sabah

While walking through the streets of Sabah, you will also discover many handmade decorations such as dreamcatchers. These aesthetic looking décor pieces are meant to trap bad dreams and nightmares and turn them into beautiful, colourful ones instead! These are simply pretty little souvenirs to bring home especially for teens and children.

Sunday Market sabah
Want something unique? Get these handmade dreamcatchers instead!

Popular Local Snacks

Sabah offers a variety of snacks that you might not have heard of if you have spent all your time in the peninsula. The cuisine and snacks here are influenced by the neighbouring countries over the years, making them one-of-a-kind. A local favorite is Kuih Lidah, Kuih Cincin and Amplang, which come in huge bags that are perfect for gifting. Still a little unsure? Seek help from a friendly local or reach out to us for more snack recommendations. We are ever-ready for your food related questions! 

Local Sabah Snacks
Local snacks in Sabah are colourful and delicious!

Traditional Sabah Textiles

Weaving is an essential traditional art form of the indigenous communities of Sabah. Each clan has their own variation of textiles, simply known as kain that are commonly worn by many tribal women even to this day. The craft of weaving is passed on from generations to generations and it is the heritage that makes the souvenirs extra special. These textiles are used to make beautiful tapestries, bags and even blankets and the designs are unique to this region only. Make sure to snag one when you are here!

Traditional Sabah Textiles
Traditional Sabahan textiles are beautiful and make great gifts for loved ones

Sabah is a lush, bountiful state in Malaysia boasting the beauty of nature. It is also home to the world’s oldest rainforest and is probably one of the last states with more than 50% of the land being jungle. With a large biodiversity and an even larger number of indigenous people, it is where humans and nature still coexist harmoniously. Buying a souvenir here means supporting local sellers and their handmade items using locally sourced materials - it’s shopping with a good cause!

Don't forget to share your travel & dining moments with us on Instagram by tagging @rollinggrace or #RollingGrace. Happy travelling!


  1. kat sana memang cantik juga kraf tangan die kan. macam2 boleh dijadikan hadiah untuk kawan2..makanan die pun sedap2.wah..tak pernah ke sana lagi ni.

  2. Never missed to buy Sabah's pearls for my mom whenever I am in Sabah. Ahhh I miss Sabah so much! But next time I think I want to check out more of Sabah's textile. Looks so pretty!

  3. Lama dah tak pergi Sabah..last 2011. Lama kan? Hope lepas covid settle boleh kesana lagi bawak anak-anak bercuti

  4. whenever i went to sabah mesti takkan miss beli ikan bilis and their pearl. hehe must buy item tu hehe rinduuu sabah

  5. I would love to get the unique sabahan traditional textile as I believe they reflect the place even better.

  6. The best souvenir I got from Sabah is a sampoktom (traditional musical instrument). I miss traveling to Sabah. Let’s pray Sabah will be ok soon.

  7. I pernah pergi KK dan bila balik semenanjung penuh dengan ikan bilis dan makanan laut kering hehe..seronok membeli terutama cumi kering

  8. I selalu dapat souvenir pearl dari sabah. selalunya gelang atau brooch la. Btw hasil tangan orang sabah ni memang cantik2. Teringin nak ke Sabah sendiri nanti tapi tu la, kena tangguhkan dulu la hasrat tu

  9. tak pernah lagi ke sabah dan belum pernah dapat souvenir dari sabah. cantik2 souvenirnya. nanti lepas covid dan reda, bolehlah merancang ke sabah dan bolehlah bawa souvenir balik ke semenanjung. :)

  10. I sampai sekarang masih simpan lagi cincin batu Jade dan juga gelangnya, Suami beli one set dari Sabah..the original Jade ..sebab tu sayang nak pakai.. pakai pun kalau ke event tertentu aje.. bila pakai mesti ada je yang tegur..

    Dan gambar 1st tu...kenapa ek tak pernah pulak dapat gift ole-ole ikan tu.. ermmm biasa ikan bilis aje orang bagi atau jual.. nak tanya kawan laaa..

  11. Tak pernah ke sabah. Teringin nak pergi pulau-pulau dia. Tengok orang lain pergi pulau, terpegun je tengok.Wajib beli gift kalau ke sabah

  12. How i miss Sabah when I saw this post! Great place to explore with nice people too.. Yes, love all the souvenirs from this state too.. beautiful!

  13. Masa ayah keje kena hantar ke lahad datu sempat jugak die shopping ikan bilis dengan brooch. Hehe. Memang cantik2 lah brooch. Rupanya mcm2 lagi ada ye. OK boleh bookmark

  14. masa ke sabah hari tu iena ada beli kuih cincin and amplang.. sedap..amplang pulak ada banyak flavour..iena suka makan amplang yang sotong pedas..
    kain batik dia pun cantik cantik.. beg rotan kat sana pun murah then iena beli jugak gelang swaroski :D

  15. Cx teringin nak ke sabah. Plannnya tahun depan tapi harap² pandemik beransur baiklah.

    Csntik² barang dekat sabah. Cx suka pearl tu. Lagi satu beadwork . Cantiklah.

  16. I went to Kota Kinabalu a few times, yeah every time i sure bought lots of seafood back to KL.

  17. Rindu nk travel to sabah. I suka beli handcrafts kat sana cantik2 dan unik2. I bought my mom her pearl necklace kat sna juga

  18. Aaaa tak pernah pergi Sabah. Teringin jugak nak pergi. takpe takpe. one day nanti nak gi jugak. cantik betul ya hasil kraf dekat sana. rasa nak beli semua :)

  19. Suka brooch dari Sabah. Kalau kawan balik Sabah, mesti kirim banyak2 untuk koleksi 😅

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