As a melting pot of more than 37 ethnic races throughout the state, Sabah has people of various different religions living together in perfect harmony. The majority of people in Sabah are Muslims (approximately 66 per cent), followed by the Christian community which represents more than 26 per cent and the rest being Buddhists and […]

As a melting pot of more than 37 ethnic races throughout the state, Sabah has people of various different religions living together in perfect harmony.

The majority of people in Sabah are Muslims (approximately 66 per cent), followed by the Christian community which represents more than 26 per cent and the rest being Buddhists and people of other religions. Religion, no doubt, has played a big role in shaping the community and its socio-cultural aspect.

Having the second largest number of followers in Sabah, the arrival of Islam dated way back to the Brunei Sultanate era in the 15th century when Brunei extended its reign to Sabah. The first indigenous Sabahan people to embrace Islam were the Bajau people. Today, the Muslim community mainly comprises of the Bajau, Bisaya, Brunei, Cocos, Iranun and Orang Sungai ethnics.

The influence of Islam in Sabah is most visible in the celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Aidiladha, which also leads to the culture of visiting homes to strengthen friendship and relations among relatives. Apart from that, the arrival of Islam has also imparted Sabah with important and unique artifacts such as the ‘Tepak Sireh / Celapa’ Betel nut Container Box, Rehal (Qur’an stand) and ceramic decoration with Qur’an writing.

Monsopiad was a brave and honoured headhunting warrior, known for his heroic deeds and fearless ways. Today, his name lives on at the Monsopiad Cultural Village, which is built on the very land where the famous warrior and his people roamed some three centuries ago. Established by Monsopiad’s descendants in 1996, the village is cultural […]

Monsopiad was a brave and honoured headhunting warrior, known for his heroic deeds and fearless ways. Today, his name lives on at the Monsopiad Cultural Village, which is built on the very land where the famous warrior and his people roamed some three centuries ago.

Established by Monsopiad’s descendants in 1996, the village is cultural and historical landmark located in Kampung Kuai Kandazon, Penampang – approximately 20-minute drive away from Kota Kinabalu). The warm and friendly staffs, dressed in traditional garb, greet you as you walk through the gates. This sprawling 5-acre establishment offers visitors an interactive experience and fascinating insight into the daily lives and traditional beliefs of the  KadazanDusun people.

Within the grounds, visit the various traditional houses- complete with bamboo floors, rattan roofs and nibong walls – where native elders will share stories and legends of Monsopiad. In another house, skilled craftspeople are hard at work weaving, beading and sculpting. Have a go at traditional sports and games; pick up a slingshot and take aim! Or race against each other as you precariously balance on two coconut shells beneath each foot. Sounds odd? Give it a go and we guarantee you a great time!

Monsopiad Cultural Village
The cultural village also gives you a glimpse of a paddy field and the customary harvesting tools used. In the herbal garden and nursery visitors can learn about the different types of herbs used for medicinal purposes as well as for adding flavour to your favourite dish. You can also opt to learn how to whip up local delicacies during the cooking lessons (prior arrangement required). To top off your visit, there will also be cultural shows which are scheduled at 9am, 11am, 2pm and 4pm daily.

One of the main attractions of the Monsopiad Cultural Village is the House of the Skulls.  Located across the road from the main building, the House of the Skulls is home to several headhunting trophies, eerily lined up along the ceiling. The walls are adorned with photos of famous bobohizan and bobolian (native female and male clerics), who play essential roles during rituals and prayers. The house also carries paraphernalia used during native rituals, accompanied by brief descriptions to explain their origin and purpose.

Before you leave, be sure to visit the souvenir shop or have your photo taken in a traditional l costume of your choice. Guided tours are available, and each tour ends with cultural performances for your entertainment. The village also caters for private functions (weddings, parties etc.) for up to 150 people. If you’re interested to visit the Monsopiad Cultural Village, do get in touch with us!

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The Iban people trace their origins to the Kapuas Lake region of Kalimantan. They are one branch of the Dayak tribe of Borneo. In the past, the Ibans are known as a warrior tribe, having fought members of other tribes aggressively and even practicing head hunting over the years. Today, the Iban people reside mainly […]

The Iban people trace their origins to the Kapuas Lake region of Kalimantan. They are one branch of the Dayak tribe of Borneo. In the past, the Ibans are known as a warrior tribe, having fought members of other tribes aggressively and even practicing head hunting over the years. Today, the Iban people reside mainly in Sarawak, Kalimantan and Brunei Darussalam. They inhabit longhouses that are known as ‘rumah panjang’.


The origin of the name ‘Iban’ is rather unknown. Early scholars regarded it as originally a Kayan term, ‘hivan’, that means ‘wanderer’. Other Iban, of Sarawak’s First and Second Divisions, used the name ‘Dayak’, and even until today consider ‘Iban’ a borrowed term. The participation of a few Iban in alliances with Malays for coastal piracy in the nineteenth century led to their being called ‘Sea Dayaks’.

Iban Longhouse in Sarawak, in the Heart of Borneo

Iban Longhouse in Sarawak, in the Heart of Borneo

Iban women are superb weavers using the backstrap loom while most men are skilled in the use of the piston bellows. In addition to weaving blankets and other cloths, women weave mats and baskets, sometimes to be sold for a living. The Iban culture can be observed during the annual Gawai Dayak festival that celebrates a bountiful harvest. The Gawai Dayak is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of June every year.

The Mari Mari Cultural Village is situated amidst a remote forest setting in Kionsom, Inanam; 25 minutes away from the hustling and bustling city. Its surrounding atmosphere may faintly remind you of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’; in the Sabahan sense. The beauty of untapped nature is guaranteed to capture your eyes and […]

The Mari Mari Cultural Village is situated amidst a remote forest setting in Kionsom, Inanam; 25 minutes away from the hustling and bustling city. Its surrounding atmosphere may faintly remind you of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’; in the Sabahan sense. The beauty of untapped nature is guaranteed to capture your eyes and heart as soon as you arrive at the village!

Traditional dress and house of the Lundayeh Tribe, Sabah, Malaysia
In the village, you will be introduced to various traditional homes of Sabahan ethnic communities—the Bajau, Lundayeh, Murut, Rungus and Dusun—which are built by descendants of the tribes which they represent. Your friendly excursion guide will also give thorough introductions to the houses, making it a highly educational experience.

Be prepared to teleport back to the times of ancient Borneo through the display of unique ingenious architecture, simulated lives and ritualistic ceremonies. Also, get acquainted with each village tribe as you enter their homes and experience their rich culture.

A traditional long house exhibit at the Mari Mari Cultural Village in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo

For a more hands-on experience, check out the little huts in the village where daily routines of traditional Sabahan life come alive. Grab the chance to see blowpipe-making demonstration, fire-starting demonstration using bamboo, tattoo-making demonstration, and get an in-depth look at the mystical symbolisms behind them. Visitors will also get chance to sample Sabahan traditional delicacies from each ethnic group.

A visit to the Mari Mari Cultural Village will be a cultural excursion of a lifetime! See, taste and feel the essence of Sabah presented to you as it was and as it is.

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