Thought I'd share some places there are bit new and improved for the budget traveler that I found on my recent visit to Sabah. Apart from Uncle Tans and Mescot these were all not here a few years ago and makes the chances to get slightly off the beaten track independently a little more easier in Sabah.
If you are happy to hire a motorbike Go Go Sabah seems to be popular and the bikes reasonable value to hire and they are in KK.
Long going community tourism program on the Kinabatanagan river that now has a new jungle camp upstream that i stayed in which was great as there were loads of student groups in the village. Saw a wild orangutan, not as cheap as Uncle tans but if you want your money to go to a community and not a big company the best option.
This place is very new and near Poring Hot Springs and I came here after the mountain climb but it would have been good to be here before to give the legs a workout - proper forest right next to the national park, it is a basic camp set up made from bamboo. We did a night trek and saw a western tarsier - brilliant, lots of rivers and watwrfalls to swim in
Not budget but different and if you can get a bed something very alternative on the river as it is high on a hilltop with great views and when I stayed I didnt even have to go on a boat cruise to see an orangutan - there was one right behind the restaurant - food and the owners are great.