As the capital city of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu has a lot to offer, and is distinctly unique in every way. Whether you’re in town for a quick visit or a vacation, Kota Kinabalu’s treasure trove of food, nature and culture will not disappoint!
1. Mount Kinabalu
The jewel of Sabah’s crown, Mount Kinabalu is the tallest mountain in Malaysia, situated at World Heritage Site, Kinabalu Park. Towering at 4,095 metres, Mount Kinabalu is one of the safest and most conquerable peaks in the world, provided that you reasonably fit and healthy. The journey up takes approximately two days, starting from the rainforests below to sub-alpine meadows before reaching a crown of bare granite.
For more information and bookings, check out https://www.mountkinabalu.com/
2. Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
Named after Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is Sabah’s second national park. It comprises five islands, Gaya Island, Manukan Island, Mamutik Island, Sulug Island and Sapi Island. They’re easily accessible via Jesselton Point, where you can survey and choose which island to explore, or go for an island-hopping tour! These islands offer a myriad of water sports like snorkelling, diving and even parasailing!
3. JSK Borneo Reef
A newly launched reef activity pontoon located within Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, it is the perfect destination for all types of sea sports and a one of a kind inflatable water park and an underwater observatory tunnel. The pontoon houses five sea-level platforms and is the largest one in South East Asia. Enjoy Sabah’s beautiful natural corals from above or get a closer look underwater by sea walking.
4. Kota Kinabalu Waterfront
Being a coastal city, Kota Kinabalu has a long stretch of waterfront restaurants, markets and open area, perfect for long sunset dinners. Whether you have a hankering for fresh seafood, Italian or Thai cuisine, KK Waterfront has it all. Along the same stretch is the Sinsuran Night Market, Filipino Market, KK Wet Market, Pasar Besar and Waterfront Seafood Night Market.
Check out Sinsuran Night Market for fresh seafood like latok, Filipino Market for handicrafts and dried seafood, KK Wet Market for more fresh seafood, Pasar Besar for fresh vegetables and fruits as well as Waterfront Seafood Night Market for an amazing seafood dinner.
5. Mari Mari Cultural Village
Located 25 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu, Mari Mari Cultural Village offers glimpses into the lives of Sabah’s rich culture with its distinctive houses, costumes and traditional skills of five major ethnic groups; the farmers and traders Dusun and Rungus, the hunters and fishermen Lundayeh, the cowboys and sea gypsies Bajau and the famously feared warrior tribe Murut. There are two three-hour sessions everyday, covering everything from tours of each longhouse to cultural dance performances as well as a spread of local delicacies.
For more information and bookings, check out https://marimariculturalvillage.my/
6. Kota Kinabalu Wetland Ramsar Site
Recently reopened after a facelift, Kota Kinabalu Wetlands is a mangrove swamp located in the heart of the city. It supports over 30 mangrove species and plants, as well as 90 species of migratory birds and five reptile species. It is also a nursery ground for 21 species of fish and aquatic species. A 1.5km boardwalk brings you deep into the mangrove, where you can enjoy a tranquil slice of nature in the middle of the city.
The site is also a haven for birdwatchers, who often come to photograph rare bird sightings.
7. Kokol Elf @ Kokol Hill
Kokol Elf is a favourite among locals, especially for wedding photo-shoots due to its Instagrammable views. Located about half an hour away from town, it offers an amazing view of Kota Kinabalu and the sea. The hilltop town itself is the perfect getaway for anyone wanting a quieter trip with easy access to town, complete with resorts, homestays and small cafes.
8. Kiulu White Water Rafting Centre
Located at Kiulu River, the starting point of white water rafting is about 40km from Kota Kinabalu. The rafting route is then 15km long, which takes around 2 hours to complete. If you’re a little wary about being caught up in crazy strong rapids, fret not, because the Kiulu rapids are only of Grade 1 to 2, which is deemed safe for children and gentle enough for the elderly.
For more information and bookings, check out https://www.facebook.com/KiuluRafting
Whether you prefer the ocean floors of the marine park, granite peaks of Mount Kinabalu, the white rapids of Kiulu River or the hills of Kokol, come and experience the best of what nature has to offer in Kota Kinabalu!