10 Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu

Credit: kundasang__@Instagram
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp

By Carina Tan

1. Climb Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu
Credit: yusuffffffffffffffffffff@Instagram
Mount Kinabalu
Credit: akieseiko@Instagram

Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia, with an elevation of 13,435 feet. The climb usually involves 2 days and 1 night with a local tour guide. On the first day, you will climb for 4-5 hours and reach the Panalaban base camp in the late afternoon. At 2am the next day you will continue to trek to the summit and will reach at about 6am, just in time for the breathtaking sunrise. You will be given the Certificate of Achievement once you complete the whole journey.

2. Stay a night at Kundasang

Credit: faradine@Instagram

Kundasang is located at the foot of Mount Kinabalu, at the highland south east side of Mount Kinabalu. The average temperature is a chilly 21 degree celsius. Even if you chose not to climb Mount Kinabalu, do stay a night and experience the fresh air. You should also pay a visit to the Nabalu market, where the freshest tropical fruits, ginger, rice and vegetables are sold at. The pineapples are super delicious, tender and sweet. After that, you can head to the National Park for a walk, or Desa farm to feed the calves, or Poring spring for a sulphur bath, or the Sabah Tea Plantation for Sabah tea.

3. Island Hopping

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
Credit: akifromjapan@Instagram
Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
Credit: bucketlistbelles@Instagram
Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
Credit: almy.rahul@Instagram

The Tunku Abdul Rahman Park consists of three islands (Manukan, Mamutik and Sapi) that are near to Kota Kinabalu’s city centre. Beautiful corals and sea anemone with colourful fish are on every island – you can do as much snorkelling as you can. Before you go, please check the high tide time as the guard will only open the snorkelling area during high tide to prevent cuts and injuries from sea urchins and to protect the corals and sea anemone. You can visit all three islands as the boat transfers are very convenient and you can pack a picnic box before heading to the island, as the food and drinks sold on the islands will be pricier.

4. Visit Gaya Street on Sunday

Gaya Street
Credit: ahmadschawal@Instagram
Gaya Street
Credit: roadsidecoffee_gaya_street@Instagram

Every Sunday morning, you will see the locals selling interesting items on Gaya Street that can’t be seen in Singapore. Some are selling herbs that claim to be able to cure any disease; some are selling animals like rabbits, dogs, cats, fish, etc; some are selling very lively and colourful succulent cactus and plants; some are selling homemade souvenirs; food, etc. There are also street performers performing while you are visiting.

5. River Cruise and watch fireflies at night

river cruise
Credit: rosesabahlady@Instagram
Proboscis Monkeys
Credit: klook.com
Credit: klook.com

You can book a day tour from the local agencies online. You will probably reach the river before sunset, and you’ll have the chance to see proboscis monkeys, hornbills, different species of birds, water buffaloes, and other wildlife. After sunset and dinner, you will be on the river watching Christmas lights-like fireflies. The tour usually includes a dinner and pick up at your hotel.

6. Jogging and cycling along Tanjung Lipat

Tanjung Lipat
Credit: silegam@Instagram

Tanjung Lipat is a 2.3 mile coastline (mostly covered with jogging tracks) from Kota Kinabalu town to near Yayasan Sabah. You will feel the breeze while jogging or cycling on the track, and it is great to watch the sunset there.

7. Have dinner on the cruise

dinner on the cruise
Credit: northborneocruises@Instagram
dinner on the cruise
Credit: northborneocruises@Instagram

You’ll also get the chance to experience a fantastic buffet dinner on a luxury cruise. You will pass by water villages and be greeted by some of the friendly villagers. As the boat sails, you may see some beautiful islands on the sea, and enjoy the sunset view paired with wine and dinner on the cruise.

8. Visit the Filipino Market

Filipino Market
Credit: wikimedia.org

It is a gigantic waterfront market run by immigrants, and it is open daily. They are selling different kinds of items including fresh vegetables & fruits, fresh and dried seafood, handcrafted souvenirs, and you can even get very cheap and beautiful pearls from here.

9. Visit Sunset Bar

Sunset Bar
Credit: shangri-la.com

The Sunset Bar in Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa is the most sought-after spot among tourists and locals. The view of the sunset is superb, you can enjoy a close-up sunset in front of you in a comfortable setting. You can opt to sit on the sofa while you are booking too although it is the most expensive seat. It is usually packed with reservations even during weekdays, so please book at least 2-3 days in advance.

10. Visit cultural villages

Borneo Cultural Village
Credit: borneoculturalvillage@Facebook
koisaan Cultural Village
Credit: koisaancv@Facebook

You can see the way the local tribes live in the cultural village. Check out the famous ‘Borneo trampoline’ ,better known as ‘Lansaran’. Enjoy various demonstrations such as fire-making using bamboo, beads-making, tattoo art, rice-wine sampling, blow-pipe making, cigar-rolling and paddy processing. You can also participate in cultural dancing and test your skills with the blow-pipes. There are a few cultural villages you can choose to visit – Monsopiad Cultural Village, Kadazan Dusun Cultural Village and Borneo Cultural Village.

Subscribe for Newsletter

Scroll to Top