Delivering once-in-a-lifetime Borneo experiences, since 2013

Borneo Holiday Travel Experts

Travelers’ Guide to Kota Kinabalu

March, 2017

Kota Kinabalu, or generally known as ‘KK’, is the capital city of Sabah. KK is located on the west coast of Sabah within the West Coast Division, and it is the largest city in Sabah. KK is a fast growing tourism destination, where it becomes the main pit stop for travellers before going off to either the wild adventures in the jungle or the beautiful coral reefs in the islands of Sabah.

From indulging in the delicious seafood to island hopping near Sabah’s deep water, the abundant wildlife adventure tours to the swanky shopping malls in the city – KK offers much to travellers who want to stay on during their trip in Sabah.

Kota Kinabalu has become a must visit place for travellers near and far by giving these few reasons below to tempt travellers to stay on. There are plenty of tour packages in Kota Kinabalu;- from leisure to outdoor activities, as well as corporate incentives fully customizable and planned by us.

1. Absorb in sights of the city’s attractions.

Taking a day trip around the city, travelers can see the three buildings surviving the 1945 Allied Bombings – Atkinson Clock Tower on a hill beside Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, the old post office – which is now the Sabah Tourism Board headquarters, and a welfare office, which has become an unofficial street art gallery;- beautiful paintings done by local artists . Just behind that, take a walk up the stairs to the Signal Hill Observatory Platform to enjoy a breathtaking view of Kota Kinabalu city.

Hop in a cab to go to Sabah Museum to immerse in the rich culture and history of Sabah; visit the mesmerizing beauty of the Floating Mosque at Likas or the tallest building in Kota Kinabalu – Menara Tun Mustapha. 

Feel free to check our Kota Kinabalu City & Nature Tour for more info.

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Atkinson Clock Tower

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Sabah Tourism Board Office

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Old Welfare office

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Signal Hill Observatory Platform

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Likas Floating Mosque

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Sabah Museum

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Menara Tun Mustapha

Kota Kinabalu Food

2. Kota Kinabalu is a good place to eat, drink and chill.

Kota Kinabalu offer travellers a good place to eat, drink and chill. With its diverse cultures from various ethnic races’ comes with its different cuisines, ranging from local traditional culinary, Asian fusion, Western cuisine, etc. For budget holiday travellers, there are also affordable prices in and around KK city. Travellers can go to KK’s night market, located near Le Meridien hotel, where one can enjoy fresh seafood cooked on-site and experience first-hand locals hospitality. Apart from that, there are also coffee shops that offers affordable prices on food and beverage.

KK city also has nightlife to offer for those who wants to relax and chill after a long day. Travelers can find bars, pubs and clubs along the Kota Kinabalu waterfront overlooking the sea and within KK Times Square.

3. Beautiful Sunsets near Kota Kinabalu Beaches

Travellers can witness a truly beautiful sunset in Kota Kinabalu city. According to Huffington Post writer, Kathleen Peddicord, she wrote an article listing Sabah as one of the top 8 places in the world to see sunset. Travelers can just walk around the Kota Kinabalu Waterfront to view the sunset over a pint of beer after a long day. Waterfront is one of the most popular holiday spots for locals and tourist to go for nightlife.

There’s another amazing spot to watch the sunsets and chill, at the Sunset Bar at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort. Travelers can sit, take a sip of cocktail, listen to the jazzy sounds of the live band while be  mesmerized by the sunset. Travellers can also go to Signal Hill Observatory Tower for a chance to watch the panoramic view of Kota Kinabalu city as well as the beautiful sunset. Check our blog post about Sunset in Borneo Sabah.

Kota Kinabalu Sunset
Kota Kinabalu Island

4. Island Hopping Tour Packages

There are a few islands that can be found near Kota Kinabalu city, namely the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP), which consists of Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Mamutik, and Sulug islands. The five islands are unique in a way that they form part of the national marine conservation area that are minutes away from Kota Kinabalu city.

Travellers can simply take a boat ride from Jesselton Point Terminal and choose which island to go. Once at the islands, travellers can experience a wide-range of water activities, such as island hopping, parasailing, banana boat ride, coral flyer zipline, sea-walking and more. Or else, they can opt to just relax and soak up the sun.

We offer a daytrip tour to traveller to get the chance experience islands near Kota Kinabalu, please check TARP Island Hopping for booking.

5. Shopping Malls and Local Market

Kota Kinabalu is a modest size area, but has major shopping malls and shopping areas that travellers can find in many other Asian cities, which are mostly located in the main Kota Kinabalu city. However, it does not have the quality offerings to compete with the likes of the Kuala Lumpur shopping malls, but there are still some bargains and surprises in store, enough to give the Sabah shopping experience to the travellers.

There are a few major shopping malls in Kota Kinabalu city, such as Centrepoint, Karamunsing Complex, KK Plaza, Wawasan Plaza, Wisma Merdeka, Suria Sabah Shopping Mall, Oceanus Waterfront Mall, Imago Shopping Mall, Warisan Square, and 1Borneo Shopping Mall. Moreover, if travellers would like to go somewhere unique where they can practice their bargaining skills, then Gaya Street Sunday Flea Market and Filipino Market is the place to go! These wonderful markets are a good place for travellers to purchase local handicrafts, souvenirs and many other interesting items, but bargaining is a must.

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Suria Sabah

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Wawasan Plaza

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Wisma Merdeka

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

1 Borneo

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Karamunsing Complex

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu


Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Center Point

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Handicraft Market

Travelers' guide to Kota Kinabalu

Gaya Street Sunday Market

Kota Kinabalu Wildlife

6. Nature & Wildlife Tour Packages

It is not a surprise for Kota Kinabalu city to be titled as a nature resort city. Apart from going out from KK areas to experience the wildlife and nature tour, travellers can also experience it in Kota Kinabalu too!

Travellers can go to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, for a chance to see the Borneo Pygmy elephants, Proboscis Monkeys, Malayan Tigers, and some different species of deer. In addition, travellers can also experience Borneo’s ocean biodiversity at Aquarium and Marine Museum in University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) campus. Kota Kinabalu wetlands are another one of the places for travellers to enjoy fresh air, a walk through the unique ecosystem, as well as bird watching.

Want new articles before they get published?
Subscribe to our Awesome Newsletter.