Top Tours & Activities in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Top things to do in Kota Kinabalu
Scuba Diving & Island Hopping
Island Hopping Kota Kinabalu is one of the recommended things to do in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah for tourists. Island Hopping allows tourists to see more than one island in a day nearby Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah. Some of the recommended islands to explore in Kota Kinabalu Island Hopping tour includes Manukan Island, Sapi Island Mamutik Island & Sulug Island.
One of the most beautiful scuba diving sites, which are sure to attract your attention and give you a lifetime experience are found in Kota Kinabalu. The scintillating islands, coral reefs and atolls make it one of the most desirable spots for diving in Sabah. Following are some of the most visited and renowned Kota Kinabalu diving sites, not only in KK but in the whole of Sabah, Borneo.
Mari Mari Cultural Village
As more than 26 ethnic groups are expected within the territory of Sabah, the Mari Mari Cultural Village is a countryside that detached from the city of Kota Kinabalu, showcasing the past and present of the 5 main tribes in Sabah, namely the Kadazan-Duzun (rice farmer), Rungus (the longhouse resident), Lundayeh (the hunter and fisherman), Bajau (the cowboy and sea gypsey) and the most known headhunting tribe – Murut. Visiting tour is available for three sessions ranging from the morning, afternoon, and evening tour. Guided activities including sightseeing of traditional architecture, storytelling and ceremonies as well as the demonstration of the lifestyle of different tribes. To avoid exhausting arrangement of transportation travelling from the city, the village offers a bundled package that includes return transportation and a meal served at the cultural village.
The moment you arrive in Kota Kinabalu, you will notice that food and eating is a big thing here where everyone has their own list of where is best for what and Culinary Tours should really be mandatory. If you enjoy getting off the beaten track, visiting the market is a great opportunity to get a unique glimpse into everyday Sabahan life.
Venture in to the suburbs of Kota Kinabalu and roam the local market and shop for local produce. Being a cultural melting pot, KK features a dizzying array of dishes from distinctive local cuisine to a rich heritage of culinary knowledge contributed from all corners of the world.
Shopping Mall hopping
The CBD of Kota Kinabalu is a centrepiece for your shopping spree! Accessible within walking distance, there are three most popular shopping malls located along the Jalan Tun Razak namely Suria Sabah, Wisma Merdeka, and Centre Point. Both of the Wisma Merdeka and Centre Point feature retails at a better value, while Suria Sabah which is built in 2009 has more to offer if you are looking for high-end brands. Need more? The newly opened Imago Mall at the KK Timesquare will definitely satisfy you with a range of entertainment, dining outlet, and mostly branded retails as it is now known as one of the best shopping malls in Sabah. Other than these shopping malls that are already a reason for you to dig into your pocket, the city is also surrounded by many retail hubs such as the Karamunsing Complex, Warisan Square, Asia City Complex, City Mall, KK Plaza, Mega Long Mall, and most importantly 1Borneo, the largest hyper mall in the state of Sabah.
Top Attractions in Kota Kinabalu
Designated by the UNESCO as one of the first World Heritage Site in Malaysia, the park covers more than 4,500 species of flora and fauna surrounding the Mount Kinabalu. Park features including on-site accommodation and catering areas where it also provides a series of convenience for the visitors who wish to climb the mountain.
Hikers are required to put in a reservation in advance through the park’s official booking centre or any accountable travel agency. A typical climb will require one night stay at the Kinabalu Park while departing for Laban Rata in the next morning. When the clock strikes 1 in the middle of the night, hikers will head up to the summit before the dawn to witness one of the best sunrise views in a lifetime.
Also known as the Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, the collision between the South China Sea and the Sulu Seas present you with the majestic spectacle of the mother nature. Located in the Kudat Peninsula (about a 215km drive from Kota Kinabalu city), visitors can enjoy the stunning view of sunsets and full moons on the beautiful headland, or perhaps spend a beautiful afternoon on its white sandy beach of Pantai Kalampunian.
Watch out insectophobia! The Gomantong Cave is not only a massive arc of the limestone outcrop in the Gomantong Hill but also a home to unquantifiable bats, scorpions and cockroaches. The cave is famed for its naturally nutritive environment for the nesting of bird, which in turn become one of the renowned sources for valuable bird nests. Despite the hefty odour of this drippy cave, keen naturalists will find this place a greater exploration of the Borneo island. Activities permitted within the area including a 45-minute jungle trek that leads to the White Cava called Simud Putih in Bahasa. Due to its seasonality, prior planning to Gomantong Cave is essential.
Producing more than 85000 litres of milk annually, the Desa Cattle Dairy Farm presents a photogenic scene, illustrating the life of milking cows in the cool breeze that Kundasang has to offer. This destination is considerably family-friendly as visitors are encouraged to participate in calves and goats feeding and in particular the exhibition of milk processing. Located at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu, 2 to 3 hours drive is required to access to the farm from Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah.
(Rumah Terbalik) Originally constructed on Ko Si Chang in 1868 and moved to the present site in 1910, Vimanmek Teak Mansion contains 81 rooms, halls and anterooms, and is said to be the world’s largest golden-teak building, allegedly built without the use of a single nail. The mansion was the first permanent building on the Dusit Palace grounds, and served as Rama V’s residence in the early 1900s.
The interior of the mansion contains various personal effects of the king and a treasure trove of early Ratanakosin-era art objects and antiques.
Accessible through train used since the late 19th century from Beaufort, this outdoor activity is just right for visitors who urge for fun and exciting excursion from the daily routine. Covering a distance of 30km, this Padas river happens to be the longest route in Borneo. Suitable for visitors aged 12 to 55, this route includes 8 points of rapids and it allows 1 to 2 hours of extreme adrenaline stimulation graded III-IV.
The Sabah Tea (a.k.a Teh Sabah) is not only known for its pre-packed products found on racks of many local markets, but also its pristine tea plantation located at the west coast division of Sabah, namely Ranau. The organic tea farm offers a variety of activities such as insect-viewing night walk, trail trekking, and on-site camping. Most importantly, visitors must seize the opportunity to taste the Sabah’s finest tea. P/S: a taste of the combination of Sabah tea and pandan milk will definitely add values to your experience!
Kota Kinabalu Travel Tips
AirAsia usually offers tickets to Sabah (Kota Kinabalu, Tawau and Sandakan) for very nice prices, which makes it very affordable to combine your trip through the Peninsular Malaysia with a visit to Sabah on Borneo (same goes for Sarawak of course). For example; if you make your reservations in time (as in at least 6 months prior before departure) you can find a one way ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu for RM79 per person. Kota Kinabalu functions as AirAsia’s hub on Sabah; so you can fly from both Tawau and Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu (and back). Other airlines in Malaysia that often have great discounts on tickets to Sabah are Malaysia Airlinesand Firefly.