Last year, I went to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia as a lone backpacker. Enjoyed visiting the islands and shopping at the various outlet stores in downtown KK. I also had a chance to immerse myself with the locals and the tourists.
This time, I brought my family to let them experience what Kota Kinabalu has to offer. I wanted to post another photo blog just like before, but decided to do a travel blog instead to help people plan for their trip should they go to Kota Kinabalu.
Things to Bring:
If you plan to go to the beach, bring the essentials - extra towel (in case the hotel won't allow you to bring theirs), sunblock lotion, goggles or snorkeling gear (you will need it), proper swimwear (the Marine park is strict) and light clothes.
If you plan to hike at Mt. Kinabalu - bring a mountaineering backpack, and shoes, essential mountaineering gear I suppose (sorry, I don't climb, but I guess you know what I mean).
If you plan to shop, bring an extra luggage - you will definitely need it.
Cebu Pacific offers regular flights from Manila to Kota Kinabalu. Other airlines also offer the same such as Air Asia. Be sure to go to the following sites to check their travel dates:
These are budget airlines so be sure you know their rules and regulations - especially the luggage policy.
|NAIA Terminal 3|
Once you arrive at the airport, you can take a taxi cab that would take you to a hotel in downtown Kota Kinabalu. The taxi would cost MYR30. It is a flat rate so don't expect you can haggle the price.
|A view of KK Airport from the window. Sunset looming in.|
|The only way to go to downtown KK from the Airport would be by taking a taxi which would cost MYR30|
Where to stay:
There are tons of hotels in Kota Kinabalu from the backpackers' hotels, botique to hotels to even 5-star hotels.
If I were to recommend a hotels to stay that would be Hotel Eden 54, and Jesselton Hotel for those budget conscious.
|Jesselton Hotel is very historical. This is where the Bristih Royals stay during the time that KK was still a part of the British Colony. The accommodations here are very reasonable.|
|Hotel Eden54 is where we stayed. It's a very nice Botique Hotel. Ling-ling, the receptionist was very helpful and courteous.|
For those who wants a perfect view of South China sea, try Le Meridien, Hyatt and Hotel Gaya.
|Hyatt is facing South China Sea and will give you great views from your hotel room.|
To those who want to splurge, there is Sutera Harbour, and Shangri-La Tanjung Aru.
You may want to check the following websites for good rates:
Those are the sites where I usually go to and book a hotel.
In downtown Kota Kinabalu, you can walk from Centerpoint Sabah Mall to Suria Sabah Mall and you can find interesting shops in between.
You can also take a cab and the usual far is MYR10-15.
Here are some few places you can visit in downtown KK.
Suria Sabah Mall
- It is one of the bigger malls in downtown KK with high-end brands to tempting outlet stores (especially F.O.S). There is also a food court which is overlooking the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.
|Suria Sabah Mall|
Gaya Street Market (Sunday only)
- Every Sunday from 6am to 12pm the stretch of Gaya Street is closed for the regular weekend market where you can find souvenirs, shirts, pets, novelty items and many more. I would suggest that you come there very early. Because around 9am onwards it could get very crowded.
|Gaya Sunday Market|
|Gaya Sunday Market|
Atkinsons Clock Tower
- This old clock tower stands discreetly at the hills side of Kota Kinabalu City. You can see the clock tower when you go at the back of Jesselton Hotel. There really isn't anything to do here apart from taking photos with the clock as your background. But this structure has been witness to how Kota Kinabalu developed from being Jesselton to the city that it is today.
|Atkinson's clock tower|
- It is an observation deck at the top of a hill in KK City. This place offers a fantastic view of the entire city and a peek of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. Don't fret this place is free. There are two ways to get there: take a taxi (the easiest one), or take the jungle trek up the hill (I suggest you do this). The jungle trek starts form a flight of stairs at the back of Jesselton Hotel. Just follow the route and it'll take you to Signal Hill.
|Signal Hill taken from our hotel room|
|Jungle treck going to Signal Hill|
|a view from the top|
|My brother and my cousin on the other side of the deck.|
|panoramic view of the city and the islands.|
- This is the biggest mall in KK. But this is already about 30 minutes outside of downtown KK. The the trip going there is almost worth the considering. The taxi would cost MYR25 and on the way you will see the floating Mosque, University of Malaysia in Sabah, the Immigration Building and the a great view of South China Sea.
- This place will be your starting point if you plan to go to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. It has a big arch with a sign "Kota Kinabalu Welcomes You". There are good hawker stalls that offers cheap food and drinks. Great place especially during sunset.
|A Welcome Sign that greets tourists and visitors of KK|
|Speed boats in the background. These would take you to any of the islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park|
Tunku Abdul Marine Park
|Purchasing tickets that would take us to the islands|
|stern warning not to feed the fishes in the Marine Park|
|Bomb shells found in these islands|
|A photo taken from Palau Manukan overlooking Palau Gaya|
|Bring goggles or snorkeling gears, you will enjoy the day of swimming with the fishes in these islands|
|You may see a "bayawak" roaming around Palau Mamutik|
|Swimming with the "bayawak"|
|the sand is comparable to Boracay, IMO|
|Alway have a dinner in one of these seafood restaurants.|
|"Dampa" style. But the good thing here is no extra charge when the restaurant cooks the seafood.|
|Hua Hing Seafood Restaurant|
|KFC in Malaysia for those who do not want to eat local food.|
I hope you find this blog helpful. If you have any questions, just hit the comments section and I'll respond back.
|At the dock of Palau Manukan, waiting for the boat that would take us to Palau Mamutik (island at the back)|