YOU CAN EDIT THIS PAGE! Just click any blue "Edit" link and start writing!

Kota Kinabalu

From Wikitravel
Earth : Asia : Southeast Asia : Malaysia : Sabah : Kota Kinabalu
Jump to: navigation, search

Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the state of Sabah located on the island of Borneo, this Malaysian city is a growing resort destination due to its proximity to tropical islands, lush rainforests and Mount Kinabalu. Generally referred to as KK, it is located on the west coast of Sabah within the West Coast Division. KK is the largest city in the state in Sabah and is the main gateway into the island of Borneo.

KK lies by the coast overlooking South China Sea on a narrow flatland and occasional hills bordered by Crocker Range which hosts Mount Kinabalu. The urban sprawl is concentrated along the coast towards the north and south of the city.

Kota Kinabalu is a fast growing tourism destination. Many packaged tours to attractions in Sabah depart from here. Newly 4xWeekly flight from and to KK BUSAN from AirBusan have been available starting 16 May 2019


City centre overlooking the sea.
A rough map of the city and surrounding areas. (Scale: KK CBD - KKIA T1 about 8km)

Kota Kinabalu is a growing city of around 500,000 inhabitants. Recent economic growth has resulted in urbanisation of the city reaching adjacent districts of Penampang and Putatan with a total population of almost 800,000. Recent growth and importance is due to being the administrative capital, a major transportation hub, growing port, manufacturing hub, growing tourism as well as being the major gateway into Sabah and East Malaysia. Kota Kinabalu was granted city status in 2000 becoming the sixth city and also currently the sixth largest urban/metropolitan area in Malaysia.

Kota Kinabalu was previously known as Jesselton while under British colonial rule from the late 1800s until 1963 when the British left and after Sabah became part of Malaysia. Most of the town was destroyed due to bombings during World War II hence there are not much pre-war historical sites around the city. Before the British arrived, the area was also known by a number of other names such as Deasoka (below the coconut tree), Singgah Mata (pleasing to the eye), Api-Api (fire!) and Gaya Bay.

The people of KK consists of Chinese, Kadazandusun, Bajau, Brunei Malays, as well as significant migrant population from Indonesia and Philippines, many of which are naturalised citizens. There are also many migrant/expat population from India and a growing number from Republic of Korea.

Central Kota Kinabalu is often referred to as Kota Kinabalu City Centre or the Central Business district (CBD) or simply Downtown KK and is located on the narrow coast overlooking Gaya Island. This is where most hotels, travel agents, transportation bases and most of the action are found. Most of the city centre lies on reclaimed land due to shortage of land in the area as it is blocked by Signal Hill (Bukit Bendera). Areas which lie within the city centre includes Kampung Air, Api-Api, Segama, Sinsuran, Bandaran Berjaya, Gaya Street, KK Port and towards south are Karamunsing, Sembulan, Tanjung Aru and Sutera Harbour.

Due to lack of land in the city centre, other important commercial areas have sprouted outside CBD. Some of these areas have been long in existence as small townships (pekan) such as Luyang, Inanam and Menggatal and in adjacent districts of Penampang (Donggongon) and Putatan while some are recently developed residential-commercial areas such as Alam Mesra, Kingfisher and 1Borneo near Menggatal; Lintas, Penampang Baru and Bundusan.

Sunset in Kota Kinabalu

The climate in KK is charaterised by uniform year-round temperature of 32°C (90 °F)(avg. high) and 22°C (72 °F)(avg. low). Rain falls quite often with occasional dry streaks. Low rainfall begins in January till April, increasing in May till August, intensifying in September till November and slows down in December. Climate summary: [35]

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Kota Kinabalu International Airport IATA: BKI (KKIA) is Malaysia's second busiest airport and the main gateway to Sabah and situated around 7 km (4 mi) from the city centre. Until 2015, there was second terminal in use for low cost carriers, but now all flights operate from one terminal.

The exchange rates offered at the airport by bank money changer are very poor in Malaysia. It is better to use ATM or just get enough for a bus ticket and go downtown to Centre Point or at Wisma Merdeka where they will give you a fair rate.

Note that the air-side departure area for international departures has only a Starbucks and a severely overpriced restaurant selling local food. Have your meals before clearing immigration if you are taking an international departure flight.


There are direct international flights from these cities to Kota Kinabalu:

Within Malaysia[edit]

Getting there/away[edit]

Airport Bus[edit]

The new big Airport Buses make commuting to and from downtown much cheaper compared to the past, particularly for single travellers, thus avoiding the nasty transport Mafia that has ruled KK for decades. Airport Buses leave the Airport roughly at every full hour, starting at 08:00, last bus will leave the airport at 20:30 (as of Dec 2015). The ticket price is RM 5 for adults and RM 3 for children. The Airport Bus has ticket booths easily visible after you leave the arrival area. Currently Three stops are being served in downtown, first is Center Point, then onwards to Horizon Hotel, and terminating at Padang Merdeka (Merdeka Square). IMPORTANT: Take notice that the drop-off points are NOT THE SAME as the pick-up points at Horizon Hotel and Center Point !!! The drop off point for Horizon is at the main entrance of the hotel in Jalan Pantai, whereas the pick-up point is at an official Bus-stop at the back of Horizon Hotel along Jalan Tun Razak (the main thoroughfare through KK). Same goes for the Centerpoint stop, the Bus will drop you right in front of the Centerpoint building, but pick you up at an official Bus-Stop opposite, along Jalan Coastal (which is the same main street as Jl. Tun Razak but just has a different name a few hundred Meters down), in front of a building with a big sign "KLINIK PERGIGIAN" (dentist clinic), at the South-Western end of Centerpoint, near ApiApi Center. At both stops there are BIG SIGNS "Airport Bus" with the schedule displayed, so if you do not see such signs at the Bus stop, you are not waiting at the right place. From downtown KK, the service starts at 07:00, then at 09:00 and after that hourly until 20:00. Tickets can be bought at the Terminal at Merdeka Square. If you board at Horizon hotel or Centerpoint, you pay the driver directly (don't forget to ask for the ticket).

By minibus[edit]

Minibus No. 17, Kota Kinabalu-Putatan buses, will bring you to the city. Minbuses are available along the main road away from the airport and the bus stop is next to the footbridge. Cost RM2.00 each way, will stop you at the south end of the City Centre, at Terminal Wawasan. It is around 1 km to the centre. The bus stop is a 5 minute walk in front of the airport where the highway is. You will see constant stream of minivans (minibus) flashing their lights at you. Take any of the red and white minibus.

From Terminal Wawasan, you can take City Bus into the city centre for RM1.00.

By taxi[edit]

These are hired by buying a ticket from the window on the Arrivals level, then presenting ticket to the driver.

The standard rate from the airport to the city is RM30. There is a signboard with destinations other than downtown and their regarding fares. From midnight (but usually already as soon as 11.45 pm) until 6 am there is a 50% surcharge, which will result in outrageous fares of 45 RM for the journey to downtown which barely takes ten minutes.

The local car-hailing service is called Grab. The Grab operates from the Arrival Area at the Domestic Terminal (Sabah arrivals), next to Starbucks. The fare is about RM10-12

By foot[edit]

Walking into town from the airport is possible if you like walking but not advisable and have 1-2 hours to spare. Pick up a city map in the airport terminal, and you won't have any problem finding your way. You can also stop by the Sabah State Mosque on the way.

By private hire vehicles[edit]

Dacsee or Grab (an Uber rival hugely popular in Asia) from the airport to downtown is about RM10 and 20mins depending on traffic. The drivers are mostly young and able to speak good english, and make well-informed tour guides for your short trip with them. Ask them to take you for a City Tour or to the Kinabalu National Park of world heritage.Price is depends from time to time of fuel price season. They will offer you the most lowest price and just say 'yes ok' to them and agree for everything and they will serves you better.

By road[edit]

All main roads in Sabah radiate out from Kota Kinabalu. The main road to the Sarawak border at Sindumin heads south from the city through the suburbs of Kepayan and Tanjung Aru and goes past Papar, Kimanis, Beaufort and Sipitang. From Sindumin, the road continues to Lawas and on to Brunei and it is possible to travel from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei in a day. Another main road goes north to Kudat via Kota Belud. The main road to the East Coast (Sandakan and Lahad Datu) branches off from this road at Tamparuli. Another main road heading southeast leaves the suburbs of Penampang and Donggongon towards Tambunan, Keningau and Tenom. Travel by private car to KK is quite popular with visitors from around Sabah including Sandakan and Tawau, Labuan, Miri and Brunei.

By bus[edit]

There are two long-distance bus terminals.

  • As of 2016, South Bus Terminal (Terminal Wawasan) is under construction and not in use. For destinations south of Kota Kinabalu, Beaufort, Sipitang and Lawas, each bus company has its own departure point, and it is best to inquire directly to the bus company, as not all hotels and locals has up to date information.
  • North Bus Terminal (Terminal Inanam), is in Inanam, 10 km to the northeast of the city centre. This terminal serves buses going north and east of Kota Kinabalu, including Mount Kinabalu, Sandakan, Semporna and Tawau. You can reach Inanam bus terminal with local buses 4 to 8. The price is 2RM and takes 20 minutes. As of 2016, The buses start in front of Shangri-La Hotel on Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, temporarily while Wawasan terminal is under construction. To catch the local bus from the terminal, get out of the terinal and walk to the left until large intersection, cross the road to the bus stop. Beware, if taking the bus before daylight, they will double the price!

From east and north Sabah[edit]

  • From Sandakan, it takes 5-6 hr. Several express bus companies operate buses between the Kota Kinabalu North Bus Terminal and Sandakan.
  • From Semporna, is very far so the distance to reach quite long and takes 9-10 hr. Ticket price ~45RM. Salesman often suggest a higher price (~75RM) to westerners, so it is worth to ask your local friends to buy tickets. Dyana Bus, leaves twice daily from Inanam station around 7:30AM and 7:30PM. Also Senex has VIP bus at the same times. Local bus 4 to 8 from Kota Kinabalu city to Inanam is RM2, 20 min, departs from bus station in front of Shangri-La Hotel on Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman.
  • From Tawau, ~9 hr, RM55. Several express bus companies operate bus between the Kota Kinabalu North Bus Terminal and Tawau.
  • Tung Ma Express ☎ +60 198827334
  • Andisba Express ☎ +60 881 3879 7779
  • Alitopan Express ☎ +60 881 3886 2348, +60 881 9863 4797, +60 888 976 7858. Bus from Kota Kinabalu at 7AM, 8AM, 10AM, 12PM, 2PM.
  • To/from Mount Kinabalu and Ranau 1.5-2 hr, RM25-35. All the above buses pass by the entrance of the Mount Kinabalu National Park, Kundasang and Ranau (for Poring Hot Spring). You can get off or board at these locations. You can also catch buses/minibuses doing the shorter run to Ranau. The journey from Kota Kinabalu to Mount Kinabalu should take about 2 hr.

From south[edit]

  • From Lawas:
  • Sipitang Express Bus Sdn Bhd [39] ☎ +60 88213722 or +60 168149332 runs one bus at 7AM daily from the City Centre bus terminal to Lawas in Sarawak. From Lawas, buses depart at 12:30PM The journey takes about 4 hr and costs RM20 one way.
  • Lawas Bus Company also operates an express bus daily to Lawas, departing Lawas at about 8AM and returning from Kota Kinabalu City Centre terminal at 1PM. Both buses go through Beaufort and Sipitang. You can also make the journey by minivans but you may have to change at Beaufort or even at Papar and Sipitang. Catch them from the minivan station opposite Wawasan Plaza. If you are continuing to Brunei, see Kota Kinabalu to Brunei in a day.
  • From Beaufort and Sipitang:
  • Sipitang Express Bus [40] departs the City Centre Terminal for Beaufort (1 hr 45 min, RM9) and Sipitang (2 hr 45 min, RM14) at 8:30AM, 12PM and 2:30PM. The 7:30AM bus to Lawas also goes through Beaufort and Sipitang. From Sipitang, buses depart at 8AM, 12PM, 1:30PM (bus comes through from Lawas) and 4:30PM and 1 hr later from Beaufort.
  • Lawas Bus Company's express bus between Kota Kinabalu and Lawas. Again, you can do this do this by minivans throughout the day, although they are more frequent in the morning. You may also have to change at Papar if you cannot get a direct minivan.
  • From Menumbok:
  • Sipitang Express Bus [41] runs two buses from the City Centre terminal to Menumbok where there are ferries to Labuan. They depart at 7AM and 1PM. From Menumbok, buses depart at 10:15AM and 3:15PM. One way tickets cost is RM14. Minivans also do the journey although you may have to change at Papar and Beaufort.
  • From Papar: Regular minivans run to this coastal town 38 km south of Kota Kinabalu.

From south-west interior[edit]

  • From Tambunan, Keningau and Tenom

Most public transport to this part of Sabah is by minibuses and vans which leave from the minibus station opposite Wawasan Plaza. Again, it's best to get started early. You should be able to catch a direct minibus from Kota Kinabalu to Keningau. Change there for Tenom.

By sea[edit]

A ferry from Labuan at Kota Kinabalu Ferry Terminal.

The only regular access to Kota Kinabalu by sea is from Labuan. The ferry service takes about 3 hours and there are two services from Labuan every day: 8.30am and 1.00pm. From Labuan, you can continue on to Bandar Seri Begawan in one day if you get an early start. A package ticket to Brunei costs RM56. See the Kota Kinabalu to Brunei in a day page for details. Ferries from Labuan docks at Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal on the northern edge of the city centre.

Kota Kinabalu is one of the port of call for many cruise ships passing through east Asia such as Queen Victoria, Queen Mary 2, Diamond Princess, MV Arcadia and SuperStar Virgo via cruise lines such as Cunard [42], Star Cruises [43], Princess Cruises [44] and P&O Cruises [45]. Cruise ships will usually dock at Kota Kinabalu Port north of Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal.

By train[edit]

Sabah State Railway [46] recommenced operations in February 2011 using new air-conditioned trains on a single 134 km route from Tanjung Aru station located south of the city centre to Tenom in the interior via Papar, Kimanis and Beaufort. Three trains operate daily running between Tanjung Aru station and Beaufort, where you change trains if you want to continue your journey to Tenom. Journey time between Kota Kinabalu and Beaufort is about 2 hr and the fare is only RM3.8. The train stops the following places: Kota Kinabalu (Tanjung Aru), Putatan, Kinarut, Kawang, Papar, Kimanis, Bongawan, Membakut, Beaufort, Saliwangan, Halogilat, Rayoh, Pangi and Tenom.

To get to the station, take frequent minibus from Terminal Wawasan destination to Putatan or Kepayan (#17) for 10 minutes ride. Tell the driver to stop at the station as not many people get off there.

Trains for Tenom run from Beaufort twice a day at 7:30AM and 13:30 PM, thus taking 7:45AM train from Tanjung Aru will make it for a full trip. Full details on the refurbished, train schedule are available online: [47]

For up to date schedule, call Beaufort station at (+60) 087-211518 or Tenom station 087-735514, especially taking train to Tenom as this line is subject to landslides during rainy season.

A leisure train service known as North Borneo Railway caters to tourists and uses an old steam train and designed to resemble trains in the colonial era. This is a joint venture project between Sabah State Railway and Sutera Harbour Resort. Currently trains only travel up to Papar. Tickets cost RM270 and RM170 for children and includes breakfast and lunch. Official website with information: [48]

Get around[edit]

Coastal drive along Kota Kinabalu

By foot[edit]

Downtown KK

The city centre is quite small, and you can walk from one end to the other in less than 30 min. Safely crossing the street can be an issue, but most streets are at least equipped with sidewalks. You can also walk to and from the airport (1-2 hr each way). Even the highways outside of town usually have a walking path or a wide grassy shoulder to walk on.


Ride-hailing companies such as Grab and Maxim are now available in Kota Kinabalu, which makes taxi-ride more pleasant and hassle-free.

For taxis, short fares are around RM10, longer trips around RM20. A whole day shouldn't cost more then RM300. Haggling is absolutely vital in order to get a fair price. Many taxi drivers in Malaysia are infamous for raising their fare prices, even after a price has already been determined by thorough prior negotiation. They frequently attempt to manipulate and deceive unknowing tourists by feigning ignorance and delivering tourists to the wrong hotels, which sometimes provide kickbacks to the drivers. Mentioning a call to the authorities may resolve the situation quickly.

Bus and minibus (van)[edit]

As of 2016, Wawasan Bus Terminal is under construction and not in use. Buses and minibuses towards south such as Putatan (airport), Tanjung Aru, Kepayan, Luyang, and Penampang leave from the long stretch in front of Waterfront Mall, (Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen, between Warisan Square and Parkson). And to the north such as Likas, Tuaran, Tamparulli, Inanam (north bus terminal) and Menggatal buses leave from Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, in front of Shangri-La Hotel. These two terminals are approx. 1/2 kms away. Inquire directly to the bus company for southbound long-distance buses, as currently no fixed depot for these buses.

The main depot for buses and minibuses from the city center to the suburbs such as Putatan, Tanjung Aru, Kepayan, Luyang, Penampang, Likas, Inanam and Menggatal is the Wawasan Bus Terminal opposite Wawasan Plaza. All buses coming in from the suburbs can only stop in this depot to avoid congestion in the city center. Bus fare is around RM0.50 to RM2.00 depending on the distance.

Wawasan Bus terminal also serves as a depot for long-distance buses towards south of Kota Kinabalu. A new southbound long-distance bus terminal has been planned for construction near Terminal 1, KKIA in Kepayan. North- and east-bound long-distance buses departs from the North Bus Terminal in Inanam, 25 minutes from the city center. There shuttle buses between these terminals.

To travel within the city center, the City Bus is used. The green and yellow City Bus departs from Wawasan Bus Terminal and circles the city center using 4 routes: Route 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B. City Bus fare cost RM0.50 and are quite frequent. However the conductor and driver often encourages more people to get on the bus until totally crowded before it leaves.

  • Route 1A: travels along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens until Jesselton Point and returns along Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Coastal.
  • Route 1B: travels along Jalan Coastal and Jalan Tun Razak and returns along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens.
  • Route 2A: travels along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman via Karamunsing and Jalan KK Bypass all the way to Sabah Trade Center in Likas and returns the same way.
  • Route 2B: travels along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman until the roundabout near Australia Place and returns the same way.

By Helicopter[edit]

BFA Borneo Flight Adventures arranges private helicopter and aircraft in and around (and over) the KK region.

Self drive[edit]

Road signs in Malay
Some road signs does not have English translations. Here are some of the important ones:

  • Awas - Beware or Danger
  • Kawasan Kemalangan - Accident-prone Area
  • Kurangkan Laju - Reduce Speed
  • Beri Laluan - Give Way

Cars can easily be hired on the spot from the hire car counters in the arrivals hall in the airport. Rates can be negotiated so compare the offers. Rental companies do not offer hand-controls for the disabled. There are also many car rental companies in the city:

  • Kinabalu Rent A Car, Wisma Sabah, Jln. Tun Razak, +6088-232602, [1].  edit
  • Kings Car Rental Services, Jln Murni, Tanjung Aru, +6088-878282, [2].  edit
  • Hertz Rent A Car, Kota Kinabalu International Airport- Terminal 1, +6088-413326 (), [3].  edit
  • Thrifty Car Rental, Kota Kinabalu International Airport- Terminal 1, +6088-413079 ().  edit
  • Best borneo Car rental, Kota Kinabalu International Airport- Terminal 1, +601110570862 (), [4].  edit

Road signages are prevalent throughout KK and Sabah. So driving within KK and towards other parts of Sabah is not difficult. There are however some signages which are only in Malay. Signboards in brown color indicates recreation / places of interest. Most major roads in the city are dual carriageways however highways leading towards other towns are mainly single carriageways which might put your overtaking skills to the test especially in hilly areas. Be very careful when overtaking and no overtaking over double lines. More information on Malaysian road signs: [49] or check out the Malay phrasebook.

Highways are sometimes marked according to their numbers. The following are some of the major highways from Kota Kinabalu:

  • Highway 1 (formerly A2): Highway heading south of KK towards Putatan, Kinarut, Papar, Kimanis, Beaufort, Kuala Penyu, Sipitang, Lawas, Brunei and Sarawak.
  • Highway 1 (formerly A1): Highway heading north of KK towards Telipok, Tuaran, Kota Belud, Kota Marudu, Pitas and Kudat.
  • Highway 22 (formerly A4): Highway heading east (from Berungis Roundabout, Tuaran) towards Tamparuli, Kundasang, Ranau, Telupid, Beluran, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Tawau and Semporna.
  • Highway 500 (formerly SA3): Highway heading east of KK towards Penampang, Tambunan, Keningau and Tenom

Motorbike rental[edit]

  • GG Rent A Motorbike [50] Provides scooters and semi automatic motorbikes for tourists at a price of RM20(5 hours) and RM40(whole day). They provide maps and plan your itinerary with you to maximise your schedule and minimise the time.
  • Borneoride [51] Explore Sabah with a tremendous experience by scooting around to all the attractive places. Full Day: RM85, 5 Hours: RM38, 1 week: RM75. Price includes helmet, raincoat, unlimited mileage, lock and mini storage.

By boat[edit]

There are speedboat services from KK to the islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu from Jesselton Point Jetty with regular departures to Manukan, Sapi, Gaya and other islands. Cost per person is between RM17 and RM40 depending on island. There are also departures from the Sabah Parks Jetty behind Wisma Merdeka and Sutera Harbour. There are also speedboats for charter where travellers can have the flexibility of time and destination.


Like most other Malaysian cities, Kota Kinabalu is a melting pot of various cultures. Almost all locals are able to understand and speak at least basic English. There is an emerging community of educated locals who are able to converse in fluent English and, Bahasa Melayu as their first language. As almost 50% of Kota Kinabalu's residents are of Chinese descent, visitors who speak Chinese will not encounter any language problems. The main dialect spoken by Kota Kinabalu's Chinese community is Hakka, but Mandarin and Cantonese are also widely understood and spoken. Unlike many other Malaysian cities with substantial Chinese communities such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang, the Hokkien dialect is not in common use among Kota Kinabalu's Chinese residents. In addition to English and Chinese dialects, Bahasa Malaysia (Malay) is also widely spoken, albeit with a distinct Sabahan flavour. Some residents also speak the languages of native Sabahan races such as Kadazandusun and Bajau, but these are not commonly used in daily conversation. Additionally, a small number of the younger generation speak limited Korean and Japanese.

See[edit][add listing]

Atkinson Clock Tower
  • Atkinson Clock Tower - Built in 1902 in memory of Francis George Atkinson, the first district officer of Jesselton, as Kota Kinabalu was then called. He died from malaria and a subsequent heart attack that year aged just 28. The tower is on a hill beside Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman.
  • The Signal Hill Observatory is a 10 minute uphill walk from the Atkinson Clock Tower and offers a good view of the city centre.
  • The Green Connection Aquarium [52] - The best place to see Borneo's aquatic wildlife without leaving the city. Particularly popular with children. Lots of things to see and do, including touching certain creatures like sharks and snakes or diving into a large tank and feeding the fish within it. Opportunities for interns & volunteers are occasionally available. 10 minutes outside the city centre by taxi (RM15-20).
  • Tanjung Aru Beach - Kota Kinabalu's most popular beach. Frequented by locals for strolls or picnics, especially on the weekends. There are many food stalls and a couple of bars. 10 minutes by car from the city centre.
  • Likas Bay Beach - Located along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, this smaller and less pretty beach is also popular among locals. There is a view to be had of ships anchored off the city's main port at Sepangar Bay.
  • Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park - A collection of 5 islands (Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik) just of the coast of the city. Travel by speedboat takes about 15-30 minutes depending on the island and departs from the Sabah Parks jetty behind Wisma Merdeka, from Jesselton Point Waterfront jetty and STAR Marina at Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa.
  • Double Six Monument - Located in Grace Point, Sembulan. * It is a memorial site on the location of a the 1976 plane crash which killed the state chief minister Tun Fuad Stephens and other state cabinet members. There is a nice new food court on site called Grace Point Food Court offering local Sabah, Malaysian, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Thai and other cuisine.
  • The northern coast of Kota Kinabalu contains undisturbed scenic geographical features including Karambunai and Dalit Beach and behind these beaches is a lagoon-type estuary containing Mengkabong and Salut rivers. The Lagoon Park in Karambunai could be a good place to start in order to explore this area as there are boat rides or jet-skis for rent. The Mengkabong water village is also an interesting sight to explore. Salut contains two popular seafood reastaurants situated by the lagoon/lake in Salut called Salut Seafood and Gayang Seafood. Nearby Borneo Kellybays offers various watersports and camping activities around mangrove forest, river and beach.
City Park, the only park within the city center.
  • City Park is a small park and the only park in the city center located opposite the court complex. It contains the British North Borneo Memorial which commemorates the soldiers who fought and died defending the British Empire during World War I. The memorial was built in 1923.
  • Kokol Hills in Menggatal offers a very nice view of Kota Kinabalu, the coasts and the sea from about 30 km away. The hills are pretty undeveloped but the road is good and new. As of January 2012, there is only one resort and restaurant called Kasih Sayang Resort. Kokol is also fast becoming a hotspot for paragliding.
  • Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in Lok Kawi is about 30 minutes south of Kota Kinabalu.
  • Inobong Visitor and Research Center perched 600m above sea level in Penampang is a Crocker Range Park substation and the nearest access to the Park from Kota Kinabalu.
  • Kinarut a small town 40 minutes south of KK contains quiet beaches, Pulau Dinawan, the 'sininggazanak' statues, and still existing wooden shophouses built around 1930s to 1960s.
  • Tambalang Racecourse is a horse-racing track operated by Royal Sabah Turf Club in Tuaran. Tel: 088-25 2705
  • Chinatown, also known as Gaya Street, is located in the city centre surrounding Gaya Street and Beach Street. There is a sunday market here and many chinese coffeeshops and restaurants. This area together with the adjacent area around Australia Place near the city police station has the highest concentration of budget hostels in KK. The name "Chinatown" is mainly a tourism gimmick after the arch gate was erected not more than after 2005, so many locals would not know what Chinatown is. Use instead "Gaya Street".
  • Tun Fuad Park, located on the eastern edge of the city (15 minutes drive from city center), is where the city meets the hilly jungles of Crocker Range. The park contains 2 restaurants, hawker centers, the Water World theme park, a lake and jogging track.
  • Perdana Park, an 18-acre new park in Tanjung Aru completed in 2011 featuring a light and musical water fountain, greenery, children's playground and jogging tracks. The park was built on the land formerly known as Hone Place where British government quarters stood. Fountain show starts at 7.00pm.
  • Petagas War Memorial, located about 10 minutes outside the city center, is dedicated to the 176 members of the Kinabalu Guerillas who attacked the Japanese occupying forces during World War II, in what was known as the "Double Tenth Revolt" (10/10/1943), who were subsequently detained and executed in Petagas.
  • Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre, formerly known as Kota Kinabalu Bird Sanctuary, is a 24-hectare mangrove conservation area used for recreation, education and research. It is located in Likas along Jalan Bukit Bendera Upper just 5 minutes drive from city centre (15 minutes walk from Signal Hill Observatory). The area is managed by the Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society. Tel: +6088-246955; Website: [53]
  • Sembulan Riverfront, located around the confluence of Sembulan and Karamunsing Rivers behind Sadong Jaya, is the latest urban feature in KK. Phase 1 nearing its completion stage as of April 2012.

Museums,galleries and libraries[edit]

  • Sabah State Museum located in Jalan Kebajikan, has 3 storeys of exhibits. A good placce to understand the history of Kota Kinabalu and Sabah. The museum complex also features the Science and Technology Museum, Sabah Art Gallery and a heritage village. Tel: +6088-253 199 [54]
  • Islamic Civilization Museum located behind Sacred Heart Cathedral and nearby the State Museum on Jalan Menteri has a history of Islamic civilization in Sabah. Tel: +6088-253 199
  • Science and Technology Museum located within the State Museum complex.
  • Sabah Art Gallery contains artworks by local artists. Also located within the State Museum complex. Tel: +6088 268798 [55]
  • Borneo Art Gallery located in Asia City Complex, contain art works by local and regional artists. Art works are for sale. Tel: +6088-280707 [56]
  • Sabah State Library (SSL), manages and operates most public libraries in Sabah. In Kota Kinabalu, SSL has a library between City Hall and the court (KK Regional Library), Suria Sabah ([email protected]; Level 4) and the State Library along Jalan Penampang near Luyang (biggest; SSL HQ; 10 minutes drive from city center). Tel: +6088 214828 [57]

Places of worship[edit]

Sabah State Mosque
  • Sacred Heart Cathedral, a Roman Catholic church located along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu and the cathedral is one of the largest in Sabah.
  • Sabah State Mosque - located on Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman in Sembulan is the largest mosque in Sabah. Its dome and minaret is decorated with real gold.
  • Puh Toh Tze Chinese Temple, located along Jalan Tuaran near Kolombong.
Kota Kinabalu city Mosque
  • Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, a 'floating' mosque located along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens overlooking Likas Bay is another major mosque in the city with interesting contemporary Islamic architecture.
  • Sri Pasupathinath Alayam Hindu Temple, one of two Hindu temple in the city. Located in Bukit Padang about 20 minutes drive from the city.
  • Sri Subramaniar Hindu Temple, a small south Indian-style Hindu temple located about 40 minutes away in Lok Kawi.
Che Sui Khor Pagoda
  • Che Sui Khor Chinese Temple, contains an interesting 12-tier pagoda and is part of the Moral Uplifting Society located along Jalan Tuaran at Mile 2.
  • Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple, the only Sikh Gurdwara in Kota Kinabalu. Located along Jalan Mat Salleh near Sembulan.
  • St. Michael's Church, located in Donggongon, Penampang, was built around 1940-1950s which still retains its old-style architecture.
  • Tzer Ying Buddhist Temple, a pure Buddhist temple located along Jalan Kolam Minintod near Bukit Padang.

Do[edit][add listing]

Scuba diving & snorkelling[edit]

Try dives, leisure diving, technical diving and snorkelling are all available from Kota Kinabalu.

Several interesting dive sites can be enjoyed as day trips from Kota Kinabalu with nearby World War II wrecks accessible for scuba diving. Some are in the 24-45 m depth range whilst other wrecks are only suitable for technical diving. Advanced and basic diver training courses are run from Kota Kinabalu by several dive centre operators.

Dive destinations[edit]

  • Usukan Bay near Pulau Mantanani, suitable for recreational diving. Located near the fishing port of Kota Belud 30 nautical miles north of Kota Kinabal these dive sites are ideal day trips from Kota Kinabalu. Boat trips north from Kota Kinabalu normally depart from Sutera Harbour Marina or Jesselton Point and take approximately 2 hr. These dives are only suitable for divers that already have PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or similar certification and some previous wreck diving experience is advised. There are three popular wrecks spread over a distance of about one kilometre lying 7 n.m offshore.
  • Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park offers many snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities between 20 and 30 min from Kota Kinabalu by boat. Dive operators depart from the Jesselton Point Jetty and Sutera Harbour Marina. Islands and beaches are beautiful, even though the water color is very green and not transparent. Underwater visibility can be an issue around the entire park, it sometimes drops below 3m due to dirty river water from Mt. Kinabalu by everyday-pouring rain. If you are used to snorkelling or diving in good visibility, better not try here.
  • The Gaya wreck lies in 50m of water within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park and is a 30 min boat ride from Kota Kinabalu. The wreck is thought to be that of the Japanese ship Nittetsu Maru.
  • Mayne Rock has large white boulders rising 7 m-15 m from the ocean floor and is surrounded by a coral reef.
  • Palau Tiga offers coral reef dives.

Dive operators[edit]

Pulau Manukan beach overlooking Pulau Mamutik is an ideal place for snorkelling and other beach activities.
  • Diverse Borneo, Lot G30, Ground Floor, Wisma Sabah, Jalan Tun Razak, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, 88000, Malaysia., +60128381630 (), [5]. Diverse Borneo provide daily scuba diving tours & guided snorkeling trips to Kota Kinabalu’s Marine Park. PADI Five Star Instructor Development Centre providing the best PADI diving courses around the world. As a PADI scuba diving training school & scuba diving instructor development centre, we provide scuba diving Kota Kinabalu PADI courses for non certified divers like the Discover Scuba & PADI Open Water Diver Course to professional level courses such as the PADI Divemaster & PADI Instructor Courses (IDC).  edit
  • Borneo Climb & Dive Sdn. Bhd., Lot 7-3F, 3rd Floor, Beverly Hills Plaza, Jalan Bundusan, 88300 Kota Kinabalu. Sabah, 60 88 739877 (, fax: +60 88 739877), [6].  edit
  • Scuba Junkie KK, G23a, Ground Floor, Wisma Sabah, +60 88 255816, +60 145618947 (, fax: +60 88 255816), [7]. 8:00AM-6:00PM daily. Scuba Junkie KK arranges daily dive and snorkel trips to over 15 Islands in the Kota Kinabalu (KK) area including the world famous KK Marine Park (Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park) which features 5 amazing islands including Gaya Island and Sapi Island. For the more adventurous we offer Whale Shark Dives in the blue and wreck diving as well! We also do all PADI dive courses from Discover Scuba Diver up to Instructor! SCUBA JUNKIE is a Multi Award Winning 5 Star Gold Palm IDC PADI Licensed Dive Operator.  edit
  • Borneo Dream, F-G-1 Plaza Tanjung Aru, Jl. Mat Salleh, 60 17 811 8149 (, fax: +60 88 244 931), [8]. A boat transfer service is available to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park for snorkelling or diving trips. Over 20 sites for diving and protected areas for snorkelling. Suitable for day trips. Goes to four of the main wreck dive sites on a regular basis. PADI Dive Boat, 10mx4m catamaran and a 9mx3m RIB, SDI resort dive centre, BSAC diver training centre, TDI resort dive centre and IANTD facility. Also offer SCR courses and training certified via the PADI with both a semi closed rebreather diver speciality course and closed circuit rebreather (CCR) training courses.  edit
  • Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures, Lot B-3-12, Kota Kinabalu Times Square, Jl. Coastal, +60 12 866 1935 (, fax: +60 88 485 300), [9]. PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre is based on Gaya Island in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. The dive centre offers learn to dive courses, advanced courses from PADI Advanced Open Water Diver up to PADI Master Instructor & PADI Course Director, snorkelling, sea kayaking and jungle trekking. 1 on multi-day diving in the TAR Park and diving Pulau Tiga. Island facilities caters to individuals, groups and corporate events. High staff-to-diver ratios with professional, highly trained & experienced staff and quality, regularly serviced gear and equipment.  edit
  • Sabah Divers, G27, Ground Floor, Wisma Sabah, +60 88 256483, +6 12 8339901 (, fax: +60 88 255482). 8:30AM-5:30PM daily. Provide SDI courses in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. Diving tours to popular dive destinations all over Borneo, such as Sipadan and Layang Layang. Tunku Abdul Rahman fun dive packages available departing Jesselton Point Jetty including equipment, boat transfers and 2-3 dives. No shower facility. Guests will be left alone to walk back to the office after TAR fun diving. Beware - they ask credit card numbers including cvc for advanced booking. Notorious for arrogant office staff.  edit
  • Sensi Borneo Diving Resort & Tours (Diving Live-Aboard Orient Explorer), +60 88 788 111, +60 17 402063 (), [10]. Provide scuba diving trips and PADI courses. Also operate the 796 ton, 56.6m motor yacht Orient Explorer as a live aboard and floating hotel off shore from Kota Kinabalu. Originally launched in 1943 it has a dive deck, passenger cabins including family cabins, luxury and economy cabins, a restaurant, bar, lounge and a sick bay. The dive services offer a full range of PADI scuba diving courses from open water, divemaster, technical diving and rebreather courses. Trips to the Usukan Bay wreck dives and many other dive sites are available.  edit
  • Go Aquatic, Lot 226, 2nd floor, Wisma Sabah, Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. (West Wing Wisma Sabah), +6088277775 (), [11]. 9AM to 5PM everyday. Go Aquatic is the new PADI 5 Star Dive Center at Kota Kinabalu. Book for scuba diving learning course, daily leisure dive trips or guided snorkeling trip to selected dive sites at Kota Kinabalu marine park.  edit

Deep sea fishing[edit]

Kota Kinabalu is also one of the best and cheapest places in Malaysia for exciting deep sea fishing trips. Boats depart from the makeshift jetty next to the Kota Kinabalu Central Market, the boats are to be found behind the small night market/parking lot.

Trips of all kinds can be arranged with the charter operators. Popular options include day trips that go for prices that start from around RM 2,000/boat and 2D/1N or 3D/2N trips (you sleep on the boat) that go from RM 3,000/boat. Most boats take around 10 persons per trip. Locals usually head to the Mengalum and Mantanani islands or near some oil rigs that are all a few hours away from Kota Kinabalu. Beginners can also opt for shorter trips to fish in a shipwreck off Gaya Island. For the very adventurous and advanced anglers, there are also several fishing competition held annually. The most popular one is the Labuan IGFA Competition which is usually held around the Layang Layang island (Swallow Reef) area. The trips for this competition last for almost 1 week and cost at least RM 15,000/boat.

The boats are mostly pretty rudimentary medium sized wooden fishing vessels, don't expect any luxury or too much comfort for those prices. Basic toilets are available on board, but you won't be able to shower for the duration of the trip. Basic meals are also usually available and included in the hire price. Rental of fishing equipment can also be arranged by most of the boat charter providers. Do ensure that life vests are provided for all occupants well before setting out.

If you want to check out the boats before you head out, just drop by the open air parking lot near the Central Market and Hyatt Hotel, most of the for hire fishing boats are parked there. You can also see some of the catch for yourself when the boats return from their trips at around 2PM. You will probably see more boats coming and going on Sunday or Monday.

  • Borneo Crystal Sdn. Bhd., + 60178603205 (), [12]. They offer private charters, diving trips , island/sunset cruises as well as deep-sea fishing tours on a 60ft American Sport Fishing Yacht. The boat is berthed in one of the most beautiful marinas in South-East Asia - Sutera Harbour Marina.  edit
  • 7 star fishing, [13]. A more expensive option but the website has some nice pictures and videos to give you a glimpse of what you can expect from a fishing trip in Kota Kinabalu  edit
  • Mr. K.K. Law, +60 16 826 4588 (). A budget friendly option popular with the locals. The boat owner himself will be happy to come on the trip himself or help you arrange for more people to fill up the boat if your group doesn't have enough people. From RM2,000.  edit
  • STAR Marina, +60 88 325999 (), [14]. 8:30a.m. to 5:30 p.m.. Managed by leading city resort Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, this facility offers a premium experience with 5-star service. Package is for minimum of 6 hours,for maximum 8 persons and includes boat charters with skipper, crew, towels, drinking water, hand lines, rods, reels, bait and fuel. Peppino restaurant, (At Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa). ☎ +60 88 327888. Kota Kinabalu's award winning fine dining Italian restaurant and winner of Malaysia Tatler's Best Restaurants. From RM400 per hour.  edit

White water rafting and sea kayaking[edit]

The nearest place for rafting would be in Kiulu River, Tamparuli, about 1 hour away from KK. The white water is classified Grade 1-2 which is suitable for beginners. A more adventurous rafting experience is Padas River near Tenom which is about 2-3 hours away from Kota Kinabalu. Padas is classified as Grade 3-4. There are many tour companies offering day packages for rafting in Kiulu and Padas and would normally include return transfer and meals. We were quoted 210-230RM per person (Feb 2017) for the Padas rafting day tour.

Sea Kayaking is possible from Tanjung Aru beach, a day trip will take you and your guide to some of the islands off the coast, where you can snorkel and swim, and back to the beach.

  • Borneo Wave Hunters, [15]. this specialized operator has all the necessary qualifications and will arrange a full package, including pick-up from your hotel, lunch, etc. If possible, request Edhar as your guide, he is one of the most experienced white water rafting and sea kayaking guides in town and a lot of fun.  edit

Wetland river cruise[edit]

Klias River is located within the Klias Wetland Mangrove Forest Reserve which is located near Kuala Penyu district about 1.5 hours away from town. The cruise offers visitors a chance to see various wildlife including the proboscis monkey and fireflies. There are also other river safaris nearby Klias in Garama and Weston which are also interesting in their own right albeit slightly further away from KK.

As of February 2017, prices for the wetlands tour (leaving 1pm, returning 9pm) are around 150RM per person and can be booked in the travel agencies in Wisma Sabah building or in your hotel/hostel.

Sailing and yachting[edit]

The main starting point for sailing or boating is in Sutera Harbour Marina which has 104 berths. Yacht charter is offered by North Borneo Yachting. Tel: +6088-318888 [58] Kinabalu Yacht Club in Tanjung Aru offer various boating activities. Tel: +6(088) 240070 [59]

Parks, walks and traditional village visits[edit]

  • Lok Kawi Wildlife Park [60]. Located near the small town of Lok Kawi a short distance south of Kota Kinabalu. It features Orang-Utans, Proboscis Monkeys, Gibbons, a Sumatran Rhinoceros, some tigers, local deer, various birds in a large aviary, elephants, and other animals. A reptile section will be opened soon. A good alternative to visiting the nature reserves around Sabah for those on a tight schedule, as well as giving you the chance to see the animals much more up close than you would in the jungle. Entrance fee: RM20 for adults, RM10 for children, half-price for Malaysians. It is a little difficult to get to as there is no public transportation that goes right to the park, and it is about 10 min drive outside of Lok Kawi (and about half an hour outside of Kota Kinabalu). Take a 17B or 17C bus to Lok Kawi town at RM3 a head, then a local taxi for around RM12-15 to the park. It is advisable to get the phone number of the taxi driver or arrange pickup from the park at a set time to go back to Lok Kawi as there are no taxis or buses at the park. Alternatively pay some RM80-100 to have a taxi take you there from Kota Kinabalu and back.
Hall of Skulls at Monsopiad Cultural Village
  • Monsopiad Cultural Village [61]. Located about half an hour south-east of town, this small park shows the traditional way of life of the Kadazan ethnic group and tells the story of Monsopiad, a Kadazan warrior who lived some 300 years ago and who killed 42 men who attacked his village. The 42 skulls can be viewed in the Hall of Skulls. Entrance fee is RM50 for adults, RM10 for children (prices for non-Malaysians). To get there you can hire a taxi from Kota Kinabalu and arrange to be picked up some hours later. The rate should be around RM80, or RM20 one-way. It is highly advisable to book a return pickup as you might end up stranded there.
  • Hike on Gaya Island From Padang Point (which can be reached by ferry from Jesselton point) you can hike about 4KM through the rainforest to Police Beach on the other side of the island. This takes about an hour and a half, as the path is not very well kept and has some steep sections and trees blocking your way, but it's very doable for experienced hikers. Police Beach belongs to Bunga Raya resort where you officially need to sign up at the reception as you arrive. However, it is very easy to sneak through and relax on the hammocks at the nearly deserted white sand beach. Make sure to schedule enough time to hike back so you don't miss your ferry.
  • Mari Mari Cultural Village, located near the jungles in Kianson, Inanam about 25 minutes northwest of the city center, showcases the culture and lifestyle of various indigenous groups of Sabah. Tickets cost RM100 - RM150. [62]
Pulau Gaya immigrant dwellings
  • Stilt villages, are houses found along the coast of ethnic Bajau, Suluk, Iranun, Malays, and Ubian people. Some villages are made up of people who have been here since 15th -18th century from Sulu Archipelago (now southern Philippines) who are considered natives under Sabah law. However massive influx if new migrants from this same region beginning 1970s have occupied these same villages mostly due to similar heritage and ethnicity as these local inhabitants. Some new migrants are illegal with no proper documentation. Illegal migrants would normally occupy deeper parts of these stilt villages in slums. These slums are significantly dirtier and dangerous since the people and their homes are illegal. Stilt villages can be found in Kampung Tanjung Aru, Kampung Sembulan, Kampung Kasuapan (Pulau Gaya) and Kampung Pondo (Pulau Gaya). Since there is no real boundary between a traditional stilt village and the slum, visiting these places is generally considered dangerous and very dirty and not recommended even for locals unless accompanied by tour guides. There may be stilt villages further out of the city such as in Mengkabong which are safer and cleaner. If you are interested in slums, perhaps some speedboat drivers in Jesselton Point Jetty who live in Pulau Gaya would be pleased to show you around their stilt village / slum for a little extra fee.


Likas Sports Complex is the main sporting venue in Kota Kinabalu and Sabah. The complex includes a soccer stadium and fields, hockey fields, badminton courts, tennis courts, squash courts, swimming pool, gymnasium, and many more. The complex also play host many local, regional and international sports event.

There are also many golf courses in Kota Kinabalu including the Sabah Golf and Country Club (18-hole) in Bukit Padang, Kinabalu Golf Club (11-hole) in Tanjung Aru, Sutera Harbour Golf Club (27-hole), Karambunai Golf and Country Club (18-hole) and Dalit Bay Golf and Country Club (18-hole). Driving range available in Lintas and Likas.

  • Golf Academy Borneo, 1st Floor, Likas Golf Driving Range, Jl. Istiadad, +60 14 334 3565 (), [17]. Private golf lessons with British PGA-accredited professional golf tutors, short game clinics, kids golf clinics and a Junior Programmes.  edit
  • b3 (bike, blade, and board). Skateboarding, Inline Skating and BMX stunts with extreme sports community group in Kota Kinabalu.  edit
  • Trinity Self-Defence, Lot 12 1st Floor Likas Plaza, Phase 1, Mile 4 1/2 Jl. Tuaran 8. Learn some self-defence skills at a Kota Kinabalu Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Gym classes include Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, CMB, Judo and Shootfighting. Experienced trainers. ([email protected]).
  • Ultimate (Frisbee), Tue & Thu: Likas Sports Complex field next to hockey stadium. Sun; Tanjung Aru Rugby Field (On the beach and field near KKIA Terminal 2 in Tanjung Aru), (). Tue & Thu: 7.30PM-9.30PM, Sun 4PM- 6PM. Frisbee for all ages and abilities. Show up with enthusiasm and a basic knowledge of Ultimate rules and enjoy a game with the Ultimate players of Sabah. Free. (5.94806,116.04941) edit



Nail Salon[edit]

  • Maniqure (Best nail salon in Malaysia), 4-1, Lorong Lintas Plaza 2, 88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. (Behind Hong Leong Bank, same row with Pizza Hut), [18]. Maniqure is the best nail salon in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia which offers nail care, manicure, pedicure, gel nails, beautiful nail art & bridal shower event. You will feel beautiful, comfortable with best services and friendly smiles from talented manicurist.  edit

Festival and events[edit]

  • City Run, annual marathon held around March or April.
  • Sabah Fest, organized by Sabah Tourism Board from 5 May to 7 May. Venue: JKKN Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
  • Harvest Festival, a festival celebrating the harvesting of paddy by the Kadazandusun people. Typically held during the end of May every year, one of the most popular venues to witness the celebration is in KDCA, Penampang. Events include "Unduk Ngadau" beauty peagant, cultural dances, food, and plenty of drinking.
  • Sabah International Dragon Boat Race, an annual sporting event held in Kota Kinabalu, in conjunction with the Duan Wu Festival, the dragon boat races, which is a Chinese tradition, has evolved over the years into one of Sabah’s prominent sporting events. It takes place in Likas Bay, local and international dragon boat racing teams paddle furiously on 21 & 22 June
  • KK Jazz Festival, Start: Wed, 21 Jun 2017 @ 14:00, End: Thu, 22 Jun 2017 @ 23:59, Venue: Covered Tennis Court, Sutera Harbour Marina, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
  • Sabah International Tattoo Convention, Every October, venue to be confirmed.
  • Christmas Celebration, annual event organized by Kota Kinabalu City Hall at Gaya Street.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Centre Point Sabah
  • Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market (Next to the waterfront). Formerly known as "Pasar Filipino". Synonymous with pearls, local handicrafts, home decorations and lately crystals. Don't forget to bargain for good prices. The attendants here are very friendly and will always greet you with a warm smile. You can also find souvenirs such as keychains, t-shirts with Sabah themes, carved wooden statues, batiks and sarongs, rattan handicraft and floor mats, Islamic calligraphy and broaches. Some of the items are imported from Austria and others from neighbouring Asian countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Korea, and there is little actual Sabah handicraft available, but it is a very colourful place that will stay in your memory as a 'souvenir' from Sabah.
  • Gaya Street Tamu, Kota Kinabalu's Sunday market with everything from Malaysian delicacies, ground coffee, t-shirts, handicrafts, hardware to anything in between at bargain prices. Held every Sunday morning, 6AM-1PM, along Jl. Gaya right in the heart of town.
  • 1Borneo Hypermall, the largest mall in Sabah and possibly the whole of Borneo. Located about 20 minutes drive from the city centre. There is a free shuttle bus from the city centre from Warisan Square.
  • Suria Sabah, located between Wisma Merdeka and Jesselton Point. The food court, located on the 4th floor, offers a nice view of the sea and Pulau Gaya. Shop consists of mainly branded goods compared to other malls in KK.
  • Imago Mall, the newest and most modern mall in Sabah located near Sutera Harbour. Mainly branded goods. Visitors can find themselves dive throughout the high end branded goods such as Guess , Coach , Kate Spade , Michael Kors and Charles & Keith
  • Wisma Merdeka, one of the oldest and smallest malls but still very popular.
  • Kompleks Karamunsing, an older but large mall specialised in computers and electronics.
  • Centre Point Sabah, a large mall adjacent to Asia City, Api-Api, Warisan Square and Sinsuran. First Malaysia Jollibee also opened there.
  • Jesselton Mall , a newly open mall besides Suria Sabah , under Jesselton Residences , a few high end store such as Giorgio Armani and Yves Saint Laurent will open.
  • Aeropod @ Tanjung Aru , SOHO , multi-storey building equipped with shoplot and aesthetics cafe such as COF cafe and World Travel Cafe . Aeropod also provided Airbnbs to travelers and railway station.

Eat[edit][add listing]

A 24 hours 'kedai kopi' with free WiFi.

Kota Kinabalu is a cultural melting pot. Here Chinese meet Malays and Bruneis, Javanese, Filipinos and even a couple of Europeans, all of whom have brought along their own cuisine. Try out the many specialties offered at the various kedai kopi (often in buffet form making it easy to order) and shun fast food chains.

For meals, head to the outdoor food stalls fronting the sea or coffee shops along the streets. The less adventurous could make a beeline for fast food outlets in the Centrepoint shopping centre while those with deeper pockets could try the pier-side restaurants just after the open air fish market. The promenade restaurants between the Filipino Craft Market and the fish market are poor value and only frequented by tourists. SEDCO Square is a popular hangout for dinner for tourists because of their wide selections of seafood. Their rates may be higher but the wide variety of fresh seafood available more than made up for it.


  • Suria Food Court, located on 3rd floor in Suria Sabah Shopping mall. Some 10 food counters with self-service concept of which one vegetarian, one Chinese and one Japanese at RM5-10. Get drinks from a separate drink counter. Eat inside or outside with great sea view. Last order at 9.15pm.
  • Sabah Restoran, a nice, clean restaurant in the center of town that offers buffet food for RM2-7 and good a-la carte dishes for about RM20. From Center Point, follow the main road (Jalan Pasar Baru) to the North and you'll find it on the right hand side, a few shops before the City Park.
  • Kak Nong, serves Malay/Malaysian food located in Harbour City opposite Sutera Harbour. The restaurant won the Sabah Tourism Award 2007 for the category Best Kopi Tiam.
  • Man Tai Restaurant - Known for Beaufort-style fried noodles.; also serves Chinese style a-la carte dishes. Located in Bundusan.
  • Pasta Pasta, a small shop serving quick, easy but tasty pasta. Priced less than RM 10 per dish, it is situated in Gaya Street.
  • Peppermint, a fast-food concept restaurant serving Vietnamese food. Try the spicy chicken rice and beef stew. They currently have 3 branches: Gaya Street, Asia City and Karamunsing Capital.
  • Pete's Corner, Located in Asia City in the heart of Kota Kinabalu. A breakfast place which specialises in steaks and other western dishes for RM10-18.
  • Salim Lintas Square. (Approximately 20 min drive from the city) Supper spot specialising in many local "mamak" foods and delicacies including the Malaysian roti styled bread, cooked over an open flat iron skillet which is bathed in oil. The meal along with a cup of Teh Tarik Madras would range at around RM5-8.
  • Restoran Taufik, located in Kampung Air (opposite Shell), serves cheap Javanese/Malay food such as soto (beef soup), bakso and rojak. More branches in Inanam and Putatan.
  • Yuit Cheong Coffee Shop, 悅昌, [63] 50, Jalan Pantai. Satay and cosy environment.

Kedai Kopi[edit]

  • Kah Hiong, specialises in "ngiu chap" (beef off cuts) noodles in soup. Offers a variety of beef parts such as beef brisket, stomach, stew, omasum, tongue etc. The main branch is in Kolam Centre (Hilltop) in Lintas.
  • Yu Kee's Bak Kut Teh, Located along the famous Gaya Street, its a Chinese operated restaurant that serves pork dishes for dinner time only (usually opens after 4pm until night time). A small single dish costs about RM4, soup top up is free. All types of pork meat and organs served with special Chinese herb soup.
  • Wah Juan, is popular for their "chu chap" noodles (noodles served with pork and pork innards). Located in Pekan Tanjung Aru facing the main road (Jalan Mat Salleh). Served only in the morning and finishes by 11.00am. The small restaurant is always crowded and patrons may need to wait for an empty table.
  • Fook Yuen, a nice, clean, modern looking kopitiam with self-service concept offering various types of food such as dim sum, pick-yourself dishes, nasi lemak, roti kahwin (bread, butter and kaya), etc. They have branches in Gaya Street, Karamunsing Capital and Damai (original branch). All branches serve halal food except Damai branch.


  • Borneo 1945 Museum Kopitiam,[64] No. 24, Jl. Dewan. (Under Borneo Backpackers). ☎ +60 19 883 3829. They serve the best coffee in town. Malaysian food is available. Great price for bike rentals to tour around city. It is also has a museum with a focus on the the Second World War on Sandakan Death March. Contains many pictures and antiques.
  • Choice, serving mainly Indian Muslim food as well as other Malaysian food. Their briyani rice is quite popular. Branches in Taman Millenium, Kepayan and in the city center opposite Wisma Merdeka.
  • Grazie Ristorante, Wawasan Plaza Complex, (Next to Tang Dynasty Hotel), ☎ +60 19 821 6936 [65]. An Italian restaurant. Serves no pork.
  • Jeff De Corner Grd Flr, Luyang Ph 6, Shophouse, approximately 15 min from the city. Dishes include lamb and beef steak, oxtail soup, lamb shank, BBQ lamb and the exclusive Wagyu beef steak. Please call for reservation. ☎ +60 19 8818427
  • Happy Vines, for a away-from-it-all private dinner, check out this closed-door restaurant. Nestled within the residential suburb of Penampang, just 20 minutes out of city centre. Their tagline is "French Culinaire, Asian Flair" invokes elegant dining with a delightful Asian twist that reminds that you are in Asia. Pre-booking is required via contacts on their own website found on Google search.
  • Hi Seoul, pretty good Korean restaurant in Likas Square near Sabah Trade Center.
  • Jothy's Fish Head Curry and Banana Leaf Restaurant, Api Api Centre. An eat with your hands restaurant. A chicken dish RM8, a mango lassie RM4. Fish head curry, fish cutlets, fried fish pieces, chicken nasi biryani, assam soup and dried bitter gourd. They'll bring you a spoon and fork if you wish. Ask for a banana leaf (for additional 50 cents) and eat with your hands. English menu.
  • Little Italy, the most popular Italian restaurant in Kota Kinabalu. Usually crowded during lunch and dinner by locals and foreigners. Operated by an Italian man. Located opposite Wisma Merdeka. ☎ +6088 232231
  • Kohinoor ☎ +60 88 235160, [66]. North Indian food by the waterfront. Claims to have invented the "Chicken Cheese Tandoori Tikka". Indoor and alfresco seating.
  • Mario's Pizza [67] 1 Borneo Hypermall, Jl. UMS. Mario's Pizza at 1 Borneo C-702 Lower Ground. Serve Italian pizza slice or Pizza al Taglio.
  • Nok Thai, located in Damai Plaza in Luyang, is perhaps the best Thai restaurant in Kota Kinabalu. ☎ +6088-538055
  • Pirates Rib Shack Diner [68]. In Asia City. Pork and lamb ribs, steaks, burgers and seafood, on Sunday they hold a weekly BBQ Pork roast.
  • Old Town White Coffee a modern kopitiam franchise from Ipoh with branches in Menara Jubili on Gaya Street, Karamunsing Capital and others. Popular for their 'hor fun' noodle soup, nasi lemak and, of course, their white coffee. The biggest kopitiam chain in Malaysia.
  • The Stonebridge Galley Provides all day English Breakfast.
  • Charles Cafe Halal food and drink.
  • Sushi Tei, a Singaporean-based sushi franchise with branches throughout Asia Pacific. Reasonably good food and price. Located in Ground Floor, Suria Sabah.
  • Tambayan at Kainang Filipino, a Filipino restaurant offering typical Filipino dishes such as lechon kawali, sisig, crispy pata, etc. Located in Block 3, Api-Api Centre. ☎ +6016-8182008
  • Tavern Kitchen & Bar, Lot G-93, Imago Shopping Mall, +60 12 586 0093, [19]. Uses ingredients native to Borneo including tuhau, buah tarap, bambangan and salted fish in their Western and local dishes. Daily entertainment include live band featuring famous local singer Esther Applunius, belly dancers, traditional Sabahan dancers, blowpipe performance, Argentine Tango and flair bartenders. Serves no pork.  edit


  • Ferdinand`s Italian restaurant, (At the Magellan Sutera Harbour Hotel). ☎ +60 88 303900. Italian restaurant an Sutera Harbour hotel, next to the international airport.
  • Nagisa, a Japanese restaurant in Hyatt Regency.


Seri Selera seafood foodcourt in SEDCO, Kampung Air.

Seafood in Kota Kinabalu is very popular, so getting a dose of it is a must. Here are some places to try:

  • Kampung Nelayan Floating Seafood Market Restaurant, ☎ +60 88 8823 1003. 10 min drive away from Kota Kinabalu city, this seafood restaurant is built within a botanical park/lake using Malay architecture. There is a nightly cultural performance with a fire show performed during the weekends.
  • New Gaya Seafood Restaurant, ☎ +60 88 8838 5020
  • Ocean Seafood Restaurant, Right next to the Promenade Hotel and Parkson Grand. The restaurant faces the coastline. You can take a pick on your seafood orders by the fishtanks, or if you prefer, you can let the waiters recommend at your table.
  • Portview Seafood Restaurant, There are 2 branches of this in Kota Kinabalu. One of them is opposite Centrepoint Shopping Centre, called The Waterfront. This one is quite new, a very popular place for tourists and orders can be taken either way similar to Ocean Restaurant. This restaurant is nestled amongst other popular nightlife hangouts, mostly bars and clubs, but also cafes like CoffeeBean. The other older one is in front of a pier.
  • Salut Seafood Restaurant, It takes about 20 min car journey from the city centre to Salut where the restaurant is located near the Sepanggar Bay and Telipok. It is a famous place for cheaper seafood dishes as the prawns are bred by the restaurant owner.
  • Sutera Rimba, 7PM-12 midnight.
  • Welcome Seafood, a popular new seafood restaurant with 2 branches in Asia City Complex and in the deep suburbs in Bundusan. Usually packed due to cheap price and decent food. ☎ +60 88 447 866 (Asia City)

Drink[edit][add listing]

Bar and cafes in KK Waterfront.

The main entertainment areas in Kota Kinabalu can be found in KK Waterfront (opposite Warisan Square) and Times Square. Other areas include Beach Street/Gaya Street, Jalan Datuk Salleh Sulong and Tanjung Aru (First Beach). There are also smaller bars concentrated in the areas of Inanam, Lintas, Donggongon and Penampang Baru. Types of drinking places popular in Kota Kinabalu are coffee shops (kedai kopi), cafes, normal bars, karaoke joints and nightclubs. Most nightclubs and some bars would have live bands performing almost everyday except mondays. Some karaoke joints have private rooms for big groups who prefer some privacy. Some nightclubs and karaoke bars have hostesses especially for male customers in exchange for buying them 'ladies drink'. Intuition would be needed if you need to look for or avoid these establishments as they are not explicit.

  • AruBa, a lounge / bar at First Beach Tanjung Aru has a nice environment facing the beach.
  • Cock & Bull Bistro [69], Winner of Best Entertainment Outlet awards for Night Spot Experience 3 times in a row (2005, 2007, 2009). Located on the waterfront facing the South China sea with cool sea breezes and a beautiful view of the sunset. Featuring a live band, 2 projector screens and an American pool table.
  • Shenanigan Fun Pub, Located at ground floor of the Kinabalu Hyatt Regency.
  • Shamrock Irish Bar, The Waterfront Lot 6. Pint of Tiger or Guinness RM20+. The usual Irish fare, with outdoor seating. Add 16% tax.
  • Sunset Bar, at Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort (STAR), one of the best places to drink and catch the sunset. Newly renovated chic style and quite expensive.
  • Chocolate Factory, a funky new club in Times Square with live band. Popular with younger crowds.
  • Cocoon Restaurant & Bar, One of Kota Kinabalu's most notable nightspots. It is a relaxed bar in the day and a lively bar/club by night, with the action carrying on into the small hours.
  • Bee Kim KTV , Sadong Jaya around Karamunsing area.
  • Strawberry KTV , Segama and Central market.
  • Bed. Located on the Promenade near the night markets. One room with a cover band, pool table and DJ.
  • BB Cafe, at Beach Street has an interesting setting under a huge canopy with occasional events.
  • Upperstar, a popular local dining and drinking joint with branches near Hyatt, Suria Sabah, Damai and Lintas.
  • Mynt Club, Lot 1D, KK Waterfront. is the premier party bar in Kota Kinabalu, if you are looking for a fun place to hang out then this is for you. They have one of the top and certainly the hottest live bands in town plus they bring in guest DJs on a regular basis, holding "specialty" events. Also enjoy their fantastic sunset views from the waterfront during happy hour.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

This article or section does not match our manual of style or needs other editing. Please plunge forward, give it your attention and help it improve! Suggested fixes: None specified. Please use the article's talk page to ask questions if you are not sure why this tag was added and whether it is safe to remove it.

Kota Kinabalu has accommodation in all price brackets. For lodgings on and around Mount Kinabalu, see the Mount Kinabalu article.


  • Akinabalu Youth Hostel, Jl. Gaya. Two computers with free internet access, TV and DVD, and free breakfast. Safe and clean with friendly staff. Private double bed (fan) - 2 pax RM 70.00 /room/night, Private double bed (Air con) - 2 pax, RM 80.00 /room/night, Dormitory bed (fan) RM 25.00 /person/night, Dormitory bed (Air con) RM 30.00 /person/night
  • Asia Adventure Lodge, ☎ +60 13 8929995, [70], ([email protected]). Smaller hostel with a friendly family feel located right in the heart of town next to Internet cafe, banks, travel agents, supermarkets and nightlife, plus the colorful and deliciously diversified Sunday Market. Free WiFi. Dorms RM22 with fan, or RM27 with A/C; A/C singles/doubles RM40/RM58.
  • Borneo Backpackers, ☎ +60 88 234009, [71], ([email protected]) Located in a historical area of Kota Kinabalu called 'Australia Place', or Lorong Dewan, Borneo Backpackers is a short walk to all the main attractions of the city. Under a new management since August 2014, the hostel's private rooms, dorms and common lounges have been given a lot of love, and refurbished to make it one of best hostels to stay in town. Breakfast and towel are provided in the daily rate. Filtered drinking water, coffee & tea is available all day long. All private rooms and dorms are air-conditioned, and other facilities include Wi-Fi, common toilets and showers, pantry/kitchen area, roof deck garden, 24hr security and a travel desk by Sticky Rice Travel for travel info or other bookings. There is also a newly-opened cafe on the ground floor called Biru Biru Cafe that is open from 8am til late that offers a local-western menu consisting of light snacks, pastas, local dishes such as nasi lemak, fried rice and refreshing drinks. It also does happy hour. Rates at the hostel Dorms 35RM/Single 60RM/Double 80RM They also extend a loyal customer discount for returning guests who book directly with them.
  • Borneo Global Backpackers, ☎ +60 88 270976, ([email protected]), [72]. Located in the city of Kota Kinabalu with Double, Twin and Bunker room - common bathroom with complimentary breakfast. Provide fast speed broadband WIFI with 5MB upload and price range from RM 15.00 per person to RM 60.00 per room.
  • Borneo BeacHouse Backpackers, ☎ +60 88 218331, ([email protected]), [73]. Fairly shabby hostel located near Terminal 2 and a fairly nasty beach. Located far outside the city. Staff are friendly but not very knowledgeable. Only worth staying at if you have an early flight or are in transit, or if you don't mind dirty sheets and broken toilets. Located near some hawker stalls where you can get cheap Malay food for RM5-6. 4 bed dorm RM20.
Sunday Market in Gaya Street (Chinatown). Many budget accommodations in this area.
  • Borneo Gaya Lodge, Gaya St. ☎ +60 88 242477. [74], ([email protected]) Nearby to Sunday street-market in central of Kota Kinabalu. First opened 2008. New bed sheet and towel, free hot & cold drinking water, free breakfast of toast and jam. Spacious carpeted living area with LCD TV (AstroChannel), WiFi, books and a small kitchen with refrigerator. No curfew and 24 hr security with CCTV and computerized door lock. Rates for fan and A/C rooms start from RM25 per bed. Private dorm, twin/double bedroom and family room with common toilet are available, also twin/double and family bedroom with private toilet. Online bookings available. Friendly staff. Tour information available. Dorm beds have a double mattress.
  • Century Hotel Inanam, ☎ +60 88 380222. Located next to the Inanam Bus Terminal (North) Inanam. Spacious rooms, with TV and hot shower provided. 15 min drive from the city centre. Varieties of food and beverage nearby the hotel.
  • City Inn, 41 Jl Pantai. 60RM for a single room (Oct 2012) with HW, AC, TV and WIFI. The entrance is in the back of Pantai. Very central, cheapest en-suite room in the area.
  • Globetrotters Lodge, (Formerly New Horizon), ☎ +60 88272796, ([email protected]), [75]. Small, opposite British Council, just off Gaya St, street market every Sun morning, lots of cheap restaurants, banks nearby.
  • Hamin Lodge, ☎ +60 88 272008 [76], ([email protected]). Boutique budget hotel in the heart of Kota Kinabalu City. Borneo tour packages, traditional massage, spa, restaurant and bar. Full A/C. Budget hostel rooms suitable for backpackers to deluxe rooms with en-suite.
  • Hotel Holiday, ☎ +60 88 213116 / +60 16 8462088 / +60 16 8382662, [77]. Budget hotel in the city centre. 1Mb WiFi, laundry, friendly staff. Room with A/C and private bathroom. Standard RM95, deluxe RM105, family room RM130.
  • Hotel Sadong 88, Lot 4, 5&6, 1st-3rd Floor, Block A, Sadong Jaya,Karamunsing, +60 88 268699 (). Single RM55, twin RM77, family room RM98.  edit
  • Kinabalu Backpackers, ☎ +60 88 253385, email. [email protected], [78]. Centrally located in Australian Place. All rooms have A/C. Free breakfast, free coffee or tea all day and free WiFi, airport pickup service. RM25, doubles (sleeps 2) for RM65/night.
  • Lavender Lodge, ☎ +60 88 217119 , (Fax:+60 88 218077), [79]. Hotel in the CBD and in short walking distance to shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment outlets. Clean and comfortable rooms, friendly staff
  • Lucy Backpackers (Lucy's Homestay), Lot No.25, Lorong Dewan, Australia Place, +60 88 261495, [20]. Look behind a stamp-makers shop for this nice little house with two dorm rooms available at a competitive rate. B&B. Friendly owner, friendly cat. Free, secure WiFi. Nice and central. Safe lockers available. Dorm: RM23/single: RM48/double: RM58. (5.983213,116.077833) edit
  • Megah D’Aru Hotel, No. 2, Jl. Kinabalu, Tanjung Aru township (In the heart of Tanjung Aru Township), +60 88 239666 (), [21]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12 noon. Less than 5 min drive south of Kota Kinabalu city centre, and north of the Kota Kinabalu International airport. 72 rooms. RM128-RM188.  edit
  • North Borneo Cabin ☎ +60 88-272 800, 74 Jalan Gaya, Pusat Bandar, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Possibly the best of a bad bunch when it comes to hostels in Kota Kinabalu. Free computer with internet, free wifi, free towel, competitive prices on tours. Dorms from 25RM, but suggest you pay the extra 5RM/night for the a/c dorm upstairs, the fan dorm can get a bit smelly.
  • Stay In Lodge, Gaya St, ☎ +60 88 272986, [80]. Where the famous street market is held every Sun. Clean and comfortable. Dorms with fan for 20RM and 25RM with AC.
  • Step-in Lodge, ☎ +60 88 233519, [81]. Painted in a zany combination of purple and bright green, this is a cozy little hostel in the middle of the city, with very friendly staff. Toilets and shower stalls are immaculate. From RM25 per person for a dorm, A/C double RM80, including a simple continental breakfast.
  • Summer Lodge, [82]. Convenient central location with a nice lobby, free WiFi, free breakfast, and very helpful staff. Clean, decent bathrooms, however dorm rooms leave a bit to be desired (cramped, bed frames falling apart). All rooms have A/C. RM30/night mixed dorm; RM35/night male or female only, plus private rooms.
  • Tropicana Lodge, From RM25 per person
  • Travellers' Light Backpackers Lodge, [83], Two computers with free WiFi, TV and DVD. Safe and clean with friendly staff. CCTV, large free lockers, open 24 hr. RM24 for dorm room with fan and shared bathroom.
  • Tune Hotel - 1Borneo, Kota Kinabalu, [84] No-frills hotel located within 1 Borneo, East Malaysia's largest shopping complex. Far from city but free shuttle bus is available daily. Online booking only. Rate might as cheap as RM1++ but understand that all requirements provided are likely to be charged as extra costs.
  • X-plorer Backpackers, 1st Floor, 106/108, Jl. Gaya, +60 88 538780 (, fax: +60 88 538781), [22]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 1PM. Near Gaya Sunday morning street market. Reservations can be made by phone, online or by SMS text message to mobile phone ☎ +60 128399328. Complimentary breakfast, free WiFi, all rooms are A/C. Dormitories for 25 RM, private rooms, family rooms available. Some en-suite rooms with attached bathrooms were recently upgraded. From RM25.  edit
  • Hotel Kotajaya and Back Packers, ☎ +60 88 222715, [85]. (Sinsuran Complex), Short distance to Centre Point, Api-Api Centre, Kompleks Asia City and waterfront bars. Budget rooms with private bathroom are available. Friendly host.
  • Impiana Mutiara Hotel, No.12, Jl. Perpaduan, Kampung Air, +60 88 231991 (), [23]. Budget hotel with 27 rooms. Every room comes with an attached bathroom with hot and cold shower, individual A/C and TV with cable channels. Reservations can be made online. Promotional rates from RM65.  edit


  • Kokol Haven Resort, 10 km Jalan Kokol Poring-Poring, 88450 Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, +60 88-412 284, [24]. Situated in Kota Kinabalu in the Sabah Region, 15 km from Filipino Market Sabah, Kokol Haven Resort boasts a children's playground and views of the sea. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant.  edit
  • King Park Hotel, Jl. Masjid Lama, Bandaran Berjaya, +60 88 270500 (), [25]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12 noon. Clean, 14-storey 3 star hotel. Panoramic views of the city and Tunku Abdul Rahman Park from the upper floors. Online reservations available. RM128-RM198.  edit
  • Myne Hotel, Lot 21, 1st Floor, Block A, Warisan Square, Jl. Tun Fuad Stephens (Hotel reception is on the 1st floor of Warisan Square shopping paradise), +60 88 448787 (), [26]. New 5-storey boutique hotel with 72 rooms. Online reservations. Waterside location. LCD TV, AstroTV, IDD phone, free WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities, room safe. RM150-RM480.  edit
  • Promenade Hotel, Sdn Bhd. ☎ +60 88 265555, (fax:+60 88 246666). 451 rooms, swimming pool, gym, beauty salon and health spa. 2 restaurants specializing in local and Asian cuisine, 2 cafes, lobby lounge, promenade floor lounge and a karaoke bar.
  • Grand Borneo Hotel (Formerly Mercure Kota Kinabalu), Grand Borneo Hotel, ☎ +60 88 526888, ([email protected]), [86]. 325 rooms. Part of the largest mall in Sabah, 1 Borneo Hypermall; an entertainment complex with over 400 stores of leisure, entertainment and culinary delights.
  • Novotel Kota Kinabalu 1Borneo, 1Borneo Hypermall, Jl. UMS. ☎ +60 88 529888, ([email protected]), [87]. Part of 1 Borneo Hypermall, the largest mall in Sabah. 263 rooms, an outdoor pool and jacuzzi on the 7th floor and a business centre.
  • The Palace Hotel (formerly Berjaya Palace Hotel), 1 Jl. Tangki Karamunsing, +60 88 211911. Blends old architecture with modern facilities. Hilltop location, 15 min drive from the airport.  edit
  • Jesselton Hotel, 69, Gaya Street. ☎ +60 88 223333, (Fax:+60 88 240401 [email protected]) Jesselton was the initial name for Kota Kinabalu during the British colony. Boutique hotel built in the early 1920s. Hotel has their own limousine, a imported British cab.
  • Kasih Sayang Health Resort, Kokol Hill, Menggatal, +6088 246 404, [27]. Located 45 minutes east of the city center at 2,400ft above sea level offering nice view of the city and Mount Kinabalu. There is a spa and conference facility but nothing much in the vicinity but jungle and some houses. Nearest town is Menggatal 15 minutes drive downhill. RM130-RM250.  edit


  • Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Jl. Datuk Salleh Sulong (In the city centre), +60 88221234 (), [28]. Recently renovated 5-star resort hotel. Good for business people who just want to eat, sleep and work. This hotel has an impressive choice of restaurants and a coffee shop serving Malaysian food, a Chinese restaurant with 'dim sum' or 'yum cha', a Japanese restaurant with teppanyaki and a fresh bakery. Close to shopping centers, fast food outlets and cafes. The oxtail was rumored to be so delicious that the Prime Minister Mahathir (during his former tenure), reportedly flew over just to eat it! From around US$100.  edit
  • Bunga Raya Resort, located in Pulau Gaya facing away from the city, is one of the few luxury resorts in Malaysia. Rates range from RM1,700.00 to RM8,000.00 per night. ☎ +6088 380390
  • Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu, Jl. Tun Fuad Stephens, ☎ +60 88 322222. 306 rooms. Gym, sea-view pool. Next to Centrepoint shopping complex.
  • Nexus Resort Karambunai, (30 km northeast of Kota Kinabalu). 485 rooms, 8 restaurants, golf course, spa. ☎ +60 88 411111
  • Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort [88]. 5 star resort located on a 3KM stretch of private beach at Dalit Beach, 18 hole golf course and excellent kid's club. A resort suitable for families, with pools and good water slide equipment and water-sports activities. Taxi ride from RM90 for 40 min from the airport or RM30 resort-scheduled airport shuttle bus (pre-arrangement with resort is needed).
  • Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort ☎ +60 88 225800, [89]. An older, grand and comfortable 5 star hotel. The rooms in the old wing are confined inside the building and look out to the pitch-and-put golf course. A tiny jungle is built in the middle of the corridor leading towards the rooms of the old wing and the rooms there are larger than the new wing. The new wing overlooks the sea or the swimming pool and is a bit more secluded for those who enjoy lazing out in the sun. A taxi ride from the Terminal 2 is about RM30, but to the city centre is RM15. Shuttle from the airport to the hotel is available upon request. The buffet includes a ginormous variety of cuisine, including (but not limited to) Malay, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Western, with an extremely high standard.
  • Sutera Harbour Resort (Includes the 5* Pacific Sutera hotel and the 5* Magellan Sutera resort hotel (formerly Pan Pacific)), Sutera Harbour Blvd, Kota Kinabalu (A RM12 taxi ride to town, or a 20 min walk (if you're in good shape)), +60 88 318888 (fax: +60 88 317777), [29]. 27-hole golf course, fully equipped marina, 2 spas, squash, badminton and tennis courts and various other sport and leisure activities. The rooms are of a high quality with either a sea view, a golf course or a Mount Kinabalu view at the Pacific Sutera. The Magellan Sutera has views of the garden or a sea-view. You can easily book trips to the islands, starting at RM35. The Magellan has an awesome buffet style breakfast included in the room rate. Enjoy freshly made roti and omelettes. The resort has a shuttle bus costing RM3 per person per way, going to town every hour until 9PM. Cross-signing facilities mean that if you stay in one hotel, you have access to the entire resort. An internal shuttle takes guests between the properties, the marina and the golf club. From RM 400.  edit

Stay Safe[edit]

Warning! There is some organized crime found around Kampung Air street, near the night market/shell petrol station/Maybank and close to Gaya Street. They are using attractive young girls (Philipino or Indonesian) as bait to bring you to their trap (room) at a shop house nearby where they will rob you. Actually this massage or sex scam has beeen around since 2009 and the police provide no help. An insider source said the a few police officers also are part of the organization. If you go to make a police report at the nearest police station, the police there will not seemed surprised about the crime. They will simply pretend to help you to get back some of the money stolen. They will not encourage you to make a police report.

Kota Kinabalu is safe by Malaysian standards. The crime rate is lower than in the likes of Kuala Lumpur or Johor Bahru, or any city of similar size in Peninsular Malaysia. Violent crime is rare, and it's generally safe to roam the streets at night, though it is best for women to remain alert. It is advisable to avoid walking alone at night if possible.


The telephone country code for Malaysia is +60 and the area code for fixed-line telephones in Kota Kinabalu and for most districts in the the west coast of Sabah (including Papar, Kota Belud, Ranau and Kudat) is 088. Mobile phone numbers normally begins with 01x throughout the country. If a telephone number is not displayed in international format, such as "088-222222" or "012-222222", simply add "+6" before the number, eg: "+6088-222222" and "+6012-222222". The zero need not be repeated.

WiFi is available in most lodgings. There are also internet cafes (aka cyber cafe) in most places.


The following countries have set up consulates in Kota Kinabalu. For other countries, you will need to contact the relevant embassy in Kuala Lumpur, except for Dutch citizens for whom the nearest consulate is in Miri. China has recently set up a consulate in Kota Kinabalu; the contact details of this consulate will be added as soon as they are made available.

  • As-flag.png Australian Consulate, Suite 10.1, Level 10, Wisma Great Eastern Life, 65 Jl. Gaya, Kota Kinabalu, +60 88267151, [30].  edit
  • Bx-flag.png Bruneian Consulate, Grace Square, Kota Kinabalu, +60 88 236 113. Moved from Menara MAA in the city to Grace Square next to Grace Park in Sembulan.  edit
  • Ch-flag.png Consulate General of the PR of China, Lot 7, No 3, VIP Lot, Lorong Pokok Palma Rajah, Jalan Lintas,88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, (+60) 88 385481 (, fax: (+60) 88 385491), [31]. Monday-Friday:09:00-12:00;14:00-17:00 Saturday, Sunday & Public Holiday: Closed.  edit Visa Office, Lot 10, No 3, VIP Lot, Lorong Pokok Palma Rajah, Jalan Lintas, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, (+60) 88 385481 (, fax: (+60) 88 385471), [32]. working day: 14:30 - 16:30 hr.  edit
  • Fi-flag.png Finnish Consulate, c/o Uli Motors SDN BHD, Jl. Miniyak, Off Mile 5.5, Jl. Tuaran, Kota Kinabalu, +60 88 431336, +60 88 431337.  edit
  • Fr-flag.png French Honorary Consul, Mrs Feona Jinu, +6(0)15 484 02 797, [33].  edit
  • Id-flag.png Consulate General of Indonesia, Lorong Kemajuan, Karamunsing, Kota Kinabalu, +60 88218600, +60 88218258, +60 88 218518, +60 88 219110.  edit
  • Ja-flag.png Consulate General of Japan, Wisma Perindustrian 18F, Jl. Istiadat, Likas, Kota Kinabalu, +60 88 254169.  edit
  • Sw-flag.png Honorary Consulate of Sweden, Jl. Minyak off Jl. Tuaran, Mile 5 1/2, Inanam, Kota Kinabalu, +60 88 431336.  edit
  • Uk-flag.png United Kingdom Honorary Consul, Mr Robert New, (+60) (88) 251 775 (fax: (+60) (88) 237 214), [34].  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Labuan - A Federal Territory noted for its duty free status, offshore banking activities and diving opportunities.
  • Kinabalu National Park - The eponymous mountain within the park is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea, and is located 100km east of Kota Kinabalu. Home to many endemic species of flora and fauna. Arguably Borneo's most well-known ecotourism destination.
  • Kundasang - Small town located on the fringes of Kinabalu Park. Popular with locals during weekends and holidays, who come for the cooler temperature and to purchase vegetables and temperate decorative plants.
  • Kuala Penyu - Located about 2 hours' drive southwest along the coast. Notable for the Klias River (where boats can be hired to observe proboscis monkeys and fireflies), Pulau Tiga (filming site of the first series of the TV show "Survivor") and Menumbok jetty (from which there are ferries to Labuan capable of transporting vehicles and foot passengers).
  • Kota Belud, Kudat and Tambunan - A non-exhaustive list of quintessentially Sabahan countryside towns reachable within 2 or 3 hours by car from Kota Kinabalu.
  • Maliau Basin - Touted as Sabah's "Lost World", this area is said to host some of the oldest undisturbed rainforest in the world. Located deep in the interior of Sabah.
  • Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Tawau and Semporna - These cities on the east coast of Sabah are gateways to some of Sabah's major natural attractions, such as resort islands, coral reefs and national parks. All of them have have flights to Kota Kinabalu, except for Semporna.

Create category

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!