The state of Sabah, Malaysia, on the northern part of Borneo is famous among tourists around the world for its eco-tourism. There are so many to do here, ranging from diving around oceanic island to exploring the colorful marine life, snorkeling in crystal clear waters, climbing one of the highest mountain in South East Asia, jungle trekking in the dense virgin rain forest or just simply exploring and experiencing the people here, which comprises people from different cultural and ethnicity and of course, this also means tasting of varieties foods that you may not be able to enjoy anywhere else.
Kota Kinabalu (used to be known as Api-Api and Jesselton) is the state capital of Sabah. The state’s only International Airport is located here so if you’re visiting Sabah from other countries, most probably you will drop by at this city. The city itself has a lot to offer and in case your time of visiting is limited, why not consider the top 5 most visited places in Kota Kinabalu listed below.
- Kinabalu Park
They say if you have not seen Mount.Kinabalu (one of the highest mountain in South East Asia, you have not being to Sabah). The mountain itself is located in Kinabalu Park, a protected national park and also Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO back in December 2000. Situated about 1,500m above sea level, Kinabalu Park covers an area of approximately 750 square kilometers and is surrounded dense rain forest and houses approximately 4,500 species of flora and fauna, some of which are endemic to this area. Kinabalu Park is also the place where climbers begin their journey to the summit of Mount Kinabalu. The park has a botanical garden that showcases specimen of plants growing in the park, visitor centre that showcases reptiles and insects specimen as well as several forest trails for nature explorer too.
To get here, one can opt for a taxi ride or if you’re looking for a cheaper way, you can hop onto Sandakan, Lahad Datu or Tawau bound expresses buses stationed at Inanam Bus Station Terminal. Alternatively, you may opt to purchase tour packages that include Kinabalu Park from local tour agents**.
2. Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is one of the 2 only marine parks in Sabah. The park is comprised of 5 islands located just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu city, namely the island of Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik and Sulug. Tourists are attracted to the islands because of their white sandy beaches as well as their crystal clear waters, suitable for snorkeling and diving activities. Other water based activities are also available such as Sea walking, Banana boating, Flying fish, Parasailing and Jet skiing, just to name a few.
To get to the islands, one will have to drop by at the Jesselton Point Jetty, which is located at the city centre of Kota Kinabalu. The jetty serve all boat services to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park islands and ticket price varies depends on the number of islands you are visiting ranging from RM35/Adult or RM30/Children for an island visit to maximum RM65/Adult or RM45/Children for 4 islands visit.
3. Gaya Street Sunday Market.
Markets are readily available anywhere in Kota Kinabalu but the one famous one that you should not miss is the Gaya Street Sunday market. As it’s name implies, it only opens on Sundays and is located along the Gaya Street in Kota Kinabalu. Gaya Street was previously known as Bond Street and the area has being the center of businesses for over a hundred of years. Among items available for sell here include handicrafts, local delicacies, fruits, clothing, plants and even arts, just to name a few.
Admission is free to this market is free. As mentioned earlier, it opens on Sundays and starts from 6.00am to 1.00pm.
4. Mari Mari Cultural Village
As the name of the place suggests, the village showcases the cultural of 5 main indigenous tribes in the state of Sabah namely the rice farmer Kadazan-Dusun, the long house resident of Rungus, the hunters and fisherman of Lundayeh, the cowboy and sea gypsies of Bajau and the feared head hunting tribe of Murut. The main purpose of the cultural village being set up was to share the knowledge, history, cultural, and tradition of Borneo. Visiting here, you will be guided by a local in-house guide who will be explaining the cultural and lifestyles of different tribe as well as demonstration of traditional dances and games performance. The village is located about 15 minutes drive away from the city center and sits in the deep countryside near the Kiongsom waterfall. There are 3 sessions of tours available: 10.00am, 2.00pm and 6.00pm.
Packaged tour is available from major tour agencies around Kota Kinabalu or if you don’t mind, you can pick our tour package here too.
5. Kawa Kawa River Cruise
Of course the famous Wildlife Kinabatangan River Cruise is located in Sandakan which is about 6 hours drive time from Kota Kinabalu but if you do not have the luxury of time visiting there, there are a few so called ‘mini’ wildlife river cruises and one of the most visited ones being the Kawa Kawa River Cruise. The cruise brings you to discover wildlife such as the famous Proboscis Monkey, Macaques and Egret, along the mangrove river that leads to the South China Sea in Kota Belud. Because of it’s proximate location to a beach nearby, guest also get to see the beautiful sun set after their river cruise before proceed to have traditionally prepared dinner. A second river cruise will commence to discover fireflies along the same mangrove river, which often amazed visitors with large swamp of harmless blinking fireflies surrounding them.
So there goes the 5 listed must-visit places in Kota Kinabalu. Please leave your comment below of let me know if you think there are other places that I should list here too.
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** Always make sure you are dealing with legitimate/legal local tour agents which are all listed under Sabah Tourism Board.