Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton, has risen from a small fishing town to Sabah’s booming commercial capital city. Luxurious commercial malls dot their landscapes, and in a few years, a new cultural scene will take the main stage. Despite this, Kota Kinabalu remains one of the most versatile vacation destinations, catering to the diverse demands of all tourists, from families to business travellers to adventurers.
Introduction to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Kota Kinabalu has wonderful scenic features, one of the best sunsets in the world, great restaurants, beautiful beaches, and is home to the spectacular Mount Kinabalu, not to mention the hospitality of the Sabahan people.
Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Malaysia’s Sabah state, located in the northern section of the island of Borneo. It is a seaside city that is partly surrounded by jungle and is sometimes referred to as Kota Kinabalu.
Kota Kinabalu is named after Mount Kinabalu, which is located about 50km northeast of the city and is Malaysia’s tallest mountain. KK is also the largest city in Sabah and the main entry point to the island of Borneo.
Since Islam is the most widely practised religion, Malaysia is generally conservative. You may rest assured that most cities are liberal, so you should have no trouble wearing shorts (and, besides, they would understand because you are a foreigner). However, it is preferable not to expose too much skin using revealing clothing or other means, especially while visiting rural areas.
Brunei Malays, Bajau, Chinese, Kadazandusun, and immigrants from Indonesia and the Philippines make up the population. Other than that, Malay, Mandarin, Cantonese, English, and Hakka dialect are the languages spoken on the island. But there’s no need to worry as practically, everyone speaks English, so you shouldn’t have any trouble as a tourist.
How To Get Around in Kota Kinabalu
Sabah has many distinct tourist attractions, and renting a car allows you to see all of them without worrying about whether you can call a taxi to travel to your next destination. You can make as many stops as you want to appreciate the lovely landscape or try out local restaurants you find along the road.
Renting a car with SOCAR is a simple way to see the city’s noteworthy locations at your own pace, whether you are travelling as a family, with friends, or alone!
E-hailing services are another convenient and dependable way to get around Kota Kinabalu. Choose from a variety of operators, such as Grab or AirAsia Rides, which provide safe and convenient services at a low cost. Best of all, you can order a ride at any time and from any location in the city.
Taxi & Bus
Public transit, such as cabs and buses, is also accessible for inter-district commuting. Daily departures of large express buses seating 40 passengers to Sandakan, Tawau, Keningau, and other significant towns in Sabah.
Travelling to other districts is similarly simple, with 12-15-seater vans running hourly to Ranau, Kota Belud, Beaufort, and Kudat. Simply go to one of Kota Kinabalu’s three major taxi and bus terminals to begin your journey to where you want to go.
The railway runs for 134km from Tanjung Aru in Kota Kinabalu to the rustic village of Tenom. As the voyage changes from the downtown to the rural setting, this multi-stop train exhibits Sabah’s stunning landscape.
From Tanjung Aru to Beaufort, you’ll take a new diesel train with fully air-conditioned cars. You will board Sabah’s century-old steam train from Beaufort to Tenom for an exhilarating excursion into the interiors.
10 Fun Things To Do in Kota Kinabalu
1. Admire the Mount Kinabalu
Visiting Mount Kinabalu is one of the things to do in Kinabalu that is a must for every tourist. The Crocker Range of Borneo’s tallest peak, Mount Kinabalu, is also the highest mountain in Malaysia and the Malay Archipelago. It is located at a height of about 13,000 feet. You should definitely have your money ready if you have any intentions of visiting the top of Mount Kinabalu.
Location: Ranau, West Coast Division, Sabah, Malaysia (Google Maps)
2. Visit the Desa Cattle Dairy Farm
If you do not know what to do in Kota Kinabalu, you can drop a visit to Desa Cattle Dairy Farm. It’s a lovely farm with lush meadows and cows all around, making it the ideal location to see the stunning Mount Kinabalu. Numerous cows can be seen here munching on green grass against a magnificent backdrop of hills and mountains. For some refreshments, don’t forget to try some of the dairy and ice cream products from the farm!
Location: Jalan Cinta Mata Mesilou, 89308 Kundasang, Sabah (Google Maps)
Operation Hours: Monday to Sunday, 8:30am – 4:00pm
Entrance Fee: RM5 (Adults), RM4 (Child aged 7 to 12 years old)
3. Island Hopping in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
The National Park or Marine Park is made up of 5 islands and may be reached in 15 to 30 minutes by speedboat from Kota Kinabalu. Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik, and Sulug are some of the islands that you’ll be able to explore!
Location: Gaya Bay 3, Sabah (Google Maps)
Operation Hours: Monday to Sunday, 8:00am – 5:00pm
Non-Malaysian aged 18 years old and above: RM25/day
Non Malaysian aged 17 years old and below: RM20/day
Non Malaysian aged 60 years old and above: RM20/day
Malaysian aged 18 years old and above: RM8/day
Malaysian aged 13 years old to 17: RM5/day
Malaysian aged 12 years old and below,
60 years old and above & person with disability: Free of Charge
4. Admire the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque
The Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, popularly referred to as the “Floating Mosque,” is one of the most well-known mosques in Malaysia. It was formally inaugurated in 2000 after Kota Kinabalu was declared to be a city. The mosque is located on a 14.83-acre property at Pasir Road, on the South China Sea coasts of Likas Bay, and is partially encircled by a man-made lagoon.
Location: Jalan Pasir, Jalan Teluk Likas, Kampung Likas, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Google Maps)
Operation Hours: Monday to Thursday & Sunday, 8:00am – 5:00pm
Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Entrance Fee: RM5
5. Visit the Sabah State Museum
It’s situated in Kota Kinabalu’s Bukit Istana and includes a variety of exhibit halls, such as the Science and Education Centre, the History Village, the Sabah Art Gallery, and the Museum of Islamic Civilization. It also features a garden, a zoo, and a historic village.
Location: Jalan Muzium, 88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Google Maps)
Operation Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Students in Uniform, Disabled Guest, Seniors & Taxi Drivers (Malaysians only): Free of Charge
6. Immerse in the Culture at Mari Mari Cultural Village
One of Kota Kinabalu attractions is the Mari Mari Cultural Village. The village serves as a living museum that displays the customs and culture of Sabah’s five major ethnic groups. Sabah is home to the Dusan, Rungus, Murut, Bajau, and Lundayeh tribes. The cultural village, which is located in a lush rainforest, is a true representation of these tribes’ way of life. The whole family will love a half-day tour of the Mari Mari Cultural Village because it’s both educational and entertaining.
Location: Jalan Kionsom, Inanam, 88450 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Google Maps)
Operation Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10:00am – 5:00pm
Entrance Fee: RM100 (Adult), RM90 (Child) – Package includes Entrance Fee, In-House Guide, Visit to 5 Ethnic Traditional Houses, Cultural Performance & Meal
7. Admire the Tanjung Aru Beach
Tanjung Aru Beach, which is 6 km from Kota Kinabalu, has captured everyone’s attention with its beauty during the sunset. This Kota Kinabalu beach is regarded as one of the best places to see sunsets because there are no obstructions and the sun appears to fall into the water effortlessly. Casuarinas line the beach, and people frequently sit beneath them to enjoy some shade or the sound of the waves.
Location: Tanjung Aru Beach Resort, Tanjung Aru, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Google Maps)
Operation Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10:00am – 11:00pm
8. Meet the Elephants at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park
For all wildlife lovers visiting this picturesque city, the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is a must-see. Numerous animal species, such as elephants, tigers, elk, deer, monkeys, gibbons, orangutans, and different kinds of reptiles, call it home. Even though the park is small, this is a fantastic option for people who cannot fit in visiting the major wildlife reserves while in Kota Kinabalu.
Location: Lok kawi Putatan, 88200 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Google Maps)
Operation Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9:30am – 1:00pm, 2:00pm – 4:30pm
Non-Malaysian Adult: RM20
Malaysian Adult: RM10
Non-Malaysian Child: RM10
Malaysian Child: RM5
9. Explore the Green Connection Aquarium
Due to its top-notch amenities that are unmatched in the state, Green Connection Aquarium is one of the most well-known tourist destinations in Kota Kinabalu. A zoo, an aquarium, and a science discovery centre make up this eco-theme park, which aims to educate visitors about the environment while showcasing incredible biodiversity. The park is split up into various ecoregions.
Location: 2, Jln Tuaran, Likas, 88450 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Google Maps)
Operation Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10:00am – 6:00pm
Children (2-16 years): RM15
Family Ticket for 2 Adults and up to 2 Children: RM60 (additional children RM5 each to a maximum of 4 children per parent).
Group Visits for School Children: Children RM5 (5 to 50 children) and Teachers RM10 (1 teacher for every 12 children).
10. Shop at Gaya Street Market
One of the famous Kota Kinabalu Town attractions is the Gaya Street Sunday Market which opens early in the morning and closes somewhere around midday. Due to the wide selection of inexpensive souvenirs available, the market is a favourite among the majority of tourists.
Location: 1st – 4th Floor, 120, Jalan Gaya, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Google Maps)
Operation Hours: Thursday & Friday, 11:00am – 8:00pm
Saturday, 11:00am – 10:00pm
Sunday, 6:00am – 1:00pm
Closed: Monday to Wednesday
Drive with SOCAR
Both locals and tourists must visit Kota Kinabalu at least once! You will undoubtedly be able to take in the magnificence of Sabah’s capital, and SOCAR can arrange transport to get to these places to visit Kota Kinabalu!
For as little as RM6 per hour per day, you can commute anywhere you like!
A convenient option to have flexible connections throughout Malaysia is to rent a car hourly, daily, weekly, or even monthly using the SOCAR car rental app. Book a car with us today!