Best Places to Visit in Kota Kinabalu

Imagine casting off the woes of urban life and immersing yourself in a realm where summer never ends. This is precisely what Kota Kinabalu, the vibrant heart of Borneo, tenderly nestled in Malaysia's scenic Sabah, offers. It's a tantalising journey of just two and a half hours, soaring through skies from the metropolis of Kuala Lumpur and seamlessly stepping into a world aglow with sun-drenched beaches, captivating wildlife, and a harmonious burst of cultures. Each experience you indulge in this city adds an unforgettable thread to your travelling tapestry, weaving memories that would last a lifetime.

Kota Kinabalu isn't merely a city; it's a coffer of exhilarating adventures. As a traveller keen on straying off beaten paths, you'll find the city's labyrinth of experiences a thrilling exploration. Walk the emerald carpets of rainforests, feel the pulse of the city in vibrant markets, absorb the mosaic of local cultures and savour the smorgasbord of culinary delights.

With countless picturesque landscapes unfurling at each turn, you'll soon grasp why Kota Kinabalu has a magnetic pull on globetrotters across the globe. So, get ready to unfurl the many charms of this tropical paradise as it welcomes you into its warm embrace.

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Top Attractions in Kota Kinabalu
Best Places to Visit in Kota Kinabalu

Best Places to Visit in Kota Kinabalu

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

If time is a factor, then the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park marine and national park makes the ideal choice for a one-day excursion. Spanning across 4,900 hectares, it consists of five of Kota Kinabalu's most popular and beautiful islands including Pulau Sulug, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi and Pulau Mamutik - all which are easily accessible by a short boat ride.

You can dive, trek, snorkel, explore the wildlife such as the bearded pigs, giant flying squirrels or the elephant foot yam, or simply sit back and relax on their sandy shores.

pulau gaya kota kinabalu
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Sabah
proboscis monkey sabah
Proboscis monkey at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Sabah

Weston River Sunset & Fireflies Cruise

Can't get enough of the water? Hop on a sunset cruise and meander down the scenic Weston River. Enjoy unhampered views of paddy fields, villages and traditional houses, Proboscis monkeys, mangroves and a variety of animals along the way as the sun sets in the west. Wildlife enthusiasts must take full advantage of this opportunity to get up close and personal with nature!

Best places to visit in Kota Kinabalu
Sunset cruise at the Weston River, Kota Kinabalu

Mari Mari Cultural Village

Sabah is made up of at least 30 different ethnic groups, each having distinctive tradition, culture and dialect. At the Mari Mari Cultural Village, you can learn about all these indigenous Borneo tribes as it acts as a museum which preserves and educates visitors on ethnicity. It also showcases the different traditional homes of the tribal communities on the island, including those of the Lundayeh, Bajau, Dusun, Rungus and Murut.

Top Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu
Learn about the ethnic groups of Sabah at the Mari Mari Cultural Village, Kota Kinabalu

Gaya Street Sunday Market

Take a peek into the local culture by swinging by Gaya Street on a Sunday. As the city's main road, you can find an assortment of interesting knick-knacks that are unique only to this region, such as clothes with traditional motifs, antiques, handcrafted wares, and handmade snacks. A favorite snack loved by both locals and foreigners is the Kuih Cincin or "ring cakes" - a sweet, crispy biscuit shaped like honeycombs. Most importantly, do not forget to bargain!

Read also: The Best Gifts and Souvenirs from Sarawak

Attractions in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Shop at Gaya Street Sunday Market, Kota Kinabalu

Hilton Kota Kinabalu

Picture this: a mere quarter-hour drive from your landing strip and you alight into the lap of luxury at the Hilton Kota Kinabalu, a 5-star sanctuary that promises to be the prologue to an adventure-filled sojourn. It's the sort of place that whispers urbane elegance but bellows out an invitation for discovery. As the tropical warmth of Borneo envelops you, the hotel stands proud, not just as a place to rest, but as a launchpad into the thrills that pepper this city on the cusp of rainforest and sea.

True to a seasoned traveller's quest for the exceptional, the Hilton Kota Kinabalu boasts an eclectic selection of culinary haunts that flirt with your taste buds offering a sumptuous feast of flavours. Imagine sipping on a crafted cocktail at their alfresco poolside bar as the fiery Bornean sun dips into the horizon, setting the sky ablaze with hues most vivid. Or, if nostalgia for the glamourous 20s catches your fancy, the hotel's speakeasy bar, alive with the soulful melodies of live jazz, beckons you to a night steeped in style—an alluring end to a day of expeditions. With rooms starting from RM530, indulgence is invitingly within reach, making it more than just a stay; it is a palate of experiences waiting to be savoured.

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Address: Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Asia City, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

As the day folds into the velvety blanket of a Kota Kinabalu night, with the twinkle of the city's lights playing upon the sapphire sea, you can't help but marvel at the enchantment that the city has unravelled. This corner of Borneo has etched vibrant memories you'll recount with a glint in your eye, heart teeming with vivid explorations, thrilling adventures, and mouth-watering culinary encounters. Each vista you've soaked in, each local melody you've swayed to, and every flavourful morsel you've savoured lends a special hue to your traveller's palette.

As you bid farewell, the echoing murmur of Kota Kinabalu's allure is the sweet promise of yet-to-be-explored experiences, just waiting for your return. So until then, cheerio from this tropical oasis of Borneo, where a kaleidoscope of adventures always awaits the ardent explorer in you!

There are so many fun activities for everyone at Kota Kinabalu. Which one is your favourite? Comment below and let us know! Share your travel and dining adventures with us on Instagram. Use @rollinggrace or #RollingGrace to be featured. Bon voyage!


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  2. it's so good! look at the beach, super clear, I can even see down there!

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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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