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Not to be missed; Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Updated on July 5, 2011

Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu, a modern city.
Kota Kinabalu, a modern city.

Kota Kinabalu; The City

The city of Kota Kinabalu on the Island of Borneo is situated in the Malaysian state of Sabah. It is a modern city that has everything you need for a truly unique holiday experience.

Kota Kinabalu has a vast range of cultures, with over 30 different ethic groups gracing the cities streets. The city has it all; for the beach lover, paradise beaches and fantastic coral reef diving. For the adventurer; mount kinabalu and primary rainforest. For everyone; the famous Orangutan sanctuary and enough museums, nightlife and restaurants to keep you fed and watered.

Sunday Market, Kota Kinabalu

Gaya Street Sunday Market
Gaya Street Sunday Market

The food and pepole of Kota Kinabalu

 The diversity of cultures in Kota Kinabalu are a real treat. When walking the streets you see an array of different people, with faces that could be from India, Malaysia or China. The one commonality being the huge smile!

The feast of influences in Kota Kinabalu is reflected in it's fantastic array of food and nightlife. Whatever your tastes, you can find it here. Join the locals in the busy Chinese style canteens to eat dumplings and noodles, incredibly cheap but even more tasty. Or for a taste of the Indian, eat 'Roti' with dahl for about 50 pence, a fabulous snack and slightly addictive. A Malay meal served in a palm leaf is also not to be missed. For the more traditional tastebuds, you can also find pizza restaurants and american coffee stalls.

The Sunday market is also a great place to experience the cultural diversity and friendliness of the Kota Kinabalu people. Stroll through the rambling stalls and pick up great handmade gifts for home. Also enjoy the delight and excitement of the Kota Kinabalu people as they shout 'Orang Puti' (white man) on spotting you towering amongst the small frames of the local people.

Paradise Islands, Kota Kinabalu

Manukan Island, Kota Kinabalu
Manukan Island, Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu Island Paradise

 One of the huge draws to visiting Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, is that it has a number of paradise islands within easy reach. Getting to the islands is cheap and easy and great fun. Head to the boating harbour and wait at the correct 'stop' for the Island you want to visit. You then wait your turn to board a small speed boat that takes you to the Island within about 20 minutes.

There are 5 islands, Sulug, Mamutik, Manukan, Sapi and Gaya. Each have beautiful sandy beaches and pure blue water for snorkelling. On Mamutik; one of the smaller islands, complete your diving PADI course with 'Borneo Divers'. Their small hut on the beach front is a very friendly place to learn and the diving is incredible. The large coral reef attracts large varietys of fish and marine life.

All of the Islands offer something different but each one is like an island paradise; yet only 20 minutes from Kota Kinabalu city!

Climbing Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu

Climbing Mount Kinabalu

From Kota Kinabalu you can easily reach the base of Mount Kinabalu. Standing at 4.095 metres (13.435 feet) it is the third tallest mountain in South East Asia. Even if you are not up to the climb, Kinabalu Park in the foothills of the mountain offers an extensive range of exotic flora and fauna.

The climb to the summit 'Low's Peak' is achievable for most people. You need no mountaineering experience or equipment, just warm clothes and sturdy boots. Climbing Mount Kinabalu is a popular tourist attraction, offering just enough of a challenge for most.

The climb begins on a footpath, passing beautiful waterfalls and a huge variety of plant species. This part of the climb is well prepared for visitors and there are many places to stop and rest and enjoy the changing surroundings. Typically, a walk of around 5 hours takes you to the rest house where you can warm up and stock up on food and drink. From here you can sleep for a few hours before starting for the summit before sunrise.

The walk to the summit in the black of night is exciting, a world away from the Kota Kinabalu city. All parts of the route are clearly marked and ropes are anchored to the rock to assist you up the steep sections. Many will feel the affects of altitude here, so the last section, although short will take a few hours.

On reaching the summit before sunrise you find yourself a small ledge to perch on to watch the amazing vista. This requires a sleeping bag to keep warm; however good the view, you cannot stay here too long! The walk down is just as beautiful, the views on a clear day are breathtaking and the walk is easy and fast. An experience not to be missed!

On returning to Kota Kinabalu relax your aching muscles and reflect on your experiences so far whilst staying in Kota Kinabalu. What next?

Kota Kinabalu and the Sepilok Orangutan sanctuary

Sepilok OrangUtan Sanctuary
Sepilok OrangUtan Sanctuary

Kota Kinabalu; what next?

 I have listed a number of reasons above for a visit to the city of Kota Kinabalu, that caters for a number of holiday tastes. There are more reasons. If you are willing to travel a little further out of Kota Kinabalu, you can visit the famous Sepilok Orangutan sanctuary. Here you can watch Orangutans happily swinging in the trees; rescued from logging areas across Borneo. Kota Kinabalu can be a good starting point for visiting primary rain forest reserves or traditional Malay villages. Kota Kinabalu is also the gateway for heading to the state of Sarawak, or for flying cheaply to mainland Malaysia or Thailand.

Kota Kinabalu is a great alternative Asia destination. It is warm and friendly and offers a huge variety of opportunities, from adventure to paradise!


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      hotel kota kinabalu 6 years ago

      Don't forget the shopping! There are many shopping attractions in Kota Kinabalu, the largest being 1Borneo Hypermall. This shopping paradise has more then 400 stores, so shop till you drop.