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Travelling to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Updated on January 28, 2013

Days 1 to 3

In December 2008, I travelled with my mother to visit Sabah for the first time. It was a truly amazing trip. We had various experiences and the entire trip was a good mix. As I felt that my itinerary was pretty good, I would like to share my day-by-day experience for my 6 days trip.

Day 1

After checking in, we immediately went out to the nearby shopping mall for a meal. As recommended by Daniel, the friendly owner of Lavender Lodge, we had a vegetarian meal. It was delicious and affordable. Later, we booked ourselves a tour to Klias for a cruise to see monkeys in their own habitat followed by a shorter cruise later to view fireflies. All in all, we managed to view quite a lot of monkeys but in comparison to my trip to Kuala Selangor, I felt the the number of fireflies at Klias were fewer.....

Day 2

Early in the morning, we headed to the jetty nearby. As we made our way there, we stopped along the markets at the waterfront and feast our eyes on what they had to sell. Upon reaching the jetty, we immediately purchase our boat tickets to cross over to the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park . While waiting for our turn, we purchased some bread to feed the fishes!

Soon, it was our turn. And by the time we reached the island (Pulau Sapi), there were already quite a lot or people there. Nevertheless, it wasn't too packed. We started wading into the clear waters and threw bread crumbs into the sea. The fish responded really quickly and to our amazement, they surrounded us as they swam towards us for their food. We did not even have to snorkel to see the different types of fish.

When it was too hot, we took a rest and walked about the island. We spotted a few huge komodo lizards as they were foraging the rubbish dumps for food. They were really, really huge and I did not dare to go too near them.

Later in the evening, after a rest, we headed back to the mainland. This time, the boat ride wasn't as smooth and water poured into our boats. According to a fellow tourist, this did not happen to him on a previous day. So , I guess, that day's waves much have been stronger. Anyway, if you get seasick easily, do prepare some medication.

Day 3: Near Mount Kinabalu

We headed up into the mountains this time. As we went up the winding roads, the mist started to clear and the view of the majestic Mount Kinabalu became clearer and clearer. Halfway up, we stopped to take photos. Our first stop after that was at Poring first. There, we experienced the Poring canopy walk. It was a truly great experience to walk among the tall trees. Although the walkway is quite high up and narrow, it is safe. While we were there, many people took the opportunity of a lifetime to walk on the narrow boards!

After the walk, we headed to the hot springs for a relaxing time. Soon, our time was up and we headed to our next destination. We stopped for a while at the markets of Kundasang to purchase local fruits and the town of Ranau for lunch. The area reminded me slightly of Cameron Highlands.

After lunch, we finally headed to the Mount Kinabalu park. The weather there was cooling, and like any other mountaineous area, prone to rain. Luckily for us, the rain wasn't heavy and we decided to walk along the boardwalk to enjoy the variety of flora within the park. We chose a path which took about 1 hour. At the end of our walk, the skies were already getting dark and it was time for us to return to the city of Kota Kinabalu. Although it wasn't a very long time, but the opportunity to get close to nature was an unforgettable experience.

Bamboo Orchestra At Gaya Christmas Celebration 2008

Days 4 to 6, plus nightlife

Day 4

Our first stop for the day was the local museum, the Sabah State Museum and Heritage Village. It is unique as you get to see the various longhouses available in Sabah. Besides that, the museum has other interesting collections too. And the price of admission is really cheap and it was free for me (as a student!). Next, we headed to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park where we had the opportunity to see the orang utan, the rhinoceros, more monkeys and tigers. Besides the zoo, we also saw feeding sessions and animal performances there. However, one thing to note is the lack of public transport to the area. Do make sure that you fix transport to bring you back to town. We did not do so and had to rely on a good Samaritan's help to get us to the bus station in town.

Day 5

Only on Sundays, the Gaya Street market is a not-to-be-missed attraction. Coming from West Malaysia, I can definitely say that even I was surprised by the wares sold at this market. Firstly, the markets in West Malaysia do not sell pets (at least the ones I've been to). There, I saw stalls selling puppies, kittens, rabbits and so on. Besides that, there were stalls will sold freshly ground local coffee beans. The smell was really tantalising.

By noon, it was too hot to walk about the markets. Hence, we proceeded to the malls. But before that, we had a delicious pizza meal at Little Italy. In the evening, we then took a bus to Tanjung Aru Beach where we viewed a beautiful sunset

Day 6

This was our last day in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah so we decided to have a relaxing time before we left for home in the evening. We decided to visit one of the largest malls in Malaysia, 1Borneo. The place was beautifully decorated with Christmas decorations and put us into a festive mood. Besides that, there are some unique shops here too such as the Airasia shopping outlet and of course, Tune Hotels is also here....


Besides the sights mentioned earlier, Kota Kinabalu (or more popularly known as KK), also has a vibrant nightlife. We had chosen to visit close to Chrismas and on hindsight, it was a brilliant choice as Gaya Street offered various performances which helped to increase the Xmas mood before we went home to celebrate with the family. For 3 nights, there were music performances. On one night, we even witnessed the Bamboo Orchestra performing carols! I did not take the video below but I can say that the performance definitely sounded better live. Go and book a trip to experience it!

Besides the Gaya street performances, during other times, there are also night markets in the city. The stalls would be selling mostly food.

At the waterfront area, there are also pubs or dining areas where you get to enjoy your food and drink while enjoying the sea breeze. However, do expect to pay a higher price for the view!

Do you feel like visiting Sabah now?

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    • lilian_sg profile image

      lilian_sg 7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks David. I also hope to visit again someday =)

    • profile image

      David @ Malaysia Asia 7 years ago

      Nice write up and I am always ready to go back to Sabah, anytime too!