Kota Kinabalu City Sabah

Kota Kinabalu City

About Kota Kinabalu, Capital City of Sabah

Assuming the role of Sabah’s capital city, Kota Kinabalu is the hub and gateway for all who wishes to immerse themselves in the natural splendours of Malaysian Borneo. Kota Kinabalu’s early beginnings were as a small fishing village called Api-Api. It is formerly known as Jesselton in 1899, while under the British colonial ruling. The town was renamed Kota Kinabalu in 1967, after the majestic Mount Kinabalu. The very few historical landmarks left are the Atkinson Clock Tower and Sabah Tourism Board building (formerly Jesselton Post Office), obliterated by bombing at the end of World War II. These historical monuments with the mix of fast-modernising city and huge towering old shady trees lining the edge of Signal Hill, makes Kota Kinabalu unique in aesthetics, a charismatic blend of both old and new.

The bustling Kota Kinabalu resort waterfront, complete with marina and golf course and host a number of trendy bars, restaurants, and hotel lines. Along the same stretch, one can soak in the lively culture of the locals by visiting the traditional wet market, fishing boats, and hawker stalls.

Sabah is growing as a bustling tourist destination due to its proximity and access to tropical paradise. Located south of the city centre, and faces the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, with beautiful beaches, reefs and sea sports just 15 minutes away from the coast, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinabalu Park, where Sabah’s iconic mountain, Mount Kinabalu, can be reached in 2 hours from the city centre, one can find themselves exploring ocean deep to mountain high.

it is without wonder that Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is dubbed the second busiest airport in Malaysia. If you’re looking for a chance to explore Sabah, chances are that your first steps in Sabah will be set at KKIA.

About Kota Kinabalu City Centre

The distance from Kota Kinabalu International Airport to the city centre is about 8 km and takes about 10 minutes drive depending on traffic. One can walk from one end of the city centre to the other end in about 45 minutes, or about one to two hours leisure stroll to gain an insight into the local lifestyles. There are inexpensive alfresco food centres, coffee shops to famous seafood restaurants that are found along the 1.6 km stretch of the city centre. Shopping is a whole different experience, with bargains found from street stalls to air conditioned shopping malls like Imago and Suria Sabah, offering local produce, souvenirs and goods from international brands.

The must visit attractions include the Filipino Handicraft market, jam-packed with small stalls offering dried local produce and handicrafts from Sabah, Philippines and Indonesia. Witness the fishermen (a.k.s. sea gypsies) coming ashore with their catch of the day as they auction off the fresh seafood to restaurant suppliers and local housewives, where haggling for best deals are always part of the scene.

Just before the sun sets, be sure to make your way to the famous Waterfront to capture the breathtaking sunset over the South China Sea. This is one of the top things to do list in Kota Kinabalu. The Waterfront, a one-stop dining and entertainment centre where all the pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants are located, is one of Sabah’s most popular nightspot, and is also the heart of the nightlife in Kota Kinabalu.

When to visit?

We are often asked when is the best time to visit Kota Kinabalu? Borneo, a tropical rainforest region experiences high humidity and rain throughout the year. Travel is not complete if you have not experienced this true Bornean climate!

Mar - Oct : Dry season. The best time for trekking and to spot orang utans in the wild.

Apr - Dec : Best time for diving. Water visibility is excellent in July & August.

Dec - Jan : Wet season. Still possible to travel to experience the tropical rainy weather. Places to consider are Kinabatangan River & Danum Valley where higher rainfall means different wildlife sightings and easier navigation by boat into the ox-bow lake region.

In summary, it is good to travel all year round to Sabah because there is always something to see during different months. Due to climate changes and unpredictable weather during recent years, we see random dry spells during wet season and prolonged periods of rain during dry season. We think that no matter where you go, always bring your own sunshine, for life is a daring adventure or nothing at all!

Who is it for?

With more than 32 different ethnicity and rich historical cultures, astonishing plants and wildlife, idyllic islands and where Mt Kinabalu, one of the highest mountain in Southeast Asia is situated, Kota Kinabalu has something to offer to different groups of travellers. Whether you are a solo traveller or an adventurous family, romantic honeymoon couples to avid wildlife enthusiast, Borneo has it all. Search and filter the tour packages we offer according to your preference and needs. Chat with us for customised tours or if you are unable to find what you want.

How to get here?

The most frequent entry point to Kota Kinabalu is by air travel. Kota Kinabalu has only one airport, Kota Kinabalu International Airport. Terminal 1 is the main terminal where all international and domestic traffic arrives and departs from. There are direct international flights to Kota Kinabalu from Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and Brunei. Within Malaysia, domestic flights depart from/return to Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Penang, Kota Bahru of West Malaysia, Kudat, Tawau, Labuan, Sandakan, Kuching, Sibu & Bintulu of East Malaysia.

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