Holiday period – time to pack up your bag and travel all across the world or local destinations (depending on your budget and preference). If you, by any chance, happen to land in Sabah, the land below the wind or more precisely in Kota Kinabalu, the “Nature Resort City“, then here are 15 recommended places to go while you are in Kota Kinabalu.
One of the most famous landmark in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. It was built in 1977 and is the second tallest building on the island of Borneo. The 30-storey circular glass structure is 122 meters high and named after Tun Datu Mustapha, the founding father of independence in Sabah who led the negotiations for the formation of Malaysia in 1963.
Formerly known as the Sabah Foundation Building, Menara Tun Mustapha has a central core with steel brackets supporting each floor. When completed in 1977, it was one of the three such buildings in the world based on this design concept. Menara Tun Mustapha is situated at Likas Bay area, about 5km from the City Centre.
Manukan Island is the most popular island among Kota Kinabalu residents. It is the second largest island in the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu and is easily accessible by boat from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal.
Boat journey takes about 20 minutes to the island. Manukan Island is surrounded by a protected coral reef, and the island boasts a pristine rainforest and beautiful white sandy beaches. The best beach is on the eastern tip of the island. Offshore of Manukan are coral reefs, which is ideal for snorkelling, diving and swimming.
Best visited during night time where you can watch the musical fountain performances which will probably delight the young ones. The fountains are beautiful and the park is very well maintained – very clean! Even the toilets smell good and fresh. The locals normally come here early in the morning or late in the evening to jog and do some workouts.
Perdana Park is definitely a very nice place to relax and breathe fresh clean air after a long tiring day at work.
Popularly known as Filipino Market (Pasar Filipina in malay term) among the locals. Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market is the best place to get Sabah souvenirs at reasonable prices. You can find keychains, t-shirts with Sabah themes, Sabah coffee and teas, batiks and sarongs carved wooden statues, rattan handicraft, Islamic calligraphy, brooches, and many more.
The Handicraft Market is located at the city centre, along the same stretch as the Waterfront in Kota Kinabalu City.
The Mari Mari Cultural Village is situated amidst a remote forest setting in Kionsom, Inanam; away from the hustling and bustling city. It showcases the knowledge, history and traditions of the people of Sabah and Borneo, while giving you the opportunity to get a bit of hands-on experience of local life, too.
In the village, you will be introduced to various traditional homes of Sabahan ethnic communities—the Bajau, Lundayeh, Murut, Rungus and Dusun—which are built by descendants of the tribes which they represent. There are many activities inside the village and visitors will also get a chance to sample Sabahan traditional delicacies from each ethnic group.
The ‘Rumah Terbalik’ (which translates to Upside Down House) is the first of its kind in South East Asia and among the five upside-down structures in the world (3 are found in Europe and another in Japan). The 140-square metre house is equipped with kitchen, living room, bathroom, dining room, bedrooms and the interior is decorated with many unique features of Sabah.
The difference is that they are upside down. You will feel as though you were standing on the ceiling with the furniture above your head. Sabah’s Upside Down House Of Borneo is located at Mile 21, Jalan Telibongand it is about 30 minutes’ drive from Kota Kinabalu City.
Before 1Borneo was opened, Sabahans has been longing for a shopping mall that can mirror what their counterpart in Semenanjung have been enjoying. 1Borneo is the first and the largest lifestyle hyper mall ever built in borneo and without doubt, the most popular here in Kota Kinabalu.
The mall is home to a large collection of restaurants, designer clothing, department stores, entertainment outlets, appliance stores and hypermarkets. It is located at Jalan Sulaman Highway, about 7km away from the city centre.
City Mosque Kota Kinabalu sits on a 14.83-acre (6.00 ha) site at Pasir Road on the shores of Likas Bay, on the South China Sea. It is partially surrounded by a man-made lagoon, thus giving rise to the nickname “The Floating Mosque“. The architectural design is based on the Nabawi Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia, the second holiest site for Muslims. The dome is blue and gold, inspired by similar Arabic architecture.
The mosque looks stunningly beautiful especially at night time. A great place for photographers. Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is located at Likas Bay, about 5km from City Centre. It can accommodate from 9, 000 to 12, 000 people at a time and by far the largest in Sabah.
While you are in KK, why not stop at the best coffee shop (Kopi Tiam) in Sabah? Kak Nong Restaurant serves delicious local cuisine, with western foods as well. Do try out some of our favourite like Fried Prawn with Salted Egg Yolk Sauce and Kak Nong’s Cendol special.
Visit them at Harbour City, about a minute away from Sutera Harbour Resort and Kota Kinabalu city centre.
Gaya Street is closed off to traffic every Sunday morning to make way for the fair. You can buy almost everything here. Shop for anything under shady trees and over-sized umbrellas, like batik sarongs, fruits and flowers, arts and craft, footwear, antiques and souvenirs, cakes, even pets and herbs! This indeed is the best place to experience the culture and the lives of the Sabahan families on a Sunday outing.
The Gaya Street Fair starts as early as 6am in the morning until 1pm in the afternoon. Originally named Bond Street, Gaya Street is located in the Kota Kinabalu Central Business District which has been the centre of business for over a hundred years.
The Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre, also known by the name of Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary, serves as a feeding ground and refuge for different migratory as well as resident birds. There are almost 80 species of birds identified at the sanctuary. In 1998, Kota Kinabalu Wetlands Centre was declared a State Cultural Heritage Site.
If you are a photographer and love bird watching, then this is a place for you. The same goes for those who loves nature and conservation. Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre is located at the foot of Signal Hill, near Likas Square. The centre is open Tuesday to Sunday 8.00am till 6.00pm.
Honestly, there is nothing much to see here except for the monument itself. Nonetheless, this is quite an significan historic place for Sabahan. This is the actual spot where the plane carrying Sabah’s fifth chief minister, Tun Mohd Fuad Stephens, and six state ministers, crashed on 6-6-1976, killing all on board.
After the ill-fated event, the Sabah State Government under the leadership of Datuk Harris Mohd. Salleh directed the construction of the Double Six Monument at the crash site in the late 1976. The memorial is located at Sembulan area in Grace Garden housing complex in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, just opposite Sutera Harbour Resort.
A couple of years ago, Taman Awam Teluk Likas would not make into this list. However, thanks to great effort by the Kota Kinabalu City Hall, this place has turned into something special and worth visiting while you’re in Kota Kinabalu. If you were lucky, you might see some of the events organised in this area. The annual Dragon Boat Race is the most famous event that takes place here annually.
Then there are also some other events like Fishing Competition, Cancer Awareness Walk, Fit Malaysia, 1st Sabah International Fireworks Competition 2014 and many more. For local folks, Taman Awam Teluk Likas is a popular spot for jogging, picnics and gatherings. It used to be mere grassy land with fir trees, but now there are playground, parking place, more trees and flowers, public washrooms, flag poles, etc.
Signal Hill, the highest point in the city is situated on the edge of Signal Hill, or Bukit Bendera, behind the Kota Kinabalu Community Centre. It offers visitors a bird’s eye view of the town centre, as well as a distant view of the Tanjung Aru and Likas Bay areas.
The hill itself forming a lush green backdrop of the city, looks down over the ever-growing buildings and across the sea towards Pulau Gaya. A must visit place when you travel to Kota Kinabalu.
Tanjung Aru Beach Kota Kinabalu Sabah is located at the end of Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, about 10 kilometers from the city centre. It is the closest beach to the city. People normally come here for picnic and flying kites. One thing I love about this place is the beautiful sunset. Do visit this place in the afternoon, when the sun comes down. Lovely scenery not to be missed!
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