Top Things To Do in Kota Kinabalu

Top Things To Do in Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu, which is the capital of Sabah in Malaysia, is a melting pot of people, so when you travel here, you are going to find a place that is rich in culture and history. This coastal city is known for its markets and world-class shopping, but it is also a great place to explore the ocean and check out some jungle wildlife.

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Top Things to do in Kota Kinabalu

When you vacation in Kota Kinabalu, you should expect to find more than enough activities to keep you busy. You can go shopping, go white water rafting, or simply enjoy some of the parks in the area. Let’s take a look at some of the top things to do in the area.

Explore Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

This is a location that was named after the first prime minister of Malaysia, and it consists of five islands that are covered in white sand and breathtaking coral gardens.

  • Pulau Gaya is the largest island, and it has a thick tropical forest right in the center where you can hike and explore. This is also a great diving location because of all of the coral that can be found here.
  • Pulau Sapi This is a great place for divers to explore, but it is also full of trails that can be explored by nature lovers.
  • Pulau Mamutik, which is the smallest island, is a great place for snorkeling.
  • Pulau Manukan is a crescent-shaped island that is home to some of the best beaches in the area.
  • Pulau Sulug is a more remote island where you can enjoy some tranquil relaxation on the beach.

Check out this guide to island hopping in Borneo by Mom on the Move

Go Diving

Diving in Kota Kinabalu

No matter your diving skills, there is a place in Kota Kinabalu that is perfect for you to explore the sea. The waters are clear, and the coral gardens in the area are simply breathtaking. There are even some shipwrecks that you can explore off of the coast. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular diving locations near Kota Kinabalu.

  • Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
  • Mantanani Island
  • Sipadan Island

Check out this guide on where to dive in Kota Kinabalu by Kota Kinabalu Sabah  

Explore Kinabalu National Park

Kinabalu National Park- Kota Kinabalu

Kinabalu National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to Mt. Kinabalu, which is the tallest peak in Southeast Asia. If you are not up for the trek to the peak, you can still get some amazing pictures from the park below. There are also over 4,500 species of flora seen in the park so you will be able to see a picturesque display of blooms on your way to the top of the peak if you decide to make the trek.

The hike to the summit will take about two full days, but when you get to the top, you will be blown away by the breathtaking views of the city below. Once you get back down the mountain, you can enjoy a relaxing soak in the Poring Hot Spring to help relax your muscles from the hike.

Check out this guide to hiking mount Kinabalu by Sticky Rice Travel  


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Top Things to See in Kota Kinabalu

As we have already discussed, there are some amazing views that you can experience in Kota Kinabalu, especially from the summit of Mount Kinabalu, but that is not the only thing of beauty that there is to behold in the city. Let’s take a look.

Visit Kota Kinabalu Mosques

Kota Kinabalu Tourist Spot - Mosque

There are quite a few mosques in Kota Kinabalu, but two of the most prominent ones that you will want to explore is the Sabah State Mosque, which is designed with gold inlays that give it a picturesque look, and the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque. This is actually the largest mosque in the city, and it is designed to hold up to 12,000 individuals at once. One of the aspects that make the mosque so unique is the water around the base of the building that makes it look like it is floating.

Check out this guide to the Kota Kinabalu Mosque by Reflections Enroute

Check out the Sunset

Kota Kinabalu Sunset tourist spot

When the sun sets over Kota Kinabalu, it simply glows over the sea. No matter where you are in the city, the sunset will look amazing, but there are certain locations that are even more breathtaking. Let’s take a look at a few of the best places to view a sunset in the city.

  • Signal Hill Observation Tower located in Sabah
  • Tanjung Aru Beach
  • The Segama Waterfront
  • Peak of Bukit Padang

Learn more about the best places to see a sunset in Kota Kinabalu by I Love Sabah

See Wildlife up Close

There are quite a few options when you want to see wildlife in its natural habitat; you can explore parks or simply take a river cruise. Let’s take a look at some of the best locations to learn about the wildlife in the area.

  • Lok Kawi Wildlife Park – This is a great location to explore if you are traveling with your family. This wildlife zoo has Borneo Pygmy elephants, Malayan Tigers, and Orangutans that are sure to keep your little ones entertained.
  • Tabin Wildlife Reserve – This is an area that houses local wildlife; in fact, there are even some endangered animals that can be found in this reserve.
  • The Bornean Sun Bear Conservatory Center – This conservatory is home to the second most endangered species of bears, and it is a good place to see these Sun Bears thriving in their natural habitat.

Check out this guide to Kota Kinabalu by ShopBack Malaysia

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Food to Try in Kota Kinabalu

One of the best ways to learn about a location is to try the local food while you are visiting. Often, there are quite a bit of popular dishes to try in an area, and the same is true of Kota Kinabalu. Here are some must-try dishes that can be found in the city:

Ngiu Chap

This is a type of beef stew that is typically served with noodles. The stew is made differently at different restaurants, but the name literally means mixed beef, which implies that the dish is a combination of different beef cuts and organs.

Check out this guide to eating Ngiu Chap by My Sabah

Sang Nyuk Mian

This is a great option if you enjoy a soup with a lot of broth. This is a noodle dish covered in soy sauce served with a pork stew. This stew does come with liver as well as pork cuts, but if you prefer the dish without the liver, you can get it with just the pork.

Facts and Statistics of Kota Kinabalu

  • Kota Kinabalu is a city that used to be named Jesselton.
  • Kota Kinabalu is known as KK around the world.
  • Nearly 50 percent of the population has a Chinese background.
  • Mount Kinabalu, which is the mountain that the city is named after, is the largest summit in Southeast Asia.
  • Kota Kinabalu was not granted city status until the year 2000.

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Final Thoughts

Kota Kinabalu is a city with some amazing views, so whether you want to go for a hike, dive into the sea, or simply relax on the beach, Kota Kinabalu has something for everyone to enjoy. If you are not drawn to this beautiful city by the views alone, maybe the food or the shopping options will inspire you to make it your next vacation destination.

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