Located near the base of the looming Mount Kinabalu, Sabah’s oceanfront capital has a relaxed atmosphere and is close to traditional villages and a marine park.
Nicknamed “KK” by locals, Kota Kinabalu is the ideal place to begin your journey across the island. This Bornean urban center is home to diverse cultural attractions, including museums and art galleries, alongside ornate mosques and botanical gardens. The beaches, rain forests and tropical islands that surround KK are central to its charm as is year-round tropical climate. Visit the city to sample the dynamic range of provincial cuisines from across Asia.
Kota Kinabalu’s downtown precinct is a breeze to get around as most attractions are within walking distance of each other. A cheap and frequent bus line will take you farther afield. Take some time to learn about the local culture and people at the Sabah Museum and the Ethnobotanical Gardens, which is home to pitcher plants, medicinal flowers and a wide range of rice and herbs.
Don’t miss the Sabah Art Gallery while you’re exploring the Sabah Museum complex. Here you can discover local emerging artists exhibited alongside the city’s most renowned names. Make your way to the Monsopiad Cultural Village, a fascinating ethnographic museum, to learn about the indigenous tribes of Sabah. See handmade tools and buildings, learn traditional dances and sample local dishes.
Leave the city limits to find yourself surrounded by wilderness and natural beauty. Pack a snorkel and your swimsuit and explore below the surface of the South China Sea. Fishing charters and boats to the neighbouring islands can be caught from KK’s bustling harbor precinct. While you’re out exploring, visit the Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre, the Lok Kawi Wildlife Center and the Tuaran Crocodile Farm to see the diverse range of animals that live on Borneo.
If you like your wilderness less tamed, lace up your boots and head for Kinabalu Park. The park is home to carnivorous pitcher plants, monkeys, apes and the endangered rafflesia flower. Climb to the peak of Mount Kinabalu for a sunrise you’ll never forget.
Kota Kinabalu has an international airport with connections to many cities in Asia.