A haven for budget travellers, Sabah’s capital city Kota Kinabalu is an excellent destination for nature lovers and adventure junkies out there. There are exciting choices of activities for all travellers here: climbing enthusiasts can flock over to this city’s famous Mount Kinabalu at 4,095 metres above sea level, beach bums can enjoy the sugary white sands and crystal clear waters of Manukan Island, and animal lovers can get up close with the diverse wildlife at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. From thrilling activities like rafting at Padas River to finding tranquillity in Kundasang, KK boasts an array of wonderful sights and sounds coupled with scrumptious cuisines and natural wonders for all to enjoy.
Best of Kota Kinabalu
1. Kinabalu National Park
Breathtaking scenery surrounds you the moment you step into the hub of lush flora and fauna as you gaze in admiration at the impressive Mount Kinabalu. Enjoy trekking along trails across the mountainous Crocker Range with a stunning view of the Borneo rainforest.
2. Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
Head west off the coast of KK to this marine national park, consisting of the five islands Manukan, Gaya, Sapi, Mamutik and Sulug. Pristine beaches and cerulean waters bursting with marine life are ideal for a fun-filled day of diving, snorkelling and lazing by the beach.
3. Whitewater rafting at Padas River
If you love an exciting challenge down the river rapids, then this is the perfect activity for you. Graded as a Grade III to IV River, it offers pure thrills to even the most seasoned rafter. Don’t worry if you’re a novice, as there are milder rapids for a tamer pace.
4. Lok Kawi Wildlife Park
This expansive park provides a snapshot of the diverse wildlife and natural beauty in the Sabah region. Among the animals exhibited here are the Borneo Pygmy Elephants, orangutans, Sumatran Rhinoceros as well as a variety of colourful birds.
5. Mari Mari Cultural Village
At this idyllic little village, you can see for yourself how Sabah’s five major ethnic tribes – Kadazandusun, Bajau, Murut, Rungus and Lundayeh – live their daily lives just like their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Join them in their daily routines or give a hand in making your own traditional bead artwork as well.
Don’t make the mistake of making Kundasang a mere transit before scaling Mount Kinabalu as there are plenty of interesting spots around this panoramic area. Loosen your tired muscles at Poring Hot Springs (a natural sulphur hot spring), embark on a night walk at the Sabah Tea Garden or learn more about World War 2 at the Kundasang War Memorial, complete with beautiful picturesque gardens.
Kudat – Tip of Borneo
The town exudes a certain laidback charm, but its true potential lies in it being the gateway of the northern-most tip of Borneo at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau. Kudat is also the gateway to hidden paradises and unspoilt beaches to truly enjoy the South China Sea view.
A 3-hour ferry ride from KK, the federal territory of Labuan is a unique destination comprising the main Labuan Island and six smaller islands, namely Pulau Kuraman, Daat, Rusukan Besar, Rusukan Kecil, Papan and Pulau Burung. The jewel of East Malaysia is located off the northwest coast of Borneo, and is an ideal destination for wreck diving.