November 20, 2016

5 Fun Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu

The capital of the state of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu is one of the most popular destinations in Malaysia. An ideal travel destination for travellers seeking unique holiday experiences, the city offers a host of fun and interesting things to do in addition to scenic landscapes and the most picturesque of sights.

Since we know that people tend to get overwhelmed by the number of tourist attractions in Kota Kinabalu, here’s a short list of fun things to do in the city.

1. Overcome your fear of heights by riding Kota Kinabalu’s craziest ziplines.


Thrill-seekers looking for high-flying adventures will love Zip Borneo, located in Kiulu Valley, home to a 320-metre zipline, the longest in Borneo. But don’t worry if you’re not ready to conquer your fear of heights just yet, because they do offer other outdoor activities as well.

Another must-try zipline adventure is the Coral Flyer, the longest island-to-island flying-fox ride in the world. Your adrenaline-pumping journey starts at Pulau Sapi and will take you to nearby Gaya Island.

2. Indulge in mouthwatering food.

Steamed buns at Kopi Tiam

Malaysia is home to many of the world’s must-try foods and just like Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Malacca, Kota Kinabalu is a destination that offers good food at affordable prices. For a hearty seafood dinner, go to the Filipino Market along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens. You get to pick out the seafood (e.g. prawns, lobster, squid, and fish) and the vendors will cook your food the way you like it. There are lots of stalls selling really tasty chicken skewers in the area so you might want to check them out as well.

Having steamed or fried buns for breakfast at a kopi tiam is another must-try in Kota Kinabalu. Priced at less than a dollar per bun, these filling and delectable treats, ranging from savoury to sweet, are a big favourite among locals and tourists alike. For the best buns, head to Keng Wan Hing on Gaya Street.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, you might want to try pudding kelapa (coconut pudding), a simple yet refreshing dessert made from coconut milk, gelatin, and condensed milk. You can buy a huge serving of this tasty dessert for 1 USD from the roadside stalls along Sepanggar and Jalan Sulaman, about 30 minutes to an hour away from the Kota Kinabalu CBD.

3. Experience the best of Kota Kinabalu’s natural attractions.

Asian pygmy elephant

For those looking to have the best wildlife experience, Kota Kinabalu is home to a good number of conservation parks, animal sanctuaries, and wildlife attractions. A must-visit during your trip is the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, an institution dedicated to preserving wildlife and caring for endangered species like the Borneo pygmy elephant and the proboscis monkey in their natural habitat. The park also features a miniature zoo, botanical garden, and hiking trails. Park admission fee is around 3 USD for tourists.

Another must-try experience in Kota Kinabalu is a river cruise that will take you from the city all the way to the Kilas Wetlands on an open boat. During the tour, you will get the chance to observe the proboscis monkeys that live on the banks of the Kilas River. If the weather is good, you’ll also catch a glimpse of the fireflies as you cruise along a mangrove swamp just before the river cruise ends in the evening.

If you keep an active lifestyle, one of the best things you can do while in Kota Kinbalu is conquer Mount Kinabalu, the largest mountain in Southeast Asia. The two-day climb will challenge you physically but the spectacular view from the summit is definitely worth it. Permits and other fees will set you back 60 USD or so.

Want to have a family picnic or a relaxing nature getaway, check out Kionsom Waterfall on Jalan Kionsom. A short drive from the city centre, the Kionsom Waterfall makes for a fun day trip for you and your family. The place offers basic public facilities and admission fee is less than 1 USD per person.

4. Discover Kota Kinabalu on a bike.

A cycling or biking tour is one of the best ways to explore Kota Kinabalu and rural Sabah. Check out local tour operators that offer short biking tours around the city and mountain bike tours to Tuaran.

You can also go to Tanjung Lipat, the best spot for biking in Kota Kinabalu. Featuring a 5.2-kilometre cycling and jogging track and a spectacular seaside view, the facility is a great venue for a simple body workout. Bikes can be rented at less than 2 USD per hour.

5. Go on an island-hopping adventure.

While vacationing in Kota Kinabalu, never miss the opportunity to explore the nearby islands by booking an island-hopping tour. The best islands to visit are the ones that make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, namely, Manukan Island, Mamutik Island, Sapi Island, Sulug Island, and Gaya Island. You can go to these islands using the boat service provided at the Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal, the most popular ferry terminal in Kota Kinabalu. The boat terminal is just short walk from the city centre.

Are you ready for your Kota Kinabalu Adventure? Check out the amazing tour packages on

By: Brendelyn Balaga

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