Shopping in Kota Kinabalu - Top Malls, Markets & Things to Buy

Named after Mount Kinabalu, Kota Kinabalu is the state capital of Sabah, Malaysia. Like many of the Asian countries, Kota Kinabalu has several shopping spots ranging from malls to flea markets to night markets, where you will find things that you want to buy and not buy too. These shopping places cover everything – handicrafts, branded stores, food courts, souvenirs, and local food. The shopping scene here is vibrant, and tourists often take chocolates, liquors, handicrafts, and pearl jewellery back home with them!

Best Shopping Places in Kota Kinabalu

1. Imago Shopping Mall

Imago shopping mall in Kota Kinabalu
Imago shopping mall tops the list of the best shopping places in Kota Kinabalu. This 4-level shopping mall with around 300-tenants offers its visitors a plethora of options- retail, entertainment, and dining outlets. Each floor of the mall is designed to meet the special needs of visitors like essential needs, electronics, couture, local fashion, amusements, etc. A striking feature of this mall is that every two hours from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm, there is an ethnic dance performance at the mall’s welcome gate to welcome the visitors.
Location: IMAGO Shopping Mall KK Times Square Phase 2, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

2. Suria Sabah

The stunning building of Suria Sabah Mall in Kota Kinabalu
This modern one-stop mall is loved by the locals and the tourists who visit Kota Kinabalu. Facing the South China sea, the mall spreads across 11 acres. It caters to the needs of shoppers from all walks of life, having something for everybody. It is consistently improving its facilities and the diversity of products it has to offer.
Location: Jln Tun Fuad Stephen, Kota Kinabalu

3. Centre Point Sabah

The outer facade of Centre Point Sabah Mall in Kota Kinabalu
Centre Point Sabah is one of the oldest malls in Kota Kinabalu. It is undoubtedly the busiest and the most convenient 4-floors of shopping spot. Its entertainment galore is spread across the 5th and the 8th floor. If you want to go shopping in Kota Kinabalu, Centre Point Sabah could be the perfect starting point! It has all sorts of clothing, shoes, beauty products, perfumes, book shops, stationery shops, restaurants that cater to all tastes, and a lot more to offer. 
Location: 1, Centre Point Road, Kota Kinabalu

4. Kadaiku

Kadaiku Shopping Centre in Kota Kinabalu
Kadaiku, which means ‘my shop’ in the local dialect, is a treasure of mementos for souvenirs and handicrafts in Kota Kinabalu. It specializes in 100% authentic local handicrafts featuring a range of unique Sabah handmade handicrafts. They also customize gifts and hampers on special requests. This shop has something for everyone, a little of Sabahan culture that can be brought back home.
Location: Lot 5, Ground Floor, Block L, Sinsuran Complex, Kota Kinabalu

5. 1Borneo

1Borneo Shopping Mall in Kota Kinabalu
Also known as 1Borneo Hypermall, it is the largest shopping complex in East Malaysia and is regarded as Borneo Island’s largest mall. This entire project houses three hotels. It hosts a number of exhibitions and events and caters to a number of restaurants, fancy fashion labels, entertainment outlets, appliance stores, etc. 
Location: Jalan Sulaman, Kota Kinabalu

6. Oceanus Waterfront Mall

Located strategically near hotels, commercial outlets, and business districts, Oceanus Waterfront Mall is the first-ever waterfront landmark in Kota Kinabalu. What compliments this shopping centre the best is the waterfront and the exotic oasis being built by in an iconic nautical design. This shopping mall spreads across 4- floors catering to some very well-known fashion labels and brands along with local brands found in specialty boutiques. It has a 2km long extended waterfront boardwalk designed to host various events. A visit to the Oceanus Waterfront Mall is sure to leave you mesmerized with want for more!
Location: Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Kota Kinabalu

7. City Mall Kota Kinabalu

City mall in Kota Kinabalu
A 15 minutes taxi ride from the center of the town, this mall caters to the locals residing in and around the place. This mall is busy during the weekends and holidays, increasing road traffic. It comprises of restaurants, clothing stores, accessories stores, several chains of fast food joints, bookstore, electronic and computer shops.
Location: Asian Highway, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

8. Karamunsing Complex

Panoramic view Karamunsing Complex in Kota Kinabalu
One of the earliest shopping centres in Kota Kinabalu along with Centre Point, Karamunsing Complex is known for IT products and services. You can find a great variety of electronics here right from smartphones to household electronics and parts of the CPU. It also offers a great deal of food ranging from local and Chinese to Mamak and  Malay food along with famous food chains.
Location: Lorong Karamunsing, Karamunsing, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

9. Gaya Street Sunday Morning

The colourful Gaya Street in Kota Kinabalu
A Sunday market area of Kota Kinabalu, it is also dubbed as Chinatown of Sabah due to the presence of many Chinese outlets (coffee shops and restaurants). This street was known as Bond Street during the British colonial era. To a surprise, this Sunday market also sells pets along with agricultural products, local food, souvenirs, crafts and arts, footwear, and antiques. Chinese immigrants along with Filipino and Indonesian traders can be commonly found here making a trip selling and buying things. What makes this place special is the fact that this place still houses some of the generations-old family businesses passed down from fathers to their sons and so on.
Location: Gaya Street, Kota Kinabalu

10. Filipino Market

Filipino Market in Kota Kinabalu
Comprising of a wet market, night market, handicraft complex, and hawker center, the Filipino market is the most sought after and preferred place for souvenirs and seafood in town. It is a major tourist attraction and shopping centre in the city of Kota Kinabalu.
Location: Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen, Kota Kinabalu

Souvenirs & Things to Buy in Kota Kinabalu

1. Traditional Music Instrument

Sape is Musical Instrument found in Kota Kinabalu
Music is vital to the Sabahan culture and symbolizes traditional harmony across the inhabitants through the years. Each piece of these instruments is beautifully carved, cut, and tested. Most of these instruments are a creation of natural products like bamboo, wood, and goat-skin to name a few. TongLungon, Turali, Suling (or flute), Sompoton, Togunggak, Gambus, Kompang, Gendang, and Gongs are few of the many instruments one can find and get back home for the music loving friends and families.
Where to Find: 
  • Kadaiku - Ground Floor, Block L, Kota Kinabalu
  • Filipino Market - Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu
  • Zoso Music Sdn Bhd - Aeropod Aeropod Commercial Square, Jalan Kepayan, Tanjung Aru, 88100 Kota Kinabalu

2. Handmade Chocolates

Chocolate is something that the Malaysian’s are very proud of. Malaysian cacao is now grown in Sabah. Although chocolates are very mainstream, you can never go wrong with handmade chocolates made with love. You will find chocolates made from locally grow Sabah cocoa. A few of these chocolates have inclusions like cacao nibs and lineup in flavours like Banana, Sabah tea, Durian milk to more staples ones like Almond and Peanut.
Where to Find: 
  • Bonaterra Chocolate - Jalan Tuaran, Menggatal, 88450 Kota Kinabalu
  • Simply Chocolate - Taman Milik 1, 88300 Kota Kinabalu
  • Cocoa Kingdom Kota Kinabalu - Tanjung Aru, 88100 Kota Kinabalu
  • Camaca Chocolate KK - Jalan Dewan, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu 

3. Amplang

Amplang on a plate found in Kota Kinabalu
A traditional Indonesian savory, this food item is commonly found in Malaysia. It is a fish cracker snack commonly made of wahoo or any other Spanish mackerel, mixed with starch and other materials, and then fried. You will find these not only in the fish flavours but also in flavours such as crabs and seaweeds. They are popularly found in the east of Sabah where seafood is abundant.
Where to Find: Gaya Street Sunday Market - Kota Kinabalu

4. Pearl Jewellery

Pearl Jewellery
Pearl shopping is quite a famous thing to do when in Kota Kinabalu. These pearls come in all shapes and sizes and tinge. However, while buying beware of artificial pearls. Before you go pearl shopping, make sure you read a little on how to distinguish between the real and the fake ones.
Where to Find: 
  • Jamilah Jewellery - Ground floor, Block H, Lot 3, Lorong Sinsuran 4, Sinsuran Kompleks, 88000 Kota Kinabalu
  • Bejewelled - Oceanus Waterfront Mall, Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen, 88000 Kota Kinabalu
  • Filipino Market - Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu

5. Kuih Cincin

A packet of Kuih cincin
Cincin, which translates to ‘ring cakes’ in English, is a traditional Kuih found in the state of Sabah. It is a super crunchy snack, and you can experience smoky, sweet, and milky flavour all at once.

6. Handicrafts

Bamboo Baskets found in Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu has a number of handicrafts to offer right from traditional musical instruments to pearls, textiles, bamboo crafts, jewelry, and the seashell crafts. Apart from this, you will also find souvenir T-shirts, stuffed toy orangutans, and sarongs. You will also find beautiful pareos in Kota Kinabalu. You might return home with authentic sompoton (a traditional wind instrument), a Murut headhunter’s blowpipe, a coconut-shaped handbag, or a wooden-frog that ‘sings’ when you stroke its back with a wooden stick.
Where to Fine:
  • Handicraft Market - Pasar kraftangan, Jalan Sinsuran, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu
  • Kadaiku - Ground Floor, Block L, Kota Kinabalu
  • Jesselton Paradise Handicraft - Warisan Square, Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu

7. Sabah Tea

Sabah Tea is the local brand of tea grown in Sabah. Drinking tea is deeply rooted in the Sabahan culture and enjoyed by the people too. The Sabah Tea Garden is the only organically grown tea in Borneo. Cultivated across the 2,480-hectare plantation Sabah Tea leaves are 100% pesticide-free. The Sabah Tea Garden is also the largest commercial plantation in Borneo, producing eight varieties of tea namely cinnamon, ginger, geranium, pandan, Tongkat Ali, lemongrass, and misai kucing (cat’s whiskers). Sabah Tea is a perfect product or a gift for your tea-lover family and friends.
Where to Find: 
  • Kadaiku - Ground Floor, Block L, Kota Kinabalu
  • Land Below The Wind Specialities & Souvenirs - Warisan Square, Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen, 88000 Kota Kinabalu
  • Borneo Recipe - Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu
  • Gaya Souvenir Centre - Wisma Bumi Jalan Gaya, Gaya Street, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu

8. Seaweed (Sea Bird Nest)

A bowl of fried Sea Bird Nest
Eucheuma cottonii or Sea bird nest is a 100% organic coral that grows naturally in the sea. it is deemed to be very healthy and has a number of health benefits attached to it. It is rich in enzyme nutrients, minerals, calcium, and iron. It is very healthy for children, pregnant women, menopausal women, and the elderly. Some of its benefits include glowing healthy skin, normalize thyroid gland functioning, improves blood circulation, and cold. The seaweed in true sense is a gift from the sea since it contains zero chemicals and artificial fertilizers and brings with it a number of health benefits.
Where to Find:
  • Borneo Recipe - Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens,, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu,, 88000 Kota Kinabalu
  • Gaya Souvenir Centre - Wisma Bumi Jalan Gaya, Gaya Street, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu
  • Borneo (Sabah) Bird's Nest Export Sdn. Bhd. - Jalan Bantayan Minintod, Kampung Pangasaan, Inanam, 89357 Kota Kinabalu
With the ever so expanding and vibrant shopping scene in Kota Kinabalu, one is sure to find something they will love to take back home! Don’t forget to check these places out and take something back home for all your loved ones.

This post was published by Yashi Shah

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