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Kota Kinabalu Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 2 days

Best Time: September to December Read More

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"The city of beautiful rainforests and calming islands"

Kota Kinabalu Tourism

Kota Kinabalu, commonly referred to as KK, is the capital of Sabah. The city lies on the fringes of the South China Sea and is home to the majestic Mount Kinabalu, after which it is named. Serviced by Kota Kinabalu International Airport, this city serves as the gateway to eastern Malaysia and particularly to Malaysian Borneo. While still being home to several historical sites, Kota Kinabalu is fast emerging as a modern tourist hub with fast emerging skyscrapers, trendy cafes and restaurants and tropical beachsides resorts and hotels.

Kota Kinabalu mainly hosts visitors for a tropical beachside experience. Resorts on or near the coastline are very popular among tourists, offering guests activities such as spas, cruises and watersports. Kota Kinabalu resort waterfront is an area replete with chic bars, cafes, and restaurants and even hosts a golf course. Away from the mainland are several islands, located within a short boat ride away, which are perfect for a day trip from the city. These islands also are home to premium resorts for those looking to stay over a night or two.

Within the confines of the city limits, tourists can indulge themselves in a lot of shopping, whether in the large luxury shopping malls or the traditional markets. In addition, Kota Kinabalu has several artisan markets to be explored, where visitors can browse through items to take back as souvenirs. Apart from shopping, there are art galleries, museums and a few historical sites standing to explore for a more traditional touristy experience.

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Shopping in Kota Kinabalu

There are tons of shopping opportunities for tourists visiting KK. Centre Point Sabah is a big mall, fitted out with all your needs. Also make sure to visit the Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market for the beautifully designed local handicrafts as well as souvenirs. 1 Borneo Hypermall is the biggest mall in all of Sabah. You can get there free of cost by taking the free shuttle from Warisan Square.

Nightlife in Kota Kinabalu

KK Waterfront and Times Square are the two prime spots for great nightlife. Visit AruBa, which faces the sea. Other options are Shenanigan Fun Pub, Chocolate Factory (which is actually a club), Shamrock Irish Bar and Sunset Bar, to take in a lovely Kota Kinabalu sunset.

Exchanging Money in Kota Kinabalu

Currency can be exchanged at the airport primarily. There are also several stalls in shopping malls that deal in currency exchange. However, better exchange rates are offered at the airport.

Currency in Kota Kinabalu

The currency of KK is the Malaysian ringgit (RM). There also several banks here with ATMs at your service.

Daily Budget for Kota Kinabalu

Travelling on a budget in KK will cost you approximately RM 20. A mid-range option would come up to RM 50. A luxurious stay in Luxor will cost you RM 85 to 100, depending on what you spend on.

Kota Kinabalu Customs

It is important to dress according to their etiquette. Always remove your footwear before entering a mosque. Women should keep their head, arms and knees covered when in places of worship. Tipping is not really expected, but it is always alright to tip for good service.

Religion of Kota Kinabalu

A major chunk of the population here are Chinese, followed by Kadazandusun, Brunei Malays and Bajau.

Language of Kota Kinabalu

Basic English is understood and spoken by a lot of the locals. Chinese, Mandarin, Malay, Hakka and Cantonese are also spoken here.

History of Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu was initially called Jesselton. This was during the British rule. But in 1963, when the British left the country, Sabah was made a part of Malaysia. World War II brought about the destruction of various towns due to bombs. Later on, it was all restored to form the coastal city that it is today.

Best Time to Visit Kota Kinabalu

How to Reach Kota Kinabalu

How to Reach Overview

You can get in to Kota Kinabalu by train, plane, bus and boat services.

How to reach Kota Kinabalu by flight

Arrive at Kota Kinabalu International Airport. Airport buses are available to take you to the city. Tickets for these are RM 5 for an adult and RM 3 for a child. You can also take a minibus or a taxi from the airport.

How to reach Kota Kinabalu by road

You can rent a car or even a taxi to drive into Kota Kinabalu, which has a great route.

How to reach Kota Kinabalu by train

The Sabah State Railway has AC trains running from Tanjung Aru to Tenom as well as KK to Beaufort.

How to reach Kota Kinabalu by bus

Buses arrive at KK from multiple locations and routes _ Beaufort, Sipitang, Lawas, Menumbok, etc.

How to reach Kota Kinabalu by waterways

You can get to Kota Kinabalu from Labuan. The journey will take about 3 hours. You will alight at the Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal.

Local transport in Kota Kinabalu

Taxis are most commonly used to get around the city. Make sure to set up a fair price with the driver before getting in. However, most people use Uber. Buses and minibuses are also used to travel within the city. Use the City Bus to get around the city. Itês green and yellow in colour and leaves from Wawasan Bus Terminal. You can also rent a car or a bike and drive it around yourself, from various rental companies.

Kota Kinabalu Photos

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

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FAQs on Kota Kinabalu

What is the best way to reach Kota kinabalu?

You can get in to Kota Kinabalu by train, plane, bus and boat services.
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What are the places near Kota kinabalu?

The top places near to Kota kinabalu are Kuala lumpur which is 1625 km from Kota kinabalu, Georgetown which is located 1745 km from Kota kinabalu, Melaka which is located 1590 km from Kota kinabalu, Penang which is located 1743 km from Kota kinabalu, Petaling jaya which is located 1636 km from Kota kinabalu

What are the things to do in Kota kinabalu?

The top things to do in Kota kinabalu are Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, Mount Kinabalu, Manukan Island, Tanjung Aru Beach, Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, Sapi Island. You can see all the places to visit in Kota kinabalu here

What are the top hotels in Kota kinabalu?

There are 824 in Kota kinabalu which can be booked through Holidify. The most popular hotels in Kota kinabalu are Homestay Serviced Apartment - Marina Court, KK Holiday Suites Apartment, 2775 sqf Sunset Luxury Condo, J&M The Loft Imago Shopping Mall, ★Gorgeous Nature Inspired Family Pad w Concierge★B3-1B ·, 27 Residence. You can see all the hotels in Kota kinabalu here

How much does a package cost for Kota kinabalu?

The packages for Kota kinabalu start at INR 79990 which can be further customized based on number of people, days, hotel category, vehicle type and customizations. You can have a look at all packages here

What is the local food in Kota kinabalu?

KK is popular for its authentic Chinese fare, followed by wonderful seafood dishes. Claypot Rice, Laksa, etc are some dishes that you must try. Kampung Nelayan Floating Seafood Market Restaurant is a must-visit for seafood lovers and Nagisa, located inside the Hyatt Regency, is famous for its Japanese food.
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What is the best time to visit Kota kinabalu?

The best time to visit Kota Kinabalu would be from December to April when it's the peak season. The weather is at its best during this time to visit the beaches and go mount climbing at the Mount Kinabalu. Other activities that are more prominent are the white water river rafting and deep sea fishing. The winter months are also a great time to explore the nature parks present near Kot Kinabalu. People who want to beat the flock of tourists in winter may plan a visit during the Autumn months which lasts from September to November. The accommodations are quite cheap as it's an off-season for tourism. It is important to note that there might be intermittent showers but less as compared to the summer months. Spring from April to Early May are another great time to visit Kota Kinabalu. Although these months are prone to rains hampering the trip at times, this is an off/shoulder season, an excellent time for budget travellers and people who don't mind little showers. Outdoor activities aren't completely shut off as you can still go boating and mountain biking on dry days. Summers are not a great time to visit Kota Kinabalu as there are heavy showers at times, the beaches are the only good part of Summers. It is best to keep your umbrellas and rain gear if you're visiting during this time. 
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