things to do in Kota Kinabalu Malaysia

Amazing Things To Do in Kota Kinabalu Malaysia That You Should Try

Located on Borneo island, Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the state of Sabah. Kota Kinabalu has been growing as a tourist destination due to tropical islands, rainforests and Mount Kinabalu within drivable distance.

Checkout our travel tips to Malaysia and things to do in Penang before going.

The climate in Kota Kinabalu is 32°C all year round. Rainfall increases from May till September. Kota Kinabalu is the main gateway into the island of Borneo.

Quick Information on Malaysia

  • Currency: Ringgit (RM)
  • Language: Malaysian
  • Population: Over 32 million
  • Capital City: Kuala Lumpur
  • Best time to visit Malaysia: For visiting the east coast is from March to September since it is typically drier. For the west coast is from November to August.
  • How to get there: Yo can fly into Malaysia as there are flights to most major cities in Malaysia. Also You can enter by land through Thailand or via sea.

Where is Kota Kinabalu Malaysia?

Also referred to as KK, Kota Kinabalu is located on the west coast of Sabah.

Kota Kinabalu Malaysia Location on the Map
Kota Kinabalu Location

Things To Do in Kota Kinabalu Malaysia

Some of the things to do in Kota Kinabalu include diving, snorkelling, island hopping, parks, markets and scenic views.

Here’s our list of the things to do in Kota Kinabalu.

Visit Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is the second most important mosque in Kota Kinabalu after the State Mosque, located in Sembulan.

The mosque sits on a 14.83 acre site and on the shores of Likas Bay, on the South China Sea.

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque
Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

It was a blend of modern and Islamic architecture and it has a maximum capacity of 12,000 people. The mosque features an ATM, a palliative care clinic, a fish farm and much more.

The mosque is surrounded by man made lagoons that gives the mosque an elegant look, especially on a full moon night.

The opening times of the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is generally between 8am to 5pm. It is closed on Fridays. There are tours available of the mosque.

Explore Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

The Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is a group of five different islands, which are.

  • Pulau Gaya
  • Pulau Sapi
  • Manukan
  • Pulau Mamutik
  • Pulau Sulug

There are loads of beach activities that the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park organises. However, all these beach activities require a prior booking.

You can do various water sports like snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming and and see coral and marine life of the island. The island tours can be booked on the spot from where you will take your ferries.

Visit Manukan Island

Today, Manukan Island is the second largest island in the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park and Malaysia’s first marine national park.

The Island is surrounded by protected coral reef and the island boasts beautiful white sand beaches.

Manukan Island Kota Kinabalu
Manukan Island Kota Kinabalu

The island offers accommodation, coral reef, beaches, snorkelling, diving and swimming.

Visit Sapi Island

Sapi Island is another island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Its smaller than the Manukan Island but you can still find a good crowd there.

The island offers accommodation, coral reef, sand beaches, snorkelling, diving and swimming.

See The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is focused towards the rescue orphaned orangutans who have been left to fend for themselves due to illegal poaching and logging. While keeping them in their natural habitat.


You can feed them from the feeding platforms with the help of rangers and take photos.

The opening times of the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is generally between 8am to 5pm.

Entrance fee is RM30 for adult and RM15 for child.

Visit Tanjung Aru Food Court

Tanjung Aru food court opens from 12pm onwards until late. Here you find local food under one roof. It offers wide range of local foods such as local desserts, banana shakes, baby coconuts and delicious juice.

Asam Laksa
Asam Laksa

It is a great option with numerous stalls selling Nasi (rice) variety dishes with fish (Ikan), chicken (ayam), egg (goreng), chili for about 4-7 MYR per dish.

Enjoy The Views From The Observation Tower

This gives you a panoramic view of KK city. Has a little cafe for you to hang around. Admission is free and it opens from 8am – 12am.

Observatory Tower Kota Kinabalu
Observatory Tower Kota Kinabalu

You have the option of doing an uphill trekking where you can walk up there or you can just take a cab.

Visit Gaya Street Sunday Morning Market

There is the sunday market that’s worth a look. The sunday morning market is great way to pass an hour or two. It starts as early as 5.30am in the morning until 1pm.

A wide variety of stuff is available including fruits, vegetables, kittens, puppies, bags, clothes, etc.

See The Mari Mari Cultural Village

The Mari Mari Cultural Village is an interesting place to visit. Its located deep in the countryside away from the modern and developing Kota Kinabalu city.

The Mari Mari Cultural Village is set up as a living museum, with it aims to share the knowledge, history, culture and tradition of Borneo.

Mari Mari Cultural Village Sign
Mari Mari Cultural Village Sign

It’s reconstitution and home to 5 tribes. Guided tour show about their lives in the forest at each stop, their cultural and culinary habits, there tools and costumes.

The visit is concluded with a dance and music show, then a light lunch.

The entrance fee starts at RM180 for adult and RM160 for child.

Visit Tanjung Aru Beach

Kota Kinabalu’s Tanjung Aru beach is located near the airport just four miles south of the city center. The sunset can be beautiful if you are lucky.

The sea looks beautiful and the scenery but isn’t the best for swimming.

A food court right on the beach offers fresh, low-cost seafood as well as fruit and drinks nightly until midnight.

Visit Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

The Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is 280 acres in size and is made up of two parts. The first been the zoological and the second is the botanical side.

Located 30 minutes south of Kota Kinabalu by bus, Lok Kawi is a wildlife rehabilitation center.

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park
Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Among the many residents of the zoo are the Borneo Pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinoceros, Orang Utan, Proboscis monkey, Malayan Tiger as well as a few species of deer and other endangered species can be viewed.

There is an animal show at 11.00 am, that is entertaining. You can experience the animal feeding which ends by 2.30pm.

Need to take note that the animal show or animal feeding will not be carried out if raining. Carry with you some water, light food.

Try The Colonial Stream Train Excursion

This involves taking a journey back into the colonial days of British North Borneo on board the North Borneo Railway.

The British Vulcan Steam Engine Train, fueled by wood, runs gently from Tanjung Aru through the towns of Kinarut and Papar and returns on the same route.

Tanjung Aru Station, dates back to the 1900’s. Depart from the Tanjung Aru Station and make your way to Kinarut town inside the British Vulcan steam locomotive, making stops at Tien Shi Temple and traditional shops. And returns on the same route.

Visit Kokol Hill

If you are looking for some scenic views of Kota Kinabalu then Kokol Hill is a place you must go. It is a place, which can give you a perfect view of Mount Kinabalu and you can also enjoy a serene and sunset.

However be very careful being alone up there is dangerous. Don’t even think about walking down and enjoying the view a bit because you meet dangerous wild dogs who easily aim at attacking you

Where to Stay in Kota Kinabalu Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu has a fairly good selection of guest houses, hostels and hotels. Here are a few places to give you an idea of what is available in Kota Kinabalu, if you are planning to visit Kota Kinabalu Malaysia.

Remember to check the reviews and book a place that suits you interests while traveling.

Grand Borneo Hotel
Rating 7.5, Double Rooms start from $25

Grand Borneo Hotel offers rooms with air conditioning and a flat-screen TV. Also has an indoor pool and dining options with free internet.

Manukan Island Resort
Rating 9.0, One bed Villas start from $285

Manukan Island Resort offers air-conditioned wooden villas at Manukan combine traditional and modern elements. They are equipped with a private bathroom and satellite TV. And also an outdoor pool and restaurant.

Wrapping Up

Finally, Kota Kinabalu is a great place to visit especially if you want go go sight seeing or an enjoy the local food. There is plenty things to do in Kota Kinabalu Malaysia from visiting local mosques to going island hopping.

All you have to do is to choose the stuff you prefer and start enjoying what Kota Kinabalu has to offer.

And that’s it for now! I’d love to know if this guide on things to do in Kota Kinabalu Malaysia has helped you. Let me know if you have any questions and let me know if there is more to add.

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Things To Do in Kota Kinabalu Malaysia

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