Destination: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Malaysia

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Destination: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Malaysia

Stories are meant to be shared.

It’s 4am and I’m wide awake. Yesterday’s activity hit me like a two-ton truck and I just fell asleep for a good 6 hours. The corridor and kitchen were empty, so I raided their coffee stash like a caffeine addict would.

Everything seems so calm on Jalan Gaya street. As I peak on the 2nd floor window of the Sensi Backpackers Hostel all I can hear are the group of young men downstairs setting up tables on their store. I can picture them out preparing the Bak Kut Teh and Mee Goring for the busy crowd today.

The morning call to prayer (Adhan) are echoing nearby, and I’m tempted to get on the bike and ride towards the sound. Today our plan was to invade Kota Kinabalu with our curious eyes and satisfy our tongue and growling stomach.

But before that let’s rewind two days ago when we started our Kota Kinabalu Trip.
(Watch our Kota Kinabalu travel video here)

Davao Bloggers traveling to Kota Kinabalu

Team Kaladkarin on our way to Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia (Left to right) Paulina, Ria, Kezia & Renz

How To Get There:

If you’re from Manila, the flight only takes about 2 hours to reach Kota Kinabalu airport . There’s a lot of cheap flights online so it’s best to keep a close eye to promo fares being offered by airlines such as Cebu Pacific or Air Asia. (Promo Rates often go as low as Php3,000 for roundtrip ticket)

Promo fares have limited availability and are non-refundable but rebookable as long as you pay a rebooking fee. It cost Php550 for International Terminal fee and Php1,620 International Travel Tax.

Where to Stay:

There’s a lot of options for you to choose from when looking for hotels or homestay in Kota Kinabalu. Prices and accommodation varies, so pick whichever you think would fit your budget and ease.  Here are some of the top hotels in the area (check the links for more info):

  1. First try to look for accommodations through Airbnb. Lots of options you can choose from based on budget and travel needs.
  2. The Jesselton Hotel
  3. Hyatt Regency Kinabalu
  4. Hotel Sixty3
  5. 1 City Hotel
  6. Hotel Eden54

Click for the Map with other hotels listed in the area:

Personal suggestion:
When staying in Kota Kinabalu, choose the hotel closest and most convenient for your travel plans. In our case, me and my friends decided to stay in Gaya Street, located in the Kota Kinabalu Central Business District. Lots of restaurants, cafe’s, hotels and hostels in the area. Every Sunday morning, the length of Gaya Street is closed off to traffic to make way for the Fair.

Where we stayed:
Sensi Backpackers Inn – Php350/night/pax
The place is cozy and clean plus unlimited coffee. 🙂  Perfect for a large group. 

Jalan Gaya Street

Gaya Street in Kota Kinabalu Central Business District has been the centre of business for over a hundred years.



Gaya Street Kota Kinabalu

Every Sunday morning, the length of Gaya Street is closed off to traffic to make way for the Fair.

Top Things to do in Kota Kinabalu:

  1. Climb Mt. Kinabalu
    – If I can only visit one place on Sabah, Malaysia, then it has to be Mount Kinabalu. It is a World Heritage Site and Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. Personally I’d like to have this checked off my bucket list, unfortunately during our visit the trail was closed for visitors.
    Check this link for detailed information on how to get from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu National Park.
  2. Have a City Tour
    – A great way to enjoy your visit to KK would be exploring the city. Head on out to some of the city’s most interesting landmarks like University Malaysia Sabah, the Sabah Museum and City Mosque. You can also visit Signal Hill, it’s a natural hilltop observatory. Ready your camera so you can capture the stunning views of the city’s landscape below.The city tour wont be complete without shopping, so drop by at any local handicraft shop for some souvenirs (lots of them can be seen around Gaya area) or visit Suria Sabah Mall for a complete shopping option.

    Signal Hill, Kota Kinabalu

    At Signal Hill Observatory Tower with Davao Bloggers Team Kaladkarin (Renz, Paulina, Me & Kezia)

  3. Visit Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
    – If you’re up to some fun and wet relaxation at the beach then this would be a great option to be added on your Kota Kinabalu itinerary. Enjoy the beaches of KK by visiting the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. It consist of a cluster of islands; Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug.There’s a lot of beach activities you and your friends can enjoy such as snorkeling, diving, parasailing, flyfish, jet ski and many more. You can book an Island tours on the spot at the Jesselton Jetty except for diving which requires prior arrangements with a dive center. Island hopping is also an alternative.Check this site for prices and information – Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.

    Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

    Parasailing at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

  4. Check out the Mari Mari Cultural Village
    – If you’d like to know KK more, the best way to do it is by observing and understanding its culture. 20-30 minutes away from Central KK  you can reach the Mari Mari Cultural village where they showcases many tribal practices and traditional homes. This wasn’t part of our itinerary but all throughout our trip I’ve thought about visiting it.
  5. Explore the Wildlife
    – If exploring the wildlife, watching birds or even catching a glimpse of  Proboscis Monkey is one of the things you’d like to do, then you need to get out of the city center and travel to Garama Wetland. It will take you two hours to reach the area and another 1 1/2 for the cruise on the Garama River. Note that this is not the only place you can do wildlife exploration in Kota Kinabalu, there’s a lot. You just need to research and pick the best option for you when you visit.
  6. Food Trip & Drinks
    Now, this is my favorite part of traveling. I love eating and Kota Kinabalu respects that by giving us more restaurant and food spots to dine in. From Bah Kut Teh, Laksa, Assam Pedas or Roti kahwin, never discriminate food. Eat all of it. Seriously though, Kota Kinabalu have lots of delicious food to offer. So try as many as you can and enjoy dining.  Check out this site for more info: the Waterfront as well if you’d like to dine and have some good entertainment. One of the popular hangouts in KK.

    The Waterfront, Kota Kinabalu

    Enjoying the sunset at The Waterfront, Kota Kinabalu

    There are plenty of things to do in Kota Kinabalu, just remember to enjoy and have fun while your there. Bring your friends, pick the itinerary that suits your travel wants then pack your bags and fly to Kota Kinabalu. Enjoy! 🙂


Stories are meant to be shared.
Fra Jamir

Fra Jamir

Hi, I'm Fra, a complete nutjob and a junkie for wanderlust! Join me as I travel the Philippines and more. Let me share you my story and be inspired to live an adventurous & delicious life. ~Ta ta ta! Takaw Travels!