What to do in Kota Kinabalu – activities and places to visit

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kota kinabalu city
Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of Sabah located on the west coast of Sabah. Kota Kinabalu, better known as KK by locals, is the perfect jumping-off point to explore the stunning nature that surrounds the city. The city center is compact and offers plenty of activities for tourists and visiting friends. You can easily spend up to 3 days at the city center or take a day tour to discover the other town which is few hours drive away from Kota Kinabalu City center.
If you visiting Kota Kinabalu for the first time and thinking of what to do in Kota Kinabalu, check out our recommendation of activities and places to visit when in  Kota Kinabalu.

3 Days 2 nights in Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu Itinerary

1Discover the local Sabah Foods

Once you check-in to your hotel/guesthouse, the first things to do is check out the foods. Kota Kinabalu City is compact and you can easily discover the foods. Foods are generally cheap and can be easily found at every corner of KK City. Check out our beginner guide to Kota Kinabalu food if you want to know more about food culture in Kota Kinabalu

2Visit Gaya Street (Sunday Market)

Gaya Street is the oldest street in Kota Kinabalu and every Sunday, the street is turned into a pedestrian street with vendors selling a variety of kinds of stuff from local fruits to pets. During the weekday, the street is the center of commercial activities with bank and business.

3Island hopping at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

The Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park comprises a group of 5 islands, namely Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik. The Islands are located between 3 and 8 km off Kota Kinabalu accessible via 15 – 20 minutes speedboat ride. You can take a boat ride from the official jetty (Jesselton Point, Sutera Marina and STAR Marina).

3 Days 2 nights in Kota Kinabalu

4Learn to dive or continue your SCUBA diving training with PADI dive courses in Kota Kinabalu

Get your scuba diving certification with the PADI Open Water Diver course and set yourself up for a lifetime of maritime memories. The PADI Open Water Course in Kota Kinabalu diving on the islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park which consist of Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik, and Sulug. This will enable you to, dive to a depth no greater than 60 ft (18m) independently with a certified buddy that has the equivalent or higher level certification while applying the knowledge and skills that you learned during the PADI Diving course. The course takes 3.5 days to complete (0.5 days for the required pre-study, 3 days on boat diving).

5Ziplining between two islands

Since you already at Sapi Island (part of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park),  have an adventure of your lifetime with Coral Flyer Zipline. Just get yourself to Jesselton Point and purchase a return ticket to Pulau Sapi. Once there, pay at the Coral Flyer counter at the entrance and a boat will transport you to Pulau Gaya, from where you will zip line back. The starting point of the line was atop a hill at Pulau Gaya, about 45m above sea level, and riders gradually descend to an 8m-high platform at Pulau Sapi. Coral Flyer Zipline Kota Kinabalu Sabah is the longest zip line in Borneo from island to island and the second longest in the world.

6Join KK (Kota Kinabalu) Free Walking Tour

KK Free Walking Tour is a collaboration between the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) and Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA). The 2-hour tour is run 3 x weekly (Tue, Thur, Sat) and cover at least ten places of interest. Make sure you make a booking if you interested to join the tour.

3 Days 2 nights in Kota Kinabalu

7Enjoy the beautiful Sunset of Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu is voted as one of the world’s top places to watch the sunset and there are many places around the city where you can enjoy the sunset. Check out the top spot for sunset in Kota Kinabalu.

Sunset bar

8Join the Sunset cruise

North Borneo Cruise offers 2 hours of entertainment, dining and sunset view if you looking to experience the sunset viewing from the sea. You can book your Sunset and City Dinner Cruise.and enjoy a different kind of sunset experience from the sea.

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North Borneo Cruises

9Get some suntan at Tanjung Aru Beach

Tanjung Aru Beach is the favorite beach for the locals and opens to the public every day. Simply grab transportation to Tanjung Beach and you are set to enjoy the beach and sun.

10Visit the “Tamu”, the open market of Sabah

Looking to experience the local way of life, take a visit to the local Tamu.  Pronounced as “tah-moo”,  Tamu is a place to sell and buy, but mostly exchange goods and food, a natural market where farmers and artisans gather around to market their products. One of the most accessible Tamu is Donggongon Tamu (Wednesday to Friday).
Tame Donggongon

11Visit the floating mosque

The Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is the second main mosque in Kota Kinabalu and better known as the floating mosque of Kota Kinabalu as it is partially surrounded by a human-made lagoon. The Mosque is located about 5km from KK City center and you will need to rent appropriate clothing to enter the mosque.

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3 Days 2 nights in Kota Kinabalu

12Visit Kokol hill and enjoy the amazing view of Kota Kinabalu City

Kokol hill is a favorite place for locals around Kota Kinabalu to relax and enjoy the wonderful scenery of Kota Kinabalu city. Kokol Hill is located at Menggatal and because of its strategic location, Kokol Hill offers Sunrise view of Mount Kinabalu and Sunset view overlooking the city. It took only 45 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu city center and you will be surrounded by nature and fresh cool air.
Kokol Hill

Kokol Hill

13Take a road trip to Tip of Borneo

Tip of Borneo is located in the Kudat Peninsula, about three and a half hours (or 215 kilometers) drive from Kota Kinabalu City. On the way to Kudat, you will pass by Kota Belud town which is famous for its’s paddy field and Mount Kinabalu view. Once you reached Kudat, you can find many beautiful beaches on the way to the Tip of Borneo.
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Kudos

Kudos

Kudos

14Take a road trip to Kundasang and Ranau

A trip to Sabah is not complete without a visit to Kundasang. Kundasang is popular for its fresh vegetable farm, Desa Cattle farm, Kundasang War Memorial and panoramic view of Mount Kinabalu.  With an elevation of about 2,000 meters above sea level, it is one of the coolest places in Sabah with temperatures dropping to 13ºC at night. Kundasang is popular among locals especially during weekends and public holidays.

Ranau is located about 20 km east of Kundasang and is home to Sabah Tea Garden, the organic tea garden in Borneo Island. At Ranau, you can also take a visit to the Poring hot spring and the canopy walk.

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Ranau Kundasang

Kundasang

Ranau Kundasang

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Joanne Lee

Chief Eater Extraordinaire of Sabaheats
I cook, I eat and I always looking for good food!