First published on June 2015, last update 27 July 2016
Kota Kinabalu provides no limit on things to do, some awesome and some not so awesome. Since time is precious in this colourful city, we decided to curate a list of things to do in Kota Kinabalu every year that’ll help you decide how you want to spend your limited supply of attention.
KOTA KINABALU THINGS TO DO
So grab some friends or go at it alone, but most importantly have fun and enjoy yourself!
Last updated on June 2015. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d want to add more to the list. Businesses included in the list are welcome to attach discounts or coupons for our readers.
Disclaimer: SabahGuide.com only provides activity guidelines and tour information. We do not provide tour services. Tour services are handled by licensed guides registered under Sabah Tourism Board (However you can rent your own car for more flexibility). Activity marked with * are handled by tour agents. They will get in touch with you with best price quotations. For the rest of activities, your enquiry will be forward to the respective service provider.
THINGS TO DO IN KOTA KINABALU
1. Indulge in all delicious foods KK has to offer
The 50 Must Eat Foods in Kota Kinabalu listed on eatbah.com proves that the city is a foodie heaven. Indulge in local favourites including the freshest seafood and a variety of slurp worthy noodle dishes!
2. Go on an excursion at Pulau Tiga
Make your way to Pulau Tiga, one of the secret locations in the hit reality TV series Survivor. Lather yourself in therapeutic volcanic mud and say hello to the resident sea snakes for around RM500.
3. Play Bumper Ball at OriZorb Adventure Encase yourself in a giant plastic bubble and beat the competition in a game of soccer or sumo. This outdoor activity is held at the Likas Stadium running track. To get your game on call +60 11 230 9818 and sign up for only RM28.
4. Cycle through the city
Explore the city and enjoy the breathtaking costal view as you sweat it out on the 5.2-kilometre cycling track at Tanjung Lipat. Bicycles can be at rented at a minimum of RM5 per hour at T-Cyclo. Call +60 19 520 5071 or email email@example.com for details.
5. Explore Gaya Street Sunday market
Every Sunday, Gaya street transforms into a bustling market chock full of stalls selling everything imaginable. This is the best place to hunt for souvenirs and local delicacies! The market operates from 6:30am to 1:00pm.
6. Coconut pudding and lokam at Salut
Located an hour away from the city centre is Jalan Sulaman and is a ritual for locals taking this route to make a pit stop at the roadside stalls selling kelapa bakar (burnt coconut) which is believed to have healing properties. Other popular items to try include coconut pudding and barbecued lokam (clams).
7. Chillout at Tanjung Aru beach Enjoy refreshing coconut juice at the Tanjung Aru food court while munching on keropok (fish crackers) and other yummy snacks. It’s best to go during sundown, as the view overlooking the South China Sea is spectacular! A fresh coconut will cost RM4 whilst a packet of keropok is selling for around RM3.
8. Devour steamed buns at old kopitiam
There’s nothing quiet like a piping hot steamed bun for breakfast or tea break! From savoury to sweet, you can enjoy these delicious treats at various kopitiams (coffee shops) for RM1.60 to RM2 per bun. We recommend Fu Yuan & Keng Wan Hing.
9.Enjoy pint of draught beer at Shamrock Irish Bar
Located at the Kota Kinabalu Waterfront, the Shamrock Irish Bar is a popular watering hole that is packed to the brim almost every night. Order a pint of draught beer at RM22 while enjoying live music from some of the best bands in the city. Business hours are from 12:00pm to 1:00am.
10. Have a mind-boggling adventure at Grand Illusions
Have an out of the world experience at Grand Illusions, an optical illusion centre located at Tanjung Aru. Ticket prices are between RM20 to RM35 and special family passes and group packages are also available. Call +60 88 211 391 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
11. Go on a movie marathon
Movie buffs can enjoy some of the latest blockbusters at one of the various cinemas. You can check out the latest listing and showtimes at http://www.showtimes2u.com. Tickets cost around RM10 per movie.
12. Feast upon fresh seafood at the Filipino night market
Every night the strip across the Le Meridien hotel transforms into seafood paradise with a myriad of stalls selling every kind of seafood that is available (Sinsuran Night Market). Pick and choose your fare and ask for it to be prepared in whatever style you want! Barbeque is definitely a local favourite.
13. Spoil yourself at Jari Jari Spa
Pamper yourself at this award-winning spa that offers treatments based on age-old holistic therapies and techniques. The spa has three outlets located at the Suria Sabah shopping mall, Tanjung Aru Plaza and the Palace Hotel. Treatments cost from RM96 and above. For enquires, visit www.jarijari.com.my or call +60 88 487 259 / 272 606 / 311 696.
14. Conquer your fear of heights at Zip Borneo
Dare devils looking for a thrill can head over to Zip Borneo at Kiulu to conquer the longest zipline in Borneo that hasa total length of 320 meters (about 1,050 feet). Various packages are available and prices start from RM40. Make your reservation by calling +60 13-8088075 or +60 88-269289 or emailing email@example.com.
15. White water raft at Kiulu or Padas River
Water babies seeking adventure can join a white water rafting excursion at the infamous Kiulu or Padas River, which ranges from grade I to IV. . Prices begin at RM 196. 10 for adults and RM 148.40 for children. For bookings contact River Bug at +60 88 260 501 / 260 502 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
16. Learn how to cook ethnic food at the Mari Mari Cultural Village
Immerse yourself in the local culture while enjoying a bamboo cooking demonstration and learning how to cook delicious traditional meals. Prices are from RM145 and above per person. Call +60 13 881 4921 (Ednah) or +60 19 820 4921 (Watie) to sign up for a cooking class.
17. Take a day trip to Ranau
Pack your bags and go on a day trip to Ranau! Located about 100 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu, a car ride will take about 2 hours and 30 minutes. You can get up close and personal with Mount Kinabalu, enjoy a relaxing dip at Poring Hot Spring and learn how to make cheese at the Desa Cattle Dairy Farm.
18. Mountain Biking Excursions at Kiulu or Tuaran
People often cycle within city area these days (cycling is all the rage right now) – but have you cycled in towns that is surrounded by amazing scenary? Trek Finder Tours offers amazing cycling tour packages at Kiulu or Tuaran. Email email@example.com +60 88 319 480.
19. Enjoy the natural beauty of Bukit Padang
Also known as Tun Fuad Stephens Park, Bukit Padang is a popular venue for joggers. Feed the fishes at the lake before hiking up to the hilltop to enjoy the gorgeous sunset. Entrance is free.
20. Go down memory lane at the Sabah State Museum
Built in 1985, the Sabah State Museum & Heritage Village is the place to be for history and cultural buffs. Opening hours are from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily and entrance fees are RM2 for MyKad holders and RM15 for other visitors. For more info, call +60 88 253 199 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
21. Stay overnight at Kundasang
Located in the district of Ranau, Kundasang is famed for its panaromic view of Mount Kinabalu and its fresh produce. Enjoy the cold breeze and stay at one of the many hotels and resorts and available nearby.
22. Go on a luxury weekend getaway
Escape for the weekend at a one of the luxury resort. From international chains to homegrown hideaways, you definitely get pampered by five-star service as you recharge and rejuvenate yourself!
23. Take a jog at Perdana Park or Likas Sports Complex
During your stay, squeeze in a morning run or evening workout at the popular Perdana Park in Tanjung Aru or Likas Sports Complex. Enjoy a colourful display of the musical water fountain at Perdana Park that comes to life at 7:00pm. Entrance is free, but parking charges apply.
24. Go to Tip of Borneo at Kudat
Located at the Northern most tip of Borneo, Tanjung Simpang Mengayau boast of stunning views where the South China Sea meets the Sulu Sea.
On the way up there, stop by at Gombizau Honey Bee Farm and Kampung Sumangkap Gong Factory. Admission fee is RM5 each for the farm and factory.
25. Discover marine life at the Aquarium and Marine Museum
This state-of-the-art Aquarium and Marine Museum is an extension of the Universiti Malaysia Sabah campus.
Aimed at promoting conservation and sustainable development, visitors can explore the free-standing exhibition tanks, live open water reef exhibition centre, mangrove walk and many more.
Entrance fee starts from RM5 excluding camera passes. For extra info, call +60 88-320 121 or email email@example.com.
26. Learn the historical landmarks in KK
Discover the history of Sabah and its people by signing up for the two-hour KK Heritage Walk. RM120 will get you a guided tour of the city’s streets and landmarks including the Atkinson Clock Tower, Sabah Tourism Building and War Memorial; just to name a few.
Contact Grace at +60 12-802 8823 or firstname.lastname@example.org to join in the fun.
27. Island hopping at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
Boat transfers to the islands are available at the Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal. Charges start from RM23 exlcluding terminal fee. Call +60 88 523 500 or email email@example.com to find out more.
28. Attack the buffet line!
Sabahans love to eat! And all the major hotels and resorts offer high tea buffets with scrumptious choices of local cakes and international desserts. Find out the best spots at Hyatt, Le Meridien, Promenade or Horizon hotel. Prices per head start from RM89 onwards.
29. Rock climb at the Sabah Indoor Climbing Centre
The Sabah Indoor Climbing Centre is the place to be for some adventure and challenge! Situated next to the Likas Sports Complex, entry fee is RM16 for adults and RM14 for children. For more information, call +60 14 851 1400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
30. Enjoy a picnic at Tanjung Lipat or Tanjung Aru
Enjoy a relaxing morning at Tanjung Aru with your friends and family. Bring along a picnic basket of yummy goodies to recharge in between swimming and building sandcastles! Tanjung Lipat has also has a stunning view and cooling sea breeze. Entrace is free.
31. Team Building at Sabah Indoor Climbing Centre
Organize tournaments or team building activities Sabah Indoor Climbing Centre. Located at the Likas Sports Complex, you and friends can fire up with a minimum cost of RM65 per head. For bookings, call +60 88 444 295.
32. Sign up for a cooking class
Fancy learning how to make a rustic local meal? Join a cooking class such as the one conducted by Hajjah Halimah. Start the morning purchasing ingredients at a local wet market before starting your lesson. The fee per head is RM175.
33. Take a swim at Likas Sports Complex
Make a splash in one of the three swimming pools found at the Likas Sports Complex! Entrance fee is RM5 for adults and RM2 for children. Lessons are also available upon request. For enquires, call +60 88 222 034 or 214 331.
34. Learn self defense at a Muay Thai class
Master how to punch, kick and knee while getting an intense cardio workout at a Muay Thai kick boxing class at Kinabalu Fighters. This martial arts and fitness centre is located at Lintas Plaza. The first trial class is free. To sign up, call +60 16 831 1440 (Julian), +60 12 821 2133 (Jna) or +60 16 587 8560 (Fara).
35. Explore the Kiansom Waterfall
Kiansom Waterfall is a great place for a group picnic or a romantic getaway. It has seven waterfalls surrounded by a hilly terrain of lush forest. Entrance fee is RM1.50 for adults and RM0.50 for children.
36. Discover the city through street photography
A hotbed for street photographers, Kota Kinabalu is filled with stunning views and interesting nooks and corners. Besides the standard scenery and gorgeous sunset view, places of interest include the ruins of a 100-year od building which was unique street graffiti by local artists.
37. Playtime at Chanteek Borneo Gallery
Learn about the different local ethnic groups at the Chanteek Borneo Gallery, which houses a unique play doll exhibition. Entrance is RM15 for adults and RM10 for children. For details, call +60 88 792 018 or email email@example.com.
38. Visit trendy cafés
In the past few years there has been an explosion of hipster cafes in the city. The coffee culture has also been growing and you can find some of the most popular cafes listed on Favourite Coffee Cafe by Sabaheats.com.
39. Discover the latest books at the Sabah State Library
Bookworms can indulge in classic and modern literature at Library @ Suria, a branch of the Sabah State Library, which is located on the fourth floor at the Suria Sabah Shopping Mall. Operating hours are from 10:00am to 9:00pm daily. For further details, call +088 486 461. Alternatively you can access ebooks at http://www.ssl.sabah.gov.my
40. Shopping spree at KK’s latest malls
Kota Kinabalu is fast becoming a shopping hub with the latest addition of malls such as Imago KK Times Square, Oceanus Waterfront Mall and Suria Sabah Shopping Mall. You can find everything from the latest collection of branded goods to locally made products. For a full list of shopping centres visit http://sabahbah.com/shopping/.
41. Play laser tag at CYC Laser World CYC Laser World at Imago KK Times Square is the latest hype in Kota Kinabalu. The fast paced, high action hide-and-seek games will get your blood pumping for sure!
42. Gain some surreal experience at Escapology
Escapology is designed to challenge your IQ in some surreal settings. Choose from four different games such as The Vanished, The Collector, The Vault and The Temptation. Prices are between RM25 to RM30 per head. For bookings, call +088-714485 or visit www.escapology.com.my/booking.
43. Watch the sunset
In 2014, Huffington Post listed Kota Kinabalu as one of the best places in the world to watch the sunset. There are many hotspots that boast stunning views such as the KK Waterfront, Sunset Bar, Sky Blu Bar and Kasih Sayang Resort.
44. Go on a fishing trip
Avid anglers can board the 7 Star (a chartered boat) for a minimum of RM3,500 to explore the waters of Sabah. Enjoy the thrill of catching your own dinner while bonding with the rest of the crew. For details, call Steven at +60 19 810 3689 or Leonard at +60 19 820 9322.
45. Visit the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park
Get acquainted with the animal kingdom at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. Besides learning about the endangered creatures such as the Borneo pygmy elephants and proboscis monkey, you can also go jungle trekking along the botanical trail. Entrance fee is RM10 (for MyKad holders) and RM20 (non-Malaysian). For more info, call +60 88 765 793 / 765 710.
46. Luxuriate in a sunset cruise
Bask in the sunset as you cruise along the South China Sea. Indulge in a mouthwatering barbeque dinner and you can even fish for dinner if you like! Prices start from RM199 and above. For bookings, call +60 16 557 0211 (Terita) / +60 13 863 1982 (Melessa) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
47. Go ziplining at Coral Flyer Zipline
Thrill seekers can zipline from island to island at one of the longest flying-fox activity found in Borneo. Start your adventure at Pulau Sapi for only RM195. To make reservations, call +60 88 250 662 or email # info at rustic-borneo.com.
48. Sea walk and scuba dive at Borneo Reef World
Explore the underwater world at Borneo Reef World whilst learning about marine conservation and the protection of our fragile eco-system. Other activities available include sea walking, kayaking and snorkeling.
Sea walking is available at Pulau Sapi for RM295. Make your bookings by filling in enquiry form at Borneo Reef World official website.
49. Go on a river cruise at Weston
Make a trip down to Weston Wetland to experience a river cruise unlike any other. Get up close and personal with the proboscis monkey and enjoy a spectacle by the fireflies as they light up the mangrooves at sundown.
50. Discover tamu Donggongon
The best way to learn about the local people is to hang out at where the locals do, and every Thursday people will flock to the Donggongon tamu (market). Here you can find everything from fresh produce to handicrafts, and even Sabahan delicacies such as the butod (sago worm) and lihing (rice wine).
51. Visit the Green Connection Aquarium and Discovery Centre
Learn about different sea creatures and unsual critters at the Green Connection Aquarium and Discovery Centre. This fun filled educational experience is available at RM25 (adults) and RM15 (children). For more info, call +60 88 263 326.
52. Go bundle shopping at night markets
Take a stroll after sunset at the various night markets located at the waterfront, Kampung Air and Sinsuran. Test your bargaining skills when purchasing street food and other unique buys. It’s great for thift shopping as well!
53. Take a day trip to Mantanani island
Peek into the underwater world at Mantanani Island, located two hours away from the city centre at Kampung Abai. Boasting of clear blue waters and white sandy beaches, you can go on a day trip for a minimum of RM#___. To sign up for a tour, call +60 88 260 511 / 260 522 or email # email@example.com.
54. Balance yourself on a stand up paddle board Experience the excitement of stand up paddling at any level you choose. A session at Tanjung Aru Beach 1 cost RM50. Call +60 17 896 0341 (Nora/Richard) or email firstname.lastname@example.org to start your adventure!
55. Day trip to Tambunan
Discover the largest flower in the world, the Rafflesia and delight in the beauty of colourful butterflies at the Tambunan Butterfly Centre and Kipandi Butterfly Park. Full day tours begin at RM330. For enquires, call +60 88 448 409 or email # email@example.com.
56. Have a friendly competition at iDarts Sabah
Aim for top score as you attempt to hit the bullseye at iDarts Sabah located at Lido Plaza. Enjoy good music, a drink or two and sign up for a game for #RM____. For reservations, call +60 16 973 3188.
57. Stopover at Rumah Terbalik
Let your world be turned upside down at the first house of its kind in South East Asia! Located in Tamparuli, Rumah Terbalik is open for visits at RM10 for MyKad holders, RM18 for others and RM5 for children/students. For more info, call 60 88-260 263 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
58. Volunteer at SPCA KK
Do your part in saving lives by volunteering at the Society of Prevention of Cruelty (SPCA) in Kota Kinabalu. Daily tasks include walking dogs, feeding the animals and cleaning their shelters. Get in touch with them by calling +60 13 856 9100 or emailing email@example.com.
59. Experience a fish spa
Visit Tinopikon Park next to the Moyog River, for a unique fish massage experience! Let the fishes exfoliate your feet and nibble your dead skin away for RM160 (adults) and RM140 (children). The tour package includes a traditional local meal, trekking by the waterfalls and many other activities. To find out more, call +60 17-8623833 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
60. Paraglide at Kokol Hill
Glide across the clear blue sky and enjoy spectacular views of the city below at Kokol Hill. Sign up for a tandem flight or for a full course at RM300 per person. To find out more, call +60 16 672 5124.
More suggestions for things to do at Kota Kinabalu?
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