Located near Borneo, Kota Kinabalu is a buzzing and happening holiday destination in Malaysia. Adorned with beaches and rainforests, the scenic charm of this place leaves everyone in awe while the abundant options of adventure activities make the vacation not only engaging but immensely thrilling. While holidaying in Malaysia, keep this offbeat destination in the itinerary and this list of fun things to do in Kota Kinabalu will help you to make your vacay worth in every sense.
16 Things To Do In Kota Kinabalu
Wondering what to do in Kota Kinabalu? Well, from hiking to sunbathing, scuba diving to rafting; Kota Kinabalu offers everything, that is ecstatic, delightful and enthralling. Here is the detailed list.
1. Klias River Cruise – Sail Through The Verdant Forestland
If you are a nature lover, spend a relaxing day, cruising in the river Klias. Sailing through the mangrove forests located near Klias Wetland is among the most popular things to do in Kota Kinabalu at night. It is a full day tour where you can enjoy the surreal beauty of the lush green forests and indulge in bird watching. The view of the confluence of Klias river with the sea and Mount Kinabalu at the backdrop is astounding and will leave you astonished.
Cost: INR 2980/person
Opening hours: 4 pm to 8 pm
Location: Kampong Kota Klias, 89800 Beaufort, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
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2. Tanjung Aru Beach – Rejuvenate, Sunbathe, And Unwind
Sprawling over 2 km, Tanjung Aru Beach is a beautiful sun-kissed sandy stretch in Kota Kinabalu. Relax, sunbathe, enjoy water sports, and take leisure strolls on the beach. They are some of the best things to do in Kota Kinabalu city if you wish to make your Kota Kinabalu vacation worthwhile in every sense. Lined with food stalls which serves freshly caught seafood, Tanjung Aru Beach is one of the most happening places in Kota Kinabalu to spend the day.
Location: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
3. Mount Kinabalu – Go Hiking
Mount Kinabalu is a sacred mountain of Malaysia, located within Kinabalu National Park. As a part of the Crocker Mountain Range, this is one of the highest trekkable peaks in Malaysia and hiking up to Mount Kinabalu is one of the most exciting activities to do in Kota Kinabalu. Rising up to 4000 meters, this hike is moderately challenging and thoroughly enjoyed by professional trekkers. Once you reach the summit, enjoy the breathtaking view of the Sabah region.
Location: Sabah, Malaysia
4. Mari Mari Cultural Village – Guided Walk
Perfectly set at a distance of 30 minutes from Kota Kinabalu city, Mari Mari Cultural Village is a themed village depicting the lives of Sabahan tribes. You can take a 3 hour long guided walk through the village, exploring their traditional houses, livelihood patterns, food, customs, and culture. Enjoy the fun experience of learning cooking, handicrafts, and tradition of these aboriginal tribes, during the tour.
Cost: INR 3029/person
Opening hours: 10 am to 6 pm
Location: Inanam, 88450 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
5. Kota Kinabalu Waterfront
Kota Kinabalu Waterfront is one of the most buzzing areas of the city where locals and tourists flock in the evening, post sunset. Lined with bars, restaurants and shopping malls; this Waterfront is one of the most sought-after places to enjoy the nightlife in Kota Kinabalu. Live music, good food, and a happening crowd will make the evening at Kota Kinabalu heart-warming and memorable.
Location: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
6. Mount Kinabalu Park Botanical Garden – Leisure Stroll
Mount Kinabalu Park Botanical Garden is a sprawling land adorned with endangered to nearly extinct flora with almost 5000-6000 vascular plant species. Comprising of grasslands, lowland to high Alpine mountains; the Mount Kinabalu Park Botanical Garden is a place admired by botanists and nature lovers. Enjoy hiking and leisure walk there and the flora, plants, and orchids will leave you in awe. Though Mount Kinabalu Park Botanical Garden is open throughout the day, a day trip to this place is one among all the recommended things to do near Kota Kinabalu.
Tickets: INR 70/person
Opening hours: Round the clock
Location: Sabah, Malaysia
7. Gaya Street Sunday Market – Indulge In Retail Therapy
Out of all activities to do in Kota Kinabalu on a Sunday, a visit to this fantastic street market is perhaps the best one. This 100 years old Gaya Street Sunday Market is the best place to pick souvenirs, knick-knacks, local handicrafts, clothes, accessories, and antiques and is considered as an important item in the bucket list of all kinds of travelers. Moreover, if you are a food and culinary expert, pick up authentic ingredients for Malay cuisine from this market.
Opening hours: Every Sunday of the week from 6:30 am to 1 pm
Location: Jalan Gaya, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
8. Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park – Diving And Snorkeling
With 5 islands namely Pulau Manukan, Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug; Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is an adventure and water sports zone, which can be reached in 20 minutes from the city. The islands have popular diving spots and people can enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving from there to relish the outstanding beauty of underwater marine organisms. Moreover, the marine biodiversity park also offers PADI certified diving courses for novices and professionals, making it one of the best things to do near Kota Kinabalu.
Location: Sabah, Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
9. Sabah Tea Garden – Explore And Enjoy
This is perhaps the best thing to do near Kota Kinabalu for a rejuvenating day excursion. Drive for about 2 hours from Kota Kinabalu to reach the luxuriant Sabah Tea Garden. Encompassing a tea plantation; this tea garden grows probably the best tea in the region. Check in at the Sabah Tea Log house to enjoy the stunning beauty of the sprawling estates with Mount Kinabalu at the distant and taste some exotic varieties of local tea. If you’re looking for cheap things to do in Kota Kinabalu, you must visit this park!
Location: Km 17, Ranau- Sandakan Road | Nalapak, Ranau 89309, Malaysia
10. Atkinson Clock Tower – Hike To This Point
Atkinson Clock Tower and Signal Hill Observatory are the two important landmarks of Kota Kinabalu. Located in the same route, atop a picturesque hill, Atkinson Clock Tower and the observatory can be reached after an enthralling trek. Located close to Padang Merdeka, these two places offer the best views of the city and its surrounding hills.
Location: Kota Kinabalu, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
11. Kiulu River – White Water Rafting
Kiulu River in Tamparuli is an hour’s drive from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Certainly, it is one of the best places to enjoy thrilling white water rafting. Offering Grade 3 and 4 rapids, this river allures adventure enthusiasts, throughout the year. So, if you are planning to do something really exciting and daring; this is a perfect choice.
Location: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
12. Borneo Railway – Take A Train Ride
Borneo Railway is one of the heritages of Kota Kinabalu and started its operation in 2011, after a massive revamp and make-over. A scenic and joyful ride from Tanjung Aru to Tenom is perhaps one of the best things to in Kota Kinabalu, particularly with family and kids. The train takes through dense and verdant rainforests, along the scenic coastlines of the city. Moreover, you can take the train to reach Beaufort- a picturesque market town near Kota Kinabalu.
13. Lok Kawi Wildlife Park – Greet Elephants
A must-visit for all nature lovers tripping to this charming city, the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is home to a wide number of animal species like elephants, tigers, deer, monkeys, gibbons, orangutans, and various kinds of reptiles. Though small in size, this is the perfect go-to place for those who do not have the time visit the larger wildlife reserves when in Kota Kinabalu. Offering visitors a chance to have an up close and personal encounter with animals and birds, visiting this makes up for one of the best things to do in Kota Kinabalu with family and kids.
Location: 63, Jalan Penampang, 88200 Penampang, Sabah, Malaysia
14. Kota Kinabalu City Mosque – Admire The Architecture
Not just the largest, but the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is also the most beautiful mosque in the city. Built on stilts over a sparkling lagoon, the mosque gives the illusion that it is floating over water. Those who visit for the first time are often blown away by the sheer beauty of this place, especially at night, when it is lit and reflects brilliantly in the inky water. During your visit, make sure you do not miss out on the ornate blue and gold dome that are the highlight of its architecture, along with the classic minarets. Though visiting this mosque is one of the best things to do in Kota Kinabalu town, one must make sure to dress respectfully before entering the holy sanctum.
Location: Jalan Pasir, Jalan Teluk Likas, Kampung Likas, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
15. Kota Kinabalu – Paragliding
If your adrenaline rush just won’t pacify, then try paragliding at Kota Kinabalu and you may feel on the top of this world. The scenic views of the mountains from the top and being in the air with wings is one of a kind of experience and something you just can not miss out on. If you want to be safe, it’s better to do it with a trained professional.
Cost:INR 5120 – INR 6815
Opening hours: NA
Location: Kota Kinabalu
16. Timangoh River – Fishing Trip
Putting your fishing skills at test in Kota Kinabalu and go fishing at the banks of Timangoh River. There are many fish in this river and you will most certainly catch some. If you don’t, don’t be disheartened. Catching fish is an art and it takes skill and time to master it. Its best to have a trained professional along for them to assist you.
Opening hours: Open 24 hours
Location: Timpangoh River, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
This was the recommended list of the best things to do in Kota Kinabalu. Now, while chalking out a personalized Malaysia trip with TravelTriangle, keep these options in mind and make your holiday fascinating and enthralling. Also, do not forget to share the list with your friends. Know of more such exciting things to do, then share in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions About Things to do in Kota Kinabalu
A. A waterproof backpack, hiking shoes, wollens, waterproof wind-breaker, and a fleece jacket are what you must should pack and if you plan on trying out these exciting things to do in Kota Kinabalu then make sure you pack accordingly.
A. Yes, you can see orangutans in Kota Kinabalu.
A. If you are planning a trip to Kota Kinabalu you would most certainly want to know the currency. Malaysian Ringgit is the accepted currency in Kota Kinabalu.
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