Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of both Sabah and its West Coast Division. It was previously known as Jesselton but now the locals recognize it as Api Api, while the rest of the world recognizes it as Kota Kinabalu. It is strategically positioned in the north-west coast of the island of Borneo, facing the Tunku Abdul Rehman Park and South China Sea on one side and Mount Kinabalu as its backdrop. This mesmerizing city is no less than a Nature’s Resort that stretches miles and miles towards the inland along the coast. Altogether, Kota Kinabalu is a famous holiday retreat as well as a primary getaway into Borneo Island and Sabah. Apart from the various tourist attractions within the city, Kota Kinabalu is also the most flourishing commercial and industrial center of East Malaysia.
Things to see and do in Kota Kinabalu
There is a wide number of exciting Kota Kinabalu attractions that you must see during your visit to the Malaysia state of Sabah. From cultural attractions to historical sites, Kota Kinabalu is blessed with a comprehensive list of exploratory local attractions and places of interest. Kota Kinabalu lets tourists and locals discover new places and do unique things, no matter in what part of the city they are. Get ready to be awe-struck with the exodus of amazing sights, historical monuments, entertaining activities, adventurous places, natural attractions and wide variety of eateries.
Kota Kinabalu Attractions
The scenic beauties and breath-taking sights are such that exceed your expectations because Kota Kinabalu is a perfect demonstration of the pristine splendor of nature that is flawlessly set beside the wisps of fluffy clouds and orange skies, giving it the effect of picturesque postcard. This exotic and divine tourist spot ensures to make your vacation a truly blissful and mind boggling experience. This exclusive list of the top 10 Kota Kinabalu tourist attractions has prepared just for you to have the most memorable trip of your lives.
1. Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
This popular tourist attraction is an exceptional gateway to heaven for most of the visitors across the world. Kota Kinabalu is famous for snorkeling and diving, and Tunku Abdul Rehman Park is a basically formed by 5 mesmerizing islands. These islands have gained momentum because of Island-hopping, a popular activity which consists of taking a tour around the islands that are located at a distance of 15-20 minutes.
2. Mount Kinabalu
This is the highest mountain between the island of New Guinea and the Himalayas. The Malaysians typically refer it to “Gunung Kinabalu” and it is quite unlike the other mountains because it is twice the height of anything you have seen on earth. If you hike towards the peak you will explore fine hiking trails in the rainforest towards the mountain base, where the climate is comparatively cool. People from all corners of the world come here every year to admire the city below the clouds from this point.
3. Kinabalu National Park
Those who want to understand the importance of biological and botanical species must visit the Kinabalu National Park. The same trip also lets you take a visit to Kundasand town and the Desa Milk Farm. At the Kinabalu National Park you can experience an interesting canopy walk at the Poring Hot Springs, where the water contains sulphuric minerals and is known to alleviate tired muscles. Also if you are very lucky you will come across the biggest flower in the world here, called Rafflesia.
4. Tanjung Aru Beach
Kota Kinabalu proudly hosts some of the best sandy beaches across the world and one of them is the Tanjung Aru Beach. This beach has won the hearts of locals because of several reasons. Explore the finest and most picturesque sunset in the world every evening as the scarlet sun takes a dip into the horizon, leaving the peaceful crimson skies behind. Several foodstalls serve drinks and snacks till late night letting people enjoy a heck out of delicious beef and chicken satays, steamed corn and peanuts and refreshing sugarcane and coconut juice. The Tanjung Aru Beach is home to Kinabalu Golf Club, Shangrila Tunjung Aru Resort and Kinabalu Yatch Club.
5. Signal Hill Observatory Tower
The road that leads the way to the Signal Hill Tower is a scenic beauty on its own. It is encompassed with lush green trees and the ride up hill is one of the most calm and satisfying experiences. The Signal Hill Observatory Tower is the best place to get a bird’s eye view of this glorious city with the most breathtaking sunrise and sunset views. The best part about this place is that no entrance fee is required.
6. Kota Kinabalu Waterfront
If you want to grab a sight of the most sophisticated and classy place in this city then Kota Kinabalu Waterfront is something you just cannot skip. This 1.2 km long boardwalk is specifically designed to organize all kinds of auspicious occasions because of its top notch facilities that have enabled it to create a unique position for itself. The waterfront is a highly recommended tourist spot, and the waterfront mall here is like a cherry on the top.
7. Kota Kinabalu City Mosque
This Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is an exemplary demonstration of the modern day Islamic architecture. It is located near the sea and this royal white mosque shares the same features as the Nawabi Mosque in Medinah. This beautiful floating mosque possesses a big prayer hall that is home to 300 madarsahs and can accommodate atleast 12,000 people at one time. This is the largest mosque of the city, and the most breathtaking one in all of Malaysia. The man made bay adds a more serene and dramatic look underneath the full moon sky.
8. Sabah State Museum
If there is any place that best lets you know about a city’s culture, it is a museum. The Sabah Musuem was built in the year of 1985 and is located where once the British North Borneo Governors Istana existed. It consists of the Education and Science center, the Main Building, Sabah Art Gallery, Heritage Village and the Museum of Islamic Civilization. Various galleries inside are home to ceramics, natural historical artifacts, and archaeology and ethnography exhibits. The Heritage Village has unique traditional houses of the native groups and cultural events often take place here.
9. Mari Mari Cultural center
This is the best place to visit if you wish to get a gist of the cultural habits of the natives living in Sabah. This one village displays 5 different tribes that demonstrate their way of living with the help of traditional houses and costumes. Here you can become a part of the honey making and cooking demos and you will also see various traditional dances under one roof.
10. Atkinson Clock Tower
This is probably the oldest structure in the city that has seen all the whims of time including the World Wars. This square 15.7m tall wooden structure was finished in 1905 and was named in honor of the town’s first district officer, FG Atkinson who passed away at the age of 28 due to malaria. The Atkinson Clock Tower stands just on the cliff along the Hill road, and is managed under the History and Antiquity section of Sabah Museum.
Feature Image Credit: Zhan Hui Teh