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General Information

Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of Sabah. It is a fertile lowland plain where the most commercial and administrative activity is concentrated. The city was stunning vistas of perpetual blue skies, a coral-studded sea with lovely sunsets and misty mountains in the distance.

Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton became Sabah’s capital after World War II. Affectionately known as KK, it is an interesting city with places such as Signal Hill and Gaya Street. A 20-minute boat ride from here brings you to a cluster of five islands collectively known as the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. Simply laze on the beach or put on your snorkeling gear and discover the prolific marine life here.

Points of interest

  • Kinabalu National Park - On the rainforest-clad island of Borneo, you will find Kinabalu Park, Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site and home to one of Southeast Asia’s tallest peak, Mount Kinabalu. Revel in the wealth of rare flora and fauna whilst jungle trekking and arrive at misty peaks to catch a glorious sunrise. The large Rafflesia flower is a highlight here. Poring Hot Springs, located 40km from the Park’s Headquaters, has open-air hot sulphur baths set amidst a landscape garden. Call Sabah Parks Office at (6) 088 212719 for more information.
  • Kota Kinabalu Heritage Walk - The KK Heritage Walk unravels the city’s rich history as you stroll along its streets. Enjoy a guided tour of interesting landmarks and notable streets, each with an interesting story during the pre and post-war period. The two-hour walk begins from the Independence Field and takes you through various parts of the city. Take in the sights and sounds of historical attractions such as the Atkinson Clock Tower, Sabah Tourism Building, Jesselton Hotel, War Memorial, Malaysia Monument and more.
  • Monsopiad Cultural Village - About 20 minutes from KK city, this famous attraction in Sabah was opened in 1996, in memory of the great Kadazan warrior and headhunter, Monspiad. The traditional village on the banks of the scenic Moyog, River, is the only cultural village in the state. Here, one can take a peek into the lifestyle of the KadazanDusun community, the biggest ethnic group in Sabah. Watch entertaining cultural dances or be a part of a guided tour. For an interesting experience, try your hand at blowpipe shooting or taste their local delicacies.
  • Sandakan - Set on a bay on the north eastern coast of Sabah and facing the Sulu Sea, Sandakan is the less than an hour by air from Kota Kinabalu. Gateway to Borneo’s wildlife, it is a busy port, with ships loading timber, rattan, copra and bird’s nests. Gomantong caves, 30km south of Sandakan are two caverns that are home to one million swiftlets. The lower Kinabatangan River, three hours by boat from Sandakan is where you can spot the proboscis monkey with the males sporting a pendulous nose, fat belly and thick white tail.
  • Turtle Island Park - is located some 40 kilometres north of Sandaka in Sabah, east Malaysia. It consists of 3 islands – Selingan, Bakungan Kecil and Gulisan, including the surrounding coral reefs and ocean. The Park is famous for its green turtles which lay eggs on the beaches of the islands.
  • Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre - Only 25km northeast of Sandakan town, Sepilok is home to this well conserved 10,000ha tropical lowland rainforest sanctuary where scores of Orang Utan (Pongo Pygmaeus) roam free. This sanctuary is a fascinating place where visitors can observe captive animals being retrained for life in the jungle. Visitors are encouraged to visit during feeding time at 10:00am and 3:00pm for an interesting experience. You can see orang utans being fed from a platform in the middle of the forest, about a 20-minute walk from the centre. Nicknamed the Wild Man of Borneo, the animals are returned to the forest when they are able to fend for themselves.
  • Kota Belud - This small town, 77km away from Kota Kinabalu is brought to life every Sunday when the tamu or open Market takes place. The market is also an essential part of the social life of the tribes’ people who come to trade as well as exchange news. Locals choose from a wide variety of local produce such as fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, fish, poultry and sweetmeat. Unique handicrafts on sale here also make it popular with visitors.
  • Sipadan Island - Lying just off the northeast coast of Borneo is Sipadan, one of the world’s top dive destinations. Encounters with turtles, resident school of jacks and barracudas are almost assured around the tiny coral islands. Resorts are available in nearby islands such as Mabul and Kapalai. Due to preservation of the island and its marine marvels, only day trips are allowed to Sipadan.


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