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Things to do in Kota Kinabalu

Things to do in  Kota Kinabalu

Welcome to Kota Kinabalu

The capital city of the Malaysian state of Sabah on north Borneo, Kota Kinabalu (or KK as it’s usually called) functions more as a civic and transport hub than as a destination in its own right. This is a good thing, as visitors who base their trips out of KK will find abundant travelers services, big-city amenities, and an ease of communication from a tourism industry used to pleasing globetrotters, all with easy access to the nearby Borneo wilderness. Located practically in KK’s backyard, the 7.5-million acre (roughly 3-million hectare) Kinabalu Park promises a full day of adventure: Hike Mount Kinabalu; soak in the Poring Hot Springs; and learn about the lush flora and fauna (including the famous proboscis monkey) that earned this stretch of wilderness its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other outings include a short flight to the Sandakan Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre; ziplining excursions through the rain forests of Gaya Island; or snorkeling and scuba diving trips off off the coast of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. Those who choose to linger in the city can see its most prominent attractions on a sightseeing tour, likely to feature the Sabah Museum, Wisma Tun Mustapha (Sabah Foundation Building), City Mosque, and views of Likas Bay from the summit of Signal Hill.

Top 10 attractions in Kota Kinabalu

#1
Kota Kinabalu City Mosque (Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu)

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque (Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu)

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The Kota Kinabalu City Mosque (Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu) is not only the largest mosque in the city, but also the most visually striking. Surrounded by a lagoon, the building appears to float when viewed from a distance, and casts a picturesque reflection into the water below.Built in 2000, theKota Kinabalu City Mosqueaccommodates up to 12,000 worshipers at a time, and can be entered by non-Muslims outside regular prayer times. The mosque features a classical style with four minarets and a grand blue-and-gold dome, designed to resemble the Nabawi Mosque in Medina, the final resting place of Muhammad.A visit to the mosque is best enjoyed as part of a half-day city tour of Kota Kinabalu, where you’ll get the chance to explore other cultural landmarks, like the Wisma Tun Mustapha and the Sabah Museum, and view the city sights from Signal Hill.More
#2
Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park (TARP)

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park (TARP)

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A scenic option for water-sports fans and wildlife lovers who don’t have time to travel to Mabul or Sipadan, Tunku Abdul Rahman National Marine Park is just a 20-minute speedboat ride from downtown Kota Kinabalu. Comprising five small islands, the park combines white-sand beaches with coral reefs, jungle, and abundant marine life.More
#3
Kinabalu National Park

Kinabalu National Park

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Reigned over by the mighty Mt. Kinabalu—the tallest mountain in Malaysia—Kinabalu National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its biodiversity. A paradise for nature lovers, the park is home to around 5,500 plant species (including varieties of orchids and pitcher plants), about 326 bird species, and more than 100 mammals.More
#4
Mt. Kinabalu (Gunung Kinabalu)

Mt. Kinabalu (Gunung Kinabalu)

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One of the highest mountains in Southeast Asia, the mighty Mt. Kinabalu (Gunung Kinabalu) attracts climbers from all over. But the 13,435-foot (4,095-meter) summit isn’t the only reason travelers visit Kinabalu National Park. With around 6,000 species of flora, the UNESCO-listed park is recognized as one of the most important biological sites in the world.More
#5
Mari Mari Cultural Village

Mari Mari Cultural Village

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Nestled in the jungle outside Kota Kinabalu, the Mari Mari Cultural Village lets you discover the old lifestyles of five different Borneo ethnic groups. Enjoy traditional food (and rice wine, watch demos of crafts from tattooing to fire lighting, catch a dance performance, and learn about traditional beliefs and building styles.More
#6
Signal Hill Observatory Platform

Signal Hill Observatory Platform

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Located on the hills near Padang Merdeka, the Signal Hill Observatory Platform is the highest point in Kota Kinabalu, which means it’s one of the best places to go for sweeping, unobstructed views of the city and beyond.Signal Hill is widely considered a ‘must­do’ attraction for all visitors to Kota Kinabalu. From this decked observatory platform, you’ll not only get a panoramic, bird’s eye view of the sprawling city center, but also vistas extending to the beaches of Tanjung Aru and Likas Bay, and even to the outlying islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.You can visit Signal Hill as part of a half­day city tour, which also takes in other Kota Kinabalu attractions and landmarks, including Wisma Tun Mustapha (Sabah Foundation Building), the City Mosque, the University of Sabah, and the Sabah Museum.More
#7
Sabah Museum (Sabah State Museum)

Sabah Museum (Sabah State Museum)

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Located within easy reach of Kota Kinabalu city center, Sabah Museum (Sabah State Museum explores the heritage, art, culture, and daily life of Sabah and its people. As well as the main building, the museum comprises a Heritage Village, Ethnobotanical Garden, and a Science and Technology Center.More
#8
Poring Hot Spring & Nature Reserve (Poring Hot Springs)

Poring Hot Spring & Nature Reserve (Poring Hot Springs)

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Nestled among the jungles of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kinabalu National Park, Poring Hot Spring and Nature Reserve (Poring Hot Springs encompasses tiled pools used for soaking in sulfurous thermal waters; a suspended jungle walkway; a swimming pool and slide; and an orchid Conservation Center home to more than 1,200 different species.More
#9
Sabah State Mosque (Masjid Negeri Sabah)

Sabah State Mosque (Masjid Negeri Sabah)

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One of the most recognizable buildings in all of Sabah, Sabah State Mosque (Masjid Negeri Sabah) combines contemporary architecture with traditional Islamic design. A gold, honeycombed main dome is reigned over by a 215-foot (65-meter) minaret, which was inspired by those found in the Saudi Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina.More
#10
Manukan Island (Pulau Manukan)

Manukan Island (Pulau Manukan)

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The second-largest island in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, Manukan Island (Pulau Manukan) boasts coral reefs, crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches, and lots of lush vegetation. Head to the island to do some snorkeling and to explore on the network of walking trails.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in Kota Kinabalu

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Recent reviews from experiences in Kota Kinabalu

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Awesome experience
Taishi_K, Jan 2020
(3 Days) PADI Open Water Diver Course Kota Kinabalu
English Guide was super helpful and patient in making sure I learned all of the diving skills but also that I practiced all of the book concepts safely.
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All about Kota Kinabalu

When to visit

From March through September, the Bornean capital of Kota Kinabalu enjoys cool breezes, blue skies, and some of the year’s most spectacular sunsets. For your best chance of reaching the summit of Mt. Kinabalu—which is only accessible when weather permits—plan your visit for March or April.

Time Zone
MYT (UTC +8)
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