Popular Things to Do and Places to See in Kota Kinabalu 2022

Add more flavor to your Malaysian Holiday with a visit to Kota Kinabalu. Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Malaysia’s Sabah state, is a coastal city partly surrounded by rainforest. It is an exotic tourist spot that overwhelms you with its beauty. Kota Kinabalu is also one of the major industrial and commercial centers of East Malaysia and is the seat of the state government.

Kota Kinabalu has plenty of attractions to keep visitors happy. You will be glad you included this city in your itinerary when you planned your Malaysia visit after getting your Malaysia Visa. Visitors here have the option to explore the lush rainforests, crystal clear waters, stunning mountain peaks, or discover the city’s architecture and heritage. There is something for every taste and inclination. Some of the best experiences and places to visit here include the following:

Mount Kinabalu

Mt. Kinabalu is the tallest mountain in South Asia and provides plenty of adventure activities. The hardcore rock climbers will find many challenging spots on their way to the top. Low’s Peak is the highest point and on the way there, visitors will find several species of flora and fauna at various altitudes on the mountain. This is one of the safest peaks in the world. The less adventurous visitors can take a guided tour on a short hike across the fire-path paved on the mountain.

Mount Kinabalu Malaysia

A wetland river cruise

Take a trip on a cruise down the Klias River to see the animals that come to the river. Some of these include the elegant proboscis monkeys and birds. If you are lucky then you may also get to see hordes of fireflies that hover in the moonlight.  As you sail through the calm and quiet wetlands, listening to the sounds of the chirping birds and that of the forest, relax and feel your cares vanish.

Mari Mari Cultural Village tour

Explore the Mari Mari Village to understand the local culture and traditions. This is an opportunity to understand the ethnic lifestyle of the Sabahan tribes and witness their hunting skills and fishing techniques. Relax in one of the traditional homes and sample their food. Join in the interactive performance by the villagers. Though it is about half an hour away from Kota Kinabalu, do not miss visiting this village.

North Borneo Railway Train Ride from Kota Kinabalu to Papar

A wonderful way to experience an old-style steam engine-driven train is to ride the North Borneo railway train from Kota Kinabalu to Papar. Ride through the beautiful landscape of Kota Kinabalu and enjoy the scenery of beautiful rice fields, the traditional village homes, etc. Or ride from Tanjung Aru to Tenom passing through leafy jungles and along the beautiful coastline of Sabah. The pantry provides mouthwatering food too.

train ride in kota kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

The largest mosque in Kota Kinabalu, the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque can also be called the most beautiful one in Malaysia. It is a majestic white mosque with similar features to the Nabawi Mosque in Medina and appears to be floating in the lagoon. On a full moon night, enjoy the reflection of the beautiful mosque in the man-made lagoon. The mosque can accommodate up to 12,000 worshipers at a time. Visitors have to register and follow the strict rules while visiting the Mosque.

mosque in kota kinabalu

The Atkinson Clock Tower

One of the most enduring landmarks in Kota Kinabalu, the Atkinson Clock tower is also the oldest standing wooden structure.  It still serves to keep the city’s time and the big brass bell chimes regularly. This tower is a good representation of British Colonial architecture design. The Clock Tower was built as a memorial to Francis George Atkinson, the first District Officer of Jesselton Township. Visit the garden around the tower called Ann’s Garden or Inner Wheel Club Garden.

clock tower in kota kinabalu

Water Sports

As Kota Kinabalu is a coastal city, you can enjoy various water sports here. Scuba diving and Scuba Doo are very popular. Riding an underwater scooter is Scuba Doo, and you can explore marine life and the spectacular coral reef at your own pace. Go Sea walking if you do not wish to wear heavy scuba gear and enjoy the underwater experience. Snorkeling is another option to explore coral reefs and marine life. Ride a jetski if that is what you fancy.

water sports in kota kinabalu

Adventure Sports

Adventure sports enthusiasts have so many experiences to look forward to here. Go Ziplining on a 250 m ride across the channel, dividing the Gaya and Sapi Islands on the second-longest zip line in the world. Trekking on Gaya Island through dense jungle and maybe spotting wild animals is another interesting activity. Explore the forest from a different angle and go canopy walking which is a great way to observe the animals and birds that live in the canopy of the rainforest. Parasailing and paragliding are other popular adventure sports available here.

Shopping for Handicrafts

Visitors who want to pick up good souvenirs should visit Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market and the Gaya Street Sunday Market. Buy authentic Malaya ingredients, a variety of seafood, Malayan art and craft items at these places. You also get good pearls, wood carvings, and textiles. Bargain with the shopkeepers to avoid overpaying for the items you want.

Your visit to Kota Kinabalu will be one of the most enriching experiences you ever have as a tourist. The breathtaking beauty of the place, the friendly local people, the rich culinary variety, and the many adventure sports, make Kota Kinabalu a place you will want to visit again.

kota kinabalu shopping

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