Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu

Once known as Jesselton, Kota Kinabalu has grown from a humble fishing village to being Sabah’s bustling, commercial capital city. Luxurious shopping malls dot its landscapes and a new cultural scene is set to take centre stage in a few years. Despite all of these, Kota Kinabalu is still one of the most versatile vacation hot spots catering to the different needs of every travellers, from family, business to adventurers.

What To Do in Kota Kinabalu

Explore Kota Kinabalu city centre and nightlife

Every city boasts its own city life and nightlife culture, and Kota Kinabalu is no different. Head down to the city centre and you’ll see what we mean.

Starting from the beautiful floating city mosque, Masjid Bandaraya, located in the city centre, the mosque is built with splendid soaring minarets and stand majestically resembling the Holy mosque of Medina.

Just 10 minutes from the mosque, you will be able to visit the popular Filipino Handicraft Market. Stroll through the different sections and purchase local souvenirs such as clothings, wood carvings and snacks at affordable rates. Make sure you have polished your bargaining skills before entering this market.

For art and culture, get creatively inspired at The Art Attic, located on Lorong Dewan. The Art Attic is a curated lifestyle marketplace and cafe featuring selected craft goods, furniture, clothing, homeware, gifts and fine art from local Sabahans. It also conducts workshops where you can work with your hands and learn candle-making amongst other crafts. 

Another creative space is Tao Art Studio where handcrafted pottery workshops are conducted and you can bring home a customised pottery of your own creation besides the therapeutic educational experience.

By evening time, start your night with a variety of the freshest Sabahan seafood delicacies on offer and eat to your heart's content! After the delicious and satisfying seafood dinner, if you are craving for a pint with a few friends or wanting to dance the night away, the many bars and clubs at KK Waterfront certainly won’t disappoint.

Here are some packages you can do in Kota Kinabalu City Centre:
Kota Kinabalu City Tour & Filipino Market
Kota Kinabalu City Cycling Tour
Scented Candle Making Workshop
Kota Kinabalu City Night Tour & Seafood Dinner
Sabah Seafood Dinner & Handcrafted Pottery Workshop (Evening Session)

Kota Kinabalu city view from Signal Hill Observatory Tower

Snorkel, dive and relax at Kota Kinabalu Islands

Visiting Kota Kinabalu islands is surely one of every travellers' bucket list to do, and to start off your island exploration, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP Islands) is definitely a safe bet. Comprised of 5 Islands namely, Manukan, Sapi, Mamutik, Gaya, and Sulug, you can enjoy a variety kinds of water activities such as snorkeling, diving, trekking, hiking, jetski, parasailing and many more water sports.

Other than TARP islands, you might also want to explore other pristine islands such as, Mantanani, Pulau Tiga or the private Ara Dinawan Island.

Here are some island, snorkeling and diving packages in Kota Kinabalu:
Twin Island Hopping at TARP Islands
Fun Boat Snorkeling and Islands Visit
Shuttle Boat Transfers From Kota Kinabalu to TARP Islands
Sutera @Mantanani Staycation
Pandan Pandan Island Escapade

Fun activities at Mantanani Island

Catch a sight on one of world's best sunsets

Let’s not forget that the city also boasts a reputation for being one of the world's Eight Great Places to Watch The Sunset (Huffpost). Visit Tanjung Aru beach during golden hours and get ready to be stunned. Stroll through the beach while watching the sunset touches the sea.

Alternatively, hop on to the sunset dinner cruise to watch this gorgeous sunset from the sea or go for a staycation at Sutera Harbour Resort to get this amazing view from the sunset bar.

Here are some packages to see Kota Kinabalu sunset:
Sunset Dinner Cruise with North Borneo Cruises
Luxurious Amazing Love Sunset Cruise
Sutera Harbour Resort Stay with Sunset Dinner Cruise

Sunset view from Seatango's upper deck

Go for an adventurous white water rafting

Watch out adrenaline-junkies out there!

Kota Kinabalu rivers provide you a diverse rapids suited to every kind of adventurers of differing abilities and fitness level, from the rapids for leisure travellers to the rapids that challenge even the most fearless.

Some of the best locations to go white water rafting are the longest and most popular, Kiulu river (Grade 1-2); the newest attraction, Kadamaian river (Grade 1-2); and the most challenging, Padas river (Grade 3-4), where you can also experience riding on an old diesel train from Beaufort to Pangi.

Here are some White Water Rafting packages in Kota Kinabalu:
Kiulu White Water Rafting (Grade 1-2)
Kadamaian White Water Rafting (Grade 1-2)
Padas White Water Rafting (Grade 3-4)

Easy grade 1-2 white water rafting at Kiulu river

Proboscis Monkeys & Fireflies sightings on a river cruise

Sabah is blessed with abundance of river systems along with Borneo's most unique species and endemic wildlife. In Kota Kinabalu, you can grab the opportunity to spot long-tailed macaques, rare silvery langurs and of course the Proboscis Monkeys - which can only be found right here in Borneo by joining a relaxing river cruise.

Some of the renowned river cruises places in Kota Kinabalu are Klias, Kawa Kawa and Weston Wetland, also known as "The Little Kinabatangan" River Cruises. When you are onboard these cruises during evening time, fireflies will entice you for a magical display of twinkling lights to lead your way along the river. 

Here are some proboscis and fireflies wildlife river cruise in Kota Kinabalu:
Klias River Cruise
Kawa Kawa River Cruise
"The Little Kinabatangan" Weston Wetland River Cruise

Open-deck boat for a better wildlife sighting experience at Klias river cruise

Learn About Sabah's Culture at Cultural Villages.

Aside from its beautiful city, mountain and islands, Kota Kinabalu is a perfect city to gain insight on Sabah's heritage in the form of cultural villages. Some popular and unique cultural villages are Mari Mari Cultural Village, KDCA Cultural Village and Walai Tobilung. These villages aim to share the knowledge, history, and traditions of Bornean ethnic culture in the form of a live museum, ensuring that the traditional way of life will never be forgotten.

At Mari Mari Cultural Village, you can enjoy activities from rice-wine making to blow-pipe shooting and fire-starting, as well as sampling Sabahan delicacies and snacks while watching traditional performance.

For KDCA Cultural Village, it is highly recommended to visit during Kaamatan (Harvest) festival, an annual major festival celebrated widely by the locals in Sabah during the whole month of May.

Situated at Kampung Minansad, Walai Tobilung is one of the last place displaying and preserving the culture of Tobilung tribe. Witness the native’s way of living by visiting their traditional houses decorated with ancient paintings, crafts and tools. You may also sign up to see the Bobolian Ritual Show, one of the near extinct spiritual ceremony in Sabah.

Here are some cultural villages you can visit in Kota Kinabalu:
Mari Mari Cultural Village
Walai Tobilung

Climb Mount Kinabalu

For adventurers alike, climbing Mount Kinabalu is always one of the top bucket list activities in Sabah. Not only it is declared as the Kinabalu Unesco Global Geopark, for its wealth of flora and fauna, but also recorded as Malaysia's tallest mountain. Towering at 4,095.2 metres above sea level, Mount Kinabalu is no small feat to climb. This is why, a minimum of 2-day hike with a one night stay at Panalaban Basecamp is required for climbers to take a rest before reaching the summit.

Avid climbers can also try the World's highest Via Ferrata (Low's Peak Circuit or Walk The Torq) where you would descend back using the challenging 'iron road' (pathway consisting ladder, bridges, cables with special equipments).

Nevertheless, climbing Mount Kinabalu is worth conquering due to the rewarding sight of breathtaking scenery when you arrive at the Low's Peak Summit.

Here are some Mount Kinabalu climb packages for you:
2D1N All-Inclusive Mount Kinabalu Climb
2D1N Mount Kinabalu Climb Via Ferrata (Walk The Torq)
2D1N Sutera Sanctuary Lodges at Mount Kinabalu
3D2N Mount Kinabalu Climb & Kinabalu Park

Explore Kundasang

A trip to Kota Kinabalu will not be complete without stopping by Kundasang Town. It is located in the highlands of Ranau, near the Kinabalu Unesco Global Geopark, just below Malaysia's tallest mountain, Mount Kinabalu. The place is well known for its cooling weather and countless of popular attractions from Nabalu Handicraft & Souvenir Market with an open viewing platform and one of the best scenic views of Mount Kinabalu, to Desa Cattle Dairy Farm where you can enjoy the fresh milk or gelato in the cool air, as well as the Alpaca Club, home to the first and only alpacas in Sabah - spend an afternoon hand feeding these adorable animals.

Kundasang has managed to build a reputation of its own and attracts thousands of tourists all year round. It is a destination that is perfect for anyone looking for stunning scenery, culture, history, and unique Malaysian delicacies.

Here are some popular attractions and hotels you can visit in Kundasang:
2D1N Kinabalu Park & Desa Dairy Farm with Mountain Resort Stay
ATV Adventure in Kundasang (Earthquake Historical Site or Desa Dairy Farm)
Nabalu Lodge Kundasang Staycation
Kundasang Highlight Leisure Family Tour

Try your hands at arts and crafts in Kota Kinabalu  

Channel your inner Picasso and spend a relaxing afternoon creating new arts and crafts. Bring along your family and friends to make your own scented candles, or tap into the traditional art of batik and create your own handkerchief and scarf with a painting that is uniquely yours! If you want to create a personalised gift for your loved ones, you can also try the pottery class or the leather keychain workshop and bring back the finished art as a present. 

You do not need prior experience to join any of these! An instructor will be with you throughout the class, teaching and assisting you in creating your masterpiece. Besides that, all equipment and materials needed are provided, so all you need to do is come and enjoy yourself becoming an artist for the day! 

Here are some of the popular art classes and workshops in Kota Kinabalu:
Kota Kinabalu Indoor Art Classes & Craft Workshops
Sabah Seafood Dinner & Handcrafted Pottery Workshop (Evening Session)

Explore Tuaran Countryside on a Bike and Kayak

Just 34 kilometres (40 minutes) from the city centre, you will be able to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Kota Kinabalu countryside at Tuaran. Ride out the hustle and bustle of the city while passing through the rustic villages, local market, fruit farms, suspension bridge and beautiful waterways. And of course, this activity can be enjoyed by cyclists of all ages (as long as you are fit for cycling).

Another way to enjoy the beautiful countryside scene is by kayaking through Serusup Bay with Tembara Kayak. Whether you are going for its morning or sunset session, you will always be in awe by its lush mangrove forest. This activity is perfect for adventurers looking for a good workout without going too far away.

Here are some packages in cycling and kayaking adventures
Tembara Kayak (Morning or Sunset)
Tuaran Countryside Cycling and Traditional River Cruise Lunch

Go on a Camping Trip in Kota Kinabalu 

Pack your sleeping bag and experience Sabah's natural beauty with a camping trip near the city! Kota Kinabalu offers a unique experience, allowing you to indulge in the magnificent view of Mount Kinabalu or witness the panoramic view of the nearby South China Sea right from your campsite. 

Bring along your family and friends for a memorable trip in the great outdoors as you enjoy an evening BBQ with the Sabah's picturesque sunset as the backdrop. At night, let the glittering starry sky mesmerise you, and at dawn, say hello to the morning sun peeking among the misty hills while drinking a hot cup of coffee to start your day. 

Here are some camping packages in Kota Kinabalu: 
Hawun Valley Kiulu Camping
Hawun Valley Kiulu (Admission Ticket)
Hawun Valley Kiulu Room With Private Platfrom
5D4N Sabah Adventure - ATV, Waterfall Hunting, Camping, 4x4 Off-Road 
2D1N Aura Montoria Adventure 
3D2N Long Pasia Sinipung Mount & Ferrian Waterfall 

How to Get Around in Kota Kinabalu

When it comes to exploring the vibrant city of Kota Kinabalu, you have plenty of options to move around and discover its wonders. Whether you're up for taking the wheel yourself or want to kick back and let someone else do the driving, there is something for everyone.

If you prefer the freedom of self-guided journeys, you can rent a car or a motorcycle and hit the road at your own pace. But if you are more into enjoying the views without the stress of driving, you can go for a private charter with your own personal driver. 

For those gearing up to conquer Mount Kinabalu, there is a shuttle service that will whisk you away to Kinabalu Park. And for some tropical fun, hopping to Kota Kinabalu's picturesque islands is a breeze with boat transfer services available from either the Jesselton Jetty or the Sutera Marina Jetty.

When it is time to bid farewell, smooth and hassle-free airport transfer services are ready to make your departure a piece of cake.

Check out our article to learn more ways to get around Kota Kinabalu

Here are some Kota Kinabalu transport packages:
Private Charter With Personal Driver In Kota Kinabalu
Car & Vehicle Rental In Kota Kinabalu (Self-Drive)
Shuttle Transfers To Kinabalu Park (Mount Kinabalu)
Motorcycle, Motorbike & Scooter Rental In Kota Kinabalu
Boat Transfers: Kota Kinabalu Islands - Jesselton Jetty
Boat Transfers: Kota Kinabalu Islands - Sutera Marina Jetty
Transfer Kota Kinabalu International Airport Transfer

Packages in Kota Kinabalu


Price Range

MYR 0 - MYR 5,000

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