The capital city of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, is a great place to explore due to its diverse culture and authentic beauty. These reasons, alongside its rich history, have established itself as a popular travel destination, as there are so many things one can do here.
At 127 feet high, the Atkinson Clock Tower is one of the oldest and well-known landmarks in Kota Kinabalu. This four-story tower has been standing strong for 115 years and is easily viewed from anywhere in the city, and it has served its purpose as an observation point throughout World War II and a signal of time for villages close by. It is still used today, and you can catch this iconic landmark at Taman Budaya, Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, near the City Hall area of Kota Kinabalu’s capital city. The view from the top of the tower is magnificent, as you can easily see Mount Kinabalu, the most prominent mountain in Southeast Asia.
Ask any Sabahan, and most of them will recognize Gaya Street. This is because it has been the hub for business for over a hundred years, with all kinds of food sold to satisfy your palette. Gaya Street will transport you to a different world, as the colorful buildings decorated with traditional Asian designs will make you feel like you’re venturing the streets of Bangkok or Delhi. Furthermore, walking to other tourist attractions like Warisan Square and Waterfront Promenade is a mere stone’s throw away, so the fun never ends here!
Located along the roads to the Atkinson Clock Tower at 800 meters high, the Signal Hill Observatory Platform is the perfect spot to get a panoramic view of the East side of downtown KK. The mix of old and modern buildings surrounded by the ocean with islands is definitely a sight to behold, and one should definitely take up this opportunity to appreciate the beauty of Kota Kinabalu.
Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is home to a diverse range of animals like gibbons, macaques, and deer, eventually transforming into a hotspot for curious visitors hoping to be in closer proximity with these exotic creatures. Officially opened to the public in 2007, visitors have experienced a wildlife adventure like no other. Animal experts from all over the globe are also available to answer your questions, as the park frequently organizes events. Additionally, the parking is free once you’ve paid the entrance fee!
If you’re a history buff interested in Sabah’s history, the Sabah State Museum is a great place to check out! The museum sheds light on how life used to be before modernization and globalization. An exhibition of a myriad of artifacts from as early as the first human settlement in Borneo from all over Malaysia and the Asia Pacific region are displayed, besides a Heritage Village and a botanical garden. It has also been awarded as one of Asia’s top museums by Lonely Planet magazine in 2011, in addition to winning UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation 2014.
Monsopiad Cultural Village is a fascinating heritage site that gives visitors a chance to understand the culture and lifestyle of the indigenous people in Sabah, particularly the Kadazan-Dusun people, as it houses traditional homes, gardens, and food sources. Visitors are also given the pleasure of experiencing authentic cultural performances that are held throughout the day. Monsopiad Cultural Village holds a huge cultural significance as it safeguards this vanishing way of life by educating others of the customs and traditions, making a mark in this world.
Built to protect marine life and ecosystems through sustainability, the Green Connection Aquarium is the first of its kind in Sabah, acting as a platform for visitors to witness marine life from all corners of the globe. Besides being a fun place to visit, it would be very educational as they emphasize teaching the general public to be environmentally friendly through workshops and events for people of all ages. Visitors can learn about recycling, going green, and respecting our natural environment for future generations to appreciate!
Mount Kinabalu needs no further introduction, as it is generally known as the highest mountain in Malaysia and one of the world’s most challenging hikes. The several trails that lead to its summit each have varying difficulty levels, depending on the length. The beauty of the landscape and the vastness of its natural resources have made it attractive to travelers all over the world. Fret not on getting lost, as both guided and unguided tours are provided, regardless of your level of fitness or experience with hiking. Just be sure to train yourself physically before climbing, as you will require a lot of stamina!
Another momentous site that holds cultural prominence, Mari Mari Cultural Village, offers various types of traditional food and souvenirs for tourists to enjoy. It also has a museum that carries different artifacts from the past that have been preserved to portray the culture of the Kadazan-Dusun people. Like Monsopiad Cultural Village, visitors get a peek of their traditional life and practices, with the option of staying overnight. The locals there would be more than happy to share their stories from their history or show you how to make handicraft items.
With plenty of natural beauty, culture, and cuisine to explore, Kota Kinabalu Sabah is a spectacular destination that you should put on your bucket list.