Kota Kinabalu Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing

(Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia)

Kota Kinabalu has an excellent range of tourist attractions suiting singletons, couples and families with young kids. Right in the city centre is the bustling Central Market, which is the best way to see quintessential Kota Kinabalu whilst picking up a bargain or two.

Off the waterfront and not far from the Central Market by speedboat is the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, the city's star attraction. Water sports can be enjoyed at this park, which is home to several exotic islands. Elsewhere is a bird park (the Likas Bird Sanctuary), an aquarium (the Green Connection Aquarium), a golfing academy (the Golf Academy Borneo) and many distinctive monuments.

KK Heritage Walk

Address: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, MY
Tel: +60 012 802 8823
The best way to familiarise yourself with the sightseeing opportunities and attractions around Kota Kinabalu is to join a guided tour of the historic city centre, with the KK Heritage Walk coming highly recommended. Places on this tour can be booked through the various local tour operators. Lasting around two hours, the KK Heritage Walk is led by experienced multi-language guides, who explain the history behind the colonial architecture and stop off at Chinese herb shops and coffee shops along the Janal Gaya (formerly Bond Street). The tour finishes up at the Jesselton Hotel and features a fun treasure hunt at the end.
Open hours: Tuesday and Thursday - departs at 09:00
Admission: charge

Central Market

Address: Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Sinsuran, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, MY
Located down at the waterfront in the most popular part of Kota Kinabalu is the Central Market. While perhaps not so interesting to thrill-seekers, the market is a good place to eat and to witness daily life in Sabah's largest city. A hawker centre with cheap breakfast and lunch is on the first floor. Close by, the Night Market next to the Le Meridien Hotel is a little more lively and comes to life in the late afternoon, staying open until 23:00 and selling much local Malay produce and gastronomical delights.
Open hours: daily - 06:30 to 18:00
Admission: free

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

Address: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, MY
Tel: +60 088 486 432
This paradisiacal national marine park is a short boat ride from Kota Kinabalu and is a major attraction. It is one of tropical, unspoiled islands - Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik, Sapi and Sulug. These islands have white beaches and warm, shallow waters suitable for swimming, snorkelling and diving, as well as lush forests with paths. The diving in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is particularly good, catering to beginner and experienced divers alike, and featuring a variety of exotic fish and corals.

Gaya is the most impressive of the islands within the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park and is known for its excellent trekking and swimming, boasting one of the most beautiful beaches in the region, Bulijong Bay (Police Beach). The lowland rainforest here is home to mangrove swamps and a vast supply of birds, and includes an extensive trekking trail. The other main islands of the park each offer something a little different. Sapi, in particular, has white beaches and good snorkelling, hiking and picnicking, while Manukan has the most development.
Open hours: daily - 08:30 to 17:00
Admission: charge, discount for children under 18 years

Water Sports

Address: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, MY
Many visitors come to Kota Kinabalu to enjoy water sports action and there is good diving, snorkelling, and jet-skiing. Lying within the nearby Tunka Abdul Rahman Marine Park are several intriguing islands that have the best of it. They are accessible by boat from Kota and come with sandy beaches, clear water and plenty of brightly coloured marine creatures. Particularly special are three World War II Japanese ship wrecks, which have been colonised and offer the ultimate dive spots, while if you are prepared to travel, head to the nearby Mantanani Island (Pulau Mantanani), where you can dive with young turtles, innumerable rays, eels and octopus. Along with scuba diving and snorkelling is kayaking, windsurfing, banana boating and parasailing.
Open hours: daily - 08:30 to 17:00
Admission: charge, discount for children under 18 years

City Bird Sanctuary / Likas Bird Sanctuary

Address: Jalan Bukit Bendera Upper, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, MY
Tel: +60 088 246 955
The Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary is a popular attraction for the whole family and is located on the northern side of the city, close to the City Mosque. Covering an overall area of just under 62 acres / 25 hectares, this lush, watery region is home to many bird species, including Northern Asia migratory varieties, as well as a host of native fish. The sanctuary has a series of boardwalks and you can tour the mangrove swamps by boat.
Open hours: daily - 08:00 to 18:00
Admission: charge, discount for children

Green Connection Aquarium

Address: Jalan Matahari Dua, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, MY
Tel: +60 088 245 046
Just east of the city centre is this fun aquarium, which is home to common Bornean fish. There is plenty to do here and it is especially fun for kids. The touch tank allows you to get up close to shark egg capsules (mermaid's purses), plus you can also stroke a snake, or dive in the large tank to feed the fish. Tours of the Green Connection Aquarium take place both in the morning and afternoon - at 10:00 and 14:30, and there are also daily shows and feeding demonstrations - at 11:30 and 16:00.
Open hours: daily - 10:00 to 18:00
Admission: charge, discount for children under 16 years, children three years old and under are free

Golf Academy Borneo

Address: Jalan Istiadad, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, MY
Tel: +60 014 334 3565
Located in the Likas part of Kota Kinabalu (just to the north-east of the centre) is the Golf Academy Borneo, where keen golfers can partake of some private golf lessons. This accredited academy has various short game clinics and programs for kids, taking in courses all around the city. The best of them are the Sutera Harbour Golf Club, the Borneo Golf Resort and the Nexus Karambunai.
Open hours: daily
Admission: charge