Kota Kinabalu Part IV


Kota Kinabalu is abound with tour operators that can suit to your every every taste and budget. It is likely that you will encounter many of these travel agencies at Wisma Sabah. More established companies include the following:

Borneo Adventure (Tel: 238731; www.borneoadventure .com; 5th fl, 509-512 Gaya Centre, Jln Tun Fuad Stephens) Award-winning Sarawak-based company with very profes­sional staff, imaginative sightseeing and activity itineraries and a genuine interest in local people and the environment.

Borneo Biking Adventures (Tel:552 7313; www.borneobikingadventures.com) This specialist company of­fers motorcycle tours in the Crocker Range and other parts of Sabah, starting at RM700 for half-day tours or RM1000 per day with accommodation. Wives, kids and girlfriends' seem to count as extra baggage!

Borneo Divers (Tel: 222226; www.borneodivers.info; 9th fl, Menara Jubili, 53 Jln. Gaya) Longest-established Borneo dive outfit; can arrange courses and dives just about anywhere and has its own dive shop. It's possible to get discounted rates as a walk-in.

Borneo Eco Tours (Tel: 438300; http://www.borneoecotours.com; Pusat Perindustrian Kolombong Jaya, Mile 5.5 Jln Kolombong is a place with a good reputation, arrang­ing tours throughout Malaysian Borneo, including travel to the Kinabatangan area. Multiday tours start around US$140 per person.

Borneo Sea Adventures (Tel: 230000; www.bornsea.com;1st fl, 8A Karamunsing Karamunsing Godown) Runs dive tours to Sipadan and has the only resort on the beautiful Mantanani Islands, off Kota Belud, where dugongs can be seen.

Borneo Wildlife Adventure (Tel: 213668; www.borneo-wildlife.com; Lot F, 1st fl, GPO Bldg, Jln Tun Razak) Arranges a variety of tours and travel services throughout Sabah, including day trips; good for the midrange budget.

Intra Travel Service (Tel:261558; www.intra-travel.com.my; Level 1, No 5 Airport Terminal 2, An Old Airport) Sandakan-based company specialising in inland tours, including the only trips to Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Also runs Sabah Air sightseeing flights (from US$44 per person).

Tanjung Aru Tours & Travel
(Tel:222210; www.tanjungarutourstravel.net; Wisma Sabah, Jln. Haji Saman) Based at the luxury Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort, TATT incorporates Sabah Sightseeing, Beachbums Borneo and Absolute Scuba, offering everything from KK city tours (RM95) to full-day diving trips (RM285), plus some more unusual options like kitesurfing (three-day course RM800).

Wildlife Expeditions (Tel:246000; www.wildlife-expeditions.com; Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort) Special­ises in wildlife and rainforest trips across Malaysian Borneo, with offices in KL and Sandakan.



Kota Kinabalu has a varied range of backpacker's hostels, mostly centered around Jln Gaya. Competition guarantees low rates, adding to that, basic toast and­ tea breakfast is usually included.

Hostels are also often the best places to find information and seek out fellow travelers to go dutch on tours, treks and the like, especially to Mt Kinabalu.

Gaya Hotel (137A Jln Gaya; s/d/tr RM15/20/25) The cheapest private rooms in town, but a mil­lion miles from hostel standards.

Akinabalu Youth Hostel
(Tel:272188; www.akinabaluyh.com; 133 Jln Gaya; dm RM20-23, r RM50-56) Friendly staff, snazzy decor and co­pious freebies make this a premier option among KK's hostels, particularly if you find a quiet time to take advantage of the gratis internet and VCD movies. Accommodation is mostly in four-bed rooms.

North Borneo Cabin
(Tel:272800; www.northborneo cabin.com; 74 Jln Gaya; dm RM20-23, r RM50; The Akinabalu's sister hostel has a smaller a lounge and larger dorms (eight to 10 beds) but offers all the same facilities, and often manages to feel more sociable

Borneo Backpackers (Tel:234009; www.borneo backpackers.com; 24 Lg Dewan, Australia PI; dm 20-25, r RM40-124) The larger dorms here can feel a bit crowded, but it's clean and popu­lar with budget travellers. It's run by Bor­neo Eco Tours, and there's a cafe-museum downstairs commemorating the liberation of KK by Allied forces in 1945.

Borneo Global Backpackers (Tel:270976; http://www.bgbackpackers.com; 29 Karamunsing Godown, An Kara­munsing; dm RM22-25, r RM45-58) Fervently recommended by backpackers, Global is a bit out of the way at the southern end of town, but free airport transfers, socia­ble staff and good standards compensate nicely.


Step-In Lodge (Tel:233519; www.stepin lodge.com; Lot 1, Block L, Kompleks Sinsuran, Jln Tun Fuad Stephens; dm RM25-3S, r RM60-80) Step-In Lodge is a new arrival, and is so far awaiting discovery by the back­packer hordes. It is a spotless paragon of good hostelry, with a big 'TV lounge, kitch­enette, laundry service, cheap internet, proper mattresses and plenty of other plus points. Most rooms have four beds, with one large eight-bed `family room'. Even the bedclothes look friendly!


Most of KK's hotels fall into this price range (RM70 to RM250), and it's possible to find some good bargains. TV, International Di­rect Dialling (IDD) phone and private bathroom generally come as standard, with some places oftering extras such as mini­bars in deluxe or suite rooms. Most hotels listed here also have lifts, though not always with step-free access.

Pantai Inn (Tel:217095; 56-57 Jln Pantai; s/tw/tr RM67.20/72.45/88.20) This great-value central hotel is so popular with bargain-minded Chinese businesspeople that it's a good idea to book in advance. You can't fault it for cleanliness, and the shiny lobby sets the tone nicely.

Zaharah Hotel (Tel: 012-803 0387; www.zaharah hotelsb.com; Block 3, Api-Api Centre; apt from RM75; I%) ) Tucked away inside the shopping centre, keen self-caterers could have a butchers' at these small but neat kitchenette apartment rooms.

Mandarin Hotel (Tel:225222; jw3333@hotmail.com; 138 Jln Gaya; r RM78-140; (-.'J) The flagship in a chain of four properties around town, the Mandarin's reception hints at a Chinese theme that never manifests itself in (ho rooms. Comfort levels are OK, especially if you go `deluxe'.

Kinabalu Daya Hotel (Tel:240000; www.kkdayd hotel.com; Lot 3-4, Block 9, Jln Pantai; r RM95-230, str RM210-270, with breakfast) The rooms he rr aren't huge but plenty of travellers swear by this central midrange stalwart, which offers wood floors, nonsmoking rooms and full Astro satellite TV (not controlled by rc ception!). There's a popular bar-restaurant, with karaoke of course. Ask here about trips to Sungai Labuk, a little-visited alternative to the Kinabatangan.

Hotel Capital (Tel:231999; 23 Jln Haji Saman; i RM144-173, ste 230-294)The capital's lo­cation is its second-best feature, with adequate accommodation let down by sonic borderline grotty showers. The hotel's best feature is of course the Little Italy restau­rant on the ground floor.

D'Borneo Hotel (Tel:266999; www.dbornen hotel.com; Lot 6, Block L, Kompleks Sinsuran, Jln Tun Fuad Stephens; r with breakfast RM145-175) Newly opened and still immaculate, D'Borneo offers excellent quality accommodation near the waterfront, aiming for boutique­hotel style across 24 rooms. Discounts of RM25 are often available; breakfast is in the lobby cafe (complete with quirky designer chairs).

Hotel Shangri-La (Tel:212800; www.kkshang.com.my; 75 Bandaran Berjaya Complex, Jln Berjaya 5; r RM258.75-293.25, ste from RM632.50) Three storeys of business-class sheen, creeping into the midrange category as discounts consistently knock a full RM100 or so off the rack rates. Despite the name, this hotel is not connected to the luxury Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort.


Central KK has several full-facility hotels vying for the lucrative top-end trade, though many tour companies prefer re­sorts such as the Shangri-La and Magellan

Kota Kinabalu Part III


Sabah Musuem

A large complex, the Sabah Museum (Tel:253199; mailto: jmuzium@tm.net,my; Muzium; admission RM15; 9am-Spm Sat-Thu) is centred on a modern four-storey structure inspired by the long­houses of the Rungus and Murut tribes. It's a little south of the city centre, on a hill on the corner of Jln Tunku Abdul Rahman and Jln Penampang, and could easily occupy a half day or so.

At the main building there are good per­manent collections of tribal and historical artifacts, including ceramics, and some nicely presented exhibits of flora and fauna. The prehistory gallery even has a replica limestone cave, in case you don't make it to Gomantong, Madai or any of the other real ones!

In the gardens, the Heritage Village offers the chance to wander round examples of traditional tribal dwellings, including Ka­dazan bamboo houses and a Chinese farm­house, all nicely set on a lily-pad lake.

The adjoining Science & Education Centre has an informative exhibition on the pe­troleum industry, from drilling to refining and processing. The Sabah Art Gallery fea­tures regular shows and exhibitions by local artists.

A short walk towards town is another annexed, the Museum of Islamic Civilisation (Tel: 538234; admission included in the Sabah Museum ticket; (9am-5pm Sat-Thu), devoted to Muslim culture and history.

If you're heading east after KK, keep hold of your admission ticket - it will also allow you entry to Agnes Keith House in Sandakan. To get to the museum complex, catch a bus (50 sen) along Jln Tunku Abdul Rah­man and get off Just before the mosque. Bus 13 also goes right round past the hospital and stops near Jln Muzium.

State Mosque

A fine example of contemporary Islamic architecture, this mosque (Jln Tunku Abdul Rahman) is set some distance from the heat and noise of central KK. It's south of the city center past the Kampung Air stilt village, not far from the Sabah Museum; you'll see the striped minaret and Octopussy-style doiur on your way to or from the airport.

Built in 1977, the mosque has since been upstaged by the massive new City Mosque at Likas Bay; nonetheless, it's still an impressive building, accommodating 5000 male worshippers inside and 500 women on the balcony. Non-Muslim visitors are allowed inside, but must dress appropriately and remove their shoes before entering.

Kota Kinabalu Bird Sanctuary

Opened in 2000, this sanctuary (Tel: 246955); kkcbs@tm.net.my; Jln Bukit Bendera Upper; adult/child RM10/5; 8am-6pm Tue-Sun) covers 24 hectares of mangrove swamp in the northeastern Suburb of Likas.

Kota Kinabalu Bird Sanctuary

Being so near the city it's not exactly overrun with birdlife, but the 1.5km boardwalk offers plenty of sightings and there are some rare treats, like the majestic purple herons visible from a blind in the northwest section of the reserve.

Run by the local Likas Wetlands Society in associa­tion with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the sanctuary reception has a small library and you can rent binoculars for RMS. It's best to visit early in the morning or late afternoon from September to April.

North Borneo Railway

Founded in 1896 and restored in 2000 to cel­ebrate KK's new city status, the North Borneo Railway ( Tel: 263933; www.northborneorailway.com.my; adult/child RM180/130) offers visitors the chance to travel in fine colonial style with a refurbished wood-burning 1954 Vulcan steam locomo­tive, one of the last of its kind.

North Borneo Railway

The train runs from Tanjung Aru train station to Papar on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, depart­ing KK at l0am and returning around 2pm. The fare includes a boxed `tiffin' lunch.


Other Attractions

You can wander up to the UFO-like obser­vation pavilion on Signal Hill, at the eastern edge of the city centre, to escape the traffic and to get another take on the squatters' stilt village at Pulau Gaya.

The view atop Signal Hill

The view is best as the sun sets over the islands. From the top, it's also possible to hike down to the bird sanctuary on the other side.

The modest timepiece at the foot of the bill is the Atkinson Clock Tower, one of the only structures to survive the Allied bombing of Jesselton in 1945. It's a square, 15.7m-high wooden structure that was completed in 1905 and named after the first district officer of the town, FG Atkinson, who died of malaria aged 28. The tower was once visible from the sea, though there's now quite a few buildings in the way!

There's a busy food market (Jln Tun Fuad Stephens) on the waterfront adjacent to the Filipino market (Jln Tun Fuad Stephens) handicrafts centre, with numerous vendors selling sou­venirs,
snacks and seafood.


Filipino Market

On Sunday a very lively Chinese street market takes over the entire length of Jln Gaya, with all kinds of food and goods (including some great pancakes). On Chinese New Year it goes completely crazy - you'll hear the gongs and dances starting around 7am!

This post is part of a series. Your are now at Part II
Go to Part I III IV

Kota Kinabalu Part II

This post is part of a series. Your are now at Part II
Go to Part I III IV



Borneo Books (Tel:538077; www.borneobooks.com; Wisma Merdeka, Jln. Haji Saman) Now with two outlets, offering English-language and Borneo-related titles, cafe, free wi-fi Internet and secondhand book scheme.

Iwase Bookshop
(Tel: 233757; Wisma Merdeka, Jln. Haji Saman) Has a more general selection.


Immigration office (Tel: 280700; 4th floor, Wisma Dang Ban­dang, Jln. Tunku Abdul Rahman; 8am-1pm & 2-4.30pm Mon-Thu, 8am-11.30am & 2pm-4.30pm Fri, 8am-lpm Sat)

Internet Access

(311 Jln. Haji Saman; per hr RM3; 9pm-lam)

Exchange (Tel:389860; Centre Point; per hr RM4; 8am-10.30pm Mon-Fri, 8am-11pm Sat & Sun) Fast, efficient business centre.

Print Shop (Tel:248399; Jln. Gaya; per hr RM4;8am-7pm Mon-Sat) Digital photo shop with good Internet access.


Hostels and hotels usually have laundry services available, but it's often cheaper to use an outside service.
Mega Laundry (Tel:238970; Lg Sinsuran 2)


State Library (Tel:254333; Jln.Tunku Abdul Rahman; 9am-9pm Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm Sat, 9am-1 pm Sun) The library has an English periodicals section for those wanting to catch up on the news from home, and it's a good place to cool down and get some peace and quiet. Internet access is available for RM2 per hour.

Medical Services

Dial 999 in an emergency.

Permai Polyclinic (Tel: 232100; www.permaipolyclinics .com; 4 Jln Pantai; 24hr) Private outpatients clinic.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Tel: 218166; Jln Penam­pang) Past the Sabah Museum.

Currency and Money

Most major banks, such as HSBC and Standard Chartered, have branches at the northern end of town. Moneychangers are plentiful in KK, particularly in the Wisma Merdeka and Centre Point malls; they are more convenient than banks, and some­times have better rates.

HSBC (Tel:1300-880181; Jln. Gaya)

(Tel:215030; Jln. Pantai)

Standard Chartered
(Tel:258746; Jln. Pantai)

Postal Service

Main post office on Jln. Tun Razak; (8am-5pm Mon-Sat) Has an efficient poste restante counter. Parcels are weighed and sent from the offices to the left of the main entrance.


You can make international calls from pub­lic Celcom and Uniphone phones around town with the relevant phonecard or call­ing card. Telekom office (Jln Tunku Abdul Rahman) A 10-minute walk south of the city centre, this has international Telephone booths.

Tourist Information

Sabah Parks
Tel: 088-211881; www.sabahparks.org .my; Lot 1-3, Block K, Kompleks Sinsuran, Jln. Tun Fuad Stephens; 8am-fpm & 2-Spm Mon-Thu, 8-11.30am & 2-5pm Fri)

Sabah Tourism Board
(Tel:212121; www.sabahtourism.com; 51 An Gaya; 8am-Spm Mon-Fri, 8am-2pm Sat) Housed in the historic post office building, KK's main tour­ist office has helpful staff and a wide range of brochures, pamphlets and other information covering every aspect of independent and tour travel in Sabah.

Tourism Malaysia (
Tel: 211732; www.tourism.gov.my; Api-Api Centre, Lg Api-Api 1; 8am 8pm Mon-Fri) Geared more for travel throughout Malaysia.


When the usual precautions are taken, KK is a reasonably safe city. Late at night, streets and alleys near the waterfront are probably best avoided if you are alone, and locals often advise caution around the Fili­pino market.

Women travelers are wise to be cautious about walking around on their own after dark, though it's probably safer than most Western cities.

This post is part of a series. Your are now at Part II
Go to Part I III IV

This post is part of a series. Your are now at Part I
Go to Part II III IV


(Tel : 088 / Pop 350,000)

Kota Kinabalu often simply known as K.K. within Malaysia, and to an extent, internationally, as a tourism getaway and a major gateway into Sabah and Borneo. Kinabalu National Park is located about 90km from the city, and besides this, it also features a number of tourist attractions in and around the city itself. The city is also one of the major industrial and commercial centers in East Malaysia.


KK Waterfront

These two factors combine to make Kota Kinabalu one of the fastest growing cities in the country. KK is an engaging, if not exactly distinguished, city with a handful of pres­tige buildings, excellent budget accommo­dation, lots of shopping and the best leisure and nightlife facilities outside Kuching.


Manukan Island

The islands of the TAR National Park are also right on its doorstep, providing a perfect excuse to tune out and chill out for a day or so. You'll end up in KK at least a couple of times if you're aiming to cover a number of attractions in Sabah, so eat, drink, dance and make the most of it.


Downtown KK is a dense grid of concrete buildings nestled between the waterfront and a range of low, forested hills to the east. It's compact and walkable - most of the restaurants, accommodation, tourist offices, tour operators, the main post office and transport centres are located here.

Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Beach Resort

KK's main shopping complexes line the main road, which changes name four times in a relatively short distance. On the west­ern side of Jln Tun Razak there are two sprawling, grid-like blocks of dilapidated two- and three-storey shophouses, Kom­pleks Segama and Kompleks Sinsuran. Be­tween Jln Haji Saman and the waterfront is Wisma Merdeka and at the opposite end, on the way to the airport, are the huge Cen­tre Point and Api-Api Centre.

Tanjung Aru

The international airport and the train station are at 'Tanjung Aru, 7km south of the city centre, which is bounded on the north by the upmarket bayside suburb of Likes. Between town and the airport the massive reclamation project, Sutera Har­bour, is a luxury resort development.

Sutera Harbour Resort

The new northbound bus station is at Inanam, 9km north from the centre; other public transport congregates around three main sites in town. Taxis are common in the city centre. Ferries leave for the islands of TAR National Park, as well as for Pulau Labuan, from the terminal at the northern end of town.

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Go to Part II III IV

Getting Around

Malaysia Airlines' domestic network was completely revamped in 2006, and most domestic flights have been transferred to Air Asia or its rural-air subsidiary Fly Asian Xpress (PAX) - fares are expected to rise considerably, and it remains to be seen which legs will Survive in the long term.

Sabah has a good road system and most major roads are sealed, including the high­way Irom KK to Sandakan and "I'awau. If you're planning to rent a car, it's a good idea to ask tourist information centres which ruads are paved, depending on your destination. Probably the worst stretch is between Ranau and Keningau, where mini­vans sometimes have to turn back because the perilous cliffside gravel road is impass­able aller heavy rain.

Subsidence and washouts frequently put stretches of highway under repair and can slow down a trip considerably - the route between Ranau and Sandakan can be unre­liable in wet weather. The route from Tawau to Keningau is unsealed for most of the way, though it's possible to get through on 4WD Land Cruisers, usually crammed with passengers. Express buses, inibuses and minivans run between KK and most major centres, including Mt Kinabalu. The big state-of­ the-art express buses are all air-conditioned; the smaller, often older, minibuses may or may not be.

Minivans are small, eight­ seater vans (usually white), often stuffed with as many passengers and as much of their gear as the laws of physics permit. Express buses are relatively punctual and usually cost only a few ringgit more than minivans. Minivans only leave when full, but once under way they are quick and effi­cient. They don't have air-conditioning and can get crowded; on the other hand, they generally run more frequently than buses, and if you want to travel like the locals, this is the way to do it.

Minivans have rough schedules, but don't commit yourself to any vehicle until you see how many people are on board. If you get to the bus stand and there isn't a minivan with even one passenger going Your way, hang back for a few minutes; chances are there's one that's nearly full doing a lap of the town trying to fill the last couple of seats.

There are frequent departures of buses and minivans from most centres until around noon; afternoon departures can be scarce. See individual entries for more information.

Sabah's only railway runs between KK and Tenom via Papar and Beaufort

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