Kota Kinabalu Travel Guide

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Samir A. Bazarah

Kota Kinabalu , formerly Jesselton , is the capital of Sabah , east Malaysia , on the island of Borneo ; it is also the capital of the West Coast Division of Sabah. It is located at latitude 5.98333° and longitude 116.06667°. As of the 2000 census , its population was 354,153, with an estimated metropolitan population of 900,000. Facing the South China Sea and Tunku Abdul Rahman Park on one side, and with the mighty Mount Kinabalu in the background, Kota Kinabalu sprawls for kilometers along the coast and inland.

The City of Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah. Located on the west coast of “the Land Below the Wind”, under the watchful eye of majestic Mount Kinabalu, and on the fringes of the South China Sea, Kota Kinabalu is the bustling and colourful gateway to Sabah. Here you find the international airport, world class hotels, innumerable restaurants and café shops, shopping malls and business districts. We call our fast developing and modern city with some 350,000 inhabitants simply and affectionately KK!

The state capital has many places of interest. It is a city popular with foreigners and locals alike, and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park , adjacent to the city is one of the top tourist destination, perfect for relaxing, snorkelling and a wide variety of watersports. Other places of interest include the Signal Hill Observatory , offering a bird’s view of the city; the Sabah Foundation Building - a unique 30-storey building (it is a circular structure supported by high tensile steel rods, an architectural and engineering marvel, and there are only four such buildings in the world; it is Sabah’s highest tower); the State Mosque , resplendent with its majestic domes and golden motifs is the central place of worship for KK's Muslim population and the new Likas Mosque.

KK is Sabah's gateway to the natural wonders of the state - Majestic forests and dazzling coral reefs. Most of these are day trips or further from the city but Likas Bird Sanctuary and the Green Connection offer Nature a few minutes from the city centre.  The Likas Bird sanctuary is a mangrove swamp with a relaxing walk through the forest.  The Green Connection is an Aquarium and discovery centre focused on conservation that has many rare and endangered species.

The State Museum - based on the architecture of Murut and Rungus longhouses has several galleries exhibiting, among others, a cluster of human skulls from Sabah’s headhunting past, totemic figures, old photographs, valuable ancient pottery from all over South East Asia and antique Korans. In the Heritage Village of the museum you find numerous life-size replicas of the traditional houses of the many ethnic entities in Sabah.

The Sutera Harbour Resort, Marina and Golf Club is located at the south end of the city and has become a major landmark. The complex makes Kota Kinabalu an instant resort city: it comprises of two 5-star hotels, an international yacht club and an award winning golf course!

Major shopping malls are located along the main artery of Kota Kinabalu, and you find just about anything from branded goods to local handicraft. Recreational activities in KK include diving, a mere 15 minutes from the city in the crystal clear waters of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park! The ferries to the park leave from KK’s harbour district at the northern end of the City. Click on the links below to find out about more activities and places of interest when you are in Kota Kinabalu!

Sightseeing in Kota Kinabalu

The town of Jesselton was renamed in 1968, as Kota Kinabalu. In 2000, Kota Kinabalu officially took on city status. Largely destroyed during World War II, KK, as the locals affectionately call it, has since developed into a modern city. As the capital of the State of Sabah, KK is also the gateway to other major towns and districts and home to around 300,000 people.

In the vicinity of the city, there are various places of interest including one notable landmark the 30-storey Sabah Foundation building at Likas Bay. This building is unique because it is one of the few buidings in the world to utilize a singel column structure.

Atkinson Clock Tower
One of the most enduring landmarks in Kota Kinabalu, which has stood prominently on the bluff along Signal Hill Road, is the Kota Kinabalu Clock Tower. It was built as a memorial to Francis George Atkinson, the popular first District Officer of Kota Kinabalu. This memorial has the distinction of being the oldest standing structure in the whole of Sabah that survived the air raids and blitz of World War II.

Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary
Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary is a natural site for wildlife and is located in the heart of the city. The Bird Sanctuary has an important natural function and has a feeding ground for many species of birds and also for several migratory species from Northern Asia.

The Green Connection

The Green Connection is an Aquarium and Discovery centre less than 10 min by taxi from the city centre.  Its theme is rainforests to Reefs and it showcases many of Sabah's natural habitats.  Lots of snakes, sharks, fish, corals insects in a beautiuful forest setting.  It boasts the biggest reef tank in SE Asia.

Gaya Street Fair
The Gaya Street Fair is held every Sunday morning and is the place where locals come to buy their goods. You can find almost anything at the Fair. From local handicrafts, souvenirs and clothing to food, drinks, Chinese medicines, delicacies and even animals like chickens and pet dogs, can be purchased for very reasonable prices. It also is a good opportunity to try out your bargaining skills.

Sabah Museum
The Sabah Museum is located at Old Palace Hill (Bukit Istana Lama) only 5 minutes from Kota Kinabalu city centre and is situated on 43.3 acres of lush green natural and planted jungle. This location houses not only the Sabah Museum, but also an Ethno Botanic garden, a Zoological garden and a Heritage Village all in one place!

There are 5 major shopping complexes in KK: Centrepoint, Wisma Merdeka, Wawasan Plaza, Karamunsing Complex and KK Plaza. Although most of the shops in these complexes carry fixed priced items the goods sold are all reasonably priced especially during the Mega Sales months of March, August, and December.

Apart from shopping complexes, areas such as Segama, Sinsuran, Asia City, Gaya Street and Api-Api Centre are also shopping areas good for electronic products. The Filipino Market is a place to buy handicrafts but if you are looking for authenticity Sabahan made products then the Sri Pelancongan Sabah Shop located at Sinsuran Complex is a good place to stop by. Most shopping complexes open from 10.00am and closes at 10.00pm

Signal Hill
Signal Hill is one of the best places to get a good view of KK. The hill is in a natural area where one can peacefully enjoy the beautiful skyline of the city with a view that extends to the islands.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Islands Park
The Tunku Abdul Rahman Islands Park is located just 3 to 8km. off Kota Kinabalu shore. Only 10 to 20 minutes by boat from Kota Kinabalu city, you can enjoy the  beautiful tropical islands  and indulged in lots of R&R. Some of the islands are equipped with chalets and food outlets to accommodate your needs.

The Park consists of 5 islands, namely Gaya, Mamutik, Manukan, Sapi and Sulug. It is a favourite place to go to for picnickers, divers and nature lovers. The park offers ample space to try water sports and you can also enjoy and adventurous jungle trek to see the flora and fauna at namely, Gaya, Manukan and Sapi islands.

For more information about these places of interest, please contact Sabah Tourism at tel: 088 212121 or 232121

Part or or all of this text stems from the original article at: http://sabahtourism.com

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