Kota Kinabalu Tourism

A resplendent oriental pearl and the capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu is a small state in Malaysia that is surrounded by spectacular waters, mountains and ancient rainforests. The state is also most of the times used as a base for exploring Borneo. The city will definitely captivate you with its vibrancy and Malay Culture. Also called as KK affectionately, the city is geographically blessed. Situated on the shores of the South China Sea and flanked by lush tropical islands and clear blue waters on one side, and the mount Kinabalu on the other, the city is graced by one of the finest sunsets in the world. 

As for its history, the city was originally named as Jesselton. It was completely flattened during World War II, and has risen like a phoenix from the ashes to become a thriving tourist destination today. Walking down the narrow lanes of this city, you can easily delve into the legacies of its Chinese trading history and colonial past that can be found dotted all around town. Most of its attractions are vignettes of natural wonders and pristine locations.

Essential travel information and Kota Kinabalu tips for your visit

  • Before leaving for Malaysia visit your family doctor to check health warnings for the area you intend to visit. If you intend to do any hiking or rainforest walks then you will need to start taking malaria tablets around a week before your departure.
  • Malaysia is a very safe country. While petty theft is a problem in the major tourist centres, violent crime against foreigners is particularly rare. Use your common sense when out in the evening and stay in control.
  • In tourist centres many Malaysians will speak some English, but many will speak none. Don't expect taxi drivers to speak English.
  • The urban and tourist centres are very well developed, but in the countryside, services can still be pretty basic.
  • A predominantly Muslim nation, Malaysia and Malaysians can be quite conservative. Nude bathing is frowned upon.
  • The penalties for drug use and/or possession in Malaysia are fierce.
  • Mosquitoes around Kota Kinabalu are particularly vicious, so insect repellent is a must. Long sleeves and long trousers are also advised around the times of dawn and dusk. Those planning on touring the jungle should bring some decent walking boots and a small backpack for sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses and a hat. 

The best tours and activities in the city, guided by experts to give you a local insight to the best of Kota Kinabalu