Kota Kinabalu Tourism, Malaysia

Visit Kota Kinabalu - Best of Kota Kinabalu

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.

Kota Kinabalu Travel Tips

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. 

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Facts and Stats for Kota Kinabalu*

  • Pollution Statistics in Kota Kinabalu

    Know the pollution level of Kota Kinabalu before you plan your visit.

    • Air Pollution 46.88 (Moderate)
    • Water Pollution 39.29 (Low)
    • Noise and Light Pollution 50 (Moderate)
    • Unattended dirt and garbage 66.67 (High)
    • Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility 58.33 (Moderate)
    • Dissatisfaction with Garbage Disposal 50 (Moderate)
    • Dissatisfaction to Spend Time in the City 46.43 (Moderate)
    • Dissatisfaction with Green zones and parks 45.83 (Moderate)
  • Kota Kinabalu: Crime and Safety

    How safe is Kota Kinabalu for tourists? Understand risks and safety concerns that can hamper your travel experience in Kota Kinabalu.

    • Burglary and Theft 65.74 (High)
    • Mugging and Robbery 61.11 (High)
    • Assault and Armed Robbery 50 (Moderate)
    • Corruption and Bribery 78.85 (High)
    • Car Stealing 57.41 (Moderate)
    • Robbery of Car belongings 66.67 (High)
    • Attacks 59.26 (Moderate)
    • Drug offense 63.89 (High)
    • Safety walking alone during daylight 63.89 (High)
    • Safety walking alone during night 32.41 (Low)
    • Insulting and offensive behaviour 41.67 (Moderate)
    • Hate crime due to Racism, Religion, ethnic origin 28.7 (Low)
    • Property crimes and Vandalism 70.37 (High)
  • Living in Kota Kinabalu - Quality of Life

    Quality of Life Index of Kota Kinabalu is 110.57 (High)

    • Safety Index 40.66 (Moderate)
    • Climate Index 58.69 (Moderate)
    • Pollution Index 57.15 (Moderate)
    • Traffic Commute Time Index 30.25 (Low)
    • Cost of Living Index 45.74 (Very Low)
    • Health Care Index 67.86 (High)
    • Property Price to Income Ratio 15.29 (High)
    • Purchasing Power Index 41.56 (Very Low)
    • Indices such as Quality of life, Climate & Healthcare index are good to be high whereas others such as Property price, Traffic & Cost of living Index are good to be low.

  • Cost for Essentials in Kota Kinabalu

    Here's how much it will cost to shop in Kota Kinabalu

    • Local calling per minute on Prepaid mobile 0.07 USD
    • International Movie per seat 3.33 USD
    • Summer clothing in a chain store 24.11 USD
    • Pair of Basic Nike Shoes 79.7 USD
    • Pair of Basic Levis Jeans 83.79 USD

*Stats and figures mentioned are crowd-sourced ​and subjected to change without notice.

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* Some of the data on this page is powered by Numbeo