Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Malaysia’s Sabah state in the northern part of the island of Borneo. Often referred to as KK, it’s a coastal city partly surrounded by rainforest. It’s known for its bustling markets, modern boardwalk, beaches and waterfront Kota Kinabalu City Mosque. It is also a gateway to Kinabalu National Park, the home of Mount Kinabalu.
Kota Kinabalu won’t immediately overwhelm you with its beauty, but you’ll soon notice its friendly locals, breathtaking fiery sunsets, blossoming arts and music scene, and rich culinary spectrum spanning Malay to Japanese, Western to Cantonese, street food to high end.
Alongside swanky new malls springing up at every turn, and a wave of expensive condos accommodating a rush of expats, old KK, with its markets stocked to the gills with leviathans, pearls, and busy fishermen shuttling about the waterfront, happily endures.
This may be a city on the move with the 21st century, but its old world charm and history are very much alive. When hailing a cab at KK, you won’t find a metered taxi but just a contractual ones. Each ride is via agreement of destination and fare.
While on any given day it’s much too humid to walk from one end of the city to the other as you’ll be hopping in and out of taxis, the city is conveniently compact when it comes to booking your wildlife and diving adventures, and treks to Mount Kinabalu.
For the coffee person, you’ll certainly love KK as there are coffee shops on almost any street. There is quite a lot of different types of coffee offerings to satisfy your caffeine needs. Notable coffee shops are October Coffee House, Old Town, KK View Cafe, Yuit Cheong which is considered as the oldest coffee shop in town since 1896. Also, one is Fortune Cafe but we failed to find it since the location that Google Maps is pointing was a trading shop.
Kota Kinabalu is best known as a gateway to Sabah’s best tourist destination and also attractive destinations throughout the Borneo Island. As a gateway centre and the capital city of the state of Sabah which is used to be known as North Borneo, Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu is a hotbed for live entertainment and great party as well.
At night, the Atkinson Clock Tower lights up. It is the oldest standing structure in Kota Kinabalu. It was originally known as the Atkinson Memorial Clock Tower and sits in solitary on the bluff along Signal Hill Road overlooking this seaside city.
When staying in KK you have two main choices, you can stay at the resorts to the south, near the airport which have nice beaches and views but you need to travel a few minutes by taxi or bus into town, or you can stay at one of the city hotels and easily access any place nearby.