Top 10 Things to Do In Kota Kinabalu, the Land beneath the Wind
Kota Kinabalu or KK as it more affectionately known is the capital of the state of Sabah located in East Malaysia and also one of the popular gateways for travellers visiting Sabah and Borneo. The Land beneath the Wind is home to a plethora of rare wildlife as well as Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s highest mountain and first World Heritage site designated by UNESCO. KK also surround by Sipadan Island which rated as one of the best diving spot in the world and provides you with many activities that will make your trip enjoyable. Here are some places worth visiting while you are in Kota Kinabalu.
1. Gaya Street Sunday Market
Every Sunday, Gaya Street or previously known as Bond Street will be closed to traffic to make way for the interesting morning market catering to locals and tourists alike. The Gaya Street Sunday Market or Gaya Street Fair starts as early as 6.30 a.m. up until 1 p.m. There you can find and buy almost anything under shady trees and over-sized umbrellas like batik sarong, fruits, pastries, herbs, arts and crafts, antiques, souvenirs and many more. This is the best place to practice your bargaining skills and enjoy some of the unique local breakfast served at the coffee shops along the street.
2. Filipino Market
Filipino Market also known as Handicraft Market is a popular tourist destination in KK and a great place to buy handicrafts, cultured pearls and local delicacies. Some people might need a strong stomach to be in the dried food section as the smell of the seafood can be quite overwhelming to those who are not used to it. The market is open every day from 7.30 a.m. until 7.30 p.m. and will transform into a night market cum food bazaar where you can enjoy barbecued seafood during the evening.
3. Monsopiad Cultural Village
Monsopiad Cultural Village is the place to go for anyone who wants to understand the culture and traditions of Sabah’s largest ethnic group, the Kadazan Dusun people. The living museum houses historical relics of the evolution and civilization of the tribe, their artefacts and daily lifestyle objects along with the House of Skulls which contain 200 years old human skulls as mementos of a famous Kadazan warrior’s wrath, Monsopiad. Visitors can also see staffs dressed in traditional Kadazan’s customs, watch cultural performances of Kadazan-Dusun people, try their rice wine and even try their aim with a traditional blowgun.
4. Mari Mari Cultural Village
Mari Mari Cultural Village is one of the amazing living museums showcasing the cultures and traditions of the other ethnic group of Sabah, which are Bajau, Murut, Dusun, Rungut and Lundayeh. At Mari Mari Cultural Village you will able to see various traditional homes and become acquainted with their fascinated designs. There you can also see traditional dances and rituals. In addition, visitors can engage in cooking demo, honey making, bamboo coking and see variety of live demonstration such as traditional tattoo-making and rice wine process with a package tour that will last about 3 hours.
5. Kota Kinabalu Heritage Walk
The Heritage Walk was created and founded by Grace Leong to educated tourists with the history of Sabah or North Borneo as it was once called. The tour will guided the tourists to walk through several historical sites and various monuments around the city like Merdeka Field, Atkinson’s Clock Tower, Gaya Street and several other places of significance which end up at the Museum Kopitam in two and a half hours or more. The Heritage Walk is one of the best ways of introducing Sabah’s Heritage to travellers.
6. Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park which is a major diving and snorkelling destination is a cluster of five beautiful islands namely Sapi Island, Gaya Island, Mamutik Island, Manukan Island and Sulug Island. Each island is characterized by clear shallow waters, breathtaking coral gardens and all boast splendid white sandy beaches. The current is soft and reefs are visible making it a perfect destination for swimming, snorkelling and sun-bathing. There are varieties of exciting water sports to keep you busy such as banana boat, kayaking, seabed walking, water paragliding and PADI’s Discover Scuba Diving course for first timer.
7. Kinabalu National Park
Kinabalu National Park features Mount Kinabalu that stands at 4,095.2 metres which is one of the highest peaks in Southeast Asia for climbing enthusiasts that will take at least two to three days. The park also features a dizzying array of plant and animal species that surround the mountain. Visitors can also visit Desa Milk Farm and Kundasang town on the same trip or can even immerse in Poring Hot Spring.
8. Lok Kawi Wildlife Park
Lok Kawi is a wildlife rehabilitation centre stocked with diverse wildlife and natural beauty in the Sabah region. There are plenty of endangered species can be viewed like tarsiers, Sumatran rhinos, Borneo Pygmy Elephants along with an array of colourful birds and other Borneo’s unique species. The wildlife park starts feeding their animals at 10 a.m. and provides an interactive show at the stage around 11.15 a.m. every day.
9. The Green Connection
The Green Connection is a unique educational place and conversation centre that features a vast of biodiversity of seven ecosystems, and home to more than 1,200 species ranging from the smallest of insects to slimy snakes and unique marine life including bamboo shark, guitar shark, marble ray, and striped catfish among others which come from the jungle and ocean of Sabah. The Green Connection also dedicated to educate the public that take them to a unique journey through limestone caves, dense jungles, and more about Sabah’s aquatic biodiversity with plenty of fun and interactive activities.
10. Tanjung Aru Beach
Kota Kinabalu’s Tanjung Aru beach isn’t the best for swimming but the peaceful waterfront is an enjoyable place to experience the beautiful sunrise or sunset while sit, relax and eat fresh low cost seafood offered by the food court right on the beach.