The modern state capital of Kota Kinabalu, or KK as is it's often called, is most peoples' introduction to Sabah.
The city was previously known as Jesselton, named after Sir Charles Jessel, a director of the British North Borneo Chartered Company who established the town as a trading post, although much of the city was flattened during the Second World War.
Rebuilt and renamed, Kota Kinabalu has some fine hotels and shopping opportunities at markets and stores. It is within easy reach of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, a group of five reef-fringed islands a few kilometres out to sea - of which Pulau Gaya and Pulau Sapi are the most popular, with good beaches and marked walking trails.
Kota Kinabalu is also the starting point for trips to Kinabalu Park and Poring Hot Springs.
The Practical information displayed here is taken from The Traveller's Handbook, published by WEXAS (2009). While all possible care was taken to ensure accuracy at the time of publication, we are aware that situations change, so for the latest information and up-to-date visa requirements, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.
The main rainy season in the east and in Sabah and Sarawak is from October to February. September to December is the wettest period on the west coast. Hot and humid year round.
Hari Raya Puasa marks the end of Ramadan with three days of celebration. Hari Raya Haji marks the completion of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca with a two-day feast. Chinese New Year and the Hindu festival of Thaipusam in January are both celebrated widely. The Kota Belud Tamy Besar is a tribal gathering marked with ceremonies and markets in Sabah during May.
Every type of South-East Asian cooking. Many dishes are based on a blend of spices, ginger, coconut milk and peanuts. Sambals (ground chilli, onion and tamarind based pastes) are often used as side dishes. Laksa is a popular spicy coconut milk-based noodle soup. Roti Chenai is a favourite for breakfast or a snack-fried flat bread usually dipped in a spicy peanut sauce. Alcohol is allowed in most areas.
Malaysia's population is a mixture of diverse cultures and characters. Islam is the predominant religion, some regions may enforce a stricter Muslim code than others. Dress should be modest. The Malay style of handshake is relaxed and gentle in touch, sometimes simply a brushing of fingertips against each other. Never eat food with the left hand and take shoes off before entering a house or temple.
Kuala Lumpur (KUL) 50 km from the city, Penang (PEN) 16 km from Georgetown, Kota Kinabalu (BKI) 7 km from the city, Kuching (KCH) 11 km from the city, Johor Bahru-Senai (JHB), 30 km from the city.
Air Asia and Malaysian Airlines have flights linking the country. Good bus network throughout peninsular Malaysia and on main roads in East Malaysia. Excellent bus and rail network: to Singapore via Kota Bharu and Thailand via Kuala Lumpur. Car hire easily available. Ferries between most islands.
The itinerary ideas listed below are designed to give you a flavour of the things to do in Kota Kinabalu. We can adjust any element and tailor-make your trip though, to suit your individual needs and available time. To start planning your trip, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.
The places to stay listed below only represent a handful of the accommodation options available in Kota Kinabalu. We can also recommend and arrange accommodation to suit your personal tastes and budget. To start planning where to stay in Kota Kinabalu, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.
Edward Anning - Asia Specialist
To make an enquiry or to start planning your trip talk to our team of specialists on 020 7590 0613