Kota Kinabalu

After a quick flight we arrived back in Kota Kinabalu and were met by the same driver at the airport. The trip in to the city was pretty smooth and it wasn’t long before we were dropped off at the Hotel Grandis. To our pleasant surprise we found out we had been upgraded to a penthouse apartment. Perhaps we were just lucky or perhaps our travel agent, who had stayed there a few days earlier, had put in a good word on our behalf. Either way it was a lovely apartment. We had a large bedroom with study corner. The bathroom was huge and it was nice to spread out in the lounge room rather than everything being in the one room. We didn’t really make use of the kitchenette though. After a quick shower we made our way to the hotel restaurant and had a relaxing dinner. Next it was off to bed as it had been quite a long day. Hard to believe we had looking at an orang utan family in the trees at Danum Valley earlier in the day!

Our last day was just a rest day. We started with a delicious buffet breakfast, sharing the dining area with a few large groups of Chinese tourists. After breakfast we took a quick look around the adjoining shopping centre. Next we decided to take a walk around Kota Kinabalu with the intention of visiting the craft market and some of the shopping centres to do some souvenir shopping. We made a decision to just take a camera and money with us.  Probably a bad move as within about twenty minutes the heat and humidity were taking their toll on us. Looking out into the bay as we walked we could see quite a few fishing boats.


Despite the heat we kept walking, finding shade along the promenade as we went. After about twenty minutes we made it to the craft markets and had a look around. The stalls were all under a large canopy and very close together. Lots of stalls and all seemingly small family run businesses. After making a few purchases, with the inevitable bartering, we made our move back towards some of the air conditioned shopping centres passing the islands opposite Kota Kinabalu. Along their shoreline we could make out heaps of stilted houses sitting out over the water.


Some of the footpath along the main road was under a covered roof, which kept us shaded but would also cover pedestrians when tropical downpours occurred. Some of the shopping centres were quite old whilst some were extremely modern. Interestingly the shoppers in the more modern ones were probably tourists or wealthier locals and the older shops were busy with locals. In between a couple of the hotels and shopping centres I was fascinated to see stalls of dried fish. Not something we see much in Australia.


After buying a couple of books in a souvenir/book shop we stopped for lunch at a cafe. Iced tea was served free with the meal. Eventually we made our way back to the hotel ready for our transfer to the airport. Sabah had certainly lived up to our expectations.


2 thoughts on “Kota Kinabalu”

  1. Hi, great looking blog and I look forward to reading more. I have two active kids (5 & 8) and we are planning to spend some time in Malaysia & Borneo next April – would you have any tips? Might Kota Kinabalu be worth a few days with the kids?? I’d be grateful for any advice as still at planning stage! Thanks, Dan

    1. Hi Dan,
      Appreciate your comment.
      Kota Kinabalu is quite a bustling centre. Your family would enjoy the craft market I’m pretty sure. There are some resort islands off the coast too. However I’d recommend the other side of Borneo more. Sandakan is a similarly large city and is close to Sepilok where you have the orang utan sanctuary and sun bear conservation park. It is also close to some of the centres for seeing wildlfe. We went to the Danum Valley but a more budget friendly option might be Tabin. I would also highly recommend Sukau for river safaris and Selingaan Island off the coast from Sandakan. Keep in mind all this is in a hot, humid equatorial area but the friendly locals look after you really well from our experience.
      Feel free to check out my posts on all these.
      Happy planning. I’m very interested in what you come up with eventually.

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