Kota Kinabalu travel guide

Kota Kinabalu Tourism | Kota Kinabalu Guide

You're Going to Love Kota Kinabalu

Malaysia's eastern Borneo island location is famous worldwide for its stunning beaches, first class diving, lush jungle scenery and luxury resort accommodation.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Kota Kinabalu

1. Kinbalu Park

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Malaysia's first national parks and has worldwide ecological importance due to its unique flora, fauna and native mammal species.

2. Dalit Beach

There are many unspoiled beaches where you can indulge in water sports and get a bite to eat at one of the many beach restaurants.

3. Poring

This natural hot spring is a popular place among tourists, just 40km outside of the city in Sabah.

4. Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

This mosque is situated around a lagoon and is one of the most photographed sites in the region.

5. Green Connection

This aquarium with hands-on exhibits focuses on environmental protection and education.

Where to Eat in Kota Kinabalu

Suang Tain Seafood Restaurant serves fresh-caught fish and traditional Malaysian food. Meal prices average about MYR25.

When to visit Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu in May
Estimated hotel price
C$ 41
1 night at 3-star hotel
Kota Kinabalu in May
Estimated hotel price
C$ 41
1 night at 3-star hotel

The best time to visit is May-September after the rainfall season, when the weather becomes more stable and you can view all kinds of turtles and orangutans playing in the wild jungles.

Data provided by weatherbase
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Kota Kinabalu


Kota Kinabalu International Airport is located 7km outside of the city. One way tickets from London cost roughly MYR2,200.


Sabah State Railway connects to other destinations on the island. A ticket to Beaufort with connections to Tenom costs MYR3.8 and takes 2 hours.


There are 3 highways operating through Kota Kinabalu. Highway 1 runs north and south with connections to Brunei, with 22 and 500 heading east to Ranau, Tambunan and Tenom.


Currently all long-distance buses operate out of the North Bus Terminal (Inanam) just 10km outside of the city.

Airports near Kota Kinabalu

Airlines serving Kota Kinabalu

Good (256 reviews)
British Airways
Good (704 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (827 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (904 reviews)
Excellent (551 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (170 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (104 reviews)
Malaysia Airlines
Excellent (16 reviews)
Japan Airlines
Good (223 reviews)
Oman Air
Good (3 reviews)
Korean Air
Excellent (77 reviews)
Philippine Airlines
Good (66 reviews)
China Airlines
Excellent (7 reviews)
Good (17 reviews)
Good (12 reviews)
Cebu Pacific
Good (12 reviews)
Philippines AirAsia
Good (2 reviews)
Jeju Air
Good (2 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Kota Kinabalu

Jesselton Hotel offers boutique accommodation in the heart of downtown for MYR220 a night.

Popular neighbourhoods in Kota Kinabalu

Lok Kawi - This small nearby town offers an impressive wildlife park where you can have up-close encounters with tigers, monkeys and pygmy elephants.

Jalan Kampung Air - Visit this neighborhood to experience the traditional Southeast-Asian night markets and sample traditional Malaysian cuisine.

Karambunai - This neighborhood features many popular beaches which are good for snorkeling and diving.

Where to stay in popular areas of Kota Kinabalu

Most booked hotels in Kota Kinabalu

Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu
Excellent (8.9, Excellent reviews)
C$ 88+
Shangri-La Tanjung Aru, Kota Kinabalu
Excellent (8.8, Excellent reviews)
C$ 176+
Grandis Hotels and Resorts
Excellent (8.6, Excellent reviews)
C$ 63+
The Palace Hotel Kota Kinabalu
Excellent (8.6, Excellent reviews)
C$ 34+
Promenade Hotel Kota Kinabalu
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
C$ 58+
Mercure Kota Kinabalu City Centre
Excellent (8, Excellent reviews)
C$ 40+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Kota Kinabalu

Public Transportation

The Wawasan Bus Terminal is currently under construction, being temporarily replaced by a stretch in front of Waterfront Mall. Single ride tickets cost around MYR2 and can be paid when boarding the bus.


Taxi tariffs start at MYR8, with a typical ride in the center costing around MYR15.


Rental vehicles can be picked up from Kota Kinabalu airport with average daily rates starting at MYR130.

The Cost of Living in Kota Kinabalu

Shopping Streets

Kota Kinabalu Handicraft (Filipino) Market offers souvenirs, including textiles, jewelry and local handcrafts for negotiable prices. 1Borneo Hypermall is the largest modern shopping mall in Borneo.

Groceries and Other

The two main shopping markets are City Grocer Supermarket and Giant Supermarket. A dozen eggs costs 4.5 MYR.

Cheap meal
C$ 2.40
A pair of jeans
C$ 100.53
Single public transport ticket
C$ 0.60
C$ 3.09