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The problem with famous tourist destinations is they eventually get crowded. The place loses its luster and the vacation is not as good as you expected it to be.

Kota Kinabalu is a lesser-known vacation spot. It is not too obscure that there are not many establishments to cater to tourists’ needs, but not too known also to be a “tourist trap.”

Best Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu
A mosque in Kota Kinabalu | Bigstock Photos

Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah Island of Malaysia. It is a coastal country which features pristine beaches, virgin rainforests, and a lively nightlife. We have listed 6 things to do in Kota Kinabalu. These are destinations and activities that will make your money and time worth it. Enjoy!

1. Hike Bukit Kopungit

Start your vacation with a hike that will serve as an intensive exercise and a beautiful trip to Kota Kinabalu’s green landscapes.

The moderately difficult yet accessible mountain is also called Bukit Tanjung Aru or Nuluh Kuminaus which translates to “sulky hill” in English. It is a 2 km trail which overlooks the former Kota Kinabalu International Airport Terminal 2. Time your hike right and you may see the sunset. The mountain is near to the city center so it can fit right in your busy schedule.

2. Shop at Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market

What better way to appreciate Kota Kinabalu than to take home products made by the locals! From fridge magnets to patterned scarves, there are many items for everybody. A known tip to get the best prices is to haggle using the local language which is the Sabahan language.

3. Swim at Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

You and your family or friends will definitely be not bored at Tunku Adbul Raman Park. This one is a team favorite among the other things to do in Kota Kinabalu.

It is a group of 5 islands (Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik, and Pulau Sulug) which you can island hop to experience all. You can swim, dine, go boating, and even go snorkelling to witness the rich marine life the waters of Kota Kinabalu has to offer.

4. Explore Klias River Fireflies Safari Cruise

This trip will make you experience the rich fauna and flora of Kota Kinabalu. In this cruise, you may see the rare Proboscis Monkey living in the rich jungle nestled inside a mangrove forest.

It is best to go river cruising at night so you can see the vast number of fireflies that will make the whole wetlands look cinematic.

5. Summit Mt. Kinabalu

This activity is for the determined only. Considered to be the highest point of Southeast Asia, Mt. Kinabalu is a hike that will test both beginner and advanced hikers. It is 4,095 meters above sea level. This 2-day hike will surely change your vacation.

Colorful huts at the Mt Kinabalu Holiday Camp at Ranau, Sabah, Malaysia
Colorful huts at the Mt Kinabalu Holiday Camp at Ranau, Sabah, Malaysia | Bigstock Photos

Fun fact: the mountain itself shelters more plant species than Europe and North America combined.

6. Visit the Sabah State Museum

You can cap off your vacation by learning the history and culture of Malaysia. Different buildings have different subject matter: the Science and Technology Centre, the Heritage Village, Ethno-Botanical Garden and the Sabah Islamic Civilization Museum.

With a whopping land area of 17 hectares, enter Sabah State Museum as a curious person and leave the museum a learned one.

When you are seeking for a change, try visiting Kota Kinabalu and explore the places and exciting activities that only this place can offer.


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