Kota Kinabalu: A Lazy Two-Day Itinerary Around Sabah’s Capital City

I felt a bit excited that Airasia has re-launched its Cebu-Kota Kinabalu route, which will start flying this March 2015. Based on personal observation, Kota Kinabalu is the cheapest “International destination” ticket when coming from Cebu, and even from Manila. Promo Flights can go as low as 2,500 round trip all in when booked 2 months in advance, and it could even drop lower, depending on season. Mentioned ticket price however, excludes Phil. travel tax and terminal fees.

Heres a quick glimpse of how I lazily roamed around Kota Kinabalu for two days. This charming city was my last stop from backpacking Northern Borneo last year. A bit tired, I just let myself loosen a bit from my planned itinerary to just spend afternoons strolling along downtown’s waterfront parks and commercial strips, and enjoy the view of the Sunset , which was totally gorgeous by the way, The best sunset I’ve seen so far .

Day 0  — Strolling around waterfront park and seafood tripping

I arrived at KK half pass 4pm via 9 hours bus trip from Bandar Seri Bengawan, Brunei , which gave me enough time to check in and settle my things and immediately rushed to the waterfront park nearby . I was just in time to view this gorgeous Sunset . It was surreal =)

I arrived at KK half pass 4pm via 9 hours bus trip from Bandar Seri Bengawan, Brunei , which gave me enough time to check in and settle my things and immediately rushed to the waterfront park nearby . I was just in time to view this gorgeous Sunset . It was surreal =)


Enjoy a bottle of beer while chilling on this deck by sunset.


Enjoy fresh seafood from the nearby Market , and they call it “Filipino Market” because there are a lot of Filipino stall owners here.


Affordable Halal BBQ Chicken .. you don’t see much of pork openly displayed in KK as the citizens here are mostly Muslim-Malay.


More Seafood at the Filipino Market . And as a traveler coming from Mindanao, these are a bit pricey.

Day 1 – Dat trip to Palau Manukan Island , around 20 minutes from KK by speedboat for around 23 Ringgit ( 6USD) including necessary fees. Palau Manukan is the biggest and most developed among three public island beach resorts that can easily be reached from KK.  Tourist can also visit nearby islands to do snorkeling/diving , for additional fees.


The view upon docking at Palau Manukan Island


A view of Kota Kinabalu Cityscape from afar . which is 20 minutes away by speedboat


Expect to see a lot of Australians on the Beaches of KK, as there are daily flight routes connecting KK to different cities in Australia.


The Jesselton Port, where Boats to neighboring islands are docked.

Authentic Malaysian Food


Sup Daging from nearby Malaysian Eatery. Sup Daging (Beef Soup) is an aromatic broth serve with either noodles, rice or flat bread.


Beef and Chicken Satay with peanut sauce


Nasi lemak – considered as Malaysian national food, is a set of rice in coco milk (and sometimes with Pandan) , served with sambal (spicy sauce with shrimp paste), fried crispy anchovies, toasted peanuts, Hard boiled egg and cucumber. Usually this set is paired with Ayam (Chicken)

Day 2 — Day trip to Mt. Kinabalu World Heritage Site, packaged tour cost around 130 Ringgit ( 36 USD ) with hotel pick up and buffet lunch . Any hotel in KK can arrange this for you. Other blogs also mentioned a DIY tour to this mountain park via public bus , which is around 2 hours from the city (90 kms.).  If budget permits, then a Visit to this mountain park is still worthy to do =)


Behind me is the majestic Mount Kinabalu , the highest peak in archipelagic Southeast Asia, rising at 4,095 m. (Philippines’ Mt. Apo is at 2,954 m )


Giant Insects still thrive in the protected areas of Mt. Kinabalu . Here in the frame is an actual Bornean stick insect.


An actual mummified Giant Moth of Mt. Kinabalu , mostly are endangered species. some have already gone extinct due to over harvesting. so sad.


Rafflesia Flower which thrives along the foothills of Mt. Kinabalu . This is around 15″ in diameter. Those in deeper woods can grow bigger.

Feast on Chinese Food in KK , as the Chinese holds a very strong influence in this Southeast Asian city. Hongkong Style Hawkers are almost on every corner.


Fishball soup and Teh Lou mee noodles , which is comparable to Filipino-Chinese Satemi , only that its more on the sweet side.


Freshly squeezed lemonade with Kiamuy sinkers. Interesting !


Hawkers Type Meal , a plate-full for around 5 Ringgit . 1.5 USD


Hongkong Style Skewers


Shaved – iced Durian ( not really ice cream, its just like durian milkshake , that has been freezed, then shredded and served )

Where I Stayed  in Kota Kinabalu :  

Travellers Light Backpackers Lodge at around 8 USD (Dorm Type) per night with light Breakfast and Unli Coffee/Tea  , located at 19, Lorong Dewan, which was around 10 minutes walk to Jesselton Port and nearby Malls.  The Lodge is owned by a Malaysian and his Filipina wife, Joy , whose from Iloilo .


The Lodge’s terrace where breakfast is served , and is usually visited by stray monkeys begging for a slice, which is kind of cute; But these ,monkeys don’t come near people so theres no point to be scared =)


Having dinner with fellow backpackers from Spain and China , Hosted by the owner, Joy !

Roaming around KK is accessible via public Bus or Taxi .. buses to the international airport however are limited, which almost got me losing my flight. haha ! I’ll be more vigilant with schedules next time . =)


Closed counter . Buti nalang nadala sa pakiusap ! Took this shot after I checked in =)

8 thoughts on “Kota Kinabalu: A Lazy Two-Day Itinerary Around Sabah’s Capital City

  1. Hi! I’m planning to visit KK this summer with 1 friend. how much was your budget for a two-day stay? and is taking the bus better than walking?


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