10 Best Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu | Malaysia

Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu

Despite Kota Kinabalu being in proximity to the typhoon belt, heaps of tourists visit this illustrious city to get a taste of its cultural heritage and natural wonders. This city has lush tropical jungles rich in biodiversity, and flawless shorelines that will captivate any passerby. On your visit, you will also get extensive knowledge about the ethnic group native to this land. Let’s dive in and explore 10 things you can do in the magnificent city of Kota Kinabalu.

10 Best Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu | Malaysia  

1. Take a tour of Mari Mari Cultural Village

Mari Mari Cultural Village
Source: Adam Lai

The mesmerizing Mari Mari Cultural Village is only a short distance from the city of Kota Kinabalu and is primarily inhabited by Sabahan tribal people. In recent times, this peaceful village is drawing in eager tourists who are fascinated by the traditions and customs of Malaysia’s ethnic communities.

The villagers are very hospitable, and they are more than willing to show you their traditional homes and leisure activities. You will also be able to try out their ethnic food and witness a cultural performance afterward.

2. Stroll along the coastlines of Kudat

coastlines of Kudat
Source: Pinterest

Near the town of Kota Kinabalu, Kudat is an exceptionally beautiful tourist destination. This amazing place is believed to possess the best scenery in all of Sabah. Start your journey by visiting the magnificent coastlines of Pantai Kalampunian. This immaculate beach is a great place for a short stroll, followed by a picnic with your family.

If you come here around the evening, you will be treated to a beautiful view of the sunset. Afterward, climb the top of Simpang Mengayau cliffs to appreciate the outstanding landscape around you.

3. Appreciate the beauty of Atkinson Clock Tower

Atkinson Clock Tower
Source: Blue Kinabalu Travel Agency

Established in 1902, the Atkinson Clock Tower is one of Kota Kinabalu’s most interesting landmarks. It was originally constructed in memory of the former District Officer called Francis George Atkinson. During the colonial period, even the city was named after him because of his efforts in the development of this city.

Take a relaxing stroll to the top of the majestic hill near Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman to reach this state-of-the-art clock tower. Visit the Signal Hill Observatory near the clock tower to get a panoramic view of the entire city.

4. Be amazed at the site of the sea-side City Mosque

City Mosque
Source: Wallpapers13

Lying next to the shoreline, the famous City Mosque of Kota Kinabalu boasts intricate Islamic architecture that will not fail to dazzle you. Inside the mosque, you will observe an enormous prayer hall which has a total capacity of occupying 12,000 individuals.

Other than that, the mosque also houses 3 separate madrasas to give religious teachings. This mosque has a gorgeous interior and exterior, and it is accessible to everyone except on Fridays.

5. Treat yourself to local cuisine

local cuisine
Source: Never Ending Footsteps

The state of Sabah is well-recognized for its outstanding variety of local food. You will find a multitude of spectacular dining outlets within the Kota Kinabalu that serves a blend of traditional and modern dishes. Prepare yourself to experiment with different local delicacies that will leave you craving for more!

All the restaurants and cafes in the city source their ingredients from local organic farms. In this way, they can provide fresh food of the highest quality.

6. Take a boat ride into Sabah’s most popular nature reserve

Klias River
Source: KLOOK

The extraordinary Klias River runs through the dense wilderness of Klias Wetland Mangrove Forest Reserve and can be reached from Kota Kinabalu within an hour. The best way to explore the fantastic nature reserve is through a boat ride along the Klias River.

As you steadily venture into the forest on your boat, you will spot a diverse selection of wildlife around you, including the Proboscis monkeys. If you come here around the evening, you will glimpse an assemblage of sparkly fireflies.

7. Traverse the fantastic Kinabalu National Park

Mount Kinabalu
Source: Lonely Planet

According to archaeologists, the Kinabalu National Park came into existence nearly 35 million years ago and still has been going strong. This prehistoric wilderness has plenty of short and long trails for you to traverse, and it also houses several natural habitats.

In the vicinity, you will also discover the popular Mount Kinabalu as you hike your way to Timpohon Gate inside the park. Standing at a height of 4095 meters, this is considered to be South Asia’s tallest peak.

8. Go on a shopping spree at Gaya Street Sunday Market

Gaya Street Sunday Market
Source: Living + Nomads

If you’re in the mood for shopping, come on down to the much-revered Gaya Street Sunday Market. This market only remains open on Sundays and is visited by a multitude of eager customers. However, wake up early to get to this market as it becomes very crowded and hot later on.

You will find several vendors selling interesting souvenirs, traditional dresses, and a variety of handcrafted jewelry. This market is a great place to improve your bargaining skills!

9. Check out the quaint Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park - Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu
Source: KLOOK

The tiny Lok Kawi Wildlife Park may not seem very compelling on the surface, but it safeguards a diverse range of threatened wildlife. This park has effortlessly tried to recreate natural habitats to shelter abandoned or injured orangutans, Sumatran rhinoceroses, Pygmy elephants, tigers, Proboscis Monkeys, and many other species. The park is completely open to the public, and you will also be allowed to feed some animals.

10. Travel back in time to Muzium Sabah

Muzium Sabah - Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu
Source: eazytraveler – Flickr

Muzium Sabah is one of the region’s most applauded museums for showing a wide selection of culturally significant artifacts and objects. History buffs visit this place frequently as it is a great place to learn about the history and traditions of the Sabah.

On your visit, you will observe several antique ceramic and pottery pieces, and several objects from the past. A Heritage Village also exists within the museum where you will glimpse several traditional houses that were once occupied by Sabah’s ethnic groups.


In conclusion, Kota Kinabalu offers a serene atmosphere and lots of activities for tourists to take part in. The city is praised for its vibrant markets and awe-inspiring natural parks and forests. The rich culture and customs of this place will not fail to fascinate you.

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Taufiq is an award-winning copywriter and digital marketing consultant. He is also a passionate traveler and freelancer, teaching financial independence and professional development through working freelance projects: www.freelancerhelpbangladesh.com

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