All You Need to Know about Kota Kinabalu


Kota Kinabalu is a small coastal city situated on the Island of Borneo in the East Malaysia region. It is the capital of Sabah, and the name Kota Kinabalu translates to “City Kinabalu,” as it is located close to Mount Kinabalu. Adorned with rainforests and scenic landscapes, this tropical paradise is one of the most happening travel destinations to the east of the Malay Peninsula. 

General Advice on Visiting Kota Kinabalu

Here are a few tips you need to know before you visit the city:

The Place

Kota Kinabalu is located on the Borneo island, which is one of the most rugged tropical islands in Southeast Asia. Therefore, you can expect to find lush tropical jungles inland surrounded by clear, beautiful beaches all around. Of particular attractions are the smaller islands on the north, such as the Gaya Island and Sepanggar Island. The weather is hot and humid throughout, so take comfortable clothes and plenty of sunscreen lotion.

People and Culture

You will soon notice that this East Malaysia destination is highly multicultural, along with several expats living on the island. The primary language is Malay, but since everybody speaks English, so finding your way around should be easy. The city is also generally safe, but you can avoid walking in specific areas late at night for safety. 


Getting here will mainly be through the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, which is located 7 km outside the city. You can commute by local bus or hire a taxi to get to the city. To travel inland, you can always book a bus ticket online via redBus and choose the best operators in the region for the most comfortable travel. Renting a car or a motorcycle is the best way to travel within the city. 

Accommodation and food

The city has accommodation that suits the budgets of all travelers starting from backpacker hostels to the fancier hotels along the coast. The Jalan Gaya is where you can find some great budget hotels and some of the best restaurants in the area. You can find all kinds of cuisines starting from Malay, Chinese, Mexican, American, Japanese, Indian, and more. 

Book online bus tickets to Kota Kinabalu!


This tropical getaway has plenty of fun activities in store for all visitors, here are the best tourist attractions: 

Water Activities 

Scuba: The west coast of Sabah is a magnet for scuba diving, with many dive operators in the area offering to take you to some of the best diving spots. Expect to see schools of fish, sharks, and plenty of giant clams in the warm waters surrounding the island.

Snorkeling: Is an equally popular activity at the shallow waters close to Manukan and Sapi. Gaya Island also offers plenty of snorkeling opportunities, and it is only a boat ride away. Head out early in the morning so you can get a lot of sunshine and clear waters.

Train ride 

If you are traveling with children, taking a Borneo Railway scenic ride from Tanjung Aru to Tenom is a massively fun activity on the island. You will get to go through dense rainforests and picturesque coastlines along the journey and experience the inside of the island.

Kiulu River White Water Rafting

For adrenaline junkies, the Kiulu River, which is an hour’s drive away from the city in Tamparuli, offers an incredible experience. The river with grade 3 and grade 4 rapids offers a challenge that’s not for the faint of heart.

Check out the Night Markets

Visit the night markets for a taste of delicious street foods throughout Kota Kinabalu. While you can find the regular poultry and farm meat, it’s the seafood that is the highlight of the experience.

Kota Kinabalu Top Tourist Attractions

These are the city’s most popular places of interest:

Mount Kinabalu

Standing 4000 meters high, Mount Kinabalu is one of the highest peaks in Malaysia that can be trekked. Located within the Kinabalu National Park, it is also a sacred mountain for the locals and a top tourist attraction. The trek to the summit is moderately challenging, and you’ll need the right amount of physical fitness to scale it.

The Sabah Museum

The Sabah Museum showcases Borneo’s transformation and its cultural influences throughout history. It is an ideal place to learn about local art and culture. There is also a section dedicated to marine life, which is a fun place for children. 

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Located 20 km outside Kota Kinabalu, the Lok Kawi is a wildlife park where you’ll get to meet several local species of birds, reptiles, and mammals. It is also famous for its orangutan encounter where you get to see these primates up close. 

Kota Kinabalu Waterfront

The more hip-side of the city, Waterfront is where you’ll find Kota Kinabalu’s best bars, night clubs, restaurants, and shopping malls. It’s a fantastic place to indulge in some live music, drinks, and a great meal. 

For anyone traveling through Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu is one of the premier destinations in the trip planner. While the city itself has many tourist attractions, it also acts as a base to explore the rest of the island. For a hassle-free traveling throughout Kota Kinabalu, you can rely on redBus to find you the best bus operators on the island. Book your bus ticket online, and be sure to have a comfortable and safe trip.


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