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8 reasons you should visit Kota Kinabalu, Sabah - YQtravelling

8 reasons you should visit Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Welcome to Kota Kinabalu.

I was born and raised in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah. I’ve always been fiercely proud of being a Sabahan. In fact, I think myself as a Sabahan first, a Malaysian second.

Where is Sabah and where is KK (pronounced keh-keh in our local accent)? It is in the northern part of Borneo–the third largest island in the world. The second largest state in Malaysia.


What do we have for you?

1. Mount Kinabalu

The highest mountain on Borneo but not in Southeast Asia as how we were lied to taught in school.

For the sporty, you can climb to the peak of the mountain (with a guide). For the nature loving, you can venture into the jungles. For the city folks, you can stare at the mountain from pretty much everywhere in town.

2. Beautiful islands

Just off the coast are the islands of Manukan, Layang-layang etc. On fine days (which is most of the time but not the day I took this photo), you have sunny beaches and the sea with three shades of color.

3. Beautiful beaches

Not quite the same as islands, our beaches can’t be beaten although the prettier ones are probably owned by more expensive resorts.

4. Charming museum

Sure our state museum smells like dead whale (it does, there’s whale bones in the middle of the indoor hall the last time I was there) but there’s a really good collection of local houses at the outdoor exhibition.

All of the houses are made of wood and you can see how the different races used to live in their kampung (villages).

5. Local markets

Our tamu are famous Malaysia-wide. These came from the old tradition of weekly markets where villagers trek across jungles to gather at a spot to barter.

The most accessible tamu is the Gaya Street Sunday tamu, but go further into towns like Dongoggon, Putatan and Kinarut, you will see less-touristy wares.

6. Developing city

There’s something nice about not being in concrete jungles. Come to Kota Kibanalu then, we don’t have much tall buildings.

You can also tell your grandkids: I was in KK, waaay before they had the space shuttle there. (But I don’t think that will happen.)

7. Tropical fruits

Yummy, cheap tropical fruits (such as the mangosteen in the picture) are widely available.

8. Food


9. Et cetera

We also have old-school trains and railway, white water rafting, diving and so much more.

Have you been to KK? What are your thoughts of the place?

More about Liau Yun Qing

Yun Qing is a writer, improviser and curious person. She loves finding little adventures in life. In 2013, she went on a 130-day round-the-world trip. She wrote a book to help those who also want to go on a career break.


      1. Hello! You can try flying from JB’s Senai Airport if you don’t mind the extra time getting there. Sometimes the tickets are half of what direct SG-KK flights.
        I usually buy my SG-KK flights during a sale but those don’t come as often.

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