Tanjung Aru Beach

Many a generation of locals have fond memories of this beach. Named after the majestic Aru trees which fringe the beach, this stretch of sand experiences some of the most amazing sunsets in the world. When the sun drops in the horizon, the sky and the sea shimmers a brilliant red, golden and crimson. It’s really breath taking. Your senses will also be tantalised by the range of dishes being cooked at the numerous food stalls in this area, enjoy piping hot satay and a cooling coconut water!

Located at the end of Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and about 6 kilometres from KK City, this place is closest to the hearts of the locals, and just one visit to the beach will tell you why. This is where our one might get a ringside view of arguably the greatest sunset on earth

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Just a short boat ride away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you are pleasantly transported to a different world of waves, pristine beaches and nature. Try snorkelling, diving or paragliding at your leisure. A suntan will be an added bonus. A wonderfully relaxing day trip.

The Marine Park is a cluster of islands; Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug. Pulau Gaya hosts the Gayana Eco Resort, Bunga Raya Resort and the Gaya Island resort by YTL. Visits to these premises require prior bookings.

KK Waterfront

Amble along the walkway in the evening for a lazy drink and see the brilliant sunsets. A prelude perhaps to a meal in this lively stretch of boardwalk, just above the waves, catch a sunset drink at one of the many bars. You’ll be spoilt for choice for dinner, be it Irish, North Indian, Aussie, local or fusion. This stretch also houses some of KK’s most popular nightspots. It’s a pulsating place in the evenings.

Kota Kinabalu’s one-stop dining and entertainment centre is found right here along the famous Waterfront. The Waterfront is a popular hangout for both locals and visitors alike.

Jesselton Point Waterfront

Formerly known as the Kota Kinabalu Ferry Terminal, Jesselton Point Waterfront has become one of the city’s main attractions in Kota Kinabalu ever since its privatization in February 2006.

Situated north of downtown Kota Kinabalu, this quaintly scenic place has an unmistakable historical feel to it—complete with olden days snapshots of Kota Kinabalu city (Jesselton) and vintage red English phone booths. Jesselton Point Waterfront serves as the only ferry terminal for Labuan-bound passengers as well as the main (and cheapest) boat terminal for the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park and Gayana Island.

Jesselton Point Waterfront also offers casual dining, leisure and retail experiences with its array of alfresco F&B outlets, handicraft stalls, and a four-court futsal centre.

Gaya Street Sunday Market

Every Sunday morning the centrally located Gaya Street throbs with colours, sounds, smells and excitement. Local farmers and traders flock here to sell their wares, including orchids, farm produce, fruits, dried seafood, local coffee, ethnic handicrafts, souvenirs, antiques, pets and even aphrodisiacs. Bring along your bargaining skills and you may land yourself a prize item. Have a breakfast or lunch in the coffee shops and watch the crowd pass you by. It is indeed the best place to people watch the local and their families.

Night Markets

For those who want their senses assaulted, try the hawker food stalls at the Waterfront’s Night Market. From a huge variety of fresh seafood, pick what you want and have it cooked before you – be it fish, lobsters, cockles or squid. Do bargain to get the best deal!

The non-food night markets are in Sinsuran, near Le Meridien hotel as well as in Kampung Air. Their speciality is cheap pearl and crystal trinklets, jewellery, souvenirs, clothing, footwear and bags. Take in the atmosphere and mingle with the crowd. It’s a pleasant walk, even if you return empty handed!

Kota Kinabalu Wetlands

This serene mangrove swamp encapsulates Sabah’s coastline. Have a leisurely walk on the boardwalk in the early morning or evening. Be at one with nature and its creatures. The inhabitants are mostly purple heron, egrets, kingfisher, fiddler crabs, mudskippers and monitor lizards. This is a sanctuary, not a zoo.

A 1.5km boardwalk brings you deep into the mangrove – a unique ecosystem where land meets sea. A 45-minute stroll on the boardwalk is a pleasant experience where you can enjoy fresh air and tranquility, while spotting interesting birds, plants and wildlife.

Sabah State Museum

An informative representation of Sabah’s history, archaeology, natural history and ethnology. The colonial years and the Japanese occupation are impressively covered. A heritage village constructed on the museum’s grounds showcases traditional ethnic houses. ere one can enter and experience the different types of habitats of the various indigenous groups of Sabah. Short of visiting the actual villages, this is the best way to experience the native culture in one place. Special events are also held here from time to time. Well worth splendid half a day.

Shopping Malls

In the mood for branded attire like Espirt, Nike, Mango, Soda, Guess and others? Head to Imago, Suria Sabah, Palm Square or Warisan Square. Whether for serious shopping or just a respite from the heat, the malls offer a place to wander, shop and enjoy the many food and drink outlets.

Atkinson Tower and Signal Hill Observatory

This oldest standing structure in Kota Kinabalu is built in memory of Francis George Atkinson, the first District Officer of Jesselton in 1905. Up to the 1950s it was used by ships as a navigational landmark. Amazingly, the 110 year old original clock mechanism still works.

This Clock Tower has the distinction of being the oldest standing structure in the whole of Sabah that survived the destruction of Jesselton town during World War II. Till today, it still serves to keep the city’s time.

Further up the road, the Observatory offers panoramic views of the city and the islands. Signal Hill, the highest point in the city, is one of the best places to get a good view of Kota Kinabalu. Just a couple of minutes drive from Padang Merdeka will bring you to the airy deck where you can get amazing views that extend to the outlying islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park and further.

From a sleepy port a hundred years ago to today’s bustling cosmopolitan city, Kota Kinabalu is a playground for tourists. The culinary legacy of the city derives from its interesting mix of different culture, from near and far.

There are many places to enjoy food and drink in the city, but here are a few of our tried and tested favourites:

  • Kedai Kopi Yee Fung (local)
  • Fat Kee (local)
  • Sri Malacca (local)
  • Sri Latha (Indian)
  • Kohinoor (Indian)
  • Little Italy (Italian)
  • El Centro (Western)
  • Grazie (Italian)
  • Gusto (Italian)
  • Chilli Vanilla (Western)
  • Party Play (Western and Asian)
  • Hard Rock Café (American)
  • Sushi Tei (Japanese)
  • Emperors Delight (Chinese)
  • Mai Yai (Thai)
  • Hana Pot (Korean)

And if you fancy a drink before or after dinner, here are a few of our favourite city centre bars and clubs:

  • El Centro
  • Lush
  • The Loft
  • Shamrocks Irish Bar
  • Bed
  • Shenanigans