This list only includes places that are within close proximity of Kota Kinabalu, i.e. less than 15 minutes away, and easily accessible to tourists.
1. Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
Visit any or all of the islands in this national park. The snorkelling and diving is nothing compared to the islands on the east coast, but its number one advantage is its distance from the city. Only 15 to 20 minutes away by speedboat. The clear waters are good for snorkelling, the beach for sunbathing, and marine sports are available for the more active.
2. See the fantastic sunset
The people of KK are one lucky lot. They get to see a beautiful sunset almost every day. Best places to view sunset include Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort, Tanjung Aru Beach, Waterfront, Signal Hill, Sutera Harbour Resort, Atmosphere Restaurant.
3. Eat seafood
Some people come to Kota Kinabalu for this reason alone. The prices might have gone up in recent times, but the seafood is as fresh as ever. Choose your preferred fish/crab/lobster live from the aquarium.
4. Filipino Market
A visit to the noisy and colourful Filipino Market at night is an assault on the senses. Some people might not like the smell, but this is as real as it gets for tourists.
5. Gaya Street Fair
Only held on Sundays, the Gaya Street Fair is an interesting morning market catering to locals and tourists alike.
6. Atmosphere Restaurant
Dine or have some drinks at the revolving Atmosphere Restaurant, located on the 18th floor of Tun Mustapha Tower (formerly known as Sabah Foundation Building). The menu is not prohibitively expensive, and it is worth going there for the views or just to impress your date. The stylish interior is another plus point. Have money to burn? Arrange for the restaurant to pick you up from your hotel via helicopter, yacht or limousine.
7. Signal Hill Observation Pavilion
Not as high as the Atmosphere Restaurant, but the view is actually better since it is closer to the city.
8. Waterfront or Tanjung Aru Beach
Watch the time flies as the sea wind blows away your troubles as you sip your beer/cocktail/coconut juice by the seaside.
The liveliest nightlife in East Malaysia. Dance the night away at Shenannigans or Bed.
10. Sabah State Museum and Heritage Village
Life-sized traditional houses including the Rungus Longhouse and Murut trampoline means you get a quick insight into the culture of the people of Sabah. Inside the main building, find out how the Lotud men tell people how many wives they have. The real coffin and false cave are the other highlights.
11. Handicraft Market
Located between the Central Market and the Filipino Night Market, this Handicraft Market is popular with tourists from Peninsula Malaysia who are looking for a good bargain. This place used to be also called the Filipino Market.
12. Sabah State Mosque
The gold-streaked dome of the Sabah State Mosque had just gotten a new coat of paint and looks as good as it once did when it was first built more than 30 years ago.