Top 12 things to do in Kota Kinabalu

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.

Lobster sashimi - Ocean Seafood Restaurant, KK 20080817 02

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.

Filipino Market - KK 20071215 01

5. Gaya Street Fair

Only held on Sundays, the Gaya Street Fair is an interesting morning market catering to locals and tourists alike.

Gaya Street Fair - KK 20031109

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.

@mosphere - KK 20060713

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.

Waterfront - KK 20071214


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.

Cultural Village 003

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.

Masks - Filipino Market 20031110 01

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.



  1. Mr C said,

    September 3, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    A good breakdown, but I heard @tmosphere is now closed.

    • losttraveller said,

      September 5, 2011 at 8:00 AM

      Yes it has, Mr C. Need to update this list.

  2. Anonymous said,

    February 7, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    Where to get good Chinese Seafood restaurant

  3. May 22, 2012 at 1:09 AM

    I would love to go to Tunku Abdul Rahman Park but I’m a little scared about terroristm. How safe is it there?

    • losttraveller said,

      May 22, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      Very, very safe. πŸ™‚ No terrorism at all

  4. May 22, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    You don’t include Mt. Kinabalu on your list? Why? Some list it on top 1.

    • losttraveller said,

      May 22, 2012 at 1:29 PM

      I’m only listing the things that are within city limits.

  5. Matt said,

    June 10, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    I find the national marine park is overpriced. 40rm to go there. Simply okay snorkeling. Nothing great. No terrorism thats forsure

  6. Anonymous said,

    October 14, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Hello! My family will be going there and read that Shangrila Rasa is the number 1 hotel. Would you recommend it?

    • losttraveller said,

      October 19, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      It’s about 45 minutes from the city, so if you’re here for a short stay and plan to go out most of the time, I wouldn’t recommend it. But it is the best…

  7. Katherina said,

    October 21, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    How far is Shangri La Resort from 1Borneo? Are there any good (reasonably priced) seafood restaurant around Shangri La Resort or Sutera Harbour Resort? Thanks for your work, it really helps with deciding accommodation around KK :).

    • losttraveller said,

      November 9, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      There are 2 Shangrila Resorts. Rasa Ria is about 40 minutes from 1Borneo, Tanjung Aru is about 30 minutes. Seafood Restaurants near Rasa Ria are Gayang and Salut. for Sutera Harbour, there are Ocean, Portview, and Sri Selera.

  8. Anonymous said,

    February 15, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    atmosphere closed ages ago

    • lost traveller said,

      March 10, 2013 at 7:34 AM

      yes is has. need to update. πŸ™‚

  9. Anonymous said,

    March 9, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    What are the best shopping malls to go to in KK ?

    • lost traveller said,

      March 10, 2013 at 7:33 AM

      suria sabah, 1borneo, centrepoint

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