You are currently viewing 10 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN KOTA KINABALU


10 best places in Kota Kinabalu. Sabah is an entry point to the broader Borneo region, and its strategic positioning makes it an ideal hub for exploring Sabah. Situated just a few hours’ drive from jungles, national parks, and hot springs, it offers convenient access to various natural wonders!


1. The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre (SOURC)



If you love animals, here’s a great suggestion! Currently, 60 to 80 orangutans live freely in the rainforest, and about 25 orphaned ones are taken care of in nurseries. The Sabah Wildlife Department owns and runs the center, located in the Sepilok-Kabili Forest Reserve, covering 43 square kilometers. You’ll find a clinic, treatment ward, and nurseries there.

When you visit Sepilok, you can explore the rainforest and, hopefully, see some orangutans in their natural habitat. These orangutans can move around freely, and they receive extra food daily. The additional food is intentionally simple to encourage them to search for their own food.


Operation Hours

Monday – Thursday 9.00am – 12.00pm , 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Saturday – Sunday   9.00am – 12.00pm , 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Friday 9.00am – 11.00am , 2.00pm – 4.00pm


What month is best to see orang utans?

April to August

Usually, when people go to Sepilok, they can see orangutans during feeding sessions at 10:00 am and 3:00 pm on the platform. Some orangutans might also be seen in the outdoor nursery. But, there are times when no orangutans show up for feeding. Although it doesn’t happen a lot, it’s mostly because the orangutans found food in the wild, especially when there are lots of fruits. This is actually good because the goal is to teach these animals that their real home is in the wild, and they shouldn’t depend on a controlled environment.


How to get there?

Fly to Sandakan: You need to book a flight from major Malaysian cities like Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan Airport (SDK).

From Sandakan to Sepilok:

  • Taxi or Grab: After arriving at Sandakan Airport, take a taxi or use a ride-sharing service like Grab to reach Sepilok. It usually takes about 30 minutes, depending on traffic.
  • Bus or Minivan: Alternatively, you can take a bus or minivan from Sandakan to Sepilok. Buses and minivans are available at the Sandakan bus terminal, and the journey takes around 45 minutes.

Many travel agencies offer organized tours to Sepilok, which may include transportation from your accommodation in Sandakan to the rehabilitation center. This can be a convenient option if you prefer a guided experience.


Safety and Regulations

No matter the kind of orangutan encounter you’re looking for, the following principles can guide you in making ethical and responsible travel choices. Wildlife remains truly “wild,” so by following rules and regulations, travelers can minimize their impact on these incredible animals and enhance the overall experience.


  • Stay at least 10 meters away from orangutans or other animals. (This is about 32 feet or 11 yards.)
  • Never give food to the animals.
  • Avoid walking around or bothering the orangutans while they’re doing their natural activities
  • If you’re not feeling well, wear a protective mask and don’t go into areas where orangutans live
  • Keep quiet and try not to disturb the orangutans while they’re doing their natural activities
  • Limit your visit to two hours if you’re with ex-captive orangutans and one hour if you’re with wild orangutans
  • Watch your children, especially near feeding areas where orangutans might be moving around
  • Choose local guides and tour operators who hire people from nearby communities and cities


2. Mari Mari Cultural Village Tour from Kota Kinabalu



Explore Sabah’s mix of cultures with a day trip to Mari Mari Cultural Village. Here, you’ll meet the native people of Borneo and see demonstrations on starting fires and making blowpipes. Ideal for families and those visiting for the first time, this small-group tour is limited to 15 people for a more personalized experience with your guide.

Mari Mari Cultural Village is in a quiet forest area in Kionsom, away from the busy city of Kota Kinabalu – a great break from city life. Experience the real lifestyles of 5 Malaysian tribes. Try various foods and enjoy traditional shows like blow-pipe making and fire starting. Choose the tour time that works best for you. Make sure to visit this cultural village when you’re in Kota Kinabalu – a fantastic adventure for the whole family!


What time is the Sarawak Cultural Village show?

Performance & Art – Sarawak Cultural Village, Kuching 

The cultural village has two shows every day, one in the morning at 11:30 am and another in the afternoon at 4:00 pm. It displays the ways of life of different tribes in Sarawak, the Land of Hornbills. Around 150 people in the village demonstrate daily activities, showcasing arts, crafts, games, and foods from the 7 major ethnic groups.


How do I get to Sarawak Cultural Village?

Getting around The best way to get to Sarawak Cultural Village is to use the shuttle bus that departs from the Grand Margherita Hotel in Kuching to the Damai Beach Resort. Tell the bus driver that you wish to stop at the cultural village. The bus journey takes around 45 minutes one way.


Entrance Fee

You can arrange your own transport but its highly recommend to take a public transport and tourist guide and purchase the whole package. It cost around RM180 per adult,  RM170 per child (5 – 11years).

Package included English Speaking Guide, Cultural Performances, House to House Visit and Meals (Lunch/High Tea). Duration  of performance takes around 3 hours


Once you arrive, you’ll get ready to travel back in time to ancient Borneo. Before you go in, you’ll learn some rules for the village. The Chief will greet you, and you’ll take part in a special Welcome Ceremony.

Next, you can cross a bridge to enter Mari-Mari. This village represents five ethnic groups: Dusun, Rungus, Murut, Bajau, and Lundayeh. Each group has its own interesting stories, traditional dances, and history.

You’ll have lunch or dinner inside Mari-Mari. After that, it’s time to say goodbye to the villagers and return to the present day. We’ll take you back to your hotel.



3. Lok Kawi Wildlife Park




The wildlife park is a home of Borneo Pygmy Elephants, Proboscis monkeys, Malayan tiger, and a few different species of deer. On the other hand, the park also offers the opportunity to its visitors to go for jungle trekking in the botanical trail, which is about 1.4 KM long.

If the wild animals and wildlife fascinates you then Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in Kinabalu, Malaysia is a must visit place for you. Started in 2007 and developed by the Sabah Wildlife Department, the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park primarily consists of two sections: Botanical & Zoological. It is, especially, promoted with the objective to make it a family-oriented park and lot of emphasis is given to the Children’s Zoo and it is one of the very popular places to visit in Kota Kinabalu.


The park is 280 acres in size and is made up of two parts; the zoological and the botanical side. The park’s main objective is to create a family-oriented park which puts in more emphasis on making it more of a children’s zoo. Among the many residents of the zoo are the Borneo Pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinoceros, Orang Utan, Proboscis monkey, Malayan Tiger as well as a few species of deer.


The botanical component offers visitors the chance to go jungle trekking along the botanical trail. The readily paved trail is approximately 1.4 kilometers long and the botanical component is about 200 acres in size. The aviary is a more lively section where you will hear myriads of sounds of the mynahs, greeting visitors who come to the park. At the aviary, there are many species of birds like the hornbill, pigeons, parrots, eagles, egrets and many more.


The children’s section of the zoo has pygmy elephants, ponies and goats. Children can enjoy elephant rides daily from 10.30am to 11.30am and from 3.30pm to 4.30pm. Sabah has so many places of interest to offer to visitors. If you have only a limited time here, do make sure you spend it wisely. But if you are able to extend your stay, please do so. Accommodations in Sabah are plentiful and ranging from budget hotels to high-end ones.



The Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is located on the West Coast Division of Penampang.


How to Reach there?

The wildlife park is just 30-45 minutes drive from the Kota Kinabalu, estimated distance is 20 KM. Visitors can take the local taxis, which will cost you around 25-30 MYR per way. The journey to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park takes 30 minutes to an hour’s drive from Kota Kinabalu, the estimated distance is 20 kilometers. For transportation, visitors can either drive or take a taxi from the city centre.


Operation Hour

9.30 AM to 5.30 PM

Various types of jungle trees, wild plants, herbs and flowers can be found there. The Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is open daily from 9.30 am until 5.30 pm. However, the ticket counter closes at 4.30 pm.



The admission fee is RM10 for adults and RM5 for children while foreign tourists pay RM20 and RM10 respectively


4. Tabin Wildlife Reserve





If you love watching birds and taking pictures of wildlife, Tabin Wildlife Reserve is an excellent place for you. It’s not just for photographers and animal lovers but also for anyone who visits regularly, it can feel like paradise.

If you’re an adventure seeker, passionate about wildlife photography, and enjoy being close to nature, Tabin Wildlife Reserve is the right place for you. It offers a true and perfect taste of nature. A visit to Tabin Wildlife Reserve can be an amazing experience, and it’s one of the top places to see in Kota Kinabalu.


How to get there? 

To get to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, you can drive for about 7 hours from the main Kota Kinabalu city. Alternatively, you can take a direct flight from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu, which is a 1-hour journey. From Lahad Datu, it will take about one and a half hours to reach the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.


Here are few ways to reach Tabin Wildlife Reserve:

Flight Option: You can take a flight from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu, which takes about 1 hour. From Lahad Datu, it’s a 1 hour and 15 minutes drive, part of it on a gravel road, to get to Tabin.

You can also travel by road:

  • Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu (7 hours)
  • Sandakan to Lahad Datu (4 hours)
  • Tawau to Lahad Datu (4 hours)

Many people are choosing to visit Tabin by flying to Sandakan first. They explore places like the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and the Selingan Turtle Island before heading to Sukau in Kinabatangan for at least one night. After that, they travel by road from Sukau to Tabin Wildlife Resort. This journey lets them experience some of the best eco-nature destinations in Borneo.

For Divers: If you’re a diver, Tabin is a good place to visit after diving in Sipadan and Mabul islands. It allows you to break the non-flying-after-diving rule and stay in Tabin for one or two nights. The journey from Semporna to Tabin takes about 3 hours and 15 minutes.


The cost for a day trip to Tabin Wildlife Reserve is around 570 MYR.



5. Mount Kinabalu



one of 10 best places in Kota Kinabalu


Mount Kinabalu is special because it’s in Kinabalu Park, a famous World Heritage Site. If you love nature, you’ll enjoy seeing different plants and animals at various heights on the mountain.

Mount Kinabalu, in the Crocker Range, is famous worldwide for having a lot of different plants and animals from the Himalayas, Australasia, and Indo-Malaya.

A recent study found around 5,000 to 6,000 plant species on the mountain (not counting moss and liverworts but including ferns). That’s more than in all of Europe and North America combined, except for the tropical parts of Mexico. This makes it one of the world’s most important places for biology.


Mount Kinabalu Climbing

Climbing Mt Kinabalu can be done in 2 days but a more comfortable climb in 3-days are recommended to acclimatise to the altitude and fully enjoy the rich biological diversity – the exotic rare place

Mount Kinabalu Climbing Permit (Malaysian)

18 Years & Above RM 100

17 Years & Below  RM 50

Mount Kinabalu Climbing Permit (International)

18 Years & Above RM 400

17 Years & Below RM 200


Climbing Certificate

You can own a climbing certificate and it can be beneficial for several reasons, especially if you are an avid climber or planning to engage in climbing activities. For example, Insurance Requirements

Some climbing activities may require participants to have climbing certification to meet insurance requirements. This ensures that participants are adequately trained and knowledgeable about the associated risks.

You can get First Class Climbing certificate at around .RM 10 or a Second Class Climbing Certificate- Black & White  RM 1


Mountain Guide Fee for Mount Kinabalu

Timpohon Low’s Peak Mount Kinabalu RM350 / 5 persons OKU : RM200 / Per climber


How to get there?

Mount Kinabalu is located in the Malaysian state of Sabah, on the island of Borneo. The nearest airport is Kota Kinabalu International airport and it takes approximately 2 hours to drive from Kota Kinabalu city to Mount Kinabalu.


By bus

Getting to Kinabalu Park from Kota Kinabalu is easy. You have two options. The first is to take a minivan from the Long Distance Bus station near the Night Market in the city center. The minivan goes directly to the Park HQ, costs RM15 each way, and takes 1.5 hours. The second option is to catch a bus from the Kota Kinabalu North Bus Terminal in Inanam, which is 10km northeast of the city center.

The bus journey takes 1-2 hours and costs RM10-15. Buses going to Ranau, Sandakan, or Tawau will pass by the park entrance. If you want a beautiful view of the mountain, it’s best to leave before 08:00 and sit on the left side of the bus.


Traveling by Taxi

You can take a shared taxi from the taxi station near Jalan Padang. The ride between Kota Kinabalu and the park costs around RM15-18 each way. These taxis leave when they have enough passengers, usually seven. If you don’t want to wait, you can pay for the missing passengers and leave right away.

Regular taxis in Kota Kinabalu might offer drives to the park for RM150-200 or more. But since public buses and shared taxis are affordable, this isn’t necessary for budget travelers.

For convenience, you can also book private transport, climb permits, accommodation, and English-speaking guides through the Official Mount Kinabalu Climb Booking & Information Centre.


Driving by Car

Another option is to drive and you can easily rent a car at Kota Kinabalu airport. Driving is good for those used to driving on the left side and allows you to stop along the way. Compare rates from different companies as they are negotiable. The park entrance is nearly 100 km from Kota Kinabalu center, with the last 40 km being a sparsely populated mountain road. There isn’t much signage, so it’s helpful to buy a road map in Kota Kinabalu and note the towns on the way to follow the road signs.


Tour Companies

There are many tour companies that run day tours from Kota Kinabalu for RM150-200. Tours usually include admission fees and hotel pickup, sometimes stop at Poring Hot Spring and may include lunch.


Safety and Precautions

Be aware of how dangerous the mountain can be during bad weather. Stay close to the guide ropes and to your guide. If you lose sight of the guide ropes, blow a whistle or shout. Because of the thin air and the acoustics of the mountain, your shouts will not carry as far as you might expect and may seem to come from many directions. It’s best to have a climbing partner, especially in large groups which can string out as stragglers get left behind.

  • Some people may face problems due to the thin air. It’s better to climb slowly instead of rushing, as the mountain’s height can cause altitude sickness. Be aware of the symptoms.
  • Dress appropriately for the final climb. It can be freezing, so wear several thin layers that you can take off as it gets warmer. A hat and gloves are essential for warmth, and bring a head torch for hands-free use.
  • Descending can be tough on sore muscles and tired legs. Take it slow, avoid jamming toes into the front of shoes, and zig-zag for gradual slopes. Experienced guides may rush down, but it’s not recommended for everyone.
  • Consider bringing relief cream for muscle aches and supports for knees and ankles. Expect your legs to ache for a few days afterward, so avoid strenuous activities unless you’re sure you can handle it.



6. Gunung Mulu National Park




Gunung Mulu National Park Highlights

You can challenge your friends with :

  • Trekking, camping, and caving. Visit Garden of Eden, Lang Cave, see stalagmites, stalactites, and limestone shawls. Float at Clearwater & Winds Cave’s picnic deck. Witness cave fauna and formations in Fastlane Cave. Experience Night Walk with nocturnal species. Walk treetops in the Canopy for river views. Traverse underground wonders in Lagang Cave over ancient riverbeds. Choose Extreme Adventures for added thrill at Gulung Mulu National Park


The Gulung Mulu National Park in Malaysia can only be reached by flight. Maswings, a subsidiary of Malaysian Airlines, run daily flights from Kota Kinabalu, Miri, and Kuching to Mulu. You need to reach Kuala Lumpur first. From there, you can fly to Borneo Island to one of the mentioned ports.


Best Time To Visit Gunung Mulu National Park

Good news! You can visit Gunung Mulu National Park anytime, but it’s best from June to September when it’s the driest.

Places for Treks and Trails at Gunung Mulu National Park

  • Canopy
  • Night Walk
  • Overnight Camping

Caves at Gunung Mulu National Park



Deer & Lang, Clearwater & Winds, Fastlane, Racer Cave, Lagang Cave, Clearwater Revival, Clearwater Connection, Sarawak Chamber Overnight Camping-


Tips to Visit Gunung Mulu National Park

  • Make sure to bring enough money because there are no banks, pharmacies, or stores in Gulung Mulu National Park.
  • In your camping backpack, pack a raincoat and a flashlight.
  • Remember to bring insect repellent and a first aid kit when going to Gulung Mulu National Park.
  • Wear a face mask for any tours you choose in the park.
  • If you plan to do adventurous caving or extreme tours, have a pair of hand gloves.
  • Dress in light clothes for the warm weather and carry a light shawl or jacket for the evenings.
  • Don’t forget to wear strong trekking boots if you want to reach the summit of Mulu.




7. Kinabalu National Park



Kinabalu National Park, Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, covers 754 sq. km, larger than Singapore!  It houses diverse flora and fauna creating unique landscapes. With four climates due to varying elevations, it supports over 4,500 species, 326 bird species, and 100+ mammals. Just a 2-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu, it offers a cool climate and a view of Mt Kinabalu. Activities range from leisurely walks to conquering Mt Kinabalu. Explore nearby attractions like Desa Dairy Cow Farm, Sabah Tea Gardens, Poring Hot Springs, treetop canopy walks, and Kundasang War Memorial.


Operating Hours


8:00am- 5.00pm

Botanical Garden last until 3:00pm


Entrance Fee

Conservation Fee (Malaysian) 18years above RM 10

Below 17 years RM 5

Below 12 Years / Above 60 Years & OKU : Free of Charge



 The Kinabalu Park entrance is very easy to reach from Kota Kinabalu by bus. First option is to rent a minivan from the Long Distance Bus station near Night Market in city centre, which will drive directly to the Park HQ. Minivans leave when full, cost RM15 each way and the journey takes 1.5 hours.


Discoveries inside the park

For simple short trekking, one may find the numerous guided nature trails around Kinabalu Park a wonderland, as you may stumble upon rare botanical species and who knows, be the first to make new new discoveries of rare and endemic plants.


Mt Kinabalu Botanical Garden




The Mt Kinabalu Botanical Garden, covering 5 acres, is a major attraction at Kinabalu Park. It showcases diverse plants from the entire park, providing an excellent exhibit.


Poring Hot Springs


Poring Hot Springs, 40 km from Kinabalu Park HQ, offers hot mineral baths with claimed therapeutic powers. Visitors can soak in individual tubs or explore the Butterfly Farm for colorful butterflies. The Poring Orchid Conservation Centre showcases Kinabalu Park’s 1,200 orchid species.


8. Gaya Street Sunday Market



Gaya Street, also called the Sunday market, is a must-visit for travelers. It has been a significant trading spot for over a century and is perfect for exploring local markets. Visitors can purchase authentic Malay ingredients, a wide range of seafood, Malay art and craft, making it one of the top places to visit in Kota Kinabalu.



It is located in the center of the city, hence people can stroll down to this place. The market is well connected with the public transport as well, so reaching there is not a problem.


Operating Hours

The best time to visit the market is during the daytime on Sundays typically starting around 6:30AM or 7:00 AM and lasting until around 1:00 PM. It’s a good idea to arrive early to experience the market at its liveliest



If you are looking to buy some souvenirs to take back home, then this is the correct place to do so. People can also find traditional Malaysian artifacts. If you are a food lover, then you can explore the various ingredients for authentic Malaysian cuisines.


Products and Vendors

 The market is known for its diverse range of products, including fresh produce, local snacks, handicrafts, clothing, accessories, souvenirs, and much more. You can find a variety of items, from traditional Sabahan products to unique handmade crafts.

You can try traditional foods, snacks, and beverages offered by street food vendors. It’s an excellent opportunity to taste Sabah’s culinary delights.

Sometimes, the market features cultural performances, adding to the vibrant atmosphere. Traditional music, dance, and other cultural activities may take place, providing visitors with a glimpse into Sabah’s rich heritage.


9. Mabul Water Bungalows





Mabul Water Bungalows is a special diving resort built on the water at the southern part of Pulau Mabul. The resort is both calm and lively. It has paths with green plants and colorful flowers. The water bungalows give amazing views of the blue sea and beautiful sunsets. Many people were attracted to Mabul because it’s close to Sipadan Island (about 15 minutes by boat). But, it turned out that Mabul is great for muck diving, which some say is among the best in the world.

Mabul is a small, flat island with sandy beaches, sitting on the northwest corner of a 200-hectare reef. In its sandy areas, coral reefs, and man-made reefs, Mabul has a fantastic variety of small sea life. There are flamboyant cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopus, mimic octopus, and bobtail squid, just to name a few cephalopods. On Mabul’s reef, you can find harlequin shrimp, boxer crabs, and different types of goby, like spike-fin goby, black sail-fin goby, and metallic shrimp. There are also frogfish, moray eels, snake eels, and scorpion fish. Mabul is truly a magical place for seeing small sea creatures.


How to get there?

This resort is located at the north east coast of Borneo, in the Celebes Sea. To get there you will have to fly with Malaysian Airlines via Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu to Tawau. From there it is approximately a 1 hour journey by an air-conditioned minibus to Semporna and another 40 minutes by speedboat to Mabul. 



 Approximate price of the room ranges from 200 MYR to 350 MYR.


Fun Activities


  • Scuba Skills Refresher Course
  • Discover Scuba Diving
  • Technical Diving Courses
  • Snorkelling
  • Diving Trip at nearby island
  • Table Tennis
  • Ocean Kayak
  • Beach Volley Ball

The complex comprises of 14 tastefully decorated over-water bungalows. They are equipped with air-conditioning, hot water, mini bar and a private ocean view veranda. Also equipped with a full fledged restaurant and bar that serves three buffet meals a day.







The Sipadan Islands are the perfect spot for enthusiastic divers who want to add a tropical dive to their logs. Here, you can meet extraordinary aquatic creatures like manta rays, sharks, and barracudas. While Open Water Divers are allowed to explore Sipadan’s waters, it’s recommended to be confident in your dives or to have an Advanced Open Water dive certificate. If you don’t have a dive certificate and have a few days, you can get PADI-certified at dive centers in Semporna or Kota Kinabalu City. Before planning your dives, make sure to know the latest Sipadan diving rules and regulations set by Sabah Parks.

If luck is on your side, you might even see a group of scalloped hammerhead sharks!  Plus you’ll explore popular dive spots like:

Barracuda Point, Turtle Cave, West Ridge, Hanging Gardens, Lobster Lair, Staghorn Crest, South Point, Coral Gardens, White Tip Avenue, Mid-reef, or the Turtle Patch. In these areas, you can find marine life such as sharks, green turtles, schools of jackfish, and barracudas.


How to get there?

Fly from Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan or Kuala Lumpur into the town of Tawau, followed by a 45mins drive to the coastal town of Semporna. From Semporna, its another 45 – 60 mins speedboat ride to Sipadan Island, depending on the sea and weather condition. Semporna is the departure point for many of Sabah’s top dive sites.


Entrance Fee

The cost for diving went up from RM140 to RM250 a day for Malaysians and RM350 for non-Malaysians per person


Rules Regulations

To avoid overcrowding, each Sipadan permit allows a diver to visit the island for only one day and to complete a maximum of two dives per day. To partake in diving activities at Sipadan, guests are required to possess a minimum certification of Advanced Open Water. The duration of each dive should not exceed one hour, and the maximum diving depth allowed for each diver is 40 meters.


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