The only real good reason to travel here is to climb nearby Mount Kinabalu. And if you do, then don't book your climb through a middleman or tour company! Book directly from the company managing the lodge on the mountain, otherwise you pay too much. Having said that, the people are friendly. The price of a movie is only 8-11 ringgits ($3 usd). Plenty of places to eat (local & western chains). The bus system is cheap, but unpredictable. The taxis are a bit expensive -- one ride is the cost of a night at a hostel. There are lots of good, cheap hostels. The sidewalks are sketchy, dangerous, or nonexistent. It's not a good area of Malaysia for beaches or snorkeling.
The vast majority of the people in Kota Kinabalu are friendly and very few try to rip you off.
Staying for a night in Kota Kinabalu made me feel like I'm in a place surrounded by odd people. They seem friendly at first, but after a while they become scary -- the way they stare, the way they move. It's like they want you drawn into their world and then cast spells on you that would make you stay there for the entirety of your life.
Kota Kinabalu (often called KK) is a beautiful city in Malaysia and the capital of Sabah region. Kota Kinabalu is well known for its beautiful scenery (Mount Kinabalu and Pulau Sipadan), shopping malls, budget accommodation, good nightlife, and a lot of restaurants with amazing fresh seafood. Kota Kinabalu is easily reachable by all transports (flight, boat, bus, and train), but probably the best way is by air –- there are a lot of low cost companies that fly here from different parts of Southeast Asia. The airport is located only about six kilometers from the city center –- you can take a taxi or minibus.
Kota Kinabalu has a lot to offer, depending your tastes and budget. During your stay in Kota Kinabalu city, you should visit the old area to see the remains of its colonial past, including the Sabah State Museum and Heritage Garden and the Waterfront Markets. If you are into more outdoor activities, you should try to do water rafting (do a one-day tour that can be easily arranged in every tour agency in the city), dive in Pulau Sipadan (recognized as one of the best places in the world to do dive -– here you can see barracudas, sharks, turtles, and amazing reefs), or climb the huge Mount Kinabalu (more than four thousand meters high). There are a lot of tours operated by different agencies in Kota Kinabalu organizing trips to the summit (the average is two days/one night).
Kota Kinabalu has a lot of hostels available, where you can have a good time, and in most of them you can also organize your tours. Kota Kinabalu hostels are on a budget, but clean, friendly, and in a relaxed environment.
Hi, I'm Grace,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Kota Kinabalu hostels. Welcome.