Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

I just posted a question about Phuket below… but another place we are also thinking is Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (Sabah). Has anyone been there? Is it a good place to visit this time of the year? With kids? Thanks!

I tripped through there twice on the way to Sipidan for diving back in 97, and spent the last day wandering around the city waiting for my flight. It’s well laid out, and has a nice, multicultural feel. Think the population is around 200,000 or so.

It seems that it’s most famous for being a jump off point to nearby exotic destinations for say, Mount Kinabalu, some of the nearby beach/dive resorts and the Orangutang rehabilitation center.

Sorry I don’t have more info, as I used it as a jump-off point as do so many other tourists travelling to Northern Borneo. One thing that was nice was the fact (at that time anyway) it was a direct flight from Taipei.

Should be no problem to bring the family, not much of a language barrier and the locals are extremely friendly.

Have a great trip.

Kota was bombed flat in WW2, the city is pretty modern and unpretentious. The surrounds have hotel-resorts and lots of things to do. Kuching (south in Sarawak) has more ‘character’. We took 6 & 9yo to Kuching over Easter and had a great time. As MJB said the locals are very friendly.

My husband and I decided to take the kids to a beach resort during CNY. Because the air tickets were hard to get we told the travel agent to book whatever was available. After weeks of being on wait lists we found out yesterday that we are going to Kota Kinabalu! We are excited! Right now we are deciding which hotel to stay at. We are choosing between Shangri-la Tanjung Aru and Nexus. Do you have any prefernce or feedback? Shangri-la is closer to town so it will be convenient to tour the town, Nexus is not as close to town so it’s more secluded. Did you enjoy touring KK or will staying on the beach be enough? They both seem like great hotels! Thanks your your help!

We stayed in the Nexus a couple of years ago and were very disappointed. The food was ok, but the rooms were not well kept. There were stains on the carpets and bedding. We changed rooms, but it seemed that all the rooms were in poor condition for a place that claims a 5 star rating. We actually extended our holiday and stayed in the Shangri-la Tanjung. It was quite nice and much more convenient for getting into town. I would definitely skip the Nexus.

Try to get out onto the islands for day trips. The reefs are amazing. The town is alright and definitely a good place for cheap meals. You can see pretty much all of what you need to see of it just by patroling for your next place to eat. Aside from food and a bit of shopping, there’s not much to see in town.

Thank you very much for your input! Unfortunately both Shangri-la and Nexus are full for the duration of our stay so we will be staying at Shangri-la Rosa Ria which is a bit far from KK but has its own beach which is what we are looking for. Thanks!

This is probably a good call anyway…I stayed at the Shangri-la in KK and it wasn’t anything to write home about.

Always better by the beach :sunglasses:

I’m going to take a trip out to KL and singapore in July and was told that I should go check out Kota Kinabalu. I’ll only have about 2 days to spend there…is it worth it? I heard its a beachy area, but is there more than just beaches? I love culture, taking photos, history…but of course a trip to a small island to just relax would be nice…if you were me, would you go? if so, what would u do with 2 days time there?

KK isn’t terribly interesting. It’s more of a gateway to the rest of Sabah, which is incredibly interesting.

Word of advice on the beaches. They are accessed via poorly run ferry services that will give you a departure time then hold the boat as long as possibly to get just one more customer. We met a couple of Brits on the beach returning back that hadn’t seen their prepaid, prescheduled boat that was two hours past due. They ended up paying double just to get on our boat (different company) and make it back to KK. I’ve used the ferry service three times and this type of charade has been consistant every time.

If you’ve never been to an asian city outside of Taipei then it might be more interesting. The Phillipino fish market is a great dinner option. There are some nice restaurants along the bayfront boardwalk, our favorite was the Thai place.

If I only had a couple of days I’d probably jump on a tourbus heading up to Mt KK, would probably make the KK jaunt worthwhile. If you had more time I’d highly recommend Mullu National Park which is 2 additional hours by plane (including layover). As a bonus, Mullu park headquarters has really great facilities.

wow thanks for taking the time to write all that up, and thanks for the tip. if theres 1 or two islands i should go to for clear water and beautiful scenery, where would recommend going? is scuba/snorkeling expensive there?

A day trip with 3 boat dives, lunch and refreshments will cost about NT 3500.