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Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah, Malaysia, in Borneo, the world's third largest island. Although a small city it offers and differs a lot from its South East Asian neighbours for the budget conscious tourist. With pristine clean streets, weekly street markets, a world renown night food court and islands a mere stones throw away it's a remarkable city.
Due to its excellent location, Kota Kinabalu can make a great launching pad for jungle treks, rafting, snorkelling, orange-utan and wildlife watching, not to mention trips to Brunei, Sarawak or mainland Malaysia.
If you're looking for affordable accommodation beside a beach in Kota Kinabalu this is the area you'll find it in. A short ten minute bus trip (No 16 bus) from the Wawasan plaza area and with cheap metered taxis offering even shorter rides you are never far away from the city centre. The beaches are not world class, but they do offer world class sunsets and a chance to mix with locals who often frequent them. For budget eats, day time cafés or hotel lodgings are best, while at night you can try the evening food stalls set up along Tanjung Aru Beach.
Jalan Gaya is the main tourist street in Kota Kinabalu at the heart of the city and only a ten minute taxi ride away from the airport. Both along the street itself and off its side streets are a host of budget hotels and hostels. On Sundays the street closes to traffic and hosts an ever popular weekend market filled with handicrafts, souvenirs, food stalls and several live local musicians.
For the rest of the week Jalan Gaya is a pleasant street made up of popular cafés and restaurants. For budget conscious travellers try the cafés at either end of the street rather than in the middle. Better yet in the evening just head straight to Kota Kinabalu's night market for freshly cooked dishes from all of South East Asia.
A short walk from Jalan Gaya is Lorong Dewan where budget travellers can find excellent value accommodation. Lorong Dewan is the main road area in front of Atkinson Clock Tower and on either side are several backpacker style lodgings and cheap hotels to choose from. For those looking to be away from the crowds and weekend markets, accommodation here is perfect. Though crossing the main road can be a little tricky so make sure you use the pedestrian crossings at either end.
With Kota Kinabalu being a very walkable city you will have no problem staying here and walking across the city to the famous night café in a leisurely 15 minute stroll during the evening. During the daytime, try visiting the Atkinson Clock tower before continuing on to the look-out point on the hillside above that gives a full view of the city below.
x The average starting price for a place to stay in Kota Kinabalu is £18 per night.
WD-0-3A, Wisma 1Sulaman Jalan SulamanOutstanding 97%
1st Floor, No.9, Jalan Masjid Lama Mosque ValleyExcellent 91%
Cleggy Very welcoming - it was a public holiday, so the owner picked us up from the airport in his car and gave us a tour of the city! The hostel was perfectly clean, had comfortable beds, hot showers and a lovely breakfast with a wide range of fruit, fruit juice, sticky rice, cakes and toast.
1-1-11, First Floor, Api-Api Centre Jalan Centre PointExcellent 90%
no.6 Jalan Laiman Diki, Kg. AirAwesome 89%
cindy_sim2 The hotel is overly cautious with cost. The staff will enter your room just to turn off the aircon and fan without asking for permission. Even though we did not drop the key at the front desk. The share-toilet rolls (inferior quality) always run out empty, we have to remind them to replenish the rolls often.
ruzdreg Clean place, room was not too crowded. They provide clean sheets and blanket (which some places don't provide). For those a bit finickity about toilets (general layout and cleanliness), the external space for bathrooms (connected by the balcony) is a Godsend. Clean and modern, more spacious than the other backpackers place I've been to (extra 1 lavatory, 1 shower, 1 lavatory+shower). Outside bathrooms are more spacious, good for plus-size travelers. The inside bathroom has 2 lavatories and 2 showers. Having a female-only dorm is a plus. They have 24HR security and small locker space is free with an RM10 deposit. No curfew; you're free to go in and out as you please. Wifi is free, plus you can use their PC with internet (has SKYPE) free of charge! (other places charge you for this, big downer I reckon). Free basic breakfast (hot drinks and toast), cable TV and a comfy reading space. The staff are very friendly and helpful, they'll be able to assist you with tours, and you can simply have a look at their bulletin boards for the available tours. Getting around is easy, almost everything is within a 5-10 walking distance. A +10min walk will take you to Jesselton Point, essentially a jetty with modern stalls where you can go to any of the 4 nearby islands for snorkeling or scuba diving. Lotsa banks and fastfood restaurants too, so no worries! Enjoyed my stay immensely, will defo go back.
Kampung Tinompok, Kundasang (1KM before Kinabalu National Park)Awesome 85%
cmstr Stayed here for 2 days. It's not as close to the park entrance as it looks on the map. About 2 km partly uphill so if you're planning to climb Mt. Kinabalu, you'll probably want to get the taxi both ways the day you start and finish the climb. Also you really really do need to pack something warm as the blankets are thin and aren't enough for the chilly nights and early mornings and you have to pay if you want extra blankets. Not a bad place to stay, I only wish it was a bit closer to the park/restaurants/buses. Other than that it was clean and the staff were helpful :)
1st & 2nd Floor, No. 74 Jalan GayaGreat 82%
1st Floor, No. 133 Jalan Gaya,Great 81%
kiwa3816 I stayed in an air conditioned room with my boyfriend. High hospitality with cheap price. Very nice hostel.
Lot 21, Lorong Dewan (Australian Place)Very Good 79%
1st Floor, No 78, Jalan Gaya P.O.BOX 10131, Sabah,Very Good 76%
Shin-Ju Great and friendly staff! The location is good, 500m to the national park. Staying is a good choice before our hike in Mt Kinabalu. We love especially the dinner here, though it's not inexpensive, but gave us a good start before begining our hike.
1st floor, No 106 / 108 Jalan GayaVery Good 75%
leeyeehui Excellent place that is reasonably priced. Good location, clean with good service and friendly staff.
1st-3rd Floors, Lot 1 Block L, Sinsuran Complex,Very Good 75%
dswakeupto I was pleasantly surprised to find the staff so friendly. Betty is an absolute asset to the place and goes the extra mile to help people figure out how to get the best out of their travels. The rooms were nice and clean and the showers/bathrooms were also pretty good. I enjoyed it and will certainly recommend the place.
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