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Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of the Malaysian province of Sabah, on the island of Borneo. Kota Kinabalu is unlike any other Malaysian city. The architecture and ethnic mix of people is quite distinct from other places in Western Malaysia.
Most of the activities in Kota Kinabalu are centred along the corniche, where most of the restaurants and shopping malls are located.
A quick ride on a speedboat from Jesselton Piont, north of town, will take you to the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, a group of islands off Kota Kinabalu's shore. It is 23 ringitt return to Manukan Island plus park admission fee of 12 ringitt.
Four other islands are grouped around as well: Pulau Gaya, Sapi, Mamutik, Sulug and one can buy a tour of the islands or choose to camp either on Gaja and Manukan.
It is a good escape from the heat of Kota Kinabalu. On Pulau Manukan and can lay on the nice beaches, walk on a trail around the island or hire finns and snorkel to see some coral fish or indulge under shady trees with the beach restaurant's delicacies.
Kota Kinabalu, like the rest of Malaysia, has a tropical climate with hot and humid conditions year round. Temperatures usually are around 32 °C during the day and around 24 °C at night. Two prevailing monsoons characterize the climate of this part of Sabah, the Northeast Monsoon and the Southwest Monsoon. The Northeast Monsoon occurs between November and March with cooler temperatures and less rainfall, while the Southwest Monsoon occurs between May and September, which brings warmer temperatures and more rainfall. There are also two successive inter-monsoons from April to May and from September to October. Temperature variation throughout the year is small. However, April and May are generally the hottest months, while December and January are often the coolest. Rainfall varies markedly through the year. February and March are typically the driest months while rainfall peaks in the inter-monsoon period around October. Relatively humidity is quite high throughout the year. Torrential rain is possible at anytime and sometimes up to 500 mm of rain a month is not unheard of.
|Avg Max||30.4 °C||30.7 °C||31.5 °C||32.2 °C||32.1 °C||31.8 °C||31.5 °C||31.6 °C||31.4 °C||31.2 °C||31 °C||30.9 °C|
|Avg Min||22.9 °C||23 °C||23.4 °C||24.1 °C||24.3 °C||24 °C||23.7 °C||23.7 °C||23.7 °C||23.6 °C||23.5 °C||23.3 °C|
|Rainfall||104.8 mm||73.4 mm||50.5 mm||114.2 mm||216.2 mm||279.4 mm||262.7 mm||270.3 mm||285.2 mm||345.8 mm||302.4 mm||242.3 mm|
Kota Kinabalu International Airport (IATA: BKI) is Sabah's international gateway and is located 8 kilometres from the city of Kota Kinabalu. It is the second busiest airport in Malaysia. Airlines with flights servicing Kota Kinabalu include Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia, Dragonair, Korean Air and Silk Air.
There are many daily flights to Kota Kinabalu from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru in the peninsula; Kuching and Miri in Sarawak; Sandakan and Tawau in Sabah. The flight duration is approximately 2.5 hours from the peninsula. Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia service these routes but book at least a month ahead to get good rates. AirAsia and other budget airlines operate from the Terminal 2 of the airport.
There is no train service going into or out of Kota Kinabalu.
The city is linked by roads to towns around Sabah and these routes from Kota Kinabalu include:
The public buses do not serve a large part of the city, so taxis are better, but also more expensive. Still, if on a tight budget and fancy a walk, from the airport the cheapest ride to town is by bus. Walk about 600 metres to the right out of the airport and at the junction take right again. About 60 metres and across the street there is a bus stop. It will cost you 2 ringit to the bus terminus on jl Hail Salman in the core of KK
Take the famous local toy-train, originally built by the British to haul sugar cane, from Kota Kinabalu to Tenom.
One can probably walk around the corniche as most of the shopping plazas and the coffee shops are located there.
One dish that you should definitely check out while in Malaysia is satay, which is pretty much the national food. Start the day with a breakfast of "roti canai" and kopi (coffee).
On Sunday mornings try cheap local taka away food and fruit at the Bazar or local market along Jalan Gaya or in the late afternoon on Jalan Sembilanbelas (between the waterfront and Jl Tun Razak) where, with 5 ringgit, one can walk away with bags of food such as bananas fried in front of you and rice with various sides.
You will constantly smell a sweetish scent in the air where food is been cooked. It's the odour of the Palm oil used in every Malaysian preparation for deep frying and cooking.
Try the local small "lady finger" bananas. One can buy a bunch of 6/7 of them at the Bazar. The flavour is sweet and tasty as no other bananas you have ever tasted and the colour of the pulp is yellow almost like its peel.
For more information about budget accommodations in Kota Kinabalu including travellers ratings:
|Akinabalu Youth Hostel||1st Floor, No. 133 Jalan Gaya,||Hostel||80|
|Borneo Adventure Center||P.O.Box 10453, 88805 Kota Kinabalu. Sabah. Malaysi No 1, Tingkat Satu,Kampung Air Satu,Jalan Haji Yaa||Hostel||72|
|Borneo Backpackers||No. 24 Lorong Dewan||Hostel||80|
|Borneo BeacHouse (Backpackers)||Jalan Mat Salleh House No.122. Tanjung Aru||Hostel||76|
|Borneo Gaya Lodge||1st Floor, No 78, Jalan Gaya P.O.BOX 10131, Sabah,||Hostel||83|
|Borneo Global Backpackers||Ground & 1st Floor, Lot No.29 Karamunsing Godown||HOSTEL||74|
|Borneo Tempurung Seaside Lodge||Kuala Penyu||Guesthouse||-|
|D'Villa Rina Ria Lodge||Kinabalu Park Sabah||Hostel||73|
|Hotel Holiday||Lot 1 & 2, Block F, Segama Shopping Complex||HOSTEL||-|
|Kinabalu Backpackers Lodge||Lot 4 Lorong Dewan Kota Kinabalu, Sabah||Hostel||-|
|Lavender Lodge Kota Kinabalu||no.6 Jalan Laiman Diki, Kg. Air||Hostel||86|
|North Borneo Cabin||1st & 2nd Floor, No. 74 Jalan Gaya||HOSTEL||75|
|Red Palm Hostel||1st Floor Lot 130 Jalan Gaya||Hostel||-|
|Stay-In Lodge||1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th Floor Lot 121, Jalan Gaya||HOSTEL||75|
|Step-In Lodge||1st-3rd Floors, Lot 1 Block L, Sinsuran Complex,||Hostel||78|
|Summer Lodge||Lot 120 Jalan Gaya||Hostel||59|
|Summer Holiday Condominium||Unit C-02-04 Marina Court Resort Condominiums||Apartment||-|
|Kinabalu Mountain Lodge||Kampung Tinompok, Kundasang (1KM before Kinabalu National Park)||Hostel||86|
|Travellers Light Backpackers Lodge||No.19, Lorong Dewan (Australia Place) Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Borneo)||Guesthouse||-|
|Tropicana Lodge||Lot9, 1stFloor, Lorong Dewan||Hostel||70|
|Xplorer Backpackers||1st Floor 106 Jalan Gaya||Hostel||75|
|Rainforest Lodge||Lot 48 Ground Floor & 1st Flr. Jalan Pantai||Guesthouse||69|
|The Village Homestay||Kampung Pogunon, KM 16.5 Jalan KK/Tambunan Penampang , Sabah||Guesthouse||-|
|Mountain Resthouse||Kundasang Sabah||HOSTEL||-|
|Masada Backpacker||1st Floor, No.9, Jalan Masjid Lama Mosque Valley||Hostel||87|
|Bunibon Lodge||Lot 21, Australian Place,Jalan Dewan 88000,Kota Kinabalu,Sabah||Hostel||-|
|Poring Hot Spring & Nature Reserve||Poring Hot Spring Ranau||HOSTEL||-|
|Mesilau Nature Resort||Mount Kinabalu Kundasang Sabah||Apartment||-|
|Le Hotel||Lot 15-16, 3rd Floor Block B Warison Square||Hotel||-|
|Signature Residence||Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen||Guesthouse||-|
A lot of upscale accommodation can easily be booked into with most of the top hotel chains open.
You'll find internet cafes in Kota Kinabalu and several places have wifi as well.
See also International Telephone Calls
Pos Malaysia is the national postal service of Malaysia. Rates for sending a standard letter locally is 30 sen (20 gram) to 40 sen (up to 50 gram). International airmail has minimum rates ranging from RM1.00 to RM2.00, depending on destination. It costs 20 sen to send a postcard or aerogramme locally, or 50 sen to send a postcard or aerogramme to anywhere in the world.
Expedited Mail Service (EMS), branded locally as Poslaju, is available for both domestic and international destinations. Domestic EMS has a next day delivery guarantee. International EMS guarantees mails and parcels to be delivered out of the country by the following day. The time required to arrive at its destination will depend on clearance by authorities and the postal service of the destination country. For most countries, delivery of documents can be done in 3 to 5 days.
Generally, post offices are open from 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Saturday, except the first Saturday of the month. They are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.
We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Kota Kinabalu searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Kota Kinabalu and areas nearby.
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