Kota Kinabalu, on the island of Borneo, is the ideal place to explore Sabah’s natural gems. From climbing Mount Kinabalu to diving and snorkeling around the many paradise-like islands in the area, Kota Kinabalu is the perfect base for exploring the diverse flora and fauna throughout the region. If you are not adventurous enough to climb Mount Kinabalu with the kids, there is plenty of water and land adventures for you too. Check out the Little Steps guide to Kota Kinabalu With Kids.
Kota Kinabalu, the capital state of Sabah is located on the northwest coast of Borneo in East Malaysia. Known as the home of Mount Kinabalu, and fondly referred to as the 'Land Below the Wind', Sabah is rich with natural attractions including stunning beaches, clear blue waters, rainforests, wildlife, coral reef and cultural diversity. Kota Kinabalu is also the gateway to popular diving spots like Sipadan and Mabul islands.
Kota Kinabalu is easily accessibly directly by flight from Kuala Lumpur via airlines like Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air, and Firefly, and also Scoot Air from Singapore. The flight will take about 2 hours 40 minutes from KL.
Choose from the famous Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, which has a forest reserve within the property, private beach as well as its own 18-hole golf course. Or stay at Shangri-La’s sister property, Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, which provides breath-taking views of the ocean. Other kid-friendly options are Nexus Resort and Sutera Harbour Resort. Alternatively, book a villa at Gayana Eco Resort, or Gaya Island Resort. For ultimate privacy, stay at the secluded island hideaway of Bunga Raya Island Resort featuring timbered villas, just 25 minutes away by speedboat. Fans of Lord of the Ring will be thrilled to stay a night at the Humble Hobbit Home, a unique one-of-a-kind homestay located in the town of Kundasang, a scenic two-hour drive in Ranau. If you prefer to be one with nature, go camping at Mondikot Deer Camp close to the Papar river.
Kota Kinabalu is a nature lover's dream with its myriad of sightseeing options. Climbing Mount Kinabalu, the Canopy Walk at Kinabalu National Park, snorkeling at one of the many islands like Sapi or Manukan, and visiting the orangutans at Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, island hopping and sunset cruises are just a few to mention.
Be sure to stop by the Gaya Sunday market, where you can pick up interesting souvenirs from the region too and visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village for a glimpse of Sabah’s rich culture including its unique houses, costumes and ethnic groups.
Just two hours away from Kota Kinabalu is Desa Dairy Farm at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu. Families will love this place where milking processing, packing, milking activities and calf feeding can be done with their pure bred Holstein Friesian cows.
Before you leave, be sure to pack some local souvenirs to remember KK by such as the local Tenom coffee and Sabah tea, honey from stingless bees, and gorgeous, vibrant handicrafts like baskets and bags woven by the indigenous people of Sabah.