Mosque reflection in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo
Vacations to Kota Kinabalu, Borneo
Kota Kinabalu – or simply KK to its friends - is the city where most Borneo adventures begin. From KK, you can head off for a trek up Mount Kinabalu, hop on a speedboat to jungle isles or journey across the island to visit the extraordinary orangutans for a genuinely unforgettable encounter. This really is the gateway to adventure!
Although Kota Kinabalu itself may seem underwhelming at first, don’t be fooled. Scratch the surface and you’ll find there are historic buildings, mosques and diverse street markets, as well as a delicious foodie scene that’s worth lingering longer for. The sunsets are seriously impressive (definitely #nofilter) so head to the waterfront for a stellar view and enjoy the wafts of smoky sweetness coming from the street food stalls of the famous night market.
The imposing Mount Kinabalu rises 4,000 meters and will beckon hands-on explorers away from the hubbub of city life. A trek to the summit of Mount Kinabalu will have you working up a sweat rambling over challenging terrain, past crater lakes and through a rich variety of flora and fauna. It can take a couple of days but at the top you can give yourself a big pat on the back and be rewarded with views over to Lombok and the distant volcanoes of Bali. The spine-tingling sights will be etched in your mind for years to come. But you don’t have to climb to the summit to enjoy everything Kinabalu park has to offer. The Poring Hot Springs can be reached in three hours from KK, where guests can experience the rumored healing properties of the sulphuric mineral water before or trekking on to the sublime Langanan waterfall.
A major draw of Kota Kinabalu is undoubtedly its proximity to Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. A set of five exotic islands make up this national park, one of which is Gaya Island. This tropical oasis is a diver and snorkeler fantasy, with an abundance of exotic fish languishing among coral reefs in the translucent sea. Beach bunnies looking for solitude, picturesque views and a soundtrack of lapping waves and tropical birdsong will fall in love with the island’s gorgeous beaches.
Given Gaya Island is densely covered in rainforest, there’s an impressive variety of wildlife to be found. So if you can tear yourself away from the sand and sea, follow the gentle trails that traverse the island and see if you can spot a bearded pig (yes, really) or a cheeky monkey or two.
Scale Mount Kinabalu
World-class snorkeling and diving
Kota Kinabalu trip ideas
Here are some trip ideas to Kota Kinabalu. All of our trip ideas shown below are examples, and we’ll amend, adapt or start from scratch, until we’ve created the perfect trip for you. See one you like, or have a trip in mind? Call us now to book: 020 3510 5777
Places to stay in Kota Kinabalu
Here are some of our favorite accommodation options in Kota Kinabalu. All of our hotels and lodges are hand-picked by our Travel Designers. Need help deciding where to stay during your trip? Call our Travel Designers now and they’ll help you pick the best hotels suited to your needs: 020 3510 5777
Map of Kota Kinabalu
When to go to Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu's climate can differ hugely from inland Sabah, as it's protected by the Crocker Range Mountains. When it rains it pours, and although showers are can be few and far between, it's best to pack a raincoat just in case. The best time to visit Kota Kinabalu is during January to March when temperatures are relatively cool and there's little rain.
In January, the winds can bring occasional stormy weather across Sabah, with high rainfall expected. If you fancy climbing Mount Kinabalu you should wait until later in the year when the paths will be drier.
February sees less rainfall, with the beaches enjoying the best weather.
The rain eases off throughout March with sunnier, drier days. It's a great time to visit forests and jungles without the crowds.
April is a great time of year to visit with warm, dry days and minimal rainfall.
May is another great month to visit, with ideal weather conditions for relaxing on the beaches or trekking in the jungle.
The great weather continues with hot and dry conditions.
July is typically one of the driest months with blue skies and sunshine, meaning hotels get booked up quickly so it's best to plan your trip well in advance.
Early booking is highly recommended in August as the favourable weather continues.
The dry season continues into September, although increased rainfall is expected towards the end of the month.
Rainfall increases but there are still plenty of dry days to enjoy.
Rainy season hits in November with a strong chance of thunderstorms and grey days. It's a great time to visit the lush jungles when the wildlife is thriving.
December is one of the wettest months with regular rainfall and thunderstorms, making trekking and wildlife spotting difficult.