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.

Highlights

  • Scale Mount Kinabalu

  • World-class snorkelling and diving

Eline
Travel Designer
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I have lived in Vietnam and travelled extensively in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines.

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: 01483 319 333

Places to stay in Kota Kinabalu

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.