Beyond exploring the Sabah region, there is a plethora of things to do in Kota Kinabalu. For some culture, drop into the Sabah State, Islamic and Science and Technology Museums, while those looking to soak up some forward-thinking local art will relish in the offerings of the Sabah Art Gallery and the Sabah State Gallery. When evening falls, dance the night away at the glamorous nightclubs of Times Square like White Room.
Located in the countryside, 25 minutes east of Kota Kinabalu, the Mari Mari Cultural Village provides a fascinating and immersive cultural experience. Operating as a museum that preserves the tradition and history of Borneo, this village offers a truly intimate glimpse of local life and culture. Learn first-hand from five different tribes in the village as you visit their houses and watch how they hunt, start fires and cook their food. For an authentic experience of the Borneo culture, you simply can’t go wrong with a tour of the Mari Mari Cultural Village.
Kota Kinabalu’s night markets are among the biggest attractions in the city, welcoming locals and tourists alike with a wide range of food and products with ample opportunity for souvenir browsing. There are plenty of night markets in the city, but the most popular ones are Pasar Malam Sinsuran, which is famous for its seafood, and Pasar Malam Segama, where you can enjoy a variety of hawker food and Asian cuisine. These night markets are a treat for any food lover and visitors can easily spend several nights exploring the many colourful stalls on offer.
Museums are an excellent place to learn more about the local culture, and the Sabah Museum Complex is no exception. Situated approximately four kilometres from Kota Kinabalu City, this comprehensive complex is made up of the Main Building, the Science and Technology Centre, the Heritage Village, the Ethno-Botanical Garden and the Sabah Islamic Civilisation Museum. Open daily from 9am till 5pm, a wide range of exhibits provide an in-depth look at Sabah’s unique history, ethnicities and environments.
Manukan Island is easily one of Sabah’s most popular islands and a consistent favourite amongst locals and tourists in Kota Kinabalu. Famous for its beautiful emerald waters and long white sandy beaches backed by lush forest, the island is an ideal place to go snorkelling and enjoy a variety of water sports. Although it can get crowded during certain times of the year, it’s still one of the Sabah’s biggest tourist destinations and its popularity means it also touts plenty of convenient facilities, including toilets, showers, restaurants, shops and activities.
The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is a sanctuary for orang-utans – where they are cared for and trained to survive in the wild. This is among the best places in Kota Kinabalu to get a glimpse of orangutans in their natural habitat, with a boardwalk and viewing gallery. There’s also a feeding platform, where you can watch rangers feed these fascinating creatures milk and bananas.