5 places you can visit for free at Kota Kinabalu in 1 day
On tight budget or trying to visit Kota Kinabalu cheaply? how about visit some of the attractions around Kota Kinabalu which do not cost any money. No entrance fees and it’s free to visit anytime. All these places you can visit in 1 day with time to spare.
1) Visit Atkinson Clock TowerAfter a breakfast at one of the many Coffee shop around Kota Kinabalu city, take a visit to Atkinson Clock Tower. Atkinson Clock tower located at the edge of signal hill and easily accessible by tourist
2) Take photo of Kota Kinabalu City at Signal Hill ObservatoryBest place to get the city view of Kota Kinabalu city.
How to get there :
- Taxi charge around RM10 fare from the city
- walk up the trail from the edge of signal Hill.
Together with Heritage Sabah, ( NGO about conservation of heritage sites in Sabah), we decide to find the forgotten trail of Signal Hill. We meet up at Atkinson Clock Tower at 9am, the trail is located near to the Atkinson clock Tower.
3) Visit Kota Kinabalu City mosquea stunning mix of prevailing Islamic architecture and contemporary design built on a man made lagoon.
How to get there :
- Taxi charge around RM10 fare from city center.
- take bus No. 5A from Wawasan Bus station to University Malaysia Sabah direction.
4) Tanjung Aru BeachFavourite place to visit for the locals. You can also get the best sunset view here. Tanjung aru is also one of the top 5 places to see sunset in Kota Kinabalu
How to get there :
bus no. 16 from Wawasan Bus Station
Taxi Fare around RM15 from city center
5) Relax : Perdana ParkThis beautiful part built and maintain by a local company is popular among the locals during the late evening. Peoples usually come here for jogging and exercise but there is a musical fountain show every half an hour from 7.30 pm till 9.30 pm. You can be there for the musical fountain show after watching sunset at Tanjung Aru Beach
How to get there :
Located near to Tanjung Aru beach.
10 Attractions in Kota Kinabalu you must visit
Mari Mari Cultural VillageSituated amidst a remote forest setting in Kionsom, Mari Mari Cultural Village offer insight into the living cultures of Sabah. The village is about 40-45 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu city centre. Visitors are encouraged to participate in the activities at the village and experience the way of life for the 5 local tribes in Sabah. Join a tour from the city or drive yourself to the village but make sure you make a booking beforehand as the village didn’t accept walk in customers. You can combine Mari Mari cultural village with Kiulu White rafting tour.
Floating MosqueKota Kinabalu City Mosque is the second main mosque in Kota Kinabalu and better known as floating mosque as the Mosque appear to sit on a man made lagoon. Do respect the dress code before entering the mosque and outfits/robes/burkas there that you can borrow should you prefer.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park5 islands namely Gaya Island, Sapi Island, Manukan Island, Mamutik Island and Sulug Island which made up Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. The islands are located only 10 – 15 minutes rides away from Kota Kinabalu city center and it offer great island hopping adventure and activities for the locals and tourists.
Sabah State MuseumBuilt in 1985, Sabah State Museum house collection of artefacts and history of Sabah. The museum is located at the top of a small hill and great place to relax and understand about the history of Sabah. Do take a visit to the heritage village which consist of traditional houses of Sabah tribes at the back of the hill.
Signal Hill Observatory PlatformOffer stunning view of Kota Kinabalu city. For the more adventurous type, take the trail leading to the observatory platform from the edge of Kota Kinabalu city. Visit Signal Hill Observatory Platform in the morning as the observatory is facing the west or visit during the late evening for its sunset view over Kota Kinabalu city. You will surely get beautiful photos from your visit here.
Central MarketPlace where locals shop for fresh produce everyday. Best to visit in the early morning and observe the daily life of the locals.
Atkinson Clock TowerThe oldest remaining structure in Kota Kinabalu which survived the destruction of Jesselton town during WWII. Named after Francis George Atkinson, Jesselton’s first district officer who died of Malaria
Tanjung Aru BeachBest place for sun, sea, and beach located 6 Kilometres from City center. Enjoy beautiful sunset scenery on the 2km stretch of beach while drinking from fresh coconuts. There are more than enough space for everyone to chill out on this 2 km stretch of beach.
Filipino Market/ Handicraft MarketBest place for local handicrafts, souvenirs and many other interesting items. Explore over hundreds of stalls offers a variety of good for you to choose from. You could get virtually anything you can think of under the sun from this Sabah market.
Kota Kinabalu Waterfrontplace to chill out at the late afternoon for the spectacular sunset view. The place come to life at night with the entertainment and eatery outlets offer memorable Sabah nightlife experience.
Kota Kinabalu wetland
Located just 2 kilometers from Kota Kinabalu Town center, Kota Kinabalu Wetland is a sanctuary for birds around the world, especially during the migratory season for the birds. This 60 Acres wetland is managed and funded by NGO. I spent around 1 hour walking on the platform circling the mangroves and trying to find some birds and wildlife. A bit disappointed as i’m only able to see some mudskipper and Cranes. The maintenance around the center is not in perfect condition but who cares since the main attraction itself is the mangroves and wild lives.
Entrance Fess : RM 5 for Malaysian and RM 15 for foreign visitor.
How to Get there : From the city of Kota Kinabalu, travel along the Likas coastal highway until you reach the first roundabout at the Likas Bay. Keep right so that you can make a 3 o’ clock turning in to Jalan Istiadat. Travel straight until you reach a cross junction with traffic lights. Before reaching the junction, you will see Likas Square building and Sabah Trade Center building on your left hand side. Remember to keep your vehicle at right lane and turn right after the junction in to Jalan Bukit Bendera Upper which also leads you to Signal Hill. The Bird Sanctuary site is only the third left junctions after the traffic lights.
GPS Location : 5.9881191N 116.087712E
Opening hours : Tuesday to Sunday 8.00am till 6.00pm (Closed on Mondays, except when falls on a Public Holiday); Open on all Public Holidays
Poring Canopy Walkway
While Poring is more famous for its hot spring. One activity you must do on visit to Poring is take a walk at the Canopy walkway. There are few canopy walkway at Sabah and Sarawak but its still worth visiting Poring as its easily accessible and offer good view. I decide to drop by Poring on the way to Sabah Tea Garden
There is another entrance fees of RM3 for Malaysian into the canopy walkway area and if you bring a camera, you have to pay another RM5 for the camera. The canopy walkway is located further up the park so we have to trek about 15 minutes (about 550 meter uphill) to reach the walkway. Do get ready a good pair of walking shoe and travel light.
Semporna – Island Hopping and Meeting the Sea Gypsies
Semporna is an under developed town with a very basic infrastructure which is not ready for tourist. Tourist usually skips staying at Semporna town after flying in through Tawau. High demand from tourists at the water chalet at Mabul, Kapalai and Semporna town creates a spillover effect where new hotels start appearing at Semporna town. The main attraction at Semporna is cheap and fresh seafood and Island Hopping. When mentioning Semporna, most people will think about diving at Sipadan or Mabul. But there are much more islands to explore out there. Mataking Island is accessible from Semporna. There is also the Tun Sakaran Marine Park which comprises of eight islands: Bohey Dulang, Bodgaya, Maiga, Selakan, Mantabuan, Sibuan, Sebangkat, as well as the Church Reef and Kapikan Reef. You will be spoiled for the many great choices.
A boat for a day costs from RM200 to 400 depending on how many islands you want to cover and which operator you choose. The price typically covers the boat fees and snorkeling equipment. On our trip to Semporna, we negotiated with the boat operator for a day trip to Mataking Island, Timba Timba Island, Maiga Island and Bohey Dulang Island.
Meeting Two Monkeys (Orang Utan and Proboscis) in a Single Day Trip
A trip to Sandakan is not complete without visiting the 2 famous animals in Borneo: Orangutan and Proboscis Monkey. The most convenient places to visit these 2 animals are Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. The best time to visit is during feeding time. To visit both places in 1 day, plan your trip ahead so you can continue to next center after the feeding time.
Sepilok Feeding times
10:00am & 3:00pm daily
Labuk Bay Feeding times
Platform A : 9:30am & 2:30pm daily
Platform B : 11:30am & 4.30pm daily
- Taxi from Sandakan Town, one way should cost around RM30. Negotiate with the taxi driver if you want him to wait and bring you to Labuk Bay later.
- Drive from Sandakan town / Kota Kinabalu. Sepilok is located at Batu 14 . There is a roundabout to turn into Sepilok.
Getting there:Labuk Bay
- Take mini-van at Sandakan Hotel at 9:00am. The mini-van will also stop at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre around 10:30 am to pick up passengers for the 11.30am viewing.
Location map of Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary and Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Mantanani island, made in heaven
Mantanani Island, also known as Mermaid Island ( 美人鱼岛) is one of the top destinations for tourist in recent year. The island only open up for tourists 5 years ago and is more famous to foreign tourists than to locals. I always wanted to go taking photos at Mantanani Island after looking at the beautiful photographs on the internet. So we decide to arrange a day trip to Mantanani with tour company. The cost for one person is RM280 with Amazing Borneo. For the price, We got transport to Kota Belud, return boat rides to Mantanani Island, 2 snorkelling sessions, a buffet lunch and a full day of fun. I’m so happy that I don’t have to drive this time as my friends refuse to drive most of the time we go for road trips. Unlimited drinking water and big cozy bus this time.