Popular Places in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah are created for travelers who want to see the best of KK city in a short time. As you know, Kota Kinabalu or KK as it is commonly called, is a seaside city where there are quite a number of interesting things to do there. I frequently visit KK for work and hence have come up with a list of popular places you can go in KK. It may be subjective but then again, only a guide.
Kota Kinabalu city can be covered by foot in under two days, that is considering visiting the very popular tourist places around KK. Some attractions may require driving there but this can be arranged by any of the local registered tour counters found in the city. They are usually in shop lots or shopping mall kiosks. A general reminder is never to sign up with an unregistered tour guide or company as it can lead to all sorts of complications.
Shopping in KK
From modern shopping malls to bazaar style markets, you get the best of both worlds in one city. For the shopping mall fans, there are about five main malls in KK town which are Suria, Wisma Merdeka, Centerpoint, Warisan Square and KK Plaza and all can be easily accessed by foot.
Just around the vicinity there are bazaars and markets like the KK Handicraft Market (Old Philippines Market), KK Wet Market, Salted Fish Market and Fruit Market. Bazaars are found in the old area of Sinsuran, Segama and Kampung Air. One recommended popular Sunday Market is held at Gaya Street from 6am till about 3pm. Here you will find an interesting variety of local produce and handicraft to all sorts of everyday items including plants, flowers and even natural herbs.
Many other new shopping malls are built outside of the city which can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes drive. Notable ones are 1Borneo Shopping Mall, City Mall KK, Mengalong Mall Penampang and soon to open Oceanus Waterfront Mall at the KK Waterfront.
Eating in KK
As many travelers love to eat or try new foods, Kota Kinabalu city is well known for their Seafood and Chinese food and also a mix of other local and international food. Seafood is mainly popular by the KK Waterfront while Chinese food can be found at numerous places. Gaya Street is one place to start exploring, especially the old coffee shops as this is the main Chinatown of Kota Kinabalu. Most of the restaurants and coffee shops here serve Chinese food and are non-halal. The best time to explore Gaya Street is in the mornings right through lunch. In the night, a number of the popular places sell the famous Sabah Bak Kut Teh.
For your breakfast or tea break, there are a number of Cafes and Coffee Shops to explore around Gaya Street where some notable ones are the Museum Kopitiam Restaurant at Australia Park, try the Kopi Botol or Bottled Coffee. Another two at Gaya Street is called Foong Ip Cafe and also Fook Yuen just next to the Sabah Tourism Board office. Great coffee and decent variety of local food which are pork-free. So Muslims can eat here.
One interesting place to explore is the Grace Point Food Court or Double 6 Food Court which is at Grace Point, Sembulan. This is about 5-10 minutes drive from KK town and the Double 6 Food Center is quite modern with a nice touch of design. It is clean, spacious and the choices vary from local to international. There is a Seafood Restaurant and Japanese Restaurant here as well. Usually, I visit this place to have my fix of local Sabahan Kadazan Food, the Hinava Rice as in the picture above and the place is very recommended by me and many other Sabahans.
For the seafood lovers, check out Welcome Seafood Restaurant at Asia City in KK while another local popular place are the seafood restaurants at Sedco which is like a giant food court in town. At the waterfront, Ocean Seafood seems to be the popular one while the most famous seafood restaurant would be Nelayan Seafood Restaurant which is out of KK town.This is a themed restaurant with cultural performances so if you are up for it, catch the local Sabahan Cultural Shows while having your dinner here.
A 10 minutes drive from the city center will take you to the Tanjung Aru Beach and this is the most popular public beach in the city. Usually frequented by locals for weekend stroll or picnics. There are a number of food stalls and a couple of bars located here. Asia City is another place to explore as there are various coffee shops and restaurants available there. The Fook Yuen Cafe is a recommended place for all day dining. Asia City is located across the road from Center Point Shopping Mall in KK.
There is also an open food area at the KK Waterfront where a myriad of local Muslim stalls sell all kinds of fresh seafood that are either cooked or barbequed. You can find this place behind the Handicraft Market at the Waterfront area. Rows of stalls sell BBQ fish, crabs and huge prawns. Other local dishes are available as well but the seating conditions are outdoor and basic. Avoid if you have a weak stomach.
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