If Malaysia isn’t on your family holiday to-do list, there are many reasons why it should be. My daughter and I recently visited Kota Kinabalu in the state of Sabah on the western side of Borneo. It’s a popular destination for those who would like to take a break from city life to enjoy a tropical vacation in an incredible biodiverse part of the world.
We had a brilliant time experiencing the area’s extraordinary wildlife, attractions and luxury hotels. It may surprise you to know that there are many things to do in Kota Kinabalu with kids, some of which are mentioned below.
1. Go Snorkeling
The snorkeling off the coast of Kota Kinabalu in the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park is amazing.
A particularly excellent option is Mamutik Island which we had direct access to it via Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa
’s STAR Marina private boats. But the park has five islands in total: Gaya, Mamutik, Manukan, Sapi and Sulug. Snorkeling and diving can be done around most of them.
You’ll see a variety of tropical fish, eels, rays, black-nosed sharks, jellyfish (the harmless kind), stunning coral and so much more in often clear waters. A number of tours run from Kota Kinabalu and it only takes a few minutes to reach the islands by boat.
2. Visit an Orangutan Sanctuary
A family vacation to Kota Kinabalu with kids (or without) is not complete without a visit to an orang utan sanctuary. We were short on time so could not visit the famous Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Sanctuary, which may require a flight or a long (over 5 hours) bus ride. I have heard that if you can swing it, a visit here is well worth it. It is larger than others, with 40-60 orang utans there at any given time, and by far the most famous for viewing these amazing rescued animals in their natural habitat.
Instead of Sepilok, we attended a morning orang utan viewing at Shangri-la's Rasa Ria Resort and Spa
Nature Reserve where some orang utans are rehabilitated before being transferred to Sepilok to relearn life skills prior to release. After learning about orang utans and Borneo wildlife in general, we walked to a viewing platform where we enjoyed a close-up look at the two orang utans in residence (my daughter also participated in Ranger for a Day where she cut up the fruit and veg they ate).
3. Watch a Sunset
The sunsets in Kota Kinabalu are nothing short of amazing. The sun appears larger closer to the equator, the air quality is good and the tropical clouds create an incredibly dramatic effect. Witness the magic of a Borneo sunset at Tanjung Aru Beach
, the Sunset Bar at Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa
or Sutera Harbour
Labels: Kota Kinabalu, Sepilok Orang-utan, Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort, Tanjung Aru, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park