Sunday, September 04, 2016

Ikimasho!: Borneo - The Grandis Hotel, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Touching down in the bustling state capital of Kota Kinabalu

On my most recent trip to SE Asia I visited three countries: Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia – specifically the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo.

I had visited Sabah’s major hub Kota Kinabalu before, but that was seven years ago and so I was interested to see if the city had changed in any way.

Fortunately, Kota Kinabalu has retained its character and has not changed dramatically simply in order to accommodate the tourist market.

In fact, fewer tourists visit this region of SE Asia than the mainland, so it could be argued by choosing to visit here you are having a more authentic Asian experience.

The flight from Taipei to Kota Kinabalu was only a few hours, and considerably cheaper than if I had flown from Tokyo.

So if you do live in Japan – and are wanting to go deeper into SE Asia – make sure you check flight prices from Taipei as quite often you can get a cheaper ticket if you are willing to change planes there.

Arrival in Kota Kinabalu. Check-in at Grandis.

Many cities in the world are notorious for their transfer times to and from the airport.

It can take up to two hours by train from downtown Tokyo to Narita, and in densely populated cities such as Jakarta and Manila it’s often advised to set off five hours before your flight. 

In terms of proximity to the city, Kota Kinabalu airport couldn’t be better – taking just 15 minutes by taxi to the centre.

The high-to-mid-range Grandis Hotel has received steady reviews since it opened and it’s easy to see why.

Attached directly to an upmarket shopping mall, it is ideally placed just a five-minute walk from the ferry terminal where you can catch speedboats to the islands.

Check in was smooth, and it was good to be back in Kota Kinabalu after a long absence.