Kota Kinabalu may be synonymous with its mountainous namesake, but there’s so much more to the capital of Sabah, Borneo. The city’s close proximity to beaches, islands, wildlife, and culture means that there’s plenty to see and do. Here’s how to make the most of one day in KK.
Mt. Kinabalu (Gunung Kinabalu)
Kinabalu National Park, Sabah
Experienced climbers should have little trouble summiting Mt. Kinabalu. It’s still a tough climb, though, and travelers attempting it must be fit and prepared to cope with temperature extremes and lower oxygen levels. For legislative reasons, all climbers require a guide, and all climbs involve an overnight stay on the mountain and an early morning trek to the summit.
Most climbing tours include overnight accommodation, meals, and hotel pick-up and dropoff. Some tours follow the climb with a restorative soak in the waters of Poring Hot Springs.
Things to Know Before You Go
Mt. Kinabalu is one of the more accessible mountains, and a good place to begin your climbing career.
Book your climb well in advance.
The mountain has a wide-ranging climate, which goes from hot and humid at the bottom to near-freezing at the top. Take plenty of warm layers.
Rainfall on the mountain is common, even in the dry season. Take a waterproof jacket and a cover for your backpack.
Tours usually include meals in the price, but not snacks and water, so pack plenty of your own.
How to Get There
From the long distance bus station in Kota Kinabalu, minivans depart for the entrance of Kinabalu National Park when they’re full. The journey takes around 90 minutes, and you might need to wait an hour or so beforehand for the van to fill up. If you’re short on time, opt for a climbing tour that includes round-trip transport from Kota Kinabalu.
When to Get There
Although you can expect rain and intemperate weather throughout the year, the best time to climb Mt. Kinabalu is during Borneo’s dry season, between February and September.
Other Things to Do in Kinabalu National Park
Whether or not you’re keen on climbing the mountain, there are plenty of other things to do in Kinabalu National Park. Hiking trails range from easy to moderate and reveal the diversity of the park’s natural scenery. Or, relax and unwind in the nearby Poring Hot Springs, also home to a butterfly farm and canopy walkway.
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- Kinabalu National Park
- Poring Hot Spring & Nature Reserve (Poring Hot Springs)
- Kota Belud
- Mari Mari Cultural Village
- Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre
- Signal Hill Observatory Platform
- Kota Kinabalu City Mosque (Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu)
- Sabah State Mosque (Masjid Negeri Sabah)
- Sabah Museum (Sabah State Museum)
- North Borneo Railway
- Monsopiad Cultural Village
- Gaya Island (Pulau Gaya)
- Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park (TARP)
- Sapi Island (Pulau Sapi)
- Manukan Island (Pulau Manukan)