17 Exciting Activities for a Malaysia Vacation in Kota Kinabalu 2023

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Located close to Borneo, Kota Kinabalu is a bustling and vibrant vacation spot in Malaysia. Decorated with shores and jungles, the picturesque allure of this place astonishes everyone while the plentiful options of daring activities make the holiday not only captivating but extremely thrilling. When vacationing in Malaysia, make sure to include this unique destination in your itinerary and this selection of enjoyable activities to do in Kota Kinabalu will assist you to make your vacation worthwhile in every aspect.

17 Activities To Do In Kota Kinabalu

Wandering what to do in Kota Kinabalu? Well, from trekking to sunbathing, scuba diving to rafting; Kota Kinabalu offers everything, that is euphoric, delightful and captivating. Here is the comprehensive list.

  • Klias River Cruise – Sail Through The Lush Woodland
  • Tanjung Aru Beach – Revitalize, Sunbathe, And Unwind
  • Mount Kinabalu – Go Trekking
  • Mari Mari Cultural Village – Guided Walk
  • Kota Kinabalu Waterfront – Have A Beverage!
  • Mount Kinabalu Park Botanical Garden – Relaxed Stroll
  • Gaya Street Sunday Market – Indulge In Retail Healing
  • Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park – Diving And Snorkeling
  • Sabah Tea Garden – Explore And Enjoy
  • Atkinson Clock Tower – Trek To This Point
  • Kiulu River – White Water Rafting
  • Borneo Railway – Take A Train Journey
  • Lok Kawi Wildlife Park – Meet Elephants
  • Kota Kinabalu City Mosque – Admire The Architecture
  • Kota Kinabalu – Paragliding
  • Timangoh River – Fishing Excursion
  • Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market – Go Shopping

Klias River Cruise

1. Klias River Cruise – Sail Through The Lush Woodland

If you are a nature enthusiast, spend a peaceful day, cruising in the Klias river. Sailing through the mangrove forests located near Klias Wetland is one of the most popular activities to do in Kota Kinabalu at night. It is a full day excursion where you can relish the surreal beauty of the verdant green forests and engage in bird watching. The view of the merging of the Klias river with the sea and Mount Kinabalu in the background is astonishing and will leave you spellbound.

Price: INR 2980/personHours of Operation: 4 pm to 8 pmLocation: Kampong Kota Klias, 89800 Beaufort, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Essential Reading: Experience The Good Life On A Friends Trip To Singapore And Malaysia: Witness The Adventure!

Tanjung Aru Beach

2. Tanjung Aru Beach – Revitalize, Sunbathe, And Unwind

Spanning across 2 km, Tanjung Aru Beach is a stunning sun-drenched sandy stretch in Kota Kinabalu. Relax, sunbathe, indulge in water sports, and embark on leisurely strolls on the beach. These constitute some of the finest activities to engage in while in Kota Kinabalu city if you desire to make your Kota Kinabalu vacation worthwhile in every aspect. Flanked by eateries that offer freshly caught seafood, Tanjung Aru Beach is among the liveliest spots in Kota Kinabalu to spend the day, and you can even attempt Kayaking in this beach.

Mount Kinabalu

Location: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

3. Mount Kinabalu – Go Trekking

Mount Kinabalu is a revered mountain in Malaysia, situated within Kinabalu National Park. As an element of the Crocker Mountain Range, this is one of the most elevated mountains that can be trekked in Malaysia, and hiking up to Mount Kinabalu is one of the most thrilling activities to undertake in Kota Kinabalu. Ascending up to 4000 meters, this hike is moderately demanding and thoroughly enjoyed by seasoned trekkers. Once you arrive at the summit, savor the awe-inspiring view of the Sabah region.

Location: Sabah, Malaysia

Mari Mari Cultural Village

4. Mari Mari Cultural Village – Guided Excursion

Perfectly situated at a distance of 30 minutes from the city of Kota Kinabalu, Mari Mari Cultural Village is a themed village that portrays the lives of tribes from Sabah. You can embark on a guided walk lasting 3 hours through the village, where you can explore their traditional houses, patterns of livelihood, cuisine, customs, and culture. Immerse yourself in the enjoyable experience of learning about the cooking, handicrafts, and traditions of these indigenous tribes during the tour.

Flanegan Bainon Properties

Cost: INR 3029 per person Opening hours: 10 am to 6 pm Location: Inanam, 88450 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

5. Kota Kinabalu Waterfront: Have A Beverage!

Kota Kinabalu Waterfront is one of the liveliest areas of the city, attracting both locals and tourists in the evening, especially after sunset. With its array of bars, restaurants, and shopping malls, this waterfront is a highly sought-after destination for enjoying the nightlife in Kota Kinabalu. Live music, delectable cuisine, and a vibrant crowd create a heartwarming and unforgettable experience.

Location: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Mount Kinabalu Park

6. Mount Kinabalu Park Botanical Garden – Relaxing Stroll

Mount Kinabalu Park Botanical Garden spans across a vast area adorned with endangered and nearly extinct flora, featuring around 5000-6000 vascular plant species. Encompassing grasslands, lowlands, and high Alpine mountains, the Mount Kinabalu Park Botanical Garden is a haven for botanists and nature enthusiasts. Enjoy hikes and leisurely walks amidst the breathtaking flora, plants, and orchids that will leave you awe-inspired. While the Mount Kinabalu Park Botanical Garden is open throughout the day, a visit to this place is highly recommended among all the things to do near Kota Kinabalu.

Tickets: INR 70 per person Opening hours: 24/7 Location: Sabah, Malaysia

Gaya Street Sunday Market

7. Gaya Street Sunday Market – Indulge In Retail Therapy

Among all the activities to engage in on a Sunday in Kota Kinabalu, a trip to this incredible marketplace on Gaya Street is arguably the finest one. This century-old Sunday Market on Gaya Street is the optimal location to acquire keepsakes, trinkets, local crafts, garments, accessories, and antiques, and it is deemed a significant addition to the travel bucket list of all types of adventurers. Furthermore, if you are a connoisseur of food and culinary delights, you can procure authentic ingredients for Malay cuisine from this market.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Operating hours: Every Sunday from 6:30 am to 1 pmLocation: Jalan Gaya, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

8. Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park – Diving And Snorkeling

With 5 islands namely Pulau Manukan, Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug; Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is an adventure and water sports hub, which can be accessed in 20 minutes from the city. The islands possess renowned diving spots, and individuals can indulge in snorkeling and scuba diving to revel in the remarkable beauty of underwater marine organisms. Additionally, the marine biodiversity park also provides PADI certified diving courses for beginners and professionals, making it one of the top things to do close to Kota Kinabalu.

Sabah Tea Garden

Location: Sabah, Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

9. Sabah Tea Garden – Explore And Enjoy

This is conceivably the best activity in close proximity to Kota Kinabalu for a revitalizing day trip. Embark on a 2-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu to arrive at the lush Sabah Tea Garden. Encompassing a tea plantation, this tea garden cultivates arguably the finest tea in the region. Settle in at the Sabah Tea Log house to bask in the breathtaking beauty of the expansive estates with Mount Kinabalu looming in the distance, and savor a variety of exotic local teas. If you are in search of affordable activities in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, be sure to visit this park!

Place: Kilometer 17, Ranau- Sandakan Road | Nalapak, Ranau 89309, Malaysia

Atkinson Clock Tower

10. Atkinson Clock Tower – Ascend To This Spot

Atkinson Clock Tower and Signal Hill Observatory are the two significant monuments of Kota Kinabalu. Located in the same pathway, on top of a charming hill, Atkinson Clock Tower and the observatory can be reached after a captivating hike. Situated near Padang Merdeka, these two locations provide the finest views of the city and its adjacent hills.Place: Kota Kinabalu, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Kiulu River

11. Kiulu River – Whitewater Rafting

Kiulu River in Tamparuli is an hour’s drive from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Undoubtedly, it is one of the prime spots to relish exhilarating whitewater rafting. Offering Grade 3 and 4 rapids, this river entices adventure enthusiasts, all year round. So, if you are planning to engage in something genuinely thrilling and bold; this is an ideal choice.

Borneo Railway in Malaysia

Place: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

12. Borneo Railway – Embark On A Train Journey

Borneo Railway is one of the legacies of Kota Kinabalu and commenced its operation in 2011, following an extensive renovation and rejuvenation. A scenic and joyful ride from Tanjung Aru to Tenom is arguably one of the finest experiences in Kota Kinabalu, especially for families and children. The train traverses dense and lush rainforests, along the picturesque coastlines of the city. Furthermore, you can take the train to reach Beaufort- a charming market town near Kota Kinabalu.

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in Sabah, Malaysia

13. Lok Kawi Wildlife Park – Meet Elephants

A must-visit for all nature enthusiasts traveling to this enchanting city, the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is the abode of a diverse range of animal species such as elephants, tigers, deer, monkeys, gibbons, orangutans, and various types of reptiles. Despite its small size, this is the ideal destination for those who lack the time to visit larger wildlife reserves when in Kota Kinabalu. Providing visitors with the opportunity to have an intimate encounter with animals and birds, a visit to this place serves as one of the finest activities to indulge in while in Kota Kinabalu with family and children.

Location: 63, Jalan Penampang, 88200 Penampang, Sabah, Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque in Sabah, Malaysia

14. Kota Kinabalu City Mosque – Appreciate the Architecture

Not only is it the largest mosque, but the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is also the most splendid mosque in the city. Elevated on stilts above a glistening lagoon, the mosque creates an illusion of floating on water. First-time visitors are often mesmerized by the sheer beauty of this place, particularly at night when it is illuminated and reflects stunningly in the dark water. During your visit, ensure that you don’t miss out on the intricate blue and gold dome, which is the highlight of its architectural design, along with the traditional minarets. While visiting this mosque is among the top things to do in Kota Kinabalu town, it is essential to dress respectfully before entering the sacred sanctuary.

Location: Jalan Pasir, Jalan Teluk Likas, Kampung Likas, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

15. Kota Kinabalu – Paragliding

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If your excitement refuses to fade away, then consider taking part in paragliding in Kota Kinabalu, which may make you feel on top of the world. The breathtaking mountain vistas from above and the sensation of soaring through the air with wings is an unparalleled experience that you cannot afford to miss. To ensure safety, it is advisable to engage in this activity with a trained professional.

Expenses: INR 5120 – INR 6815Working hours: Not ApplicableAddress: Kota Kinabalu

16. Timangoh River – Fishing Trip

Timpangoh River Fishing trip

Putting your angling abilities to the test in Kota Kinabalu and go fishing at the edges of Timangoh River. There are numerous fish in this river and you will certainly catch some. If you don’t, don’t be discouraged. Capturing fish is an art and it takes ability and time to master it. It’s ideal to have a trained professional along for them to help you.

Expenses: INR 4260Working hours: Open 24 hoursAddress: Timpangoh River, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

17. Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market – Go Shopping!

One of the top things to do in Kota Kinabalu for all shopping enthusiasts is to head to the famous handicraft market. Shopping is an essential part of any vacation and Kota Kinabalu has a lot to offer. The Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market is also known as Pasar Filipino, or the Filipino Market. You can purchase souvenirs, local artworks, pearls, craft items, textiles, and wood carvings.


Working hours: 10 am – 6 pmAddress: Jalan Sinsuran, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

This was the suggested list of the best things to do in Kota Kinabalu. Now, while planning a personalized Malaysia trip with Fred and Fuzzys, keep these options in mind and make your vacation fascinating and captivating. Also, remember to share the list with your friends. If you know of more exciting things to do, then share in the comments below.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Things to do in Kota Kinabalu

What should I pack for Kota Kinabalu?

A waterproof knapsack, hiking boots, warm clothes, waterproof windbreaker, and a fleece jacket are what you should pack if you plan on trying out these exciting things to do in Kota Kinabalu.

Can you see orangutans in Kota Kinabalu?

Yes, you can see orangutans in Kota Kinabalu.

What is the currency in Kota Kinabalu?

If you are planning a trip to Kota Kinabalu, you would most certainly want to know the currency. Malaysian Ringgit is the accepted currency in Kota Kinabalu.

How many days do you need in Kota Kinabalu?

You should spend 5 days in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

What is there to do in Kota Kinabalu?

Here are the best things to do in Kota Kinabalu:

– Visit the Atkinson Clock Tower.

– Take a wetland river cruise.

– Climb Mount Kinabalu.

– Admire the fish at the Green Connection Aquarium.

– Shop at Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market.

– Go white water rafting.

– Visit Kota Kinabalu City Mosque.

– Go for a stroll around Chinatown.

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