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.
Kinabalu National Park
Kinabalu National Park, Sabah
Even if you’re not keen to summit 13,435-foot (4,095-meter) Mt. Kinabalu, you’ll still find plenty to do in Kinabalu National Park. Tours commonly leave from Kota Kinabalu, and generally include access to the canopy walkway and the opportunity to soak in the thermal waters of Poring Hot Springs. Some give you free time to explore the park’s well-marked trails, and most include lunch and hotel pickup and drop-off.
Recent reviews from experiences in Kota Kinabalu
Kinabalu on a Sunny Day
Paul_M, Mar 2020
Kinabalu Park & Poring Hot Spring & Canopy Walk
Our guide Neil was excellent, he was keen to make sure we enjoyed this activity. He was most informative during our visit to the Botanical Gardens, which my wife and I found very interesting.
neemika, Nov 2019
Private Full Day Kinabalu National Park Tour with Canopy Walk Including Lunch
Canopy walk was closed and guide wasnt aware either. Great disappointment because i heard the canopy walk is the highlight. But otherwise the other oprtions of the tour was fine.
convenient trip to see Mt. Kinabalu, a diary farm, a hanging bridge and a unique fish farm.
drwschen, Nov 2019
Malaysia Kinabalu Park Private Day Tour
Great pick up and drop off from hotel in Kota Kinabalu. Very convenient. Enjoy the view of Mt. Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia. The fish farm was unique because you could feed the carps from your hand, just let them bite the fish pellets off your hands, totally harmless because the carps had no sharp teeth. You could pet them like pets. What an experience. Walking in a hanging bridge across a tropical rain forest that's older than the Amazon jungle is another experience all together.
Things to Know Before You Go
The altitude of the park means you can expect showers any time of year, so take a waterproof jacket.
Take water and snacks with you as well, as there aren’t many shops inside the park.
Due to uneven terrain, Kinabalu National Park is a difficult place for wheelchairs and strollers to access.
The villages on either side of the park have several basic accommodation options—it’s a good idea to book in advance.
How to Get There
From Kota Kinabalu, it takes around two hours to reach Kinabalu National Park by road. Rent a car, go as part of a guided day trip (most of which include round-trip transfers), or take a minibus from the Kota Kinabalu bus terminal. Buses usually wait till they’re full to depart.
When to Get There
Borneo’s dry season stretches from March to September, making it the ideal time for outdoor exploration. The park is open daily—if you’re visiting from Kota Kinabalu, arrive as early as possible to make the most of your day.
Climbing Mt. Kinabalu
If you’re up to the challenge, climbing Mt. Kinabalu is one of the best outdoor experiences Borneo has to offer. Ascending Malaysia’s highest mountain takes two days, and requires a 2am start to reach the summit before sunrise. You must also climb with a guide and a permit. Most climbing tours include accommodation and hearty meals midway up the mountain.
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