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How to Spend 1 Day in Kota Kinabalu

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How to Spend 1 Day in Kota Kinabalu
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.
 
Morning: Get to Know Kota Kinabalu
Get an early start and head to Kota Kinabalu City Mosque to catch the sunrise and see the building reflected in the pond below. After refueling with a local breakfast, head to Likas Bay Lagoon and Signal Hill Observation Deck to get your bearings. 

Then, tick off Atkinson Clock Tower, Sabah State Museum and Heritage Village, Pu Toh Tze Temple, and the 30-story Menara Tun Mustapha. Shoppers should make a point to stop at one of the many markets in town, such as Central Market. For a hassle-free experience, opt for a sightseeing tour designed with first-time visitors in mind.
 
Afternoon: Visit a Cultural Village
Spend the afternoon on a tour of a cultural village outside of town. The most popular is Mari Mari Cultural Village, an open-air museum where you can learn more about the different traditional groups in Sabah, which include the Dusun, Rungus, and Lundayeh people. Here, you can visit a traditional longhouse to try local delicacies and see cultural demonstrations such as fire starting, blowpipe making, and target shooting. 

Another option is to visit the Monsopiad Cultural Village, where you can tour their House of Skulls, replete with headhunting trophies. Tours typically include round-trip transfers from Kota Kinabalu.
 
Evening: Sunsets and Water Views
The sunsets in Kota Kinabalu are sublime, and are best viewed from Tanjung Aru Beach. For the ultimate experience, charter a luxury yacht or catamaran. or enjoy a sunset or dinner cruise, complete with a firefly show or live entertainment. Otherwise, feast on fresh seafood along the Kota Kinabalu Waterfront, which is also a great place to grab some pre- and post-dinner drinks. 

Alternatively, enjoy dinner while watching a cultural show or dance performance. Finally, go shopping and pick up all your souvenirs at one of the night markets in town, such as the nightly Filipino Night Market or the Sinsuran Night Market.
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Kota Kinabalu Tours & Activities (10)
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Kota Kinabalu Half-Day City TourHalf-day Tours

Kota Kinabalu Half-Day City Tour

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Check off Kota Kinabalu’s key sights in just half a day on this comprehensive guided door-to-door tour. Soak up sweeping views of the city from Signal Hill, learn about Chinese Buddhism at Pu Toh Tze Temple, and explore Sabah’s rich heritage at the Sabah State Museum. Along the way, see the Sabah State Mosque, the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, and the 30-story Menara Tun Mustapha.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
$51.93 
Price varies by group size
From  
$51.93 
Price varies by group size
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Monsopiad Cultural Village Visit with Private Transfer from Kota KinabaluPrivate Sightseeing Tours

Monsopiad Cultural Village Visit with Private Transfer from Kota Kinabalu

The rich indigenous cultures are one of the highlights of any visit to Borneo. Experience them without the hassles of self-drive on this convenient private tour of the Monsopiad Cultural Village. Learn how the Kadazan people live and about the feats of the mighty headhunter Monsopiad, and enjoy cultural experiences from rice wine to dances.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
$30.77 
From  
$30.77 
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Kota Kinabalu City Dinner Cruise by North Borneo CruisesDinner Cruises

Kota Kinabalu City Dinner Cruise by North Borneo Cruises

star-5
Dine and dance under the stars on a Kota Kinabalu cruise that includes live music and a buffet of international cuisine. The boat’s open upper deck gives panoramic views of the Kota Kinabalu skyline as the city lights up after dark, and since this dinner cruise features door-to-door transfers from hotels in Kota Kinabalu, you can enjoy an evening out without the hassle of finding late-night transport.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
From  
$55.52 
From  
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes

Half-Day, Small-Group Kota Kinabalu City Tour ( min 4 pax )Half-day Tours

Half-Day, Small-Group Kota Kinabalu City Tour ( min 4 pax )

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Experience the beauty of Kota Kinabalu without worrying about the hassle of transportation on this small-group tour of the city. Ride in the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle as you stop at some of the city’s best-known sites. Visit the museum complex at the Sabah State Museum and Heritage Village, the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, Signal Hill Observatory Platform, and the Sabah State Mosque.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
$36.93 
From  
$36.93 
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Half-Day Mari Mari Cultural Village Tour from Kota KinabaluHalf-day Tours

Half-Day Mari Mari Cultural Village Tour from Kota Kinabalu

star-4.5
Explore Borneo's indigenous cultures on a half-day trip from Kota Kinabalu to Mari Mari Cultural Village, which features traditional houses, crafts, and bushcraft recreated by members of each tribe in Sabah. You'll see local people making blowpipes and kindling bamboo fires, then learn the symbolism behind Sabah's long tradition of tattooing. With pickup and drop-off at hotels in Kota Kinabalu, this tour includes entrance fees and lunch.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
$74.36 
Price varies by group size
From  
$74.36 
Price varies by group size
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Kota Kinabalu City TourHalf-day Tours

Kota Kinabalu City Tour

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Discover the rich history and heritage of Kota Kinabalu on this comprehensive 3-hour city tour, including hotel pick-up. Visit landmarks like Wisma Tun Mustapha (Sabah Foundation Building) and the City Mosque; pay a visit to the prestigious University of Sabah and tour the fascinating Sabah Museum. Finally, soak up views of Kota Kinabalu and the Likas Bay lagoon from the summit of Signal Hill.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
$28.20 
From  
$28.20 
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Mari Mari Cultural Village Traditional LivingHalf-day Tours

Mari Mari Cultural Village Traditional Living

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A short drive out of Kota Kinabalu, the Mari Mari Cultural Village provides a convenient opportunity to experience many of Borneo’s unique cultures in a purpose-built cultural village. Learn about the tribes’ traditional dances, cuisines and ways of thriving in Borneo’s challenging jungle. For visitors who can only stay in Borneo briefly, this experience offers a chance to see how Borneo’s cultural diversity matches its biodiversity.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
$66.67 
From  
$66.67 
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Half-Day Mari Mari Cultural Village from Kota KinabaluHalf-day Tours

Half-Day Mari Mari Cultural Village from Kota Kinabalu

Visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village, an open-air museum that introduces you to Borneo’s ethnic cultures. Visit longhouses in the village and observe the daily routines of Sabah’s traditional groups including the Dusun, Rungus, Lundayeh, Bajau and Murut. Taste Sabahan specialties for lunch and observe cultural demonstrations such as blowpipe making, fire starting, and tattooing while you learn from your guide about the mystical symbolism behind these practices. Round-trip transport from Kota Kinabalu hotels included.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
$71.80 
From  
$71.80 
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Kota Kinabalu Sunset Cruise with Buffet DinnerDay Cruises

Kota Kinabalu Sunset Cruise with Buffet Dinner

Conclude your Kota Kinabalu adventure with a dazzling evening out at sea. Hop onto a spacious custom-built catamaran and get in touch with Sabah’s coastal charisma. Sail pass surrounding islands and into the famous Kota Kinabalu sunset. Includes guided narrations of historical & architectural landmarks that dot the coastline. - Evening cruise from Kota Kinabalu in the South China Sea - Chance to see Sabah's sunset & landmarks from the water - Laid-back & relaxed tour aboard a luxurious custom sailboat - Sights of Gaya Island in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park - Postcard-perfect views of Likas Bay in the soft moonlight
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
$122.00 
Price varies by group size
From  
$122.00 
Price varies by group size
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

D'Place Buffet and Cultural ShowHalf-day Tours

D'Place Buffet and Cultural Show

Opt for an evening with a difference at a D’Place cultural show in Kota Kinabalu. Ideal for food lovers and first-time visitors, this experience presents the difference cultures in Borneo through a buffet dinner and performance that includes singing, dancing, and colorful costumes. Plus, hassle-free hotel pickup and drop-off mean you don’t have to worry about making your own way there.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
$30.00 
From  
$30.00 
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation