How to Spend 3 Days in Kota Kinabalu
With three days in Kota Kinabalu, you can enjoy most of the highlights in the area, including the beaches and islands, wildlife, culture, and outdoor recreation. Here are a few ways to make the most of your 3-day journey.
Day 1: Island Hop, Culture, and City Views
The beach is a top draw at Sabah and Kota Kinabalu, and a favorite place to experience it is Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, made up of five islands. Take the day, or part of it, to explore one, two, or all five islands. Hang out on the beach, or go swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving. For a new angle, head to Padang Point on Gaya Island and take the Coral Flyer Zipline across to Sapi Island. Most tours include lunch, either on the beach or boat.
After lunch, head to shore and spend the afternoon either exploring the highlights of Kota Kinabalu, such as the City Mosque and Sabah State Museum, or Mari Mari Cultural Village, where you can learn about the five main traditional groups of Sabah. Afterwards, enjoy dinner in town or head to the Kokol hills and enjoy panoramic views over Kota Kinabalu along with dinner.
Day 2: The Great Outdoors
Here’s your chance to enjoy nature. Those who plan to climb Mt. Kinabalu will do so over the next two days and spend the night on the mountain. Even if you don’t plan on summiting, can still walk the trails around Kinabalu National Park, including a 100-foot-high (30-meter) canopy walk. Afterwards, soak in the natural Poring Hot Spring. Alternatively, head to Tambunan to spend the day quad biking, or go white-water rafting and ziplining along the Kiliu River.
Return to Kota Kinabalu and watch the sunset from Tanjung Aru Beach. Afterwards, enjoy a fresh seafood dinner along the Kota Kinabalu Waterfront, also great for after dinner drinks and entertainment. You can also have dinner while watching a cultural show or dance performance.
Day 3: Wildlife Spotting
Wildlife is another big attraction in the region. Spend the day appreciating the rainforest, orangutans, and sun bears, with stops at the Sandakan Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, and Rainforest Discovery Centre.
Alternatively, spend the morning at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park just outside of Kota Kinabalu. In the afternoon, head to Klias Wetlands or Tamau River and enjoy a river cruise while looking for wildlife, such as proboscis monkeys, macaque, crocodiles, and fireflies. Another option is to spend your last evening on a dinner cruise, watching the sun set on a luxury yacht or catamaran. Afterwards, shop for any final souvenirs at one of the many night markets in town, or have parting drinks along the Kota Kinabalu waterfront.