We heard a lot about the nature of land below the wind, the beauty of flora and fauna is well known; on the other hand, I also heard a lot of the friendliest Sabahan from the Bah-land. Sabah has always been on the top of my bucket list to check until recently when I saw cheap flights to Kota Kinabalu online. Without procrastination, I bought 5 flight tickets for my family members, and at the same time, I also booked a nearby hotel – Hotel Sri Iskandar because it’s just a stone’s throw away from the Filipino Market. The hotel is also quite near to other exciting attractions in the area.
Our adventure in Kota Kinabalu begins!
5 Kota Kinabalu Attractions to Visit
Sabah State Museum in Kota Kinabalu
For a start, we visited the Sabah State Museum while everyone was still energetic, to learn the history of Sabah. Amazing! The entrance is Free of Charge for senior citizens — so all three of them got in free…except my brother and me! Sobs sobs… The museum showcased the history of different tribes and ethnicity in Sabah.
The architectural aspect of the building itself mimics the Murut and Rungus indigenous people’s longhouse designs as well.
The museum is indeed the best time machine! We spent a good two hours exploring the ceramic gallery, the headhunting gallery, natural history gallery, ethnology gallery, and many other galleries.
A Bryde’s Whale, stranded at the beach of Gaya Island in 2006
On top of that, the Sabah State Museum had added an exhibit which was a huge whale skeleton at the entrance of the museum. It felt so surreal to see such a grand skeletal display of a real whale!
2) Filipino Market
After some great local food, we continue our exploration to the sea-facing Kota Kinabalu Filipino market. I love this market so much because I can see so much in one place, so much of varieties, like salted fish, fruits, bags, handicrafts, seafood crackers, and snacks.
The things sold here are affordable. I bought some salted fish back with pride because I managed to bargain to half price :) This place is the perfect place for you to practice your price negotiation skills! I will definitely come back again for more souvenirs. Salted fish… Yum yum...
3) Gaya Street Sunday Market
One of my favorite markets is Gaya Street Sunday Market.
This market is really unique, it has everything you want, from souvenirs to local foods, we just enter to any restaurants that are packed, we spend the entire morning here eating and shopping for cheap souvenirs. We love the atmosphere here so much, people here were always cheerful and smiling to us.
Before we left, we bought some small and handy souvenirs, like the Sabah fridge magnets and keychains, hand-carved wooden statues to be displayed at home.
Mum busy bargaining
4) Rumah Terbalik at Tamparuli
We drove about 30 minutes from the city centre to the first upside-down house in Malaysia or Rumah Terbalik. Really worth the long journey! We got to see the traditional Sabah village house all in reverse. Haha! Everything is inverted — including the car at the porch!
The entrance fee is affordable and a guided tour is included. The guided tour made the visit more interesting as the pretty guide (which the locals call sumandak) would tell us the details that our eyes were not sharp enough to spot. I could recall walking on what’s supposed to be a ceiling, standing with an inverted toilet bowl on top of me and seeing a lizard near my footsteps instead of above my head. Really cool experience…
5) Tanjung Aru Sunset
To end the day, we went to see the gorgeous sunset at Tanjung Aru — something that you will not want to miss.
Kota Kinabalu has one of the most beautiful and romantic sunsets I have ever seen, maybe because it is facing the west. Only later that I found out that the name Aru comes from the Aru trees that line the beach.
We dined at the food court nearby while enjoying the scenic sunset view. My family and I took this chance to sit back and relax after the long tiring day.
Kota Kinabalu has its own charm for travelers to explore and I enjoyed this trip so much. The trip was made even better because I have a family who is equally keen to expand their knowledge on local culture and to enjoy the adventure that is travel.
If you are looking for a laid-back yet interesting town to explore, Kota Kinabalu is definitely one I recommend.