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Attractions

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Mataking Beach

Another resort island with one of the best beaches in Malaysia, Mataking Island is the furthest from Semporna in east coast Sabah where a boat trip takes nearly an hour one way. Just stroll around the island to look for your own secluded place. One of the unique things about the island is that they have an underwater post office where you can literally post a letter or postcard. Highly recommended for those who want a 'Maldives' experience in Malaysia.

 

Highlights: This is the perfect romantic getaway as the island has a spa, private bungalows, an outdoor Jacuzzi by the sea and all the romantic walks by the beach you want. Special arrangements can be made for honeymooners, weddings or private parties. The only way to get here is by booking a tour package from the resort. There are no day trips or visits here.

 How to Get There: It is about 40 minute’s boat ride from the mainland of Semporna in the province of Sabah.

 

 

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Tabin Wildlife Reserve

If you are an adventure seeker, have a passion for wildlife photography, and you love to live close to mother nature, Tabin Wildlife Reserve welcomes you, as this place can give you a right and perfect taste of nature. Visiting the Tabin Wildlife Reserve can really be a priceless experience. Especially, if you are a birdwatching and wildlife photography enthusiast, there can no better place than the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Not only for the photographers and animal activists, but also for the normal regular visitors, this place can be a paradise


How To Reach: The Tabin Wildlife Reserve is a 7 hour drive from the main Kota Kinabalu city. Or the other option is to take the direct flight from the Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu, which takes around 1 hour and from Lahad Datu, you can reach the Tabin wildlife reserve in one and half hours.

Price: The day trip to Tabin Wildlife Reserve costs around 570 MYR.

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Sapi Island

Sapi Island is one of the smallest yet one of the most exciting islands in Peninsular Malaysia. Due to the large number of activities that this small place offers, peak seasons and weekends gets too crowded here. You can come here on weekdays if you want a relaxing atmosphere.

Highlights:  When you are here, try out the coral flyer exercise, which takes you in a zipline from island to island. You will get the longest zipline in the world in Sapi Island. White sandy beaches, clear waters, dense forests, great marine life and quiet beaches make this 25-acre island, a wonder, indeed. You will get to see wild boards, monitor lizards and macaques in plenty when you come here. Swimming, snorkelling, sea-walking, scuba diving, coral flying, exploring hidden beaches and cliffs and camping are some of the activities that you can do here.



Location: Close to Kota Kinabalu.

Timings: March to October.

Price: RM3 & RM1 per adult and child for Sapi Marine Park (locals).
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Layang-layang Island

Also known as Swallow Reef, Layang Layang is one of the islands located towards the north of Sabah Coast in Borneo Island.

Highlights – This is a very remote island, as it located in highly deep waters. The diving spots are close to 2000m deep. There is a naval base here and tourists are prohibited from entering into this area. There are lots of restrictions for tourists in these waters, due to which marine life is well-preserved. You will be able to spot Hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and abundant coral reefs here. Scuba diving is the main activity here, with the island providing maximum depths of up to 40m. Some famous diving spots in Layang Layang are Crack Reef, D-Wall, The Point, Pier Diving, Dog Tooth Liar and Wrasse Strip.

Location – 300km towards the north the Sabah Coast, Borneo Island.

Timings – March to August.

Price – Depends on the package.
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Bohey Dulang Beach

Bohey Dulang Island is a mountainous island forged by the remains of an ancient volcano. The southern side of the lagoon is open but just below the surface is a protracted stretch of reef which represents the southern cratered fringe. The island is best known for its spectacular views at the top of its peak. It is possible to trail around the island at low tide by following the narrow edges of the beach and mangroves, although this involves scrambling over rocks or through vegetation's.

Highlights: Prepare to be greeted by a host of tropical flora and fauna during the arduous but rewarding hiking trail to the top of Bohey Dulang Peak. Majestic views of the sapphire blue lagoon await those who make it through the hour long climb.

How to Get There: Bohey Dulang is located about 35 minutes by boat from Semporna, 20 minutes from Pom Pom, 30 minutes from Mataking and 1.5 hours from Mabul.

 

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Mount Kinabalu

Hiking is one of the prominent adventure activities in Malaysia. Mount Kinabalu is one of the well-known destinations for climbing enthusiasts. It is a perfect representation of beauty of Borneo Island.

Highlights – With its excellent species of flora and fauna, Mount Kinabalu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the world.



Facts – It takes around 5 hours to trek from Mount Kinabalu to Panalaban, This is the tallest mountain in South East Asia. Hikers must get permits for Sabah Parks & accommodation in Panalaban in advance. Starting point is Timpohon Gate and the ending point for hikers is Kinabalu National Park. Asia’s first Low Peak Circuit is available here.

Timings – The months between February and April are the best to climb Mount Kinabalu, as the climate is pleasant then.

Fee – Climb permit for local adults and kids – RM53 and RM31.80 respectively; for international adults and kids – RM212 and RM84.80 respectively.


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Sapi Island

Sapi Island is one of the most beautiful Island in the whole Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Though the island is smaller as compared to the Manukan Island, but you can still find a good crowd here. If ever visiting these islands, Sapi Island is a must visit and you cannot afford to miss it. One, must try activity on the island is the “Scuba-Doo” mini submarine experience, which is a little motorbike style submarine to do a sea walk.

 

 Location: Sapi Island is one of the five Islands that make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine park and is just at a distance of 15 minutes from the Kota Kinabalu.

How to reach: The Sapi Island can easily be reached from Kota Kinabalu via two ways: Either you can take the hourly ferry from the Jesselton Pier or you can reach Sapi Island from the Sutera Harbor.

Price: You have to pay an entry fees of 10 MYR per adult on the island. 

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Manukan Island Resort

The Manukan Island Resort is a luxury private island resort. This serene retreat offers exquisite accommodation, sophisticated cuisine and unparalleled water sport activities in one of the most pristine corner of the world. Manukan Island is surrounded by a protected coral reef, and the island boasts a pristine rainforest and beautiful white sand beaches.




Location: Manukan Island, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia


Highlights: This resort features an outdoor pool, a restaurant and spacious villas with private terraces and dining areas. The resort offers a wide range of activities such as diving, snorkeling and trekking. For views of marine life, glass-bottomed boat rides are available.


Price: Approximate price for a room starts at 700 MYR.


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What You Should Know More About Kota Kinabalu

  • Travel Advice:

    • Tip at restaurants: If you’re staying at a resort of a hotel then it is quite obvious that you won’t be required or expected to end a certain matter with a tip. The same applies to restaurants as well. Most of the times, it is your well-trusted guide that takes care of such situations and if you’re without one then do as you may without feeling obligated.

    • Planning is crucial: Malaysia certainly is a big country and there are tones of must-do experiences in this destination. Although, ensure that you don’t rush into things. Conduct your research well and carry on with travelling through the country. You will get to do what you want but be alert of any sham packages and guides while you’re hurrying into planning your trip.

    • Avoid the crowd: Malaysia is one of the most popular holiday destination in the world. Thus, tourism in this place is ever rising. Crowds from all over the world flock to Malaysia every year. And thus, it can get quite crowded. Check for the peak period and avoid staying in clichéd regions of the city. Instead opt for central mountains or the western coasts that are more chilled out.

    • Choose the right stay: The place can get quite crowded and it is obvious, with crowd coming in, the reservations can get full too. Thus, it becomes essential for one to choose the right type of hotel or resort that you will be staying in. Find your perfect spot in the perfect destination for the right kind of experience in this beautiful city before it is too late.

    • Drinking laws in Kita Kinabalu: In Malaysia, alcohol consumption is banned in all public places between 10:30pm to 7am. Even the retail shops are not allowed to sell alcohol to the customers. Make sure you follow the rules well while you’re in Malaysia.

  • Things you will like in Kota Kinabalu:

    • Visit the Atkinson Clock tower: The Atkinson Clock tower was built back in 1902 in dedication to the great Francis George Atkinson. He was the first district officer of the Kota Kinabalu. Unfortunately, he passed away due to malaria. The clock tower is situated on a hill beside Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and surely worth a visit while you’re in town.

    • Discover aquatic life at the Green Connection Aquarium: The Green Connection Aquarium is among the best places in the city that offers visitors the opportunity to experience aquatic life in their natural surroundings. There are a lot of things to do and see at this beautiful location.

    • Take a casual store by the Tanjung Aru beach: The Tanjung Aru beach is perhaps one of the most popular beaches in the city. This location is often visited by locals and tourists for casual strolls or perhaps picnics. The destination also consists food stalls and bars and one can quite easily enjoy the night-life and the delicious food of this place.

    • Appreciate the Double Six Monument: The Double Six Monument is situated in the Grace Point region of Sembulan and serves as the memorial site for the plane crash that occurred in 1976 wherein the state chief minister was killed. There is a food court that offers all types of food cuisines such as Malaysian, Indian, Chinese, Korean and Thai.

    • Adventure cruising through the northern coast of Kota Kinabalu: The northern coast of Kota Kinabalu is filled with undisturbed scenic geographical features – the kind you will never ever see before. Go on an adventure cruising through the place. There are numerous other activities such as boat rides and jet-skiing that you can volunteer for.

  • What will you like in Kita Kinabalu:

    • Beauties of the Kokol hills: Get a spectacular view of the city from the Kokol hills which are located approximately 30km away from the heart of the city delivers a birdeye’s view to the entire city base. It is extremely delightful to watch this.

    • Rural living at Kinarut: Kinarut is a small town located approximately 40 minutes away from the city of Kita Kinabalu. The place is prevailed by the typical rural and simple life that you won’t mind being a part of.

    • Shopping in China town: Shopping is perhaps one of those must-have experiences in any of these popular holiday destinations. Visit the China town and shop from products galore.

  • Recommended reads for destination

    Government website: 

    Govt Tourism Website


    Others: 

    TripAdvisor Travel Forum


    Books on Kita Kinabalu: 

    A to Z of Malaysia, Stolen – Malaysia.


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