Tips Travel Sabah – Planning to visit Kota Kinabalu? Our guide to things to do in Kota Kinabalu has you covered.
Did you know that Borneo is divided into 3 different countries? No, neither do we. Luckily, you have our awesome blog to help you plan your trip to Borneo😏 Let’s face it, Borneo is so diverse and so different.
Tips Travel Sabah
To the north, on the Malaysian side of Borneo, you’ll find Sabah. The largest city in Sabah is Kota Kinabalu. Further south on the West Coast you’ll find the sovereign nation of Brunei. In the south you have the region of Sarawak, the largest city of which is Kuching. About 73% of Borneo is Indonesian and each country is clearly visible on the map of Borneo below.
Majestic Mount Kinabalu
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There are several ways to get to the Malaysian side of Borneo. The easiest way is to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu. It only takes 2 hours and is very cheap for a domestic flight. We flew with Air Asia which cost us £40 for the return flight.
Getting to the city from Kota Kinabalu Airport is easy. It is only a short 10-minute drive from the airport to the city center. When we arrived, we used the Grab app to hail a taxi to take us to our accommodation. Grab is much cheaper than using a metered taxi outside the airport. To use the Grab app, you will need information and a local number. At the airport, we bought a SIM card for $7 from a small shop at the airport exit gate.
🚗 Car rental Kota Kinabalu Airport – One of the most popular options is to rent a car from one of the shops inside the airport. You can choose from Hertz or Europcar, both companies have similar prices.
Mabul Island Travel Guide
The best thing about renting a car is the complete flexibility of your plans and the fuel costs are so low that it’s very efficient. Unknown to us, Borneo is a huge island (the third largest in the world!) If you are planning to visit all of Sabah, we recommend planning your trip a few days later.
🚌 Bus – Your next option is to take the bus. This is the slowest but also the cheapest way to get around Borneo. If you want to take a bus from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan, it’s a 7-hour journey that will cost you $14. The bus departs from Kota Kinabalu North Terminal.
We had the opportunity to stay at this amazing hotel. From stunning beaches to an award-winning spa, this hotel has it all.
This 4 star hotel offers great value for your money. It is located a short distance from the ocean and on the edge of the city center.
Sabah Tours & Daytrips
If you’re on a budget, this is a great place to stay for a night or two. It is close to the airport and has excellent reviews.
When it comes to tours in Kota Kinabalu, there are several companies to choose from. If you are staying at a hotel, they usually recommend a tour company they are affiliated with. While staying at The Nexus Resort we decided to go kayaking on the river which we highly recommend.
This tour gave us an amazing insight into the fauna and flora of Borneo. The tour lasted three hours and we highly recommend it.
We drove from the hotel and the guide was met by the river where his boat was waiting for us. We booked the tour through Nexus Resort and we were the only ones on the tour, which was amazing.
Taking The Road Less Travelled: 4 Days In Sabah, Malaysia
First, we would set crab traps on the river bank and come back later, and we didn’t catch any. We then hopped on our kayaks and our guide took us down the river to the mangroves looking for wildlife, monkeys and crocodiles. We learned about the different types of mangroves and how they play an important role in Borneo’s ecosystem. After an hour of kayaking, we returned to our small sand crab traps.
Tip↠ If you book this tour, be sure to wear sun cream or long clothes as you will burn quickly on the river!
The Firefly experience is like being on a river, but at night. You will be taken to the river where you can watch the sunset over the river and explore the mangroves. Deep in the river network, you’ll find mangroves favored by flies and watch the sky come alive.
If your hotel doesn’t offer this tour, Amazing Borneo Tour has great reviews. They offer an 8-hour tour that includes a sunset cruise, fireflies and wild proboscis monkeys. Amazing Borneo Tours
Why Sabah Malaysia Needs To Be Your Next Destination Right Now
The mosque is located by the ocean and has a large pond surrounding it. This water still means the reflections are crazy on a clear day and you can get epic shots like these.
It is possible to enter the mosque, but only with a guide. There is a kiosk at the entrance where you can borrow clothes if you are not dressed appropriately.
Manukan Island and Gaya Island are very close to each other and a short boat ride from Kota Kinabalu. Although we didn’t get to visit either island (no guts), we wanted to throw in a sentence or two about each one.
Tunku is the second largest island among the five islands that make up the Abdul Rahman National Park. Just a short boat ride from Kota Kinabalu, it’s a great spot for snorkeling and diving. The best beaches can be found on the eastern end of the island.
Travelling Around Borneo
This island is the largest and closest to Kota Kinabalu. A 10-minute boat ride or a quick swim if you’re strong (we don’t recommend swimming!). The island has two 5-star resorts and a number of great hiking trails.
If you wish to visit these islands, many lodges provide boat transfers to and from the islands. Alternatively, several local tour companies organize day trips to the islands.
Sutera Sanctuary Lodges is an integration of tranquil retreats offering accommodation and food and beverage services amidst some of Sabah’s most spectacular natural locations.
Relax in a tropical paradise at Bungaraya Island Resort, a luxury retreat nestled in the mountains of Polish Bay on Gaya Island off the coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Nestled in pristine rainforest, this award-winning, secluded resort features 48 wooden villas in traditional Bornean architecture overlooking a beautiful, white-sand beach.
Kota Kinabalu Travel Guide Blog With A ₱5,000 Diy Itinerary, Things To Do, Tourist Spots, Tips And More!
This is something we really wanted to do, but we couldn’t complete the hike due to time constraints. However, one of our good friends did and from what he said, it is one of the best things to do in Borneo.
↠Mt Kinabalu is 4,095 meters (13,435 ft) above sea level, with a summit known as Low Peak.
↠ As with most mountains, the weather can change at any moment and varies depending on your altitude. However, the best time of the year to climb the mountain is between February and April.
↠ There are two routes to the summit, Ranau Trail and Kota Belud Trail. These trails are from Panalaban area to Summit.
Kota Kinabalu Travel Guide
You need a permit to climb Mount Kinabalu. With only 185 climbs per day permitted by Sabah Parks, we recommend that interested climbers book early to avoid disappointment. Additionally, you cannot climb the peak alone, you must always be with a guide.
As you stay overnight in a mountain cabin, you should allow two days for the hike. This allows for a nice and early departure to catch the sunrise over Borneo.
Departures through different tour companies are about the same price, with an average of $300
You have several companies to choose from, but the official Mount Kinabalu website has all the latest information and prices.
A Journey Through Sabah
We always use the free app Rome2Rio to plan our travel itineraries. This app searches the web to find all possible routes using all available modes of transportation.
✈️ Flying from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan is a quick 50-minute flight and the easiest way to travel, with prices ranging from $20-$90 one way without baggage check.
🚌 Bus from Kota Kinabalu