Capital State of Sabah ~ Kota Kinabalu

To Kota Kinabalu

A plane ride to Kota Kinabalu International Airport ( KKIA) Terminal 1.

Our plane ride from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA T3) to Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI T1) was only 2 hours.


Round trip ticket for two of AirAsia : PHP 5,965.60 ( including the terminal fee from BKI T1)

Terminal fee at NAIA 3 :PHP 1,600 / passenger

Upon Arrival 

  1. Turn right, find an escalator that brings you to the Immigration counters
  2. Immigration Counters: show passport and have your picture taken
  3. Baggage carousel ( if you have one)
  4. Exit


Foreign Exchange


Tips: – Better buy Malaysian Ringgit before your trip. – Dollars should only be for emergencies / extra expenses. – ATM’s are also available in Kota Kinabalu City Center

( from Philippines)


Sanry’s Money Changer

  • Website and telephone number – not available
  • Reservation needed 2 – 3 days 
  • Best rate especially if you want to sell your RM to peso after the trip

Czarina Foreign Exchange


  • Upon inquiry, the New Farmer’s Plaza, Quezon City branch told us that buying transaction is done at Makati Cinema Square, Pasong Tamo.


Our Airbnb in Kota

In Agoda

Alex’s accommodation

Lin Hoi Guesthouse

Location: 9, Jalan Serih, tanjung Aru, 88858 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia (in front of a calvary church, coffee shop at the corner)


  • 15 minutes on foot to Tanjung Aru Beach
  • 10 – 15 minutes ride from the airport
  • Free breakfast on an authentic Malaysian coffee shop downstairs
  • Away from the city buzz
  • Very clean accommodation with fast wifi connection
  • H/C shower, clean sheets, has a kitchen with free water and usage of kitchen utensils, dining and living room area, small veranda to hang out 
  • 5 minutes walk from Sunny Supermart, Orange convenience store, and other restaurants surrounding the vicinity
  • No direct public transportation from T1 airport
  • No regular public transportation to the city center
  • 15 – 20 minutes drive to the center city
  • Landing of airplanes could be heard inside the room
  • Grab drivers are not very familiar with the street name ( Just tell the driver to turn right before reaching Chaya Hotel)




Airport Bus

Schedule and route

Travel time: 30 – 45 minutes depending on the traffic

Cost: RM 5.00 / person


Cost: Less than RM 10 without traffic ( traffic jam 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm in the center city)

Tip: If you want to inquire about routes and destinations using public transportation in Kota Kinabalu, send a private message to KK City Bus , they will gladly reply with VERY specific information about the best routes and bus numbers.

Airport Bus transfers click

Route of the City Bus click

Tour transportation


Location: Lot G4, Ground Floor, Wisma Sabah, Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia




  • Most locals suggested this company for motorcycle rental
  • Online reservation without downpayment
  • The staffs will suggest the suitable motorcycle according to your destination. They suggested that we rent the cheaper one (semi-automatic) since we were not going to explore the mountain area of the city
  • Recommended a seafood popular to locals which were awesome
  • Customers will be given their contact number in case of any emergencies


Gaya Street Sunday Market

Location: Jalan Gaya, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia



Opens only on Sunday from early morning until 2:00pm. The whole street is full of local products from plants, food to souvenir items. It is also surrounded by restaurants and local stores.

Tanjung Aru

Location: Jalan Mat. Salleh, Tanjung Aru, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Pandana Park, Tanjung Aru

Tanjung Aru is known for its sunset and the nearest beach from the center city. It is surrounded by restaurants, parks, hotels and stores. The place was you want to be when you want to enjoy peace and relaxation away from the city.

On your way to Tanjung Aru Beach, you will see Pandana Park on your right.

We were not able to catch any sunset the whole time we were in Kota Kinabalu because it usually rains later in the afternoon.

Masjid Bandaraya ( Kota Kinabalu City Mosque  / The floating Mosque)

Location: sulaman, Jalan Teluk Likas, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia



30 to 45 minutes drive from the center city of Kota Kinabalu, lies the famous floating mosque. The water surrounding the mosque is man made. For you to be able to enter inside the mosque, you need proper clothing and remember these things:

  • Women: Clothes that must be loose and covers the whole body except the face and palm
  • Men: Clothing that covers the skin from naval until ankle
  • No eating, drinking, noise or camera flash inside the mosque.
  • Leave footwear before going inside any mosque.

Tip: Beside the gate of the mosque, there is a store that offers rental of ” Jubah” ( a long loose clothing) for Rm 5 / garment

If ever you will get stuck because of the rain, there are a lot of food stalls beside it. Most store closes at 5:00pm

Masjid Negeri Sabah (Sabah State Mosque)

Address: Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia



Situated in the city, we decided to see it even if we were soaking wet because of the rain. We were met by Mr. Aljain who was sitting outside the mosque. At that time, it was closing time for visitors because it past 5:00 pm so we were not allowed to go inside but Mr. Aljain offered himself to show us around. We wore the “Jubah” with no charge.

The mosque was amazing. It was very quiet inside, peaceful rather. People were sitting on the floor or standing at the corner praying. We were walking around barefooted and we did not feel any dust nor dirt on the floor. The prayer hall for men was carpeted with a huge chandelier in the middle. The ceilings were decorated with detailed tiles and writings.

We thought we needed to pay Mr. Aljain for his time of touring us but he declined the money and told us he was very happy to share and show us the mosque.

“When you go back to the Philippines, tell your family and friends that Muslim is not ISIS. Muslim is not bad, we are good people. “

Filipino Market

Location:  Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia



This market is just next to the night market and opens from 8:00 am – 7:30 pm.  Some stores are still open until 9:00pm

We’ve met a lot of Filipinos there who gave us a great discount, some of them even told us not to buy in the store they were working for because most items were expensive. Perks of being a Filipino.

Tip: Across the street of the Filipino Market, you will also find a lot of stalls with clothes that were set up at the back of a building but most of them were expensive. It is still better to buy souvenir items at Filipino Market

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

Address: Sabah, Malaysia


Consist of the following Islands

  • Gaya
  • Mamuntik
  • Manukan
  • Sapi
  • Sulug

Things you need to bring to avoid renting / buying anything on the Island: Note: Everything is expensive in the island

  1. Bottled water
  2. Packed lunch / food
  3. Snorkeling gear
  4. Beach Mat

 Jesselton Point


Complete information needed for the trip and the cost click


  • Purchased a ticket ( we opted for Counter 6. Sunny Rainbow).


RM 23 / ticket

RM 7.63 / terminal fee

RM 10 / snorkeling mask

Travel time: 15- 25 minutes depending on what island

Tip: The speedboat ride is not for the faint-hearted. Going back to the mainland after the island hopping was excruciating because the rain was hitting our faces and it felt like someone was throwing stones on us and the waves were wild , I thought we were going to drown.

  • Paid the conservation fee of RM 10 / person at the first Island we went to ( you only need to pay once for this, just show your ticket every time you arrive on an Island port)

Rates of activities in different islands

Mamuntik Island

If you want to be away from the crowd, upon docking turn left and walk passing the rocks, there you will find a secret spot.


The island was crowded with tourists who likes throwing their garbage anywhere. Saw some staffs working on the island cleaning the garbage and setting up chairs and tables by the beach.

The beach had a lot of great snorkeling spot though I swear I saw a SANITARY NAPKIN floating underwater.

We were greeted by a Filipino guy working there when he heard us speaking Tagalog and offered us secretly a Malaysian rate for the Parasailing experience for RM 65 / person ( most Filipino staffs will offer it to you away from the ears of other foreigners) ~~ Perks of being a Filipino part 2 ~~

Tips: – Find the secret beach – The left side of the island is less crowded

Manukan Island



I like this island better because it was not as crowded as Mamutik island and way cleaner. There are also a few restaurants that offer cheaper food and drinks. There is more space  for beach bumming and it is much quieter around the island.


Late lunch: RM 16 ( rice with beef in gravy + coke)


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5- 6 people will be sharing the speedboat with you. Everything will be happening too fast so prepare to follow the boatman’s instruction while the boat is moving.

Tips: – Protect camera / phone with a waterproof container. – Let someone take a picture / video for you. 

Sapi Island



The best snorkeling spot on this island is on the right side ( upon docking turn left). It was crowded yet the beach area was wide. There were a lot of corals and fishes as well. Most tourists were sunbathing and some were camping.

Monitor lizard walking freely on the island
Another Island, another friend gained 🙂 Meet Nad

Special thanks to:

Josip Tumapa ~ for the lovely swimwear


Instagram: josiptumapa

Other places to visit

We were not able to visit some of these places due to bad weather condition and it’s location.

Legend: Red: far from the city

  • Mount Kinabalu : Mount Kinabalu, Kota Belud, Sabah, Malaysia
  • Upside down house: Mile 21, 89250 Tamparuli, Sabah, Malaysia
  • The green connection : 2, Jalan Tuaran, Likas, 88450 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
  • Atkinson’s clock tower: 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
  • Sabah Museum and Heritage Village:  Jalan Muzium, 88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
  • Poring:  89300 Ranau, Sabah, Malaysia
  • Shangrila’s Tanjung Aru: Jalan Aru, Tanjung Aru, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
  • Mari Mari Cultural Village: Inanam, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
  • Lok Kawi Wildlife Park: 89500 Putatan, Sabah, Malaysia

Tip: Most of these places has an entrance fee. The free ones are Atkinson’s clock tower and Shangrila’s Tanjung Aru ( entrance fee applies after 4:00pm)


Fong Ip Cafe

Address:  Lot 100, Jalan Gaya, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia


After exploring the Sunday Market, we saw this restaurant and decided to eat here. We met Mr. Fong, the owner of the place and he recommended us dishes to order. He took effort and time to meet most of his customer, he even taught us how to eat each dishes. After the meal, he gave us a spoonful of Tarap, a fruit popular in Kota Kinabalu.

The dishes he introduced were all delicious. The place was packed with tourists. Food came after 15 minutes.

Total cost of whole meal: RM  26.80

Kedai Kopi Hin Loi

Address: 9, Jalan Serih, Pekan Tanjung Aru, 88858 Tanjung Aru, Sabah, Malaysia


I just love this cafe house. Most of their food were less than Rm 7. for a bowl of noodles good for 2 – 3 people. Noodles, kaya toast bread, teas and coffees, dumplings and homemade steamed bun and cakes were superb. Local people often eat here for lunch or snack so expects not to see any tourist.  And for the win, a Filipina employee gave us sweets for free before going home. I just love everybody working there.

Tanjung Aru First Beach

Address: Tanjung Aru, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia


The place was surrounded by different stores that were selling seafood, Halal and different fruit juices and smoothies.

Most of the fishes there were not fresh anymore so I don’t recommend eating seafood here.

Tip: If you want to catch the sunset in this cafe, order a coconut drink on a cafe that is near the shoreline, they won’t let you sit there unless you order something.

Total cost:

ABC with ice cream: RM 8

3 layer fruit smoothie ( avocado, dragon fruit, mango): RM 5

Table No. 1

Location: Jalan Mat. Salleh, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

The place looks nice and cozy. A few meters before reaching Tanjung Aru First Beach Cafe, this is a nice place away from the crowd. We were greeted by the owner who seemed very friendly and accommodating. Unfortunately, we were not able to hang out in this place longer because they were closing early that day.

The prices were a little bit higher but the place was quieter and very clean. Its location is along the highway of Tanjung Aru.

Night Market

Location:  Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia


The night market is just next to the Filipino market. Most of the food here were grilled. You will get your feet dirty especially if it’s raining. The whole place was filled with thick smoke because most food stalls were grilled meat. I do not recommend this place though because I saw the fishes and it looked like it wasn’t fish anymore but the chicken and pork barbecue looked very tempting.

So I called my mom all the way from the Philippines to ask her how to identify if the fish is fresh, she told me to check the eyes and the gills. The eyes should be clear and not cloudy and gills should be pinkish or red. Mother knows best. I LOVE MY MOM 🙂

For those who doesn’t know how to choose a fresh fish just like me click here

Gayang Seafood Restaurant

Address: Jalan Sulaiman, Kampung Baharu, 89200 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia


40 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu. You can order food by kilo or grams in this restaurant. The seafood is fresh and alive so all you need to do is point what you want to eat. Everything was delicious and the restaurant was popular with the locals.

Tip: If you find the fishes in aquarium expensive, ask them to give you another choice of fish. 

Total cost of whole meal: RM 102

Welcome Seafood

Address:  lot 15, Beverly Hills Industry, Jalan Bundusan, 88300 Penampang, Sabah, Malaysia


This part is especially for my boyfriend because he fell in love with the steamed garlic fish called LUTUN.

The place is huge so you can choose which store you would like to try. Popular with tourists so expect a crowd during evening time. The food was delicious ( ordering of seafood is by grams and kilos as well), the squid was too salty for us. The crowd was crazy, noisy and as usual, throws their garbage anywhere but luckily we didn’t see any roaches, flies nor rats. You need to watch your things for pickpockets that are lurking around the corner.

Tip: You can also order 1/2 kilo of seafood if a kilo is too much for you

Total cost of our meal: RM 110

Yusuf Curry House

Location: All over the center city


As popular as Chinese restaurants, Indian cuisine is popular too in Kota Kinabalu. We were looking around the center city and found most of the local food stores were owned by Indians. The place looks like a canteen setting where you can see dishes already cooked and displayed on the counter. Places like these are popular with locals. The place was clean, cheap and  with a strong wifi signal.

Tip: Choose a place that has a lot of locals. More or less, they are clean. They are mostly open until late in the evening.

 Total cost of our meal: RM 25

Little Italy

Location: Jalan Haji Saman, 88813 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

A nice place with authentic and delicious Italian food. This was our last night in Kota Kinabalu and we celebrated it with here. The place was very clean and staffs were very attentive. The food was very delicious. Would love to recommend this to anyone who had too much Malaysian / Chinese cuisine in their palate for this whole trip.

Total cost of meal: RM 97

Other restaurants we recommend, because it is IMPORTANT to EAT LIKE A LOCAL

  1. Suang Tain Seafood RestaurantNo. 9-12, Sedco Square, Kampung Air, 88300, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
  2. Ang Kim Lam Coffee Shop: Jalan Haji Yaacob, Kampung Air, Kota Kinabalu
  3.  Sri Latha Curry House: No. 28, Jalan Berjaya, Bandat Berjaya, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
  4. Seng Hing Coffee Shop:  Block G, Lot 10, Sinsuran 2, Sinsuran Complex, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
  5. Kedai Kopi Kim Hing Lee: Lot 9, Lorong Sinsuran 3, Sinsuran, 88800 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
  6. Yee Fung Laksa: 127, Jalan Gaya, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
  7. Kedai Kopi Yuit Cheong: No. 50, 3rd Floor, Jalan Pantai, Sabah, 88000 Kota Kinabalu

…. and your welcome 🙂

To Aiport

KK City to Airport click

Grab or Taxi is the most convenient way to get to the airport.

  • Security check 1
  • Check in flight
  • Security check 2
  • Immigration
  • Waiting for boarding
  • Security check 3 before boarding the plane

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