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Kota Kinabalu holidays have everything you need for a relaxed, cultural break. Kota Kinabalu is a coastal city in Sabah, located in the north of Borneo. With just a short distance from both the rainforest and pristine beaches, you can choose to trek through thick jungle or relax on chalk soft sands.

Explore the hustle and bustle of Kota Kinabalu’s markets before retreating to the magnificent Kinabalu National Park, which is home to the 4,095 metre high Mount Kinabalu. Wander the city and discover some of its greatest landmarks, including temples and palaces. Indulge in a spot of shopping at one of the modern shopping malls or pick up some souvenirs at the Gaya Street Sunday Market. For a fantastic day trip, why not take a boat to Gaya Island for a day of sunbathing on white sand beaches? Whether you’re travelling with your family or looking for adventure you should find a secluded spot where you can observe shoals of tropical fish and coral reefs while snorkelling.

Tailor your Kota Kinabalu holiday to you

If you’re feeling adventurous then we recommend you embark on a climb up Mount Kinabalu. The mountain is the highest in Malaysia and, if you’re an experienced climber, you should be able to reach the summit in two days. Alternatively, you can marvel at the mountain from below and take a tour of Kinabalu Park. This UNESCO World Heritage site boasts a mixture of spectacular landscapes and habitats for unique animals, including orangutans.

Immerse yourself in Kota Kinabalu’s outstanding natural beauty with a trip to the beautiful islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. You can enjoy basking in the warm sun as you hop from island to island. Unwind in the simplicity of Sulug Island before heading to Gaya Island for some jungle trekking. Explore the island of Manukan, where you can jump into the ocean’s rolling waves or try your hand at some watersports. If you’re seeking out some nature then why not discover the diverse flora and fauna of Kota Kinabalu’s wetlands? There are 60 acres of mangrove swamp that you can explore via boardwalks that take you through the heart of the forest. Or, to experience mangroves from a unique vantage point, you can take a river cruise through the Klias Wetlands. Look out for proboscis monkeys, exotic birds and even crocodiles.

If you enjoyed the verdant jungles of Kota Kunabalu, book a multicentre holiday and visit the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia for rolling green tea plantations. Continue your journey around Malaysia and discover Penang’s rich history before heading to Langkawi for impressive beaches and remarkable sunsets. Finish your trip in the dazzling capital city of Kuala Lumpur.


Destination Highlights

  • Experience dramatic views as you climb Mount Kinabalu
  • Discover the local lifestyle and culture at Mari Mari Cultural Village
  • Embark on a scenic mangrove river cruise and look out for native wildlife, including orangutans
  • Embrace the thrills of white water rafting, set against a brilliant Borneo jungle backdrop

Our favorite hotels

Browse our favourite places to stay in Kota Kinabalu - we are here to help you find the perfect hotel. From downtown hotels just moments from the best attractions to island retreats complete with spas we can help you find your dream accommodation to rest your head in Kota Kinabalu.ore than happy to help.

Dining on the Beach

Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort and Spa

Shangri La’s Rasa Ria Resort is an oasis of luxury and tranquillity nestled on the pristine white sands of Borneo’s...
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Guide Price £1,699
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Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa
Kota Kinabalu

Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa

The Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa allows you to experience the best of Malaysia with 25 acres of lush...
H&J Rating
Guide Price £1,299
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Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu

The multi award-winning Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu is ideally located in downtown Kota Kinabalu within walking distance to local attractions....
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Guide Price £1,199
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a small house in a garden
Kota Kinabalu

Gaya Island Resort

Just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, Gaya Island Resort is located on the beautiful island of Pulau Gaya and...
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Guide Price £1,999
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Explore Kota Kinabalu

Time Zone


Flight Time

Approximately 15 hours with a stop in Kuala Lumpur


Malaysian Ringgit (RM)

Visa Information

Most visitors receive a visa on arrival for 30 or 60 days


English, various Chinese dialects, and Bahasa Malaysia (Malay) are all widely spoken

Mari Mari Cultural Village

Discover Borneo’s tribal culture on this fascinating tour through the jungle, stopping at dwellings along the way. Explore the traditional homes of the Bajau, Lundayeh, Murut, Rungus, and Dusun tribes and have a go at fire-starting, bamboo cooking, rice wine making, and blowpipe shooting. Then watch a dance performance and taste some tribal delicacies.


Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is a great diving location for beginners and experts alike. Don’t forget your underwater camera to snap reminders of your encounters with rare marine life like blue-spotted rays, scorpion fish, bright blue starfish, sea fans, cuttlefish, and mantis shrimps. There are plenty of dive centres based in Kota Kinabalu.

Climb Mount Kinabalu

Malaysia's tallest mountain at 4,095 metres, Mount Kinabalu and Kinabalu park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can climb the mountain in a couple of days and there are two different trails available to reach the summit.

Valerie, Destination Specialist

“Get your adrenaline pumping and challenge the white water rapids. Hold on tight as you ride past stunning natural scenery. Whether you’re an expert or a novice, you’ll be thrilled by this experience”.

Destination Specialist
a woman in a red shirt

“Want to see Kota Kinabalu’s varied wildlife and immerse yourself in a whole different world? Jump on board the mangrove river tour where you’ll see a whole host of striking plants and animals”.

Destination Executive

Events & Festivals

Festivals and events are wonderful to include during your Kota Kinabalu holiday, offering a glimpse into the country’s authentic culture and traditions.

Pesta Kaamatan

Pesta Kaamatan is a type of harvest festival which is celebrated annually in the Sabah region of Borneo. Be sure to try the traditional tapai (fermented rice drink) and check out the events, from singing contests to folk sports.

Local Cuisine

Get a flavour of the local culture through your palate during your Kota Kinabalu holiday. Here are a few of our favourite foodie dishes.

Beef noodles

Beef noodles are a classic and traditional dish found in Kota Kinabalu, and is comprised of noodles, beef and vegetables. The ingredients sit in an umami broth which is succulently flavoured with herbs and spices.


As Borneo is the third largest island in the world, Kota Kinabalu is abundant with fresh seafood. Devour langoustine delicacies at fine dining restaurants, or tuck into fragrant fish curries hot off a street vendor’s stall.

Tuaran Mee

Tuaran Mee is a traditional egg noodle based dish that originates from Sabah, Borneo. The dish comes with an egg, pork egg roll, egg noodles and vegetables, with a fragrant and savoury flavour.

Sang Nyuh Mian

A pork noodle dish originating from Sabah, Sang Nyuh Mian is a favourite among locals throughout Kota Kinabalu. Although is translates to Raw Pork Noodle, it actually means the meat is as fresh as possible.

Sago worms

Sago worms is a local, traditional delicacy that is not for the faint of heart. Said to be very nutritious, you can eat the worms either alive or cooked. You can even have them as a pizza topping.

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