Although the city of Kota Kinabalu and the surrounding region has been growing in popularity with native and foreign tourists for many years, it remains far enough off the beaten track to escape the notice of many travelers planning a trip to Malaysia. Don’t allow yourself to be counted among their number.
Situated on the northwest coast of Borneo, the city faces the South China Sea and is bordered by Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park on one side and Kinabalu National Park and Mount Kinabalu on the others. It is justly popular for the diversity of exotic geography that is easily accessible nearby. Whether it’s altitude you’re after (Mount Kinabalu is the highest point in the Malay Archipelago), lush rainforests or tropical islands, this city is an excellent destination. All of the above are located well within striking distance.
For rafting enthusiasts, the Padas River features class II-III rapids with courses that are suitable for all levels of ability and adventurousness. With runs bearing names like Headhunter, Adrenaline Flow and Merry-Go-Round, the Sungai Padas is easily the most popular rafting destination in the country. Other popular aquatic activities offered in the area include scuba diving, snorkeling and deep sea fishing (licensed dive operators and affordable fishing charters abound).
For a proper view of the city center during a tour of Kota Kinabalu, visitors can take a short hike uphill from the Atkinson Clock Tower (itself worth a visit) to the Signal Hill Observatory. Eco tourists should look into the many nature tours and cultural exhibitions that are available at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park and Monsopiad Cultural Village, both of which are located within an hour of the city.