Monday, January 4, 2016

Places to Visit for One Day Trip in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Kota Kinabalu has become an international hub, where people around the world make it a transit in their way in and out of Malaysia. Approximately 8 km from the city airport, Kota Kinabalu is just steps away from the terminal building. Well, if you have made Kota Kinabalu your transit in your upcoming tour, you might wish to take a one-day stop there. We visit Kota Kinabalu at least once a year, and this is our must visit list in Kota Kinabalu to fill your one-day itinerary. 

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park
25 km away from city center, it is one of the most well-managed wildlife park in Malaysia, with a list of Borneo pygmy elephants, orang utans, sun bears, gibbons, Proboscis, hornbills, and many more. It is the best place to see these indigenous animals without travel days into the jungle or cruising down the river. The park opens daily 9:30 am – 5:30 pm. For Mykad owner, the entrance fee is just RM10 for adult and RM5 for kid. The entrance fee doubles for the visitors without Mykad. A round trip should take not more than 2 hours. The animal shows are at 11 am and 3:15 pm.

Although bus services are available from Menggatal and Likas, taking a taxi is the best way to reach the park. Getting there by a rented car is a good idea as well. The taxi fare should be around RM60 – RM100 (two ways), while a rental car is available in airport with around RM130 per day. The journey will take 20 – 30 minutes with car.  More information about the park is available at our Lok Kawi Wildlife Park post.

Entrance of the wildlife park.

Animals are well-kept. We have been to the park for several times. The animals were active most of the time.

Sabah Museum
Although it is not as spectacular as Sarawak Museum, but it is still a well-organized museum. With it recent facelift, the full air-conditioned exhibition halls promise comfortable environment to the visitors. The main attraction of the museum is the skeleton of 22m-long Bryde’s whale. We found the Nature Gallery, the Sabah Cultural Gallery, and the Archaeology Gallery were indeed very interesting. The photo gallery is quite informative as well. Anyway, it is just a small museum, so we could see everything in less than 2 hours. The entrance fee for Mykad owner is RM2 while RM15 is required for those without Mykad.

Well, the museum can be easily accessed by taxi (fare around RM10 per trip) or by bus. We would recommend to visit the museum before or after visiting Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, as both are located on the same direction from the city. More information about the museum is available at its official website.

Next on our list, Simply Chocolate factory.

The outlook of the museum. Photography is prohibited inside of the museum.

Simply Chocolate Factory, Jalan Muntahan
It is small, simple, and it is a place that you may wish to visit to grab some local souvenir for your friends and family. The small factory is located at Lorong Muntahan (by Jalan Penampang), in between Sabah Museum and Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. 

By the way, we can get Simply Chocolate in other bigger and more appealing outlets, so why this one? Well, in this particular factory, we can get the same quality chocolate with much cheaper price. So, why not. Not convincing? Just walk around the souvenir shops around the airport, museum, and down the city and compare the prices.

The chocolate factory is facing inside and it is not easy to be seen from the Muntahan main road (upper left). Some of the chocolates packaged for sell (upper and lower right), and samples for us to taste before we decide what to buy.

Tanjung Aru
It is indeed one of the most famous beach in the world. The beach is quiet in the daytime, and turns happening at night. The best part of it- watching the sun sinking below the horizon accompanies with the disappearance of the islands in the soft blowing breeze. The sea is always calm and the water is always clear, but the beach is not always as clean as it shown in luring photos, and beware, your luck plays important role to witness the stunning sunset, so do pray hard for it.

For us, watching the sunset is always the main agenda. The food and drinks (hawker center and the pub) are not in favour of our taste, except for the coconut water in the hawker center. Although the sunset is free, but not for some parking lots. If you are driving and reluctant to pay, then you may need to park your car further down the road, some 400 – 500 m away from the hawker center (nearer to the Shangri-La Hotel) to avoid blocking the traffic.

Tanjung Aru Beach is quiet during the day time.

The observation post of Shangri-La Hotel at the beach.

Sunset at Tanjung Aru.

Seafood Dinner
We would recommend two new places for seafood dinner. The Catch Seafood Restaurant and Grill. With a price of RM45 for adult and RM22 for kid, the restaurant provides seafood buffet with various choices including fish, clams and shells, prawn, and crab. The cooks are ready to prepare the seafood for us according to our choice. In addition to that, free flow of grilled mutton, beef, noodle, spaghetti and many other dishes are available as well. It is located nearby Merdeka Supermarket by Jalan Penampang. The signage of the restaurant can be clearly seen from Jalan Penampang. With very good service and clean environment, it is a great place for a sumptuous seafood dinner. More information about the restaurant can be found in its official website.

Wish to get some seafood inside the city? Then Welcome Seafood Restaurant can be a good choice. Located at the ground floor of Asia City commercial building, the Chinese restaurant can be reached by foot within city area. The restaurant offers nice seafood with fair price. Full air conditioned section is prepared for us to escape the hot and humid weather. Nothing is perfect. The service of the staff is not up to the standard. However, for us, we don’t really mind to be annoyed a little bit to get good and cheap seafood.

The Catch Restaurant and Grill at night.

The restaurant is clean (upper left). The cooking service is provided free of charge. So what we need to do is choosing our favourite seafood and the way to cook it (upper and lower right). RM45 is a bit expensive, but can you imagine that we can eat seafood with different ways of cooking to your heart content?

Last Minute Shopping
It is huge, it is new, it is Imago Shopping Mall. Indisputable, Imago provides the best shopping environment, but it is a bit far away at the corner of the city. If you are hunting for original Tenom Coffee, souvenirs like shirt, hat, and key chain, local delicacies or indulge yourself with a sip of Starbuck coffee, then Centre Point is still the best in our list. What, that old shopping mall? Yes, if you wish to get something fast, convenient, and with fair price, it is still a good place to go. By the way, the shopping mall is just a few minutes away from Welcome Seafood Restaurant. Seashore with stunning view is just few steps away as well. A few other shopping malls like Asia City, Oceanus, and Warisan Square are close to Centre Point as well. 

Centre Point at night.

The Gaya Market is held on every Sunday, starting as early as 5:30 am till noon. It is a great place for us to get exposed to various local products. However, we need to make sure that our stopover includes Sunday morning. Kota Kinabalu shopping guide is available here.

Market at Gaya Street with various local products.

Places to Stay and More
Where to stay in Kota Kinabalu? Our advice is, stay as close as possible to the city area, and stay as cheap as possible. There are many good budget hotels scattering around the city, and we have highlighted several of them for you here. Please check the most recent comments about the hotels in Tripadvisor.
There are many other attractions around Kota Kinabalu. If you have one more day to stay, we would recommend Tungku Abdul Rahman Marine Park to you, and if you plan to stay a bit longer, you might wish to visit Kinabalu National Park, or go rafting at Tamparuli

More about our experiences in Sabah: