Kota Kinabalu area (Malaysia)
12 reviews from the community
Review of "Kota Kinabalu area (Malaysia)"
In October this year, I took my 1st holiday abroad. My girlfriend and I decided to go to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia as we both enjoy wildlife and it is somewhere she has never been. We stayed in Kota Kinabalu which is often affectionately called KK for 3 weeks and had a wonderful time.Flying to KK
We flew from London Heathrow via Kuala Lumpar. The flight to Kuala Lumpar took 13 hours (which was quite harsh as it was my 1st ever flight) From there we flew to another place (which I can not remember the name off) which took about 2 hours, and then a further 2 hours to Kota Kinabalu. The only downfall to the holiday were the long flights but its necessary if you want to visit these beautiful places.
Staying in KK
We stayed in a five star resort while we were in KK which was very reasonably priced. We paid £900 per person and that included all our flights (we also had 8 internal flights as we went on various trips) and our accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
There are hundreds of places to choose between when looking to stay in KK, these range from 5 star resorts, down to small beach huts and hostels which are great for backpackers as it keeps the cost of accommodation down.The 3-5 star hotels usually have pools and other facilities such as a spa and nice restaurants although the cost of food and drinks inside the hotels are about twice the price than if you were to get them locally, outside the resort.
I mentioned hostels earlier, we stayed at a hostel for 2 nights while we were doing the Turtle Island Trip and we found that the hostels were better than expected. My girlfriend was slightly worried as we had to share toilets and showers and she likes things to be clean and even she was impressed with the toilets etc. The toilets are only shared between about 4 rooms so you don't have to fight to get to the loo or grab a shower. Many of the hostels are very basic, with a bed and a ceiling fan (no air con though!) We paid the about £3.50 for each night we stayed at the hostel and this also included breakfast so prices are more than reasonable. Breakfast was nothing to shout about though, just basic fruit, cereal and bacon etc. My girlfriend is vegetarian and she found she did not have much choice for breakfast but still wasn't bad considering it was included in the price of the room.Our hotel, which was in The Sutera Harbour Resort was about a 7-minute drive from the centre of town so I felt this was an excellent location. I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone wishing to visit KK. It was located in a 5 star resort and consisted of 2 hotels, a spa and a large golf course. The staff were outstanding and offered possibly the best service I have come across.
In Malaysia, their currency is the Ringgit. While we were out there, the exchange rate was £1 for RM 7.00
Getting Around KK
Getting around KK was very easy and cheap. The main method of transport is taxi. Our hotel was about 7 minutes away from KK city centre and a taxi into town cost us
RM 10.00 which is about £1.50 so it was very reasonably priced.
There is also a local bus service which we were informed by other people was very easy to use. However, we never actually used to local bus service as we thought it would be easier getting taxis and then we didn't have to plan our days around the times of the buses.Eating Out
There are many restaurants in KK offering a wide range of food.
In KK you will find a massive range of cuisine and there are restaurants located everywhere so you don't have to walk for miles to find somewhere to eat. You can have Malaysian food, English food, Chinese, Indian and there are the normal fast food shops such as McDonalds and KFC dotted around the town.
One place we particularly liked, was called Olives and was situated on the top floor of the Centrepoint shopping centre. They served a range of food from typical Malaysian dishes as well as English food. We went here for lunch on a few occasions and we got a milkshake each and also a toasted sandwich which cost £1.50 for the whole lunch so they were amazingly well priced. The staff were also very friendly.We also found a little Restaurant called Jothy's which was an Indian Restaurant. A three-course meal cost us £7 each and this included drinks. The food was scrumptious also. Although the restaurant is very small and doesn't look up to much from the outside, I really would recommend this restaurant to other people. Jothy's is situated about a 5-minute walk from the Centrepoint shopping centre so is very easy to find.
Another restaurant, which I would recommend, is Atlantis. This is situated on the seafront and you can have your meal outside and get views of the sea and watch the boats, which was a nice change. The food was delicious, probably my next favourite restaurant after Jothy's. I had Lamb Shank and it was by far the tastiest lamb I have ever had. The restaurant is very modern and is very nicely decorated in blue. The food was slightly more expensive in here though, I assume because it is quite a posh restaurant (for out there anyway) A 2-course meal and drinks still only cost £15 each which is still less than what you would pay here.As well as all the restaurants there are all the hawker stalls in town selling a wide range of food. A few people were reluctant to eat from these stalls as to be honest they didn't look very hygienic but as long as the food is hot, I can't see you having any problems or being poisoned.
Overall there is a great variety of choice of food in KK. I loved the fact the you could literally have something totally different every night and it was nice to be able to try some local dishes as well as my usual favourite like Chinese. You will certainly not go hungry in KK.Things to do in KK
Although KK is quite small, you will still find loads to do. There are many shopping centres; the main one being Centrepoint which is a large shopping mall spread over 4 floors. There is a cinema and a bowling alley inside the shopping centre.There is a stretch of restaurants and bars along from the market. There are a few restaurants and also a few pubs / bars. There was an Irish bar here which had a pool table and played English music. The only problem with drinking in Malaysia is that the prices are not that different to here.
Many of the large hotels have a pub / club in the resort which can be useful if you only want to stay in one place. The clubs have themed nights throughout the week. For example, the club called Jugs that was attached to our hotel has ladies night on a Thursday which meant all women got free drinks all night!! (I had to pay for mine though L !!They also had special offers and happy hours which were good to take advantage of.Many of the bars and clubs in town had local bands playing throughout the week. We watched a couple of them and it was good entertainment. The Reef Dance bar and Grill was another place that I would recommend to people wishing to visit KK, this is situated on Beach Street.
There is the Philapino market situated on the seafront at the far end. Although all the stalls are very small and its sometimes difficult to get around (as its so cramped). This market opens around 10am and closes around 8pm although some stalls are open till later at around 10pm. The stalls sell handmade goods as very reasonable prices. I bought some necklaces back as presents for friends and the more you buy the cheaper they will sell them to you. You can barter with the locals as often they will tell you a price that is too expensive and you eventually agree on a price somewhere in the middle. I enjoyed this market as local people run all the stalls and it was fascinating to see some of the crafts they had made by hand.Also on the seafront is the fresh food market. This was also fascinating to walk around. The stalls sell fresh fruit and veg and also fresh meats and fish. This market is open all day, up until about 9pm. You will find hundreds of different types of fish and crabs. We didn't actually buy anything from this market as I think it's more of a market for local people who have cooking facilities at home which we didn't have at out hotel. They also sold meats such as chicken and beef. I must admit that some of the stalls were not very hygienic, for example, there were stalls with chicken meat laid out on them and this meat would stay there in the boiling hot sun until somebody bought it which I didn't think would be too healthy. At the far end of this market, they have stalls that cook food fresh there and then. We ate dinner here one night and had a Malaysian curry with some rice. This was very cheap - £2 for both meals. There are a few benches where you can sit and eat your food although this did get quite cramped as many of the locals come here to eat! The stalls offer a variety of foods such as curries with rice, whole cooked fish and chicken meat on skewer to name a few.
If you are interested in the history of Malaysia there is the Sabah State Museum but we didn't visit it so I can't really give you any details!
Attractions near to KKOne of the main attractions of KK is Mount Kinabalu which is situated in Kinabalu Park. Kinabalu Park is on the northern end of Borneo. Trips were offered from our hotel and the price was £30 per person and that included the 2 and a half hour coach trip from our hotel and also entrance into Kinabalu Park. In Kinabalu Park, there is Mount Kinabalu which stands at 4, 095 metres making it the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. In the surrounding grounds are many species of flora and fauna. Kinabalu Park is also famous for its 'pouring hot springs' which you are able to bathe in. Unfortunately, we never got round to doing this trip as we ran out of time.
Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre
Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre is again in the North of Sabah. It was founded in 1964 and is used to rehabilitate orphan orang-utans. Sepilok is 43sp km of protected land, near the edge of the Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve. The centre provides medical care for orphaned orang-utans and also other species such as sun bears, Gibbons and the occasional injured Rhino or Elephant.
At the centre we were shown a video about the work that goes on at Sepilok and how an orang-utans is rehabilitated back into the wild. Usually guests are allowed to visit a 'feeding platform' in the middle of the reserve where they get to watch the orang-utans being fed. However, the day before we arrived, a tropical storm had collapsed the feeding platform so we were unable to do take part in that bit of the trip. Instead we were allowed to take a look in the nursery which was a real privilege as this is normally never open to members of the public. We saw 6 orang-utans between the ages of 3-6 years playing in the nursery. The nursery was basically a section of forest where they are ropes and other climbing aids, as well as trees to make the environment feel as natural as possible - this was all in place to encourage the babies to start climbing trees. This was incredible to watch and although you are not allowed really close to them, there was still plenty of opportunity for some great photos.
White Water Rafting in Kiulu
About a two hour coach journey from KK is Kiulu and The Kiulu River. Here, you can take part in white water rafting. We paid £15 each for coach journey, the rafting and hire of all equipment and also a BBQ lunch. White Water Rafting is fantastic. As we had never done it before, we decided to go on a Grade 2 course which is basically the safest one. My only regret is that we didn't do a slightly higher grade. All the instructors were very professional, and gave us some safety tips like what to do if the raft capsizes etc! We had a safety talk before we began rafting and this took about 30minutes in total as the guides took safety very seriously which was reassuring. The white water rafting took about 2 hours down the Kiulu River and there were some amazing views and picture opportunities throughout our journey. There are 6 people to a raft and we went with about 7 rafts in total. Each raft had a guide and all passengers were provided with a life jacket, helmet and paddle. After we had completed the course, we were provided with a BBQ buffet lunch before we headed back to KK. I would recommend this trip to anyone wanting to try White Water rafting, the course had a few drops in the water but if you are a bit of a dare devil then I would advise you to go for a grade higher then 2.
Sudoku Rainforest Lodge
This was the 2nd place we visited on out trip. The Rainforest Lodge is about a 2 hours drive/boat ride from Turtle Island. We stayed here for one night in basic accommodation with our own bathroom with a shower and toilet. The room had a ceiling fan but no air con so the room was slightly stuffy. While on this trip we went on a Rainforest Walk (but unfortunately didn't see anything except the footprints of a wild elephant) and also a River Cruise. While on the river cruise we saw Proboscis Monkeys, Long and Short Tailed Macaks and also a variety of snakes and lizards, including a huge monitor lizard. The river cruise was done as a guided tour and the guide often explained what each animal was. He carried a book with him and was pointing out what animal was what which was useful when we couldn't spot the animals as it gave us some kind of idea what we were looking for. This was another amazing experience which I would recommend to anyone visiting Borneo, people have even seen wild Orang-utans here but unfortunately we did not.
We took part in a three-day trip in which we visited Turtle Island, Sepilok (as above) and also a local village. For Turtle Island, we flew from KK to Sandakan Airport. From here, we drive for about half an hour to catch a boat. The boat journey lasted about 90 and we went past some beautiful scenery and also saw a few local towns as we went past. The Turtle Islands Park, lying about 40 km off Sandakan consists of a group of three beautiful, exotic and unspoilt natural islands. One of the islands, Selingan, has all the basic needs such as accommodation and restaurant and is the main island in the group to see where the Green Turtle comes to lay eggs all year round. We stayed in basic accommodation with shared facilities and everything was clean. We were free at leisure for the first day we arrived and we did some snorkelling from the beach. At 8pm we met with our guide and other people on the tour and had a buffet dinner together, although the food was basic, their wasn't a great choice but was still enough to get a good meal. Then we had to sit either on the beach or in the restaurant and relax until a guide called us to tell us that a Turtle was on the beach. We were restricted to certain areas as we were not allowed on certain parts of the beach incase we disturbed a turtle looking to lay her eggs. The female Green Turtles come to this island every day of the year to lay eggs. The guides then collect the eggs and place them in a hatchery. One the eggs all hatch, they are then released back into the sea in as larger groups as possible to ensure maximum survival. The eggs are taken from their natural nests as if they were left there, it is quite likely that an animal such as the monitor lizard would dig them up and eat them. Turtle Island was an amazing experience for me, as I love all things animally!
While we were sat around waiting, my girlfriend and I decided to go outside and have a cigarette. We were just about to go back inside when my girlfriend saw something running towards my foot which she thought could be a cockroach. Suddenly we both realised it was a baby turtle. I knew we weren't allowed to touch them without a guide present so my I ran to get a guide. When I came back there were hundreds of turtles running across the ground where we had been stood! It was absolutely incredible to watch! The guide arrived and told us to start picking them up and taking them to the sea. He instructed us on how to hold them properly and we walked them down to the sea and released them - what an experience! The guide explained that the turtles must have come from a natural nest that they hadn't put in the hatchery - which is why they had escaped!We were called to view a Turtle at 21.50 that night which was lovely as it has been known for people to have to wait up until 5am to see her lay her eggs which is a pain when you then have to get up at 6am for the next part of the trip. We were told to all be very quiet and follow the guide. We reached the females laying her eggs and were all allowed to rotate and get really close and have a look. Once a turtle begins laying their eggs, they go into a trance and are unaware of their surroundings so we were able to get very close which was breath taking. I was even more amazed than I thought I would be. She was massive and the rate she laid her eggs at was incredible, they were literally dropping out of her and into this nest that she had dug. The guides informed us that it was the first time this Turtle had visited the island as they tag all laying turtles and she had not been tagged. They tagged her in front of us which was a bit horrible to watch as it obviously hurt her. The guide also removed a barnacle from her back and told us that had it been left there, she would have died as a barnacle is like cancer to a Turtle.
We were then taken to the hatchery where another guide met us. He had collected all the eggs that has just been laid and was creating a new nest in the hatchery to place them in. The turtle had laid 151 eggs in total and we watched as they were buried and tagged with the date that they were laid and the number of eggs.After this, the group was taken to another hatchery where turtles had been hatching. My girlfriend and I decided to skip this section as by then it was very late and we had a 6am start the next day. We had already released loads of turtles with the ones we found on the beach so we didn't feel like we were missing out on anything.
Unfortunately, you are only allowed to take photos if you can turn the flash off on your camera and I have no idea how to do this so I wasn't able to take any pictures. You are not allowed to use a flash camera as bright lights will blind a baby turtle. The guides asked you to pay £1 if you wanted to use your camera and the money would go towards their conservation work. However, there were photos provided that you could buy; they were only £2 for 6 photos so we did that instead.I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone, it was a once in a lifetime experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As well as seeing the turtles, there was a variety of wildlife on the island such as monitor lizards, geckos and birds.
Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of GMT. This means that you can often feel slightly jet lagged when you get there but we just made sure that we stayed awake and went to bed at their bedtime and out body clocks soon adjusted.
Thanks for reading.
Product Information : Kota Kinabalu area (Malaysia)
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Listed on Ciao since: 01/01/2001