Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Travel Blog By Jen
March 01, 2011

Skycab Travel goes to KK!  Kota Kinabalu is just an hour and a half plane ride from Manila, making it a perfect destination for a mini-break.  KK, short for Kota Kinabalu, is the capital state of Sabah.  This city, relatively small in size, offers opportunities for laid-back vacations (sun, sand and sea!), adventure holidays (diving, trekking, white water rafting!) and urban delights (shopping, night life!). 

Some of us chose to do the White Water Rafting in Kiulu River.  Described as a beginner's river with waves at Grades II-III, this was just perfect for us newbies. From KK city center, the 1.5 hour land trip to Kiulu took us past countryside and zig-zagging roads.   

Upon arrival at the base, there was a short briefing about protocol and safety procedure.  First thing to note:  Make sure your pants are tight.  No one wants to see you without your underpants when you get pulled out of the water. (Very important note, indeed!).

All ready to go!

Traversing the river took about 2 hours of paddling and short breaks to rest our arms or take a cool dip.  It was scary at first, this being our first time to do rafting.  But as we successfully hurdled the bumps (and there were quite a lot), we just relaxed and had fun!  I think our chief rafter intentionally made our raft bump into rocks to make the ride more exciting :) 

If you want a more challenging course, head out to Padas River with Grade III-IV waves.  We will have to try that out next time!

Another attraction is Kinabalu Park, 3 hours from the city centre.  This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  This rain forest showcases a variety of flora and fauna.  There is also a series of canopy walks up 30-meters in the treetops.

On one of the canopy walks in Kinabalu Park

For an additional fee, you can see Poring Hot Springs -- a natural hot spring whose hot sulphuric minerals are deemed to have healing properties. 

Kipungit Falls by Poring Hot Springs

This park is also home to the Rafflesia.  Rafflesia is the world's largest, the heaviest, the rarest and the one of the most stinkiest flowers in the world. It grows to 1 metre wide and weighs about 10 kg. When we were there, there was only one flower in bloom.

Rafflesia Flower

Our hotel of choice was in 1Borneo, which is about 20 minutes from KK city center.  It was a good thing that the adjacent mall (1Borneo Hypermall) offered complimentary scheduled shuttle transfers from 1Borneo to the city.  Otherwise, be prepared to shell out MYR20-25 per cab, one-way. 

In KK city center, there are a lot of malls, restaurants and sidewalk stores that sell dried seafood, clothing, pearls, and souvenir items.  Aside from a few landmarks, there is nothing much to see here.  I would suggest taking a boat trip from Jesselton Point to Manukan Island or Sapi Island to sunbathe, snorkel and lounge by the beach (one that I would plan to do next time).  And one other thing to do in KK:  shop!

The Marlin Statue near the market

The Atkinson Clock Tower - in memory of the 1st District Officer of Jessleton,
Francis George Atkinson.  This originally served as a beacon for shipping.

The Waterfront Boardwalk

Drive by the State Mosque

* Photos are Skycab's own.