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Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of the state of Sabah, Malaysia as well as the capital of the Kota Kinabalu District and West Coast Division of Sabah. This city faces the South China Sea on the northwest coast of Borneo.
It was known that since the 15th Century, the area was placed under the influence of the Bruneian Empire. This would continue until later in the 19th century, when the British North Borneo Company (BNBC) began establishing colonies throughout North Borneo, with the first settlement being at Gaya Island. A local Bajau-Suluk chieftain Mat Salleh decided that the creeping influence of BNBC is an infringement to the native rights and would form a movement that leads to the settlement to be destroyed by fire, causing the company relocated twice to a fishing village opposite to the island which was known as Api-api.
Api-api would expand and constructions of shopping lots, pier and government buildings began picking up. The place would eventually get renamed as Jesselton after Sir Charles Jessel and became a major trading port until the Japanese occupation. The devastation that occurred during the Japanese occupation became too big for BNBC to fund the repair costs. Hence the control of Jesselton was ceded to the British Crown Colony and rebuilding processes begun soon after that.
After the formation of Malaysia, Jesselton is then renamed as Kota Kinabalu and made as the capital till today. The renaming for Kota Kinabalu is in honour of the Mount Kinabalu which is 50 kilometres east-northeast of the city. In Malay, “Kota” means a city. Therefore Kota Kinabalu can be translated as “the city of Kinabalu”. After the Malaysia Declaration, the city continues to be a significant trade and commercial centre for East Malaysia as well as a major travel destination. Consequently, the growth of Kota Kinabalu has been ongoing well and it is granted full city status in the year 2000.
There are flights to Kota Kinabalu from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) which are provided by both Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia. Kota Kinabalu International Airport (IATA: BKI) is about 9 kilometres south-west of the city centre. The airport serves as the main gateway to enter the state and East Malaysia region, being the second busiest airport after KLIA.
Upon touchdown, from the airport, guests can go around town using public transportation or ride-sharing services. The standard taxi rate from the airport to the city would take around RM 30, and other destinations in the city besides downtown may charge slightly different. There are Airport Bus services that transfer passengers from the airport to the city, making it much cheaper for single travellers than it used to be in the past, in which the ticket booths are easily visible once you leave the arrival area. The bus fare would cost around RM 5 for adults and RM 3 for children.
If you drive on your own, the airport is well connected to the city via Jalan Pintas, making it easy to go around the place. In addition to that, there is an efficient link of buses and minibuses to most part of the city, as well as bike rentals. It is also possible to go around by foot due to the relatively small size.
Kota Kinabalu is one of the fastest growing cities in East Malaysia, quickly claiming its place as a major resort destination due to its proximity to various tropical islands. Other than that, the city offers many interesting attractions, be it for the breathtaking architecture of the old buildings blending with the modern ones, unique and colourful cultures and richness of heritage, with a lot of the tour packages that start from this city.
Sabah State Museum
This state museum located in Bukit Istana Lama on 17 hectares of land and houses both the museum and the state art gallery, as well as a botanic garden, a zoo and a heritage village. As such, tourists can already enjoy a whole lot of fun just going here. The main highlights here are the various galleries housing natural history, ceramics, ethnography and archaeology exhibit among others.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
It feels incomplete to talk about Kota Kinabalu without mentioning this park. The marine park is a collection of islands with some beautiful wonders of nature, which are natural habitat to a number of species of wildlife and flora – some of them are still left untouched by human development till this day to preserve its nature. Travellers can look forward to doing island-hopping around the Gaya Island, Sapi Island, Mamutik Island, Manukan Island and Suug Island from the Jesselton Point terminal as a starting point.
Kota Kinabalu Wetlands
Formerly known as the Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary, Kota Kinabalu Wetlands covers 24 hectares of mangrove forest which acts as model wetland centre for the purpose of conservation, education, recreation, tourism and research. Managed by the Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society, upon entering, there is a 1.5 kilometres boardwalk that brings the visitors further into the mangrove trees where one can see a unique mangrove ecosystem where land meets the sea, in which the mangrove trees are a natural habitat of monitor lizards, fiddler crabs and more. Strolling on the boardwalk is a must in order to enjoy the fresh air and the peaceful greenery fully. If luck is on one’s side, some interesting birds, plants and wildlife can be spotted too. So far, almost 80 birds species have been identified at the sanctuary in the present. This place is the perfect spot to spend time with family and friends.
As a melting pot of cultures where Chinese meet Malays and Bruneis, Javanese, Filipinos and even a couple of Europeans’ cultures and traditions get added into the mix, Kota Kinabalu is well-regarded for a variety of local delicacies that can be found nowhere else. What is interesting is that eateries in the city are diverse, ranging from outdoor food stalls fronting the sea and quaint coffee shops along the street to modern restaurants and bars.
It has been known that Kota Kinabalu has a longstanding noodle culture that grown alongside the city over the years, and Tuaran Mee certainly fits nicely as the Kota Kinabalu version of Kuching’s Kolo Mee. What makes Tuaran Mee different from Kolo Mee and other noodle dishes around the area is that it is made from a batter consisting of egg yolks and flour and lightly fried before stir-frying.
There are no qualms that having seafood dishes in the city is a must, especially during dinnertime. As the sun sets and the night begins, various seaside restaurants would begin operating, serving a multitude of savoury dishes of prawns, squids and various fishes. The prices are usually affordable too if you find the right place to dine.
Borenos Fried Chicken
Meanwhile, Kota Kinabalu has its own version of Kentucky Fried Chicken known as Borenos Fried Chicken locally. The taste is pretty distinctive compared to the typical fried chicken you would enjoy in the Peninsular with the chicken being marinated differently to allow tender bites.
Tanjung Aru Beach
Comprising a beach stretch up till 2 kilometres, Tanjung Aru Beach is certainly the main feature of Tanjung Aru area. The beach hardly disappoints in terms of its mesmerizing white sands, clear skies and bluish ocean view with new skyscrapers being built around as the perfect backdrop. It is only six kilometres to travel from capital Kota Kinabalu hence is pretty easy to get here and is a must visit in Tanjung Aru. Taking its name from the casuarinas or aru trees grown in abundance here, this beach is the perfect spot to watch over the sunset with family and friends.
Desa Cattle Dairy Farm
Going further into the getaway to the town of Kundasang, the Desa Cattle Dairy Farm is probably an iconic and yet another interesting place to come over. Located 2 hours away from Kota Kinabalu, this dairy farm is where most of the state’s dairy products and cow milk are being produced. Fully owned by Desa Cattle Sabah, about 900, 000 litres of milk are produced annually. This massive 199-hectare of greenery has also earned its name as Sabah’s “Little New Zealand”, with some of the breathtaking sights to behold, while interested visitors can come over to further get close and understand about how milk is processed, feeding the calves and goats or simply enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Recognized as the first World Heritage Site of the country, Kinabalu Park is where the mighty Mount Kinabalu is located, inviting hikers and adrenaline seekers to come over to conquer it. However, it is advised to book the hike six months in advance because of the response as well as the daily limit imposed on climbing the mountain. Besides that, it is also awarded as the Centre of Plant Diversity for South East Asia - is the natural habitat of over 5000 vascular plant species and 90 species of mammals.
With the flight ticket and hotel packages available at Traveloka Malaysia, you can visit Kota Kinabalu more easily and cheaper. Choose a variety of tour packages that we offer, and modify as you like to get the combination you want.
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