Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah and the "city overlooking the sea" on the island of Borneo, is a modern city surrounded by ancient land and sea. Natural beauty and adventure abounds in Kota Kinabalu, with its tropical rainforest, mighty mountains, pristine beaches, coral reefs, and breathtaking sunsets. Eco-adventurers are spoiled for choice in Kota Kinabalu, with activities including rainforest walks and mountain treks, canopy walking, hot springs, scuba diving and sailing.
Here are our top five things to do.
Just a two-hour drive out of town, Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Borneo and the third highest in South East Asia, peaking at 4.095 metres. Begin with a downhill walk through magnificent rainforest, before the steep incline begins, and conserve your energy for the second half of the trek, as the altitude increases, ends at a no-fuss guesthouse where you can relax, enjoy a Malaysian buffet dinner and hot local tea, and sleep until sunrise, when its worth getting up to take in the spectacular views before making your descent.
Kinabalu National Park
Borneo's Kinabalu National Park, located just 90 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu is Malaysia's first UNESCO World Heritage site. The park is home to many of Borneo's threatened species, which survive in lush rainforest and coniferous forest, making it fascinating and exhilarating walking. Study magnificent flora and fauna, including the exquisite blooms of wild orchids, the rare, putrid-smelling Rafflesia flower, and other exotic carnivorous species, including the raja pitcher plant; its bell holds more than three litres of water.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
Jacques Costeu called Kota Kinabalu's coastline, "an untouched piece of art… a pearl." Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, surrounded by a cluster of five exotic tropical islands – Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan and Pulau Sulug - is a superb dive location, offering colourful reefs and coral gardens, and marine creatures such as blue-spotted rays and sea fans. Visit the largest of the islands, Gaya Island, which boasts 25-kilometres of untouched shoreline and low-lying rainforest. If you're seeking a secluded spot, try Sulug Island, smaller and less developed.
Poring Hot Springs
Discover Poring Hot Springs, 40 kilometres northeast of Mount Kinabalu Park, where you can relax in hot sulphuric minerals in between more strenuous activities. Visit the nearby Butterfly Farm, the Tropical Gardens, and the Poring Conservation Centre, which houses Sabah's largest collection of orchids. Travel through the treetops - you'll be 41 metres above the forest floor - when you take the Canopy Walkway amongst the tops of the Menggaris trees.
KK Adventure Park
Find all your favourite adventure activities in one location, not far from Kota Kinabalu, in Kampung Beringgis, Kinarut's KK Adventure Park. The popular KK Adventure Park offers extreme fun in a controlled indoor/outdoor environment, which might help to make adventure virgins ready for an adrenaline packed kayaking expedition or abseiling challenge. Try the Flying Fox, Flying Squirrel, wall climb, rope course or jungle trek.