It was a fantastic trip. The coordination of everything was very well done.
Bordered by a patchwork sea of turquoise and azure on one side and ringed by rainforest and the majestic Mount Kinabalu on the other, dynamic Kota Kinabalu, or KK for short, is the perfect gateway into untamed Borneo. Established as Jesselton in the late 1800s by the British North Borneo Company, the city was renamed after independence. Today, Kota Kinabalu is, despite its rapid expansion, a pleasant, comfortable city.
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Our co-founder Jay Tindall always makes a beeline for street food stalls when in Kuala Lumpur, because of the amazing variety of different ethnic cuisines.
Spend the day visiting the nearby Tunku Abdul Rahman National Marine Park, a series of beautiful islands just a short boat ride from the city center. Go snorkeling or swimming and just enjoy the beach.
Tambunan Rafflesia Reserve
Drive to the Tambunan Rafflesia Reserve, out in the Crocker Range Mountains, where you can see the indigenous rafflesia, the largest flower in the world.
Visit the bustling and friendly Filipino Market, and have a seafood buffet in the port at the well-known Port View Restaurant, serving up Kota Kinabalu's freshest catch.
An early morning drive (2-3 hours) from central KK will deliver you to the base of the sacred Mount Kinabalu. At 13,513 feet, it is the largest peak between the Himalayas and Papua New Guinea. The mountain sits in a national park of the same name, and has excellent hiking trails, with ample opportunities to spot rare local flora, such as carnivorous pitcher plants and wild-growing orchids. Stretching from lowland rainforest to alpine meadows, the park was Malaysia's first World Heritage site, recognized for its rare ecological wealth. Spend the day hiking through the terrain surrounding the peak, or, alternatively, hike to the mountain's summit. (This requires two days with an overnight stay at the Laban Rata mountain hut maintained by the park.) The striking granite peaks of Kinabalu will be a long-remembered highlight of your trip to Borneo.
Poring Hot Springs
Near the base of Mt. Kinabalu is Poring Hot Springs, Japanese-style onsen tubs that were first built during the occupation of WWII. A number of hot and cold, private and public pools are available. There is also a canopy walk nearby, where you can wander through treetops hundreds of feet above the jungle floor.
Start at the Atkinson Clock Tower and wend your way to Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, a major thoroughfare near the center of the city. If you are near Gaya Street at lunch, be sure to stop in one of its delicious local eateries. End up at the Signal Hill Observatory, which is an excellent location to watch the sunset.
Green Connection Aquarium
Sharks, snakes and turtles can be seen at the Green Connection Aquarium, which has interactive displays, including tanks where guests can touch some of the more docile creatures.
Several excellent beaches are within reach from central KK. Tanjung Aru Beach makes for a fine picnic destination, while Likas Bay Beach along Jalan Tun Fua Stephens offers views of Sepanggar Port and the anchored ships off the coast. Farther afield is Rasa Ria, a private beach exclusively accessed by guests of the luxurious Shangri-La Resort.
Petagas War Memorial
The Petagas War Memorial is a must-see for World War II history buffs. It has been set up to remember and honor the 176 Kinabalu Militia who engaged in the “Double Tenth Revolt” on October 10th, 1943 against the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces. All of the attackers were summarily executed by the Japanese.
Museum of Islamic Civilisation
The Museum of Islamic Civilisation offers an historical look at Islamic influence on Malaysia. Islamic art, writings and religious artifacts all form an interesting mosaic that has been ingrained in Malaysian society.
Discover the best that Borneo has to offer on this exciting 12-day luxury journey. You’ll start in the picturesque Kota Kinabalu, staying at Shangri-La’s luxury beach resort, followed by a cruise along the Kinabatangan River, continuing through the Danum Valley, passing hanging coffins, and swimming in Sipadan.
Uncover Borneo’s wild and wonderful side on this 6-day luxury journey into its rainforest, far off the tourist trail. Your adventuring will consist of trekking to and camping in the incredible Maliau Basin, where you’ll be surrounded by exotic plants and animals, and sights of unimaginable natural beauty.
Take in the UNESCO-listed iconic sites of Malaysian Borneo on this insightful 5-day luxury journey. You’ll visit a “living museum,” trek through the stunning Mulu National Park, hike through Asia’s longest cave, relax in hotsprings, and stay in some of Borneo’s must luxury accommodation, like Shangri-La Rasa Ria.
Make your way across Borneo’s wilds on this exciting 7-day luxury adventure. You’ll get close to baby orangutans, walk along the treetops in a canopy tour, cruise down jungle-lined rivers, noting the multitude of exotic plants and animals you spot along the way, and sleep in an award-winning eco-lodge.
Opening in Q3 of 2016, Alila Dalit Bay Sabah is located on the island’s northern coast overlooking 17 acres of pure white, unspoiled foreshore – 40 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu and 90 minutes from Mount Kinabalu, one of Southeast Asia’s highest peak. The beachfront resort will feature a 152 bedroom/suite hotel with diverse dining, sky lounge and bar, spa, kid’s club, library, boutiques, swimming pools, outdoor wedding chapel and an event centre. The 74 villas for private ownership are set within a secluded 5-hectare estate, spaciously planned around extensive gardens, forests and water features – each with direct access to the beach and lagoon with panoramic Mengkabong River views. Inspired by Borneo’s longhouses and cultural influences, the villas are a sophisticated blend of refined and raw, crafted in a palette of local woods, off-form concrete, woven rattan, painted screens and tribal artefacts.
Bunga Raya Island Resort
Named after Malaysia’s national flower, Bunga Raya is set on a coral reef island off the coast of Borneo. Tucked away on a crescent-shaped bay, the resort’s 47 villas are situated between a secluded white-sand beach and virgin jungle. Each private villa is handcrafted by local tradesmen and terraced into the hillside, reflecting traditional Borneo-style architecture. Villas range from simple timbered units steps from the beach, to multi-level, three-bedroom units with wrap-around decks and personal plunge pools. Rooms are fitted with Frette linens, a 32-inch flat-screen TV, and a DVD player. A hilltop spa, with al fresco spa pavilions, blends traditional Asian and Western treatments using indigenous plants and oils. A host of nature activities are available on-site. The hotel has three dining venues, including a seafood grill and a wine cellar. The resort is accessible by ferry from the Kota Kinabalu Ferry Terminal, just a few minutes from downtown Kota Kinabalu.
Gaya Island Resort
Gaya Island Resort is situated off the coast of Kota Kinabalu in Borneo, Malaysia. Located in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, a marine conservation area, the resort rests on the largest of five islands; Pulau Gaya. The area is characterized by its clear waters, rich coral beds, rainforests and white powdery beaches. The transfer time from Kota Kinabalu airport is approximately 30 minutes via road and speedboat. The resort was attentively designed to harmonize with its serene location overlooking spectacular views of Borneo's Mount Kinabalu. There are a total of 120 spacious villas. Rooms are luxurious and fitted with all modern conveniences, including WiFi. There is a broad range of onsite dining options including Asian, Western and Mediterranean cuisine, a fresh seafood restaurant (adult only), a bakery and a relaxing lounge bar. The resort’s activity list engages guests with local nature and culture, as well as indulging the senses. Activities include forest trails, yoga, meditation, snorkeling, diving, fishing, story telling, cooking, handicrafts, dance, day trips and more. Other facilities include a spa, swimming pools, shop, library and gymnasium.
Set on a coral reef island off the coast of Borneo, Gayana Eco-Resort is equal parts a luxury resort and a marine conservation site. Each of the 44 villas is set over water, with a balcony overlooking either the jungle behind the resort, a lagoon, mangroves, or the sea. On a clear day, one can see Mt. Kinabalu on the distant horizon. Going green doesn’t necessarily mean roughing it, so count on luxe in-room amenities like a 32-inch flat-screen TV and complimentary wireless Internet. Besides the spa, which uses all-natural ingredients, the resort offers its lush surroundings as its main feature. With every activity, guests are encouraged to learn about the environment. before diving the island’s vibrant reefs, for example, guests are briefed on responsible dive practices. There’s also the onsite Marine Ecology Research Center, which focuses on propagating endangered giant clams and coral reef conservation. Of course, not everything has to be a lesson –guests can simply kick back with a cocktail and fresh seafood from the hotel’s own organic fish farm, or enjoy a wood-fired pizza pool-side. The resort is accessible by ferry from the Kota Kinabalu Ferry Terminal, just a few minutes from downtown Kota Kinabalu.
Shangri-La Rasa Ria
Surrounded by 400 acres of lush tropical vegetation, some of which is in a nature reserve, the Shangri-La Rasa Ria is set on a beach looking out onto Dalit Bay. The resort’s 490 rooms, all featuring traditional Malaysian decor, complimentary broadband Internet access and cable television, are divided between the freshly renovated Garden Wing and the new Ocean Wing. Visitors should note that the Rasa Ria resort also operates an adjoining nature reserve and orangutan rehabilitation center. Some of the wildlife inhabiting the reserve include the icon of Sabah, the orangutan, as well as various hornbill bird species, peacocks, bear cats, wild rabbits, iguanas and more. A highlight of the resort’s recreational offerings is the tandem 18-hole Dalit Bay Golf Club & Spa. Dining options include Tepi Laut Makan Street, conjuring the delectable world of Malaysian street food stalls; Kozan for Japanese teppan-yaki (hot-plate grilled dishes); Naan, which serves northern Indian cuisine; and several terrace bar/lounge options. The Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort is a 40-minute drive from Kota Kinabalu International Airport and about 30 minutes north of Kota Kinabalu town.
Shangri-La Tanjung Aru
Located just 10 minutes from the center of Kota Kinabalu, the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort’s 492 rooms are divided between two wings – the Kinabalu Wing, with views of the ocean and Mt. Kinabalu, and the Tanjung Wing, with views of the South China Sea. All rooms come with complimentary broadband Internet access and satellite television. Dining options include Café Tatu for breakfast and dinner, where a variety of open cooking stations offer Mongolian, Tandoori, Asian noodles, dim sum, pasta, and more; Coco Joe’s Bar & Grill, a beach barbecue restaurant; Peppino for Italian and Mediterranean in a chic setting; and Shang Palace for gourmet, traditional Chinese. There are also three bar/lounge options. The property’s CHI Spa comprises five individual Island Villas, three Couples’ Villas and an open Yoga Pavilion, all located on Pulau Bayu, the resort’s private island, and there is also a state-of-the-art health club with juice bar and sauna. The Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort is a 10-minute drive from Kota Kinabalu Airport.
Pendant Hut at Laban Rata
Your overnight accommodation on Mount Kinabalu, Laban Rata Rest House, is a simply furnished mountain lodge situated at 10,791 feet above sea level. The Pendant Hut includes a dormitory-style bunk bed room as well as a private room, which accommodates up to four and which can be reserved for you. The lodge is not heated, however Pendant Hut does provide state-of-the-art sleeping bags to go on top of your basic beds. There is a communal lounge area, library, toilets and shared bathroom facilities in the rest house, and the Laban Rata canteen, where dinner is served, is a short walk away.