Friday, April 17, 2015

Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) Travel Itinerary 2015 - 7 Days 6 Nights in East Malaysia!

Singaporeans usually flocked to West Malaysia (generally known as Peninsular Malaysia) and not many have ventured to the less populated East side located on the world's third largest island; Borneo. 

I took the small step recently by travelling to only one of two states in East Malaysia and spent an incredibly long 7 days that was peppered with moments of the mountains, seas, adventures and relaxation. Without further ado, let me begin, as always, with the summarised itinerary of the trip. 

Do click the hyperlinks for detailed postings on each day! 

[2.48 pm] Flight would be departing at 5.40 pm but when it comes to Changi Airport, i always make it a point to check in as early as i could to check out the amazing airport that was recently awarded 'Top Airport" in 2015. 

Aside from checking the prices of duty free products and visiting mini attractions like the Cactus Garden, another priority was to have sufficient time to grab a decent meal before i hop on to the plane. The latter is applicable only if i am travelling by budget airlines which would require me to pay extra for unsatisfying food. 

[5.15 pm] Boarded the AirAsia airplane and it departed on time from Changi Airport Terminal 1 without much fanfare; not that i am complaining given the air disasters in Asia recently. 

[7.40 pm] Arrived 22 minutes ahead of time at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (Terminal 2) and not wishing to spend precious time navigating the local transport, we opted for an airport taxi that shall bring us directly to our hotel; Jesselton Hotel.

[9.01 pm] Time for dinner and it didn't take us long to cast our lot on the Bak Kut Teh coffee shop right opposite the hotel; Yu Kee. Verdict: herbal style that was strangely dissimilar from its Peninsular cousin. 

[8.00 am] Was up early although i didn't plan for any activity until afternoon. Did some exercise using my newly purchased resistance band and read the local newspaper (complimentary from the hotel) while Alex continued to sleep in. 

[9.50 am] Finally managed to get Alex to wake up and he blamed the pillow for giving him such a good sleep! Bloody ass. Anyway, a picture of the Jesselton Hotel that we stayed for all six nights. 

Familarisation of the surroundings is essential if you are on free and easy and this was exactly what we did in the state capital; get our bearings to the ferry terminal, the shopping centres etc. Another necessity; to purchase and register for a local SIM card! 

[1.00 pm] The start of our exciting journey to sight the Proboscis (Long-Nosed) Monkeys & Fireflies along Garama River. Lucky star was shining on us; there were at least seven encounters with the shy primates! It was 10.30 pm when we reached back the hotel and it didn't take me long to start snoring after taking a much needed shower. 

[8.10 am] I was up by 7.00 am to bath and prepare for the Kinabalu Park and Poring Hot Springs tour. Managed to catch this hilarious parody movie; The Starving Games! 

[10.00 am] Stopover at Nabalu town for that opportunity to catch Mount Kinabalu in its majestic glory. No such luck this time as the sacred mountain was shrouded in thick clouds. 

In addition to dropping by the Botanical Garden in Kinabalu Park and Poring Hot Spring (including Canopy Walk and Kipungit Waterfall) as part of our day package, i forked out extra money to see my very first Rafflesia flower

[6.00 pm] Got the tour guide to drop us off at Welcome Seafood Restaurant for our seafood feast! This dining establishment was said to offer good quality seafood at economical pricing. As far as crab pricing was concerned, it was so much more affordable than Singapore! 

[7.00 pm] Intended to walk over to the latest shopping centre to hit Kota Kinabalu (KK) but our dear Mr Chiu backed out after realising it would be a long way. Guess where we went? Back to Jesselton Hotel where the sleepy bug can finally rest his feet. 

[8.30 am] There was a reason why i chose Jesselton Hotel. On Sunday mornings, the entire street in front of the hotel (known as Gaya Street) would be converted into a market where you can find souvenirs, interesting items and even pets for sale! 

While Alex busied himself with his legendary shopping, i took the opportunity to have the famous Yee Fung Laksa for breakfast as the poor chap doesn't take too kindly to spicy food. 

It was a free day for us and we got to quite a number of notable attractions like the central market, the handicraft centre (known formerly as the filipino market). Click the links for the details. :)

[4.00 pm] Managed to psycho Alex to walk over to Imago KK Times Square, the shopping centre i mentioned in Day Three, for late lunch. As the mall was opened only in April, there were not many selections for meals and we eventually settled for Lucy's Kitchen

[8.00 pm] This would be a scenario i faced frequently with Kon around; we had another meal at what's known as the most popular Bak Kut Teh shop in KK

[7.55 am] Grabbed some breakfast before stepping into the van for our day trip to two islands within the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. We went fully equipped with our prized possession; the EasyBreath snorkeling mask

[9.00 am] The speedboat ride took us less than 15 minutes to reach our first island; Sapi Island. Compared to the other four islands in the marine park, Sapi was said to offer the best snorkeling. After Maldives, this obviously paled in comparison.

Besides peering into the disappointing underwater world, both Alex and i participated in the Coral Flyer (a zipline across two islands) and the highly enjoyable parasailing! There were other chargeable activities like Banana Boat, Sea Walking etc. Buy a package if you want to get a better deal. 

[1.30 pm] After a better than expected BBQ seafood lunch, we proceeded to the nearby Pulau Manukan which was a mere nine minutes away by speedboat. Tour ended by about 3 pm. 

[4.30 pm] Early dinner at Fatty Kee; famed for its oyster chicken wings and drumlets! I kid you not - in the few days i was at KK, the place was always packed with customers! 

[5.30 pm] We were so free after dinner; we popped by Suria Sabah and caught the movie Parasyte Part 1! Honestly a very entertaining film. 

[8.30 am] Stepped out of the Jesselton Hotel for toast and coffee in this vintage looking kopitiam. The high price caught me by surprise, especially with the supposed lower standard of living in KK. 

[9.15 am] Left for our half day tour to Mari Mari Cultural Village and reached at around 9.50 am. My verdict was that this is a must go for any new Sabah visitors to know more about the five different ethnic tribes in Borneo. To read more, click here!

Three words came to mind; interactive, entertaining and educational. 

[1.30 pm] Sent back to the hotel after a somewhat simple buffet lunch at the cultural village. With ample time again, we took to the street again and this time, to take a closer look at the central market and the handicraft centre again. Oh, we caught another movie too; Home

[6.30 pm] Decided to splurge a bit on dinner, this time at Jesselton Hotel's resident restaurant; Kudos! Don't play play okay; it was ranked number three out of 359 restaurants on Tripadvisor! 

[8.00 am] After the great dinner the night before, we had to try the breakfast at Kudos on our last day in KK. In all, breakfast wasn't as spectacular. :(

[8.50 am] Checking out two landmarks within walking distance from our hotel; the completed-in-1905 Atkinson clock tower, and Signal Hill Observatory Platform which took us ages to find.

While Alex went to have his hair cut and get his shopping done (yes, he can really really buy), i strolled over to this unique structure or what's left of it that's covered in graffiti. 

[11.30 am] Left for Kota Kinabalu International Airport (Terminal 2); arrangement was made with the hotel for taxi as our luggage, as expected, was too heavy and you would not see me lugging them on the streets / public transport! 

[2.20 pm] Arrived too early at the airport and we had to endure two hours of wait before walking on the tarmac to board the plane. Bloody, there's really minimal leisure activity in most airports. Anyway, plane departed punctually at 4.45 pm. 

[4.50 pm] About to land in Singapore with Changi Naval Base right outside the window! Home sweet home! 


Expenses (Per Person)


  1. Nice summary. I enjoyed reading it. Did not know that a live motion adaptation of Parasyte was made. Loved the anime and can't wait for the adaptation of Attack on Titan to arrive!

    1. Thanks Amir! I am not a big anime fan but i did enjoy Parasyte; could not wait for part 2!

  2. Anonymous1:58 PM

    Thanks. I like reading your travel blog.

    1. Thanks for your nice comment! :) pity i need to cut on my travel expenses soon... :(

  3. Hello where did you buy your Sapi and Manukan Island tour?

    1. I bought it from Excellence Eco Tours - you may visit the following weblink for more information.

  4. Hello, actually where to buy the package for snorkeling, island hoping and coral flyer? At the jetty or at sapi island..

    1. Hallo, i bought my package from Excellence Eco Tours; for the coral flyer, you can buy it from the jetty at Sapi Island. For more information on the package, please visit

  5. Hi, may I know did you purchased the Excellence Eco Tour over there or from the website?

    1. Hallo! I purchased the package when i am physically at KK. :)

  6. Hey i really like your post about KK, but i cant find the fourth day page. how can i found it? Thankyou!! :)

    1. Hallo! It's hyperlinked under Day Four but you can also access Thanks!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. I really enjoy reading about your kk post. I went on March 2017 and the only thing I did was climbed Mt KK, after that I practically can't walk well for the next 3 days. Thanks for showing us what other things we can do there. I'd be sure to explore the rest of kk the next time I visit. And I didn't had any seafood the whole time I was there! I have been hearing how it's all about seafood and bak kut teh in Kk, must try!

    1. Thanks for your compliment! We were actually thinking of climbing Mount KK but after hearing feedback from friends who said we would be down for a few days, we decided to spare our legs the torture! lol.

  9. Anonymous2:02 AM

    For sea related activities or simply sight seeing – Langkawi is better & safe than sabah / kota kinabalu.
    me & my family faced lifetime worst experience in kota kinabalu. sabah is the very unhealthy /unfriendly state of Malaysia. Even better to go Bali if already seen Langkawi. cheating, mis-behave or mis treats starts from kota kinabalu airport immigration !!

    // Andrew Johnson

    1. Can you elaborate what kind of lifetime worst experience so that we can be warned?

    2. I am also interested to know what the experience is like...

  10. I'm going to KK on next month & don't wanna miss any must eat KK food. My finding was most of the tourist went to Welcome Seafood Restaurant. Can you give your personal opinion is the taste meet your expectation? I'm considering to have dinner there because of it's location, nearby to our hotel

    1. I am afraid it didn't meet my expectations... however, they do offer a wide variety of dishes and maybe just the ones i ordered didn't quite make the cut. :( you may refer to my review at


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