Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is the starting point for most holidays to Sabah. From Kota Kinabalu, most visitors go to explore other parts of Sabah whether it be on a tour from Kota Kinabalu (to go rafting, biking, climbing Mount Kinabalu etc.), or via a short internal flight to visit other parts of Sabah like the Kinabatangan River or Danum Valley. If you have a couple of days free in Kota Kinabalu during your holiday then there is surprisingly quite a bit you can do and see on your doorstep.
On the first day, you can explore the city with its many attractions. At the start of the day visit the Kota Kinabalu Wetland Ramsar Site, a bird sanctuary close to the city centre. You could then choose to walk up Signal Hill to enjoy views out over the City from Signal Hill observatory platform, visit the Sabah State Museum for a walk through Sabah’s history or explore the handicraft market located on the waterfront. Visit the Atkinson Clock Tower, the oldest building in Kota Kinabalu, or one of the famous Mosques in Kota Kinabalu – Kota Kinabalu City Mosque (‘Floating Mosque’) or the State Mosque. Later in the day watch the sunset from Tanjung Aru Beach before heading back into the city centre for a spot of early evening shopping. Finally, choose from one of the many local cafes and restaurants for a tasty meal to end the day.
For your second day visit the local islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. The Marine Park is located in front of Kota Kinabalu and easily accessible via a boat transfer from Jesselton Point Jetty. You can choose to join an organised day tour to help you get the most from your visit to the Marine Park whether it be a Snorkeling Trip or going scuba diving to explore the tropical waters. You could also choose to visit the islands independently via an island transfer service and chill out on one of the public beaches on the islands in the Marine Park. Sun, tropical sea, sand – a perfect way to spend a second day in Kota Kinabalu.
The Kota Kinabalu International Airport KKIA (airport code BKI) is located to the south of the city and is 8.5 kilometres from the city centre. This journey can be easily done by private car, taxi or shuttle bus. A taxi will charge around RM 30 each way for a pre-booked taxi. Arrivals are on the lower level with departures on the upper level. At busy times allow 30 minutes from the city centre to the airport.
Most watersports trips depart from Jesselton Point Jetty (https://g.page/JesseltonPoint) in central Kota Kinabalu. If you are staying at a city centre hotel or guest house you will often find it far quicker to walk to Jesselton Point. If you are staying at hotels or resorts such as Shangri-La Rasa Ria or Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa then I would certainly grab a taxi.