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Situated on the coast of the South China Sea, Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the state of Sabah, Malaysia. The city acquires its name from the majestic mountain located in the city premises, Mount Kinabalu. Mount Kinabalu is a World Heritage Site and is the highest mountain in Malaysia. The mountain is known for hiking and biodiversity. The city’s history can be traced back to the 15th century when Kota Kinabalu was under the influence of the Bruneian Empire. Over the years, it evolved into an important political and economic center of the state, thus inherited the status of the capital city. The city’s landscape is dominated by skyscrapers and green tree patches. There are many islands off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. The Gaya Island is the largest of these islands and is largely covered with dense, tropical forest. This island offers exciting water activities and is known for its crystal clear waters. The other smaller islands are inhabited and are part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. All these islands are bustling hotspots for tourists and local people. The state capital has a tropical rainforest climate, characterized by the high temperatures and heavy rainfall. These factors largely contribute to the rich biodiversity and endemism in the forest reserves. The economy of Kota Kinabalu is largely supported by agriculture, forestry, mining, and fishing. Also, Kota Kinabalu is one of the major industrial and commercial centers of Sabah, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in Malaysia. The estimated population of Kota Kinabalu is around half a million and is a mixture of many ethnic groups and cultures. The population is composed of citizens from China, Brunei, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, and other Asian countries. The city’s strategic location makes it an excellent gateway for tourists visiting Malaysia. The city is flanked by the smooth sandy beaches of the South China Sea on one side and the mighty mountain ranges on the other side.
Tip: As you are traveling in a tropical country, carry a tiny umbrella just in case you want to protect yourself from the harsh sun or the rain.
Kota Kinabalu has one of the busiest airports in Malaysia. Kota Kinabalu International Airport is the main and the only airport handling flights to Kota Kinabalu. The airport facility showcases the ethnic culture of the region, with patterns inscribed on the floor tiles. The airport is hardly a few miles away from the city and is well connected with the rest of the city with efficient transport facilities. The international airport offers flight services to prominent destinations in the Asia-Pacific region. The Kinabalu International Airport once served as a military airbase during the Second World War. It was constructed and maintained by the Imperial Japanese Army and was known as Jesselton Airfield. The airport has two terminals: Terminal 1 is the main terminal of the airport and has an estimated capacity of handling about nine million passengers annually. Terminal 2 is currently non-functional and is proposed for cargo and general aviation use. Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines, MA Swings, Philippine Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, and China Southern Airlines are some of the airline operators offering convenient and cheap flight services to Kota Kinabalu. These airlines offer flight services from popular destinations such as Bangkok, Honk Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Penang, Singapore, Wuhan, Perth, and Guangzhou. Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia are the main airline operators at Kinabalu International Airport.
Tip: It is advised to book the air tickets in advance of two months to grab the best travel deals.
The city has an efficient transportation network facilitating travelers around the city with great ease. There are regular buses and vans to locations in and around the city. A comprehensive network of national highways and state roads helps in commuting around. Bus terminals such as the KK Sentra Terminal and the North Kota Kinabalu Bus Terminal are crucial stops for intercity exchanges.
The Kota Kinabalu Port and the Sepanggar Bay Container Port are the two important ports of Kota Kinabalu. They handle million tons of cargo each year and also operate as a naval base for the Royal Malaysian Navy. The Kota Kinabalu Ferry Service provides ferry and boat services to the nearby islands situated off the coast of Kota Kinabalu.
Tip: Not to miss the historic Borneo Railway ride which weaves through the jungles and beaches of Sabah.
Mount Kinabalu is the most famous attraction in Sabah. It is located around 90 kilometers from the city. The peak stands at an astonishing height of 13,000 feet above sea level and is part of the Crocker Mountain Range. Mount Kinabalu is nestled within the Kinabalu National Park. These hilly ranges offer several trails along its slopes and an overnight stay can yield a beautiful sunrise from this pristine environment.
Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market or popularly known as the Filipino Market is a wonderful destination to cater to your shopping desires. One can go crazy here by seeing the variety of local artifacts, wood sculptures, souvenirs, and other fancy accessories.
The grand mosques in Kota Kinabalu are truly a spectacular treat to the eyes. These places of worship reflect the unique Islamic architecture. Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is one such mosque known for its beauty all over Malaysia. One can visit these places with proper adherence to guidelines.
If you are interested in pursuing some exciting water sports, then the islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park should be your next stop. One can also try out the tasty Malay cuisines in the world-class resorts and cafes present there. Tabin Wildlife Reserve is a perfect destination for those seeking an experience among the laps of nature. These forests are home to an array of floral and faunal diversity and can offer a wonderful experience to anybody visiting this paradise.
Tip: Visit the local tourist information center to attain extended information on the place you wish to visit.
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