A Kota Kinabalu Vacation

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Kota Kinabalu East Malaysia



If you are going to Malaysia, and want to see a bit of East Malaysia, you might want to visit this gem on the island of Borneo in Sabah. I vacationed here recently and was pleasantly surprised to find it is rich in natural beauty. I’m talking about the beautiful Kota Kinabalu. It has a diverse wildlife, a coral reef and Mount Kinabalu, which is the highest peak in Malaysia, listed as a natural world heritage site. It is also a perfect holiday location, with plenty on offer.

Kota Kinabalu


Mount Kinabalu

KK is perhaps not as well known as other places in Malaysia like Penang, Langkawi or Kuala Lumpur, but it is growing in popularity with tourists and holidaymakers. It’s lush, hot and balmy all year-round, and not as busy. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?!

Our Vacation at Kota Kinabalu

Just a short flight of two and a half hours from Kuala Lumpur, we arrived at our tropical destination for the next few days.

We stayed in a lovely spacious apartment at the fabulous Imago Complex which I booked online. It had everything you could possibly want for a very comfortable stay – two huge swimming pools, a gym, kids’ playground, restaurants, cinema and the best shopping centre in the city. To top it all off, the view of the water and golf course from our rental apartment was awesome. The balcony was a favourite spot to sit and take it all in with a cool drink.

A favourite hangout just downstairs was a restaurant/cafe/bar called Souled Out, for lunch, dinner or drinks, with live entertainment in the evenings. International cuisine is served here, as well as local fare and the staff are very friendly. If you love cocktails, which I do, then this is the place, as they are reasonably priced and they claim to have the best Mojito in town. After being tried and tested by yours truly, I thoroughly concur.

The Waterfront at Kota Kinabalu

Along the Waterfront in KK there are many fantastic restaurants and trendy bars to choose from, all with outdoor dining and entertainment. Such as, The Shamrock Irish Bar and The Loft, which are very popular and filled with tourists every night. There is a great atmosphere here with music and live singers to enjoy with a view of the water. You will love it here, I’m sure. It’s the place to go for a fun and enjoyable night out.

Various cuisines are on offer. A lovely Indian restaurant we went to was Mother India in the Oceanus Waterfront Mall. A little bit upmarket with great food and a pleasant atmosphere. Thoroughly recommend it.

Kota Kinabalu


Waterfront bars

Kota Kinabalu



Hiring a Yacht at Kota Kinabalu

Where there is water, you have to get out there and make the most of it, don’t you? And what’s the best way to do that? To hire a Yacht. Yes, a Yacht! So we did just that.



Our hire yacht

This delightful private yacht, with our own Captain, was ours for 4 hours! We sailed around the South China Sea and the islands near Kota Kinabalu, and stopped wherever we wanted. It was quite an amazing, luxury experience and definitely a highlight for me.

With everything you could need on board, including a kitchenette, bathroom, 2 bedrooms, and plenty of lounge space, I could have stayed aboard longer. (Did I mention it was a Yacht?) Jumping off the back into the sea and swimming was a thrill too, especially for the kids.

But whilst we were out, we had some drama on the high seas. We almost got stranded; a bit like the old tv show, Gilligan’s Island. The yacht conked out, or malfunctioned if you like, I’m not really sure what the issue was, but the skipper called for help and we waited for the service boat to come and fix our problem. Thankfully, they did so very promptly and we were able to sail on our merry way, without a remake of the tv show!

Resorts at Kota Kinabalu

There are many fabulous resorts here in KK to choose from for a luxurious stay, with all the trimmings in this perfect tropical location.

Sutera Harbour Resort

Sutera Harbour is one of the luxury resorts, overlooking the South China Sea, with two 5-star hotels, 4 swimming pools, a golf course and country club.  The marina is in the middle of both hotels, where all the sailing boats are moored and where we departed from.

When we returned from our sea-faring adventure, we stopped here for a delicious spicy Malaysian feast.

It’s also a lovely spot to hang out, have drinks and admire the view; a great way to finish a delightful day.

Kota Kinabalu


Sutera Harbour Resort

I recommend staying at the Magellan Sutera Resort here at the harbour.

Other Resorts

We also visited a couple of other resorts in Kota Kinabalu on the beach, researching for my next trip. The Shangri-La Resort and The Nexus Resort, both of which are stunning locations and quite popular for a luxury vacation with everything you would expect.

Kota Kinabalu


Shangri-La Resort

Kota Kinabalu


Pool at Shangri-La Resort

Kota Kinabalu


Shangri-La Beach

I definitely plan to stay at one of these on my next holiday here. The pools are huge and look very inviting, especially the infinity pool. The beaches have beautiful soft, clean sand and lots of activities to keep you entertained.

I particularly loved the bars on the sand, where cocktails are the special of the day. This is a gorgeous spot to relax and enjoy beach life.

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Beach Bar

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A monkey like carving from indigenous tribes of Borneo

Kota Kinabalu is a great holiday spot for families, or couples, with plenty to offer in a stunning tropical location. A real plus is that a lot of people don’t really know about it yet, compared to other more touristy hot spots in Malaysia, such as Penang.

You can read more about KK here.

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I’ll certainly be returning in the near future.

Kota Kinabalu


Sunset in Kota Kinabalu

Tours of Kota Kinabalu

I definitely recommend taking a tour. Here are a few fabulous suggestions for you, which include adventure activities, like scuba diving, snorkelling and wildlife watching. You might like to try a volcano mud bath. Kota Kinabalu is a real gem!

You might like to check out my other Malaysian blog posts, Kuala Lumpur and Taiping for destinations nearby.

I welcome any comments you wish to share with me, in the section below.

Selamat jalan.

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A Kota Kinabalu vacation in East Malaysia Snazzy Trips travel blog
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Accommodation in Kota Kinabalu


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2 thoughts on “A Kota Kinabalu Vacation

  1. minione15 says:

    Kota Kinabalu looks beautiful! I’d definitely love to do a tour and your yacht tour seems incredible. I’ll definitely have to look more into these if I ever venture to Kota Kinabalu.

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