Move Forward and Never Be Still

Kota Kinabalu City Center Sights

Kota Kinabalu City Center Sights

After meeting the Royals in Brunei, I spent the last three days of my week long Borneo island adventure in the city of Kota Kinabalu. Though it is a city in the country of Malaysia, its vibe is similar to some cities of my home country The Philippines. The city center is small and can be explored on foot. There are other sights outside the city which can fill up your other vacant days but it requires extra budget.

Due to budget concerns, I was only able to visit a handful of sights, most were found within the city limits. I splurged at one instance when I joined the Proboscis Monkey and Firefly River tour.

Atkinson Clock Tower
The Atkinson Clock Tower is one of the oldest landmarks in downtown Kota Kinabalu, obviously surviving the wrath of WWII. It was built in 1905 as a memorial to Francis Atkinson who was the first District Officer of Kota Kinabalu, then called Jesselton Point, during the British North Borneo Chartered Company Administration.

The Atkinson Clock Tower is one of the oldest structures in downtown Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia. It’s one of the city’s must visit landmarks. #kotakinabalu #themermaidtravels

A post shared by Paula O (@dmermaidtravels) on

Sabah Tourism Board
The Sabah Tourism Board is also one of the oldest structures in Kota Kinabalu. The other two being the Atkinson Clock Tower and the former Land & Survey Building. It was constructed in 1916 and served as the city’s Post Office back in the early days. It was later used as a bank and treasury offices and was reverted to being a post office after the second world war. In 1987 it was made as the headquarters of the tourism board and information center. The 0-KM marker is also found just outside the building.

Signal Hill Observatory
Signal Hill is the highest point in the city where one can get a nice view of the city below. On a sunny day, the outlying islands can be seen from the viewing deck. There is no entrance fee. This is a good place to hang out as there’s a small store and few tables as well.

If you are coming from elsewhere in Kota Kinabalu, you can take a Grab but I opted to walk from my inn in Gaya St. to the observatory. The climb is 250 meters and can be taxing as it’s angled in a steep upward direction. Nevertheless, the surroundings were relaxing. It was like having a jungle trek for seven minutes right in the heart of the city! 

Seafood Market
My new friends and I visited the Seafood Market out of curiosity. However, we didn’t get to eat as we ran out of time. 🙁 Some of the vendors know how to speak Filipino. We found out most of them were from the southern Philippine provinces like Zamboanga and Tawi-Tawi.

Australia Place
This is the ‘place’ where the Australian soldiers camped in 1945 when they first landed in the island. The buildings along this quiet street now belongs to several backpacker lodges, quaint cafes and the police station. 

Sabah State Museum & Heritage Village
The museum houses the state’s Natural History, Ceramics, Ethnography and Archaeology exhibits among others. Entrance to the museum for non-Malaysians is at MYR 15 while only MYR 2 for locals. The museum has a rich repository of local (Malay and Muslim) culture. The one which interested me the most is the textile section as it reminds me of the tribes of southern Philippines. 

Jesselton Point Waterfront
Jesselton Waterfront, formerly known as Kota Kinabalu Ferry Terminal, not only serves as the terminal for Labuan-bound travelers but also is the main gateway to nearby outlying islands. It is also a nice place to hangout as cafes and restaurants line up the boardwalk. I felt a little bit nostalgic as I gazed at those fiery red telephone booths positioned in one corner.

Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu
This marvelous mosque sits about about six kilometers from the city center. I took a Grab to reach this area and I’d say it was worth the MYR 10 ride. This is the second main mosque in Kota Kinabalu.

It is also referred to as the ‘Floating Mosque’ since it is partially surrounded by a man-made lake. The mosque’s stark reflection adds more to its magnificence and elegance when viewed from the water.

Proboscis Monkey River & Sightseeing Tour
This was one activity I was glad to partake during my trip to Kota Kinabalu. As the island of Borneo is truly rich in natural wildlife, booking a tour like this is one I recommend. Me and my companions paid MYR 150 each for a day tour, meals and transfers included.

It was quite exciting to see monkeys in their natural habitat. I was in awe upon seeing these beautiful animals climbing up and down a tree. We learned to be a little patient as the monkeys were shy but once they ‘posed’ for our cameras, we were all smiles and tried to capture the best shots possible. I think that bringing a zoom lens or a telephoto camera will be better suited for this activity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *