Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah in Malaysia, is a vibrant destination known for its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. While there are plenty of paid attractions to enjoy, you’ll be delighted to discover that there are also numerous free activities to make your visit to Kota Kinabalu memorable without breaking the bank. In this blog post, we’ll highlight seven fantastic things to do in Kota Kinabalu that won’t cost you a dime. Get ready to immerse yourself in the charm and allure of this incredible city.
Stroll along the Waterfront Promenade:
Kota Kinabalu’s waterfront promenade is a must-visit destination offering breathtaking views of the South China Sea. Take a leisurely walk along the promenade, soak in the refreshing sea breeze, and enjoy the stunning sunsets that paint the sky with vibrant colors. You’ll also find various street performances, local food stalls, and handicraft vendors that add to the lively atmosphere.
Explore the Gaya Street Sunday Market:
If you happen to be in Kota Kinabalu on a Sunday, make sure to visit the famous Gaya Street Sunday Market. This vibrant street market offers a fascinating glimpse into the local culture. Browse through an array of stalls selling traditional handicrafts, fresh produce, local snacks, and souvenirs. Immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere and witness the city’s lively spirit.
Visit the City Mosque:
The City Mosque, also known as Masjid Bandaraya, is a significant religious landmark in Kota Kinabalu. With its stunning architecture and picturesque location by the waterfront, the mosque is a sight to behold. Visitors are welcome to explore the grounds and admire the intricate details of this beautiful structure. Remember to dress modestly and respectfully, as it is an active place of worship.
Enjoy a Day at Tanjung Aru Beach:
No visit to Kota Kinabalu is complete without spending time at Tanjung Aru Beach. This pristine beach offers soft golden sand, crystal-clear waters, and a breathtaking view of the nearby islands. Relax under the shade of the palm trees, take a dip in the sea, or simply enjoy a picnic with friends and family. Stay until evening to witness a spectacular sunset that paints the sky with vibrant hues.
Hike up Signal Hill Observatory Tower:
For panoramic views of Kota Kinabalu, hike up to the Signal Hill Observatory Tower. The trail is relatively easy and takes you through a lush forested area. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning 360-degree view of the city, surrounding islands, and the South China Sea. It’s the perfect spot to capture memorable photographs or enjoy a peaceful moment in nature.
Discover the Sabah State Museum and Heritage Village:
Learn about the rich history and diverse culture of Sabah at the Sabah State Museum and Heritage Village. While there may be a small fee for entering the museum, the beautiful Heritage Village outside is free to explore. Wander through traditional houses, observe local artisans at work, and gain insight into the indigenous tribes of Sabah. It’s an enriching experience that offers a glimpse into the state’s heritage.
Visit Resilient Remnants “The Buildings that Survived World War II in Kota Kinabalu”:
Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah in Malaysia, carries a rich history intertwined with the impacts of World War II. Despite the destructive forces that swept through the city during the war, a few buildings managed to withstand the ravages of time and remain as resilient witnesses to Kota Kinabalu’s past. Walk down to visit these buildings:
Atkinson Clock Tower:
Standing tall in the heart of Kota Kinabalu, the Atkinson Clock Tower is one of the few surviving structures from the pre-war era. Built in 1905, it was initially used as a navigational aid for ships entering Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu). This iron-clad clock tower has withstood the test of time and stands as a symbol of the city’s endurance. Visitors can admire its intricate architecture and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the nearby vantage point.
Old Court House (Sabah Tourism Building):
The Old Court House, now known as the Sabah Tourism Building, is an iconic landmark in Kota Kinabalu. Built in the late 19th century, it served as the seat of justice during the British colonial era. Although it was partially destroyed during the war, it was later restored and repurposed as a tourist information center. Today, it stands as a symbol of the city’s resilience and transformation, welcoming visitors and sharing the rich history of the region.
The Pillars of Sabah:
An inspiring community art project that celebrated the rich natural and cultural heritage of Sabah. It was a collaborative effort that brought together local artists to showcase their talent and contribute to the vibrant arts scene of the state. The project took place at the ruins of the old Lands and Surveys building, a colonial-era structure located in the heart of Kota Kinabalu. The remnants of the building’s pillars served as the canvas for the artwork, with each pillar being transformed into a unique artistic creation. The project followed a format of 30 pillars, each featuring the distinct artistic style and talent of a different local artist.