Chapter 3

Spend A Long Weekend In Kota Kinabalu For Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year public holiday is poised to provide room for another longer weekend.

This would make for a great time to explore Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton. It’s exotic, historical, Instagram-worthy, and far away enough from the bustle of daily life for you to properly unwind.

Chinese New Year begins on 10 February. With it landing on a Saturday the following Monday has been gazetted as a holiday.

Budget estimate

Although this holiday destination is in Malaysia, you need to add the cost of a plane ticket to get here from Peninsular Malaysia. For this, be prepared to add another RM600 – RM900 per pax for the round trip ticket to your budget for this vacation in East Malaysia, depending on when you book your ticket as Chinese New Year season is a peak travel season.

Since you are going all the way across to the South China Sea, it’s best to spend more than a day or two on this holiday. Although your expenses for food and accommodation will increase as well, its well worth the trip. If you are able to share transport and accommodation costs, its possible to bring your total expenses for a 3-day visit in at under RM650.

So let’s say you’re going on a three day trip. Here’s a roundup of the top sights in Kota Kinabalu.

The city of Kota Kinabalu is rather spread out, and you’ll end up having to travel quite a bit to see the sights. In this case, you’ll need to budget a little extra for transportation costs. Also, the activities are not necessarily cheap, seeing that many of them are located outside of the city centre.

It also serves as the main gateway for the more adventurous tourist heading to conquer Mount Kinabalu but that is a story for another long weekend.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

Your first day in town should be taking it easy. Take a walk around and enjoy the sights before diving into everything KK has to offer.

Jesselton Point Waterfront: A walk along this famous boardwalk is the perfect way to start your holiday. There’s a variety of stores and cafes along the jetty, giving you the opportunity to relax and watch the ferries and boats as they ply the waterfront.

Gaya Street (Chinatown): Mainly known as Gaya Street, there has been an effort from the local council to rebrand it as Chinatown. It’s mainly known for the Sunday market, but there’s still plenty for tourists to see among the numerous cafes and restaurants.

Another two full days of sightseeing and excitement await you. It all depends on what you’re into at this point, but here are some thoughts about what you should look into. Many of these are a located outside the town, so they may become whole day events if you decide to look into them.

Signal Hill Observatory/Atkinson Clock Tower: This is a good place to start your KK adventure. The Signal Hill Observatory overlooks most of the town, and you can see all the way out to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park on a clear day. Perfect for getting a feel for what you’re about to get into.

While you’re up there, you might as well also pay the Atkinson Clock Tower (the oldest structure in Kota Kinabalu) a visit.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park: Encompassing five islands off the coast of Sabah, the TAR Marine Park offers a wide range of activities. Play on the white sandy beaches, go snorkeling among the marine life, or even spend the night at one of the many chalets. The more adventurous can even try camping out for a couple of nights.

Kiulu River (white water rafting): At 15km long, this is the longest white water rafting trip available in Borneo. It takes up to two hours to navigate the medium strength rapids, and is considered safe for beginners. A barbeque is served at the finishing line as a reward for braving the rushing waters.

Klias Wetland Mangrove Forest Reserve: Not technically located in Kota Kinabalu, the Klias Forest Reserve is roughly 100 km southwest of the city centre. The one day safari covers wetlands that are home to various species of monkey, lemur, tropical birds, and nocturnal fireflies.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

Monsopiad Cultural Village: This traditional Kadazan village is a great place to catch up on your local culture. Get a feel for what the people of Sabah are like, their food, history, and about one of their most famous warriors. Monsopiad was renowned as a headhunter, and his descendants maintain his former home as a museum for visitors. The exhibits are very real here, so it’s not for the faint of heart.

Tanjung Aru Beach: Maybe you’re not interested in heading out to sea to look for marine life. Instead, head over to Tanjung Aru beach to take a break and play in the surf. The area is popular with tourists looking to watch the sunset as well. Cafes and restaurants can be located along the beachfront, giving you plenty of opportunity to take those snapshots for social media.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

Petagas War Memorial: The memorial is a good place to spend a few moments to reflect on life before going back to the grind of daily life. This monument commemorates the failed Jesselton Revolt, where a group of rebels attempted to free the city from Japanese occupation in late 1943.

The entire rebellion was eventually executed by the Japanese, but their names are recorded here for future generations to remember those who were willing to die for their freedom.

‹ Previous Next: Let's Go Glamping This Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Get even more financial clarity with an iMoney account for FREE

We’ve tailored insightful tidbits just for you.

Continue with email

By signing up, I agree to iMoney’s
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy

Get free weekly money tips!

*Free of charge. Unsubscribe anytime.
newsletter image