Me and my girlfriend/travel partner (now wife) decided to go and spend our 9th anniversary in Kota Kinabalu to avoid all crowded nearby popular tourist destinations. We were looking into a place where we can really relax and have a quiet atmosphere without the buildings, noise and pollution. So we immediately looked up certain both agreed to visit and experience Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
It was a good thing that we already have booked for a really good hostel to stay for a week. I would really like to recommend Lavender Lodge located downtown. They do offer great deals on rooms either you may be travelling single, couple or a group (with free cofee and toast for breakfast!). I love the place since their staff were really hospitable. You will really feel at home in this place.
We arrived around six in the evening so we were already a bit hungry and therefore looked for some good eatery or resto’s around the area. We spotted the famous seafood foodcourt “Seri Selera” across the street and we found out that prices there are pretty much over our dining budget. So we decided to go eat (and DRINK of course) at Kota kinabalu’s Boardwalk where all kinds of cuisine are available. Prices at the waterfront would usually go around 15-30RM but this is already a full sumptuous meal!
Weather is really awesome at KK. Woke up early morning for the island hopping at Mamutik, Manukan and Sapi island. All these islands around are so clean even if there are other plenty of tourist around. Waters are so crystal clear and the places have full of trees (huge ones)! Every Island is different. We went to pulau mamutik first and spend a few hours to swim and take photos of the surrounding. Then we had lunch at pulau manukan with roasted DUCK and rice. It was the first time I ate duck meat but since we got really hungry we didn’t mind eating it. The next stop was for Sapi Island. A Great place to go snorkeling or diving since fish are huge and they aren’t afraid of People! Sapi Island has great rock formations at the sides and this was the last stop of our island hopping don’t forget to check their monitor lizard FREELY roaming around the island which is really cool.
What else to do in Kota kinabalu rather than go sightseeing on the top attractions such as the Mt. Kinabalu and the Poring hotspring? We were so excited to climb mt.kinabalu but since we didn’t have any mountaineering experience, we decided to just enjoy the scenery of this majestic mountain and its surrounding area.
On our way to Mt. Kinabalu and we stopped by Pekan Nabalu Area to catch a glimpse of the HUGE mountain. We never expected that the area was so COLD. This is the best place to take a picture of Mt. Kinabalu. You can also stop by the souvenir shops on the area if you want to buy stuff, eat or use the restroom since it was about a 2 hour drive to this place from KK.
At the Kota kinabalu national park headquarters, you can either stop over and climb the mountain by getting a guide or you can just drop by to trek and watch the flora and fauna of this place. We dropped by to pay for park fees so and head down to ta Kundasang Market to buy snacks and local delicacy. This is the best place to go buy GUARANTEED FRESH veggies in Sabah since all people get their supplies here and sell it at a higher rate in the city area.
After taking lunch we head directly to Poring hot spring area which is about 30 minutes away. I wasn’t that excited about the hot spring honestly but my adrenaline was pumping up since I was stoked to go trekking and do the famous Canopy walk.
Poring Hot Spring is a really huge area, there’s a lot to do here if you have ample time but we decided to only check the canopy walk and do trekking. I advise that you use insect repellants and use shoes for this place. Unfortunately I’m an adventurer so I go walking using slippers thou the place was muddy. Going to the canopy walk is really exhausting since you may walk about exactly 500 meters uphill but it will pay off with the amazing view and sounds of mother nature. Canopy Walks are not for the weak of heart I tell you, the walkway is so scary for others but quite fun since it was a bit shaky (but 100% safe).
We spent our last day at the nature city by visiting the nearest Lok kawi wildlife park which is located at the old Penampang-Papar road, about 15km from South of Kota Kinabalu center. We were both a bit excited to visit the zoo since we never had the chance to go see elephants on our bangkok trip.
Before we went down to the zoo, we planned to roam around the city and look for food to be brought and ways on how to get to the place. We did check several travel agencies and tour packages going to the park but it was quite expensive. I suggest that you instead take the same route we took so that you can save a lot of cash. Normally for tour packages, it would cost about RM120 per person. By going our way we only spent around RM110 for 2 persons but this would include EVERYTHING (food, entrance fees, transportation).
To go to Lok kawi centre, you have to ride a MINI BUS or BAS MINI as what locals call it on the KK City bus terminal. Fare would cost around RM3 per person. I am a kind of person who is easily anxious about anything. Since I just read instructions on google or any other information and easily forgot it good thing I have a wife who takes charge of these things. I advise you to not get confused with what Mini bus to ride since there are a lot of it that passes lok kawi drop off point. Good thing there was this local lady who speaks very well in english and I was able to ask several questions. Locals are really friendly and they won’t mind getting asked for directions.
We took a private taxi to drive us to and from the park that costs RM20 per trip but you can haggle the price and set an agreed time to meet when your ready to go back to the Bus drop off point.
Lok Kawi Wildlife park place was really clean, well kept and of course the animals are really well taken cared of. I asked the personnel if how they keep their animals healthy and happy, they guaranteed us that animals are indeed fed properly and taken care off that would suit the animals environment. There were tons of cool animals to be seen in the park, we even got to touch a few (thou not allowed). Walking uphill and downhill made us hungry so we took our lunch inside the park’s dining areas.
After lunch we accidentaly went inside the HUGE AVIARY (think JURASSIC PARKish :)) which is closed at that time. It gave us the creeps since the birds are flying freely inside. We were the only person (it was off limits at that time) in the area since my wife really wanted to see the birds. When we got inside the Aviary, the birds were really GIGANTIC (it seems they are huge enough to eat humans) that we were nervous to proceed to the exit area.
Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is worth remembering and it would be great to visit this place with your family.
Sabah, Malaysia indeed is a wonderful place to relax and appreciate unspoiled nature at its finest. We only spent a couple of days and weren’t able to see all the things around the countryside but definitely will be back in the future.