Currency: 1 RM = 12 PHP
We had 11 hours to spare before our flight to Kota Kinabalu but we opted to just stay in the airport. You may of course go to KL central and check out the Petronas tower. KL central is accessible via train or bus.
We left Kuala Lumpur at 5:45AM am and arrived at Kota Kinabalu at 8:25AM. From the airport, we used Grab to take us to our place of accommodation which is called KK Room. One night costs PHP 632. We booked 2 nights. Again, we did not pay anything as we used our travel vouchers from Airbnb. If you want PHP 1,600 off on your first booking, you may click this link!
Since it was a Sunday, it was the perfect time to visit Gaya Street market which is just about a 10 minute walk from our hostel. We saw a lot of interesting stuff there, from clothes to fish cakes to birds nest! Since we haven’t eaten yet, we decided to explore the restaurants along that street. Food is quite cheap in Kota Kinabalu and if you want to try their local cuisine, your best bet is to eat at small restaurants, not fancy ones.
Kota Kinabalu is also famous because of Mt. Kinabalu. We really wanted to climb Mt. Kinabalu however it is quite expensive. It can cost around PHP 15,000 – PHP 30,000. Since we did not have that sort of money, we’ve decided to just do the Klias River tour to see the proboscis monkeys of Borneo. The proboscis monkey or long-nosed monkey is a reddish-brown arboreal Old World monkey with an unusually large nose. We paid PHP 1,700 each for the river tour and we booked the tour via KKday. Pick up and drop off was on time. Drivers and tour guides were accommodating!
Itinerary Klias River Tour (7 hours)
2:00 PM Pick-up from your hotel in Kota Kinabalu
4:00 PM Arrive at Klias River pier and Afternoon Tea
4:45 PM Hop on a boat & venture through the mangroves. See proboscis monkeys and other wildlife
6:30 PM Dinner Buffet
7:00 PM Take another boat ride and gape at fireflies as they flit through the evening air
7:30 PM Depart for Kota Kinabalu City
9:30 PM Arrive at Kota Kinabalu City
Day 4 – For our last day in Kota Kinabalu, we wanted to just relax at the beach. We headed to Jesselton Point via Grab and it costed us MYR 4 (PHP 24 each). Once at Jesselton Point, head to any of the ticket booth there. Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park comprises a group of 5 islands namely Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik and Sulug. Earliest departure time from the pier is 9:00 AM and every 30 mins after.
Boat Rates each (adult) (kid):
1 island – 23 RM | 18 RM
2 islands – 33 RM | 23 RM
3 islands – 43 RM | 28 RM
4 islands – 53 RM | 33 RM
Entrance fee – 20 RM each
Mind you the beaches in the PH is way better, but still give it a try! It’s very cheap! There are many restaurants in the islands but if you are on a budget, better buy your food at the pier. We bought chicken rice for just MYR 6 (PHP 72). We opted to visit just 2 islands (Mamutik and Manukan) as we were on a budget. Between Manukan and Mamutik, I would highly recommend visiting Mamutik. The shoreline is bigger and the view is better!
After spending the day at the beach, we went back to our accommodation to freshen up and headed straight to the Filipino market which is just walking distance from our place. Many of the vendors are Filipinos hence the name however there are also tagalog speaking Malaysians there which was quite amusing. There are plenty of food stalls as well that sells fresh sea food, sweets, fruits, you name it. The market is a busy place, a perfect place to do street photography.
With our tummies full, we headed back to our hostel to catch some sleep before our 2 a.m. flight back to Manila.
Our trip to Brunei and Malaysia was truly a wonderful experience. From the diverse wildlife of Brunei, to the buzzling town of Kota Kinabalu, each moment was remarkable. We hope to come back again soon, particularly to Kota Kinabalu and explore the other places it has to offer.
Click here for part 1 (Brunei) of this blog post!