The travel bug’s got us good and this time, we’re exploring multi-hyphenate cool city KK with Hilton
If jet-setting in Southeast Asia is a hobby of yours, here’s the next destination you need to pop on your radar: Kota Kinabalu in Borneo, Malaysia. Just two and a half hours from Singapore, Kota Kinabalu (fondly known as KK) is a bustling cultural centre with lots of thrills and spills up its sleeve. If you’ve been wanting to get your adventure on, here’s your chance to scale a pretty magnificent mountain, explore verdant jungles with friendly orangutans, and soak up some rays on your own patch of pristine white sandy beach. Our suggestion? Book yourself a stay at Hilton Kota Kinabalu – it’s right in the city centre and the perfect, cushy launchpad for all that exploring. But don’t take your time, there are only three more long weekends left this year for your next epic trip…
What to do in Kota Kinabalu
Make like a sherpa and climb Mount Kinabalu
If scaling one of the highest points in Southeast Asia is on your bucket list, here’s your chance to give it a go. Or if you’d like to take it easy but still see Mt. Kinabalu IRL, we suggest taking the botanical gardens nature trail and going for a dip at Poring Hot Springs. And when it isn’t too foggy, stop by the viewpoint to get the money shot. Be warned, you’ll need to allocate at least one day (three, if you’re climbing it) for the whole Mt. Kinabalu experience.
Get your Robinson Crusoe on at Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
If spending the day snorkelling and checking out gigantic monitor lizards sounds like your idea of fun, then hop on a 15- to 20-minute boat ride to Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. This beautiful collection of islands with its powdery beaches and clear waters is picture perfect. Spend the day hanging out at Gaya Island or Manukan Island, try a water sport or two, and grab a nice barbecue lunch by the water for daytrip heaven.
Hang with the orangutans at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Sure, we get to see them in action at the Singapore Zoo, but observing them in their natural habitat is an unforgettable and moving experience. At the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, you’ll get some in-depth knowledge on these gentle creatures and even get to help during feeding time.
Discover your inner culture vulture at the Mari Mari Cultural Village, Sabah State Museum and City Mosque
For an experience you won’t forget, head to the Mari Mari Cultural Village for a cool anthropology lesson on Sabah’s five ethnic communities – the Bajau, Lundayeh, Murut, Rungus and Dusun – set in lush jungle surrounds just 30 minutes from KK. You’ll get to try out traditional tribal activities including hunting with a blowpipe, fire-starting, tattooing and dancing, and sample authentic tribal delicacies from each ethnic group. And while you’re still in a cultural kinda mood, take your pick between the Sabah State Museum for the full lowdown on Sabah’s fascinating history and culture or the mind-boggling City Mosque that looks as if it is floating on water.
Where to eat
If you’re in the mood for local flavours, Filipino Market has a dizzying array of Asian faves, including chicken satay and ikan bakar (grilled fish) with spicy sambal – don’t forget to ask for extra rice! For a delish KK-style laksa, you can’t go wrong with Yu Kee restaurant on Gaya Street. We think their peppery bak kut teh is the perfect comfort food after an adventure-packed day of sunny escapades.
Where to stay
Hilton Kota Kinabalu’s sleek design is an ode to everything techy with its smart guest rooms (so much excitement for its smart lighting and motion sensors). With 360-degree city, harbour or mountain views (you pick!) and a rooftop pool, it’s the perfect launchpad for your KK adventure. The best part? It’s only 15 minutes away from the airport, which means you can get started on your KK-scapade sooner rather than later. It’s also walking distance to some fab shopping malls as well as the KK City Waterfront, where you NEED to turn up for a sunset cocktail or two. Make sure to swing by the hotel’s Urban Kitchen when you’re feeling peckish: it serves up Indian, Chinese and Malay delicacies with live cooking stations – yum!
Book a family room at Hilton Kota Kinabalu and enjoy complimentary buffet dining for maximum two kids (below 12 years old and must be accompanied by paying adult(s)), a 20% dining discount at Urban Kitchen or Rooftop Poolside Bar & Grill (excluding alcohol), and welcome goodies for the kids, including ice cream by the poolside! Book your stay now and take advantage of these promos while they’re available!
Hilton Kota Kinabalu, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Asia City, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
This post is in partnership with Hilton.