Where to Eat in Kota Kinabalu: Sampling Fares from the Land Below the Wind

Twice I’ve been in this city and every time, I loved how it welcomed me like a long lost friend. Sabah’s capital city, Kota Kinabalu is like an extension of the Philippines, there are lots of Filipinos here, locals like the Malays, Sabahans and even the Chinese community seem to know the language so you never have to worry about communicating with them.

What we really loved about being in the city is that you have plenty of options when it comes to places to eat and cuisines to suit your cravings. The first time I visited here, we consumed only Malaysian foodies – from satay, goreng and nasi lemak. On my return, we explored more and sampled different fares from the restos and shops that dotted the city. Here’s a list of some places to sit and dine in the bustling city of Kota Kinabalu.

1.  Seri Selera (Seafood Complex) Kampung Air, Jalan Kampung Air 4

Considered to be the Largest Seafood Complex in the city of Kota Kinabalu, you can expect to see live and fresh seafoods in there. Lots and lots of it! Baba would have wanted to try out some of those king lobsters but there were only two of us and I have some seafood allergy to boot so we settled for prawns and some chicken. This massive food joint is recommended for large groups to share the large servings of food.


2. Fook Yuen (Kopitam, Serve No Pork) – Komplex Asia City and Jalan Gaya

I think there are several Fook Yuen in Kota Kinabalu, and we have dined in two of them – one located in Asia City Complex and the one in Jalan Gaya. This kopitam seem to be a favorite among the locals and the foreigners. The service is quick, the food is good and the price is very affordable. We have dined in here for brekkie and we love the set meals of baked beans, bread and sausage. Also loved their kopi susu, its rich, thick and very flavorful. If there is one thing that will draw me back here over and over, it will be their coffee concoctions.

3. Little Italy (Italian Food) – Ground Floor Capital Hotel Bldg. Jalan Haji Saman

One lunch time, Baba and I were looking for other places to eat in Kota Kinabalu and found ourselves peering into the al fresco setting of Little Italy, an Italian restaurant near Suria Sabah. Though we stayed in Jesselton Hotel, we were not drawn to Bella, the Italian restaurant downstairs because the restaurant looked pricey. On the other hand, Little Italy looked laid back and a lot of locals and expats are dining. We sampled the Salmon Pizza and some delicious pasta. The place is a great alternative if you find yourself looking for something eat other than Malay food while in Kota Kinabalu.

4. Peppermint (Vietnamese) – Jalan Gaya, Kota Kinabalu

Just a block away from where we stayed, and just downstairs Le Borneo Spa, is the small and cozy food nook. The Peppermint serves Hainanese chicken, Spicy chicken and soo yummy Vietnamese coffee. Dined here twice because we really loved the spicy chicken (which wasn’t really that spicy) and the coffee and the affordable prices too!

5. Old Town White Coffee – Jalan Gaya, Kota Kinabalu

I have first tasted instant coffee products brought by an office mate when she traveled to KL last year. In KK, we found Old Town White Coffee Shop just a stone throw away from our hotel. We bought several packs of Hazelnut Coffee here on our first visit and decided to sample the famed Ipoh fare on our last day in KK. I am not a fan of noodles but I totally loved the Ipoh rice noodles that they serve here but the rice meals were just okay. Drinks and desserts looked mouth-watering from the menu but the prices prevented us from ordering anything else.

We capped off our 2nd time together in Kota Kinabalu with a coffee-lava sundae.   

Mt. Kinabalu: We’re On a High

Being on top of the mountain brings me that certain kind of high… but it was quite the opposite with Baba. Descending back to the rocky plateau to rest a while, he looked worst for wear – bluish and not looking very elated with the experience. This is his first climb ever, quite ambitious of us to do this but we did it!    I feel kind of selfish now looking at him, assuming he agreed to do it only because I wanted to do it. He is having altitude sickness and we want to go back on flat lands to end it.

After soaking ourselves up with chilly mountain air, we started walking down despite feeling like old women with a nasty arthritis attack. I admit not being too prepared for this climb, and like my previous climbs, descending had always been the part I dislike a lot. Slowly, cautiously we arrived at the cliffs and the ledges. What we’ve been walking on earlier is steep cliff with only those white ropes to anchor us and prevent us from toppling over amid strong winds. Baba said, it was good that summit assaults are made while it’s still dark, so we can’t see how scary the fall would be lest we do fall…

We must be one of the last batch of people to arrive at Laban Rata after climbing from the summit. It was around 10am and we need to check out at 10:30 – gone was Baba’s wish for shut eye before the long walk back to Timpohon. We organized our things and settled down in the mess hall for our breakfast. Baba seemed to feel better and we can smile in our pictures. We explored the hall and amazed ourselves with the events that led to the fame of Mt. Kinabalu climbs. We read about the unsung heros of Laban Rata and the climbathons that were held in this mountain. 

Once again we joined Ilya and Irina’s guide because ours excused himself once more. We haven’t reached the first rest area when batches of climbers started to pass us. Those fre*k*ng stairs are starting to torture our abused limbs more. Baba and I had to control our grimace with every step and try to smile at the excited bunch of climbers passing us.

We ceased our whining and complains when we met porters that carried so much heavy loads on their shoulders. Baba’s limited Malay vocabulary lead to some interesting conversations with the local porters and our guides. We learned that our guides make about 2 to 3 climbs in a week if the tourist influx is heavy. The porters on the other hand can do 2 climbs from Timpohon to Laban Rata in a day!

It started to rain, thankfully Ilya had an extra poncho for Baba. It was colder than ever and the view is obscured by the clouds. We are indeed very lucky to have started the climb the day before and were able to see the views. Several more hours on the trail, we met exhausted climber yet they managed to get excited with our tales of magnificent views on top. We tell them that it is truly worth every step they took.

It was almost five in the afternoon when we reached Timpohon Gate and another 15 or so minutes more to get a taxi and ride back to the park. The Balsam Hi-Tea Buffet was already closed and we were only given a pack of Yang-chow to eat. Our group was quiet. 
We all decided to wait for a bus to Kota Kinabalu and luckily got a ride. The ride back to town as quiet. I slept all the way through, waking only to snuggle closer to Baba. It was worth it. We are worth it. The price we paid, the sacrifices, every ounce of pain involved in every step of the way – they were all worth it. 

Mt. Kinabalu: Scrambling Through the Darkness

Something woke me, yet I snuggled deeper into Baba’s embrace feeling the chill of dawn. I felt sore and achy all over and I tried to claim back my slumber until realization hit me — oh no, I haven’t rested enough and today will be another excruciatingly long day once again.

Baba stirred awake and we both scrambled to get dressed the warmest possible way we can. Ilya and Irina commented that they feel like they are back in Siberia with this cold, yet they looked like they are wearing only light clothing compared to us having two to three layers on.

Laban Rata is all awake at 230AM. We tried to stuff ourselves with food in preparation for the difficult assault that awaits us, but being unused to eating heavy brekkie, I only managed a toast and some coffee to Baba’s displeasure.

It was pitch dark outside but the lighted trails have started to twinkle with hikers wearing their headlamps. We followed the line going up, it was all stairs and rocks and very cold wind that welcomes you. It was so darn cold, my fingers are starting to tingle. I felt my nose start to drip several meters after leaving the warmth of Laban Rata. My legs, still sore from yesterday’s 7-hour walk seem to complain with shots of pain at every step. I didn’t dare voice it out, Baba would surely drag me back to the lodge with just a single word.

I that worried my calves would burst anytime soon. Baba was always asking me if I can, and giving up would rely on me – the realization of this would be my call. I am stubborn and I would die before I give up. Not even the dark cavern of nothingness at the edge of  what we walked on scared me. I held on to the rope and we continued to walk up, stopping more and more to rest.

Slowly, dawn began to break, and lighted the way to the peak. We sat on the rolling plateau of rocks to admire the magnificent panorama that is laid before our eyes. I held my breath and hold on to Baba’s hands. My hands felt numb and Baba placed them in his armpits to warm them. I noticed Baba’s purplish hue and started to worry.

All the time, he was thinking of me and the struggle I have to overcome this. He scolded me for being mule-headed and for not bringing that wool scarf to warm my neck and offered his even if it leaves him freezing his ears out! Of course I am mule-headed and I did not take it. All the while, he kept his eye on our guide to ask for water when I request for a time out.  And all the while, it was him who’s not feeling well and is on the verge of loosing it!

We almost decided not to continue to Low’s Peak and just sate ourselves with the view. But after reassuring ourselves that we can do it, we started our way up once more. Despite the pain, I smiled inwardly, we are both stubborn I guess. When it comes to our goals we’d never back down. We climbed slowly until we can see the tip, with each step closer to the peak, we seem to gain more strength.

Finally, we are at 4,095 meters above sea level – the highest point we’ve been in our lives with our feet still firmly at the ground. It felt freezingly cold and the bunch of Japanese are taking too long with their photo shoot. Ilya and Irina made it to the top minutes ahead of us descended quickly back to the plateau. Them Japanese offered to take our picture and we were grateful! After a couple of shots, we hurriedly climbed down and sat on a more manageable spot.

Once again we stared in awe at the expanse of land as far as our eyes can see. We have made it. We may be both mule-headed, but this time it is for a good cause. Baba and I will give our all when it comes to us, our dreams and our relationship. On the hike the day before, Baba asked me to remind him that he have something to tell me when we reached the top. When I asked him then, he simply said, “I love you so much…”

High places do calm me, I offered a silent prayer of thanks to our Creator. I felt his presence strongly while on top of the mountain, I felt him listening intently to us, to what our hearts are truly saying. I’ve had many challenges in my life, I always survived alone and came out of it stronger.

Yet this mountain manifest a lot more challenges in my life that I need to overcome. Scrambling through the darkness, I hear his voice above the shrill of the wind, I felt his hands securing me on dangerous ledges thus, I am even more grateful now that I have Baba with me to face all of it. And starting today, I am sure would never go through these challenges alone.

*** a lot of thank yous to Ilya and Irina for some of the best photos at the peak! 🙂

Mt. Kinabalu: The Climb

Right after our visit to Kinabalu Heritage Park in November 2012, Baba and I vowed to climb the majestic Mt. Kinabalu “by hook or by crook.” The doors of opportunity opened up when a CebuPac seat sale happened in January 2013 and I was able to book a round trip Manila-Kota Kinabalu flight for March 8 until 13. Then we prepared ourselves to become broke when searching for the cheapest Kinabalu package yielded rates from RM750 to RM1050.

Luckily, I found an email address of Sutera Sanctuary’s booking staff and started pestering her from mid-January until February for 2-2day/1night slot on March 10 -11 or 11-12. She finally gave up and awarded my efforts with a congratulatory email and details of our climb package for May 10-11.  Paid it within a week and on the eve our climb, we met up with couchsurfer Ilya and newly-wedded wife Irina for our plans the next day.

At 5:00AM, we walked three blocks to meet Ilya and Irina and search for our ride to Kinabalu Park. Based on our visit there last time, Baba and I suggested we take a taxi instead which costs RM80/RM20 per person, the same amount if we’ll take the vans going there less the hassle of it waiting to get filled. Arriving early in Kundasang, I decided to get something to eat first before showing up at the registration center. We experienced some misunderstanding with our reservation and were really shocked when Ms Lovely Lady Sniffles informed us that what we had reserved is for May 11-12. But she then allowed us to push through and said that they have a slot for us, but we will now stay in Waras Hut instead of Laban Rata because it is already full.
Excitedly, we paid for miscellaneous, got our packed brekkie/lunch and hopped on the taxi with the other couple to reach Timpohon Gate. We were informed that our guide will just catch up with us so we just joined Ilya and Irina’s.


Baba and I considered this climb as a post anniversary celebration. A milestone in our relationship and yes, we’ll make it through “by hook or by crook.” We almost cancelled it for several reasons – the Sabah siege, family issues and financial constraints, but luckily, several windows of opportunities also kept drawing us closer to realizing it.

Having run a several times as preparation and having experienced climbing some mountains in the PH, I was confident about the climb. On the other hand, Baba was worried because this is his first ever climb. Yet we are ambitious and adventurous, we won’t back down on this peksman! But I underestimated the trail…

The first two kilometers were filled with excitement, energetic strides and a lot of pose-pose for pictures. We are loving the temperature, it was sunny but the altitude and the forest around us made it cool. Even meeting an injured guy carried by four porters on stretcher along the trail did not dampen our mood (okay, it worried us a bit).

We met several people on their descent, we thought these people were really fast, they were perky and seemed to have enjoyed the climb so much. We chatted we some of them while we were having lunch (packed apple and a sandwich plus a bottle of water) and they reassured us that it’s going to be worth all our efforts. But several kilometers and THOUSANDS of stairs more, I was started to feel the pain in my calves and a phobia of Po’s old enemy – the STAIRS.

I must be getting old, Baba was still very energetic and I blame it on the energy gel he just consumed, though he claims a stick of cigarette on every stop is all he needs. And as always, he, like a knight in shining armor, gallantly offered to carry my pack. And me, of course, feeling like a flop damsel in distress, argued a bit and eventual gave in. Baba carried my pack for several kilometers more. He kept on nagging me that I should stop hiking, mountain climbing and other crazy adventures on my own and that he should always be there accompany me when I plan to do something or go somewhere. (Nagpaka hyperactive na man ang pag ka overprotective nya!)

As we go higher, we started to feel the chill and the terrain became even more challenging. Several more people are descending, but these people now are not as cheerful as the earlier batch. We met people walking with a limp, with pained expression and others who looked really foreboding. Baba and I are taking more rests now because I can hardly pull my legs up those eff’in stairs anymore. Ilya and Irina are now well ahead of us. Though they claim to be both first timers, they look very adept at walking and climbing this mountain! Me and Baba kept on monitoring the distance to reach Laban Rata, and when our guide said that we’re less than a kilometer away, it gave us surge of energy and strength!

Just one more turn and we saw Waras Hut, but it was locked and our guide said we have to register at Laban Rata and have our supper there. I notice that Baba was already exhausted. He said he was feeling dizzy and ready to fall flat anytime. We hurried up a few meters more to Laban Rata dreading the hike back to Waras after supper. Luckily again, we were given beds there and there’s no need for us to walk back to Waras. Yay happy supper!

After supper, Baba gave way to slumber. I walked around the lodge and watched the sunset. Would have stayed out longer to admire this cold landscape but it was already freezing me numb!

Time check – 6:30PM, should rest and go to bed too, it’s going to be another extra long day tomorrow. I hugged Baba tight while he sleeps and I can’t help but smile. Despite the pains and the challenges, we’re made it this far… and weary as we are, we’re moving forward, we are ready for more.

***some pictures without watermark are from Ilya and Irina. 🙂

Where to Relax in Kota Kinabalu: Le Borneo Spa at Gaya Street

Kota Kinabalu is a vibrant city that you can easily explore on foot. Some places of interest are best discovered and visited by walking around. Though there are several bus routes that can take you around the city and the nearby  towns of Likas and Karamunsing, you’re best to walk around busy streets downtown and the waterfront.

My first time in Kota Kinabalu was spent going around and around the city trying to look into each mall, each shop and sampling every fare offered at the kedai kofi and bah kut teh shops. There are several major malls in the city and all of them are near the waterfront. There’s the Wawasan Plaza,  Warisan Square, the Merdeka, the Centerpoint and the Suria Sabah. After walking the whole length of the city, I found myself truly exhausted and I could not feel my feet anymore.

Luckily we found someplace to rest our tired feet. Le Borneo Spa is a new spa located at beside the Peppermint Cafe and Resto in Gaya Street. They offer different massage styles and they are one of the most affordable ones we’ve discovered. The first time we visited, Baba and I were placed in different rooms. He was serviced by a male masseuse and I was with a lady. We both liked the service here though we thought we may never came back.

sabah tea was served after the massage

After three months, we came to Le Borneo Spa soon as we descended from the Kinabalu CLimb. We accommodated together in a room for a couple spa this time. I warned the lady who is going to massage me that my legs and calves hurt so she should go slow. I think the one who’s going to massage Baba heeded my warning and was very careful with the man. It was only afterwards that Baba complained that he could not feel that he was massaged or maybe he was feeling to battered and bruised to feel anything!

Mt Kinabalu Heritage Park

Before I tell you about the recent climb to the majestic Mt Kinabalu, let me first talk about the lighthearted visit that me and Baba had when we first came to Kinabalu Heritage Park.

December 1. We woke up early and passed through the waking streets of Gaya to head to the terminal of vans going to Kundasang in front of King Park Hotel. I would have loved to shop around Gaya Sunday Market but we needed to leave early because Kinabalu Park is still 2 hours away from the city. We just pleased ourselves with photos of sale items and shops we passed by in Gaya.

We are not sure what activities awaits us at the park and the van is waiting for more passengers before it travels so we headed to a nearby Kedai Kopi to have a light brekkie and buy some food we can take to the park. 

We were joined by a group of 2 and another group of 4 in the van to Kundasang. The group of 2 were climbing Mt. Kinabalu and were already worried about the time, they asked everybody if we are willing to share payment for the remaining seats and we all agreed. Luckily more passengers arrive and we were on our way.

The van was actually going to Ranau and will pass by the park entrance in Kundasang.

The trip afforded scenic mountain views and the country side. It was not long before we all felt the cooling temperature and soon we reached our destination.


Fees for non-Malaysian adults are at RM 15 but it was a lucky day for us then because a community event is ongoing and the entrance fees had been waived.

We decided to take the guided trek of Silau Trail which starts at 11am with 4 others. While waiting we scored maps of the park trails and walked around the park on our own, and got lost and got tired and went back to the start of the trail. Luckily, we still had some time to rest, eat and recharge before we started with the guided trek.

Our guide gave us basic info on the plants flora and fauna that we see on the Silau Trail. It was a short 15-30 minutes trek for only RM 6 per person.

red lady – edible berries
microscopic orchid

After the trek, we went back to the entrance and the other group of 4 we were with on the trek arranged for transport service to Poring Hot Springs. This Aussie guy who looked like Beckham invited us to join them, but Baba reminded me of our other plans for that day (visit a church and buy pasalubong at the Filipino Market) so we decided to decline the offer.

souvenirs at the community event
presentation at the hall
bazaar at the park

We had lunch at what appears to be a stop over in front of the park entrance before waiting for the bus going to KK.

While traveling back to the city we vowed to come back and climb the majestic mountain and we did!!

Off to the Islands: Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

The five islands – Palau Manukan, Mamutik, Sapi, Sulug and Gaya make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, a favorite activity by tourists and vacationers who come to visit the vibrant City of Kota Kinabalu.

The island’s proximity to the city makes it easily accessible via speed boats from the Jesselton Point Ferry terminal. After a hearty breakfast at Fook Yuen in Gaya Street, Baba and I prepared for our day trip to the islands. We left our packs in our hotel and just told the staff that we will pay for any extension if we come back late after visiting the islands.

We walked the length of Jalan Fuad Stephens in search for the elusive port. Some guys offered us a ride to the islands for a lesser fee while we walked but we declined and preferred to take the ones from the port. After a long and hot walk, we finally reached our destination. I was impressed with the place and how organized they were.

We bought a ticket for 3 islands and waited for the speedboat to take us island-hopping. One good thing about being in Kota Kinabalu is that many people here speak Filipino. Its proximity to Mindanao and Palawan also makes crossing easy for some Filipinos and Malays or Sabahans.

Tunku Adbul Rahman Marine Park

The islands nearness to the city center makes it a favorite activity of both locals and tourist with a few days or a weekend to spare. It was another first time for us to ride a speedboat, and we thought that the Philippines would benefit greatly if we have this kind of service especially for island hopping.

Everything looks lush as the islands kept their vegetation healthy. The water is clear and you can see fishes even while you walk on the planks. he boat dropped off passengers who only opted for the island of Manukan first before bringing us to Palau Mamutik.

I love the wooden docks in the island and Palau Mamutik have clear waters with plenty of fishes that are tame and swims with the tourist.

Baba can’t stop snickering and teasing for leaving the goggles in pack and in the hotel because now we can’t enjoy looking at the fishes under the water. So we simply relaxed at the beach and contented ourselves with people-watching, taking pictures and dipping into the cool crystal clear waters every now and then.

After a while, our designated guide picked us up from Palau Mamutik and took us to Palau Manukan where we will have our lunch.

There are several options for different types of tastes. An island cooperative serves cheap meals and snacks a few feet from the dock.

Further down is the barbeque buffet being hosted by Sutera Harbor. You can ask for this from the boat operator from Jesselton Point and that is quite cheaper than getting it when you are already in the island. Since we don’t know this, Baba and I decided to try the ala carte meals from the Sutera restaurant.

We order Rendang and some Nasi, I’m not sure but they good enough. Baba find the spices and herbs a bit weird-tasting but we don’t have much choice.

We explored more of the islands after lunch and admired cabins under the Sutera management. We want to try staying in one of those but they’re probably rip off our budget anyway. 

 

Our guide informed us that he still can’t find a boat that will take us to Sapi, the last island on our list, but that was okay. We are enjoying the views and the seascape in Palau Manukan.

We walked the sandy beach, took pictures from the wooden dock, the beach and  whatever else took our interests. The place is so picturesque that it’s perfect for any photo shoots!

The islands also allow campers to stay and there are even tents for rent at RM30 per night.  Soon it started to drizzle, Baba and I are now feeling tired so we decided to call off the visit to Palau Sapi and head back home. 

Brekkie at Fook Yuen Cafe, Jalan Gaya

Baba and I woke up early at 6:30am on my second day in Kota Kinabalu. We are excited to explore around even this early and we decided to search around for a place to have breakfast. Just when we’re about to go out, Baba can’t find our keys… and only did we realize that we left it in the doorknob last night!

 

We walked towards Gaya Street and peeked at what the stores offer this early. We turned and found ourselves in the direction of the esplanade and then back to the Gaya. We ended in Fook Yuen, a cafe near the end of Gaya, just beside Old Town. I found myself drawn by the bread creations at his cafe because they looked like those from Breadtalk. We also decided to try out the noodles (goreng) and the different bits and pieces that’s eaten with it.

For coffee, I ordered kofi susu for both of us. Coffee from this side of Asia is truly heavenly and really cheap too! Kofi susu for only RM 1.20 each! I can just stay here and drink this yummy brew three times a day! The cafe is packed with early locals and tourists alike. I started noticing that the crew and the cashiers are but minors. Most people here in Kota Kinabalu also understands the Filipino language, so getting our thoughts across was not very difficult.

Our brekkie costs only around RM10 for everything and we still had take outs too boot! This cafe is something I would always come back to when I visit Baba  After filling our tummies, we headed back to our hostel and prepared for a trip to islands.

Touch Down Kota Kinabalu: Satay Galore at the Filipino Market

Before I came to Kota Kinabalu for a short visit, Baba and I promised that we will not eat at fast food while we’re in the city. We’ll feast on authentic Malaysian cuisine and foodies that we’ve seen and drooled over online. Arrived at the airport on time but the lines at the immigration was very long. I was thankful that when my turn came in, I just breezed through it.

We took a cab from the airport to our first accommodation: City Park Lane. Cab
costs RM25-30. After freshening up, we headed to the Filipino market for some mouthwatering Satay dishes.

Baba was doubtful and really asked if I wanted to eat there, he was expecting me to find something fancier.




Authentic Asian Street Food 

Satay or “sate” according to Wikipedia is a “dish of seasoned meat, skewered and grilled and served with sauce. It originated from Java, Indonesia and is popular in Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia.

Food was really great in the Filipino market stalls and you can eat with your hands. Hawkers provide water for you to wash before and after eating. Aside from Satay of different sorts, there are also other munchies you can buy and try.

We walked around the streets of Kota Kinabalu afterwards, we might have passed through landmarks but I hardly noticed anymore. I still can’t believe I’m outside the Philippines and I have Baba here with me.

Kota Kinabalu City Hall at night

We ended our night stroll at BB Cafe which is just a few steps from our hostel. The place is actually an alley that connects Jalan Pataii and Jalan Gaya turned into a group of bars and coffee shops.

There’s a band playing that night, we weren’t sure of their Nationality but they sang a couple of OPMs (Bakit ngayon ka lang…) and some Korean pop music too. Baba had a couple of beers while I had some cold creamy coffee.

My first night in a foreign land went out really well. We were able to stick by the Kota Kinabalu itinerary we prepared and was cool budget-wise, we spent less than RM100 including the cab from the airport. Next day we’re off the islands 🙂

The Land Below the Wind: Kota Kinabalu Accommodations and Itinerary

Last October 2012, I was able to book cheap flights from Clark, Philippines to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Malaysia. Roundtrip airfare costs only Php3,200 and Baba and I were both excited for my visit.

A month before the trip we constantly chatted to arrange our schedules and itinerary since he would need to file leaves from his work in Papar. I’ve searched online on how others spent their visit to Kota Kinabalu (KK) and wondered at how much we’ll spend for our trip.

We made advance booking for our hostels via Agoda, and because we can’t decide where exactly we want to stay, we booked three hotels for our three nights there (this Baba hope we won’t do again). Three days accommodation costs in these hotels totaled more or less P4500:

1. City Park Hotel (Jalan Pantaii)
 Double Room Rate in Agoda: RM 73 (at time of booking)

We liked this hostel a lot, the staff are friendly, the room is clean and spacious. We asked if we can extend a little like an hour after checkout because we’re going for the islands, we came back much later yet the lady in the reception did not ask for additional fee for our lapsed time.

2. Borneo Gaya Lodge (Jalan Gaya)
Double Room Rate (without windows): RM77 (at time of booking)

Baba thinks this hostel is over-rated in Agoda. The room we got was very basic for the price. It was just a room with a bed and a bathroom. No television and no windows and the wi-fi was so-so. Only good thing with this hostel is that it is located right in Gaya St where Sunday street market happens.

3. Cititel Express (Asia City Complex)
Standard Room with Sea View: RM 120 (at time of booking)

We wanted something fancier on our last night. There were negative remarks about this hotels’ room sizes but Baba and I just loved it. Their resto however is just an express diner so we just headed out to the waterfront for our candle-lit dinner date.

I think the price is just right for the comfortable room and convenient location of this hotel. We just hope that wi-fi would be free!

Itinerary for 4 days and 3 nights

Baba and I made our itinerary with both of us looking up the internet for things we wanted to do, foods we want to eat and places we wanted to visit while I’m there. He’s already three months in Sabah, but he haven’t really explored the city yet. So this is what we have prepared.

Day 1 (Friday)
1505 ETD from Clark Airport
1705 ETA in KKIA
1800 Check in at City Park Lodge in Jalan Gaya
1830 Head to Filipino Market for Dinner
1930 Check out nearby landmarks
2100 Night cap at BB Café in Rainforest Lodge
2300 Back to lodgings
Day 2 (Saturday)
0700 Check out and Breakfast at Jalan Gaya
0830 Jesselton Point jump off to Manukan/Sapi/Mamutik Islands
1130 Lunch at one of the Islands (Manukan)
1400 Back to city and check in at Borneo Lodge
1530 City Tour (Blue Mosque, Atkinson Tower, Signal Hill Observatory etc)
1800 Head to Tanjung Aru Beach to watch the sunset/Dinner
1930 Mall (Centerpoint/Wisda Merdeka)
2100 Coffee/Nightcap at Old Town White Coffee
2300 Back to lodgings

Day 3 (Sunday) Option 1

0600 Breakfast
0700 Bound for Kinabalu Park
0900 Explore Kinabalu Park
1300 Leave for the City
1500 Movie/Mall
1700 Sunday Mass
1800 Filipino Market for Souvenirs
1900 Dinner Date
2100 Back to Lodgings

Day 3 (Sunday) Option 2
0700 Breakfast
0800 Sunday Mass
0900 Explore Gaya Sunday Market
1000 Mall
1200 Early Check in at Cititel Express/Lunch
1300 Lok Kawi Wildlife Park
1500 Monsopiad Cultural Village
1700 Pacific Sutera/Shangrila (Sunset/Dinner)
1900 Back to City Center
Day 4 (Monday)
0700 Breakfast at Hotel
0800 Head to Filipino Market/Shop
1000 Mall
1100 Lunch then Airport
1340 ETD KKIA
1540 ETA Clark

Baba did not allow me to change any peso to ringgit because he said he’s prepared for the expenses. When I got there, he handed me a bunch of ringgits that was our budget for the whole trip.

So do you think we were able to stick to our IT? Will post more about my first ever out of the country trip soon!