|Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside of centre||$372.09|
|Internet (6 Mbps, unlimited data)||$48.58|
|Loaf of white bread||$1.05|
|Cinema, international release, 1 seat||$3.41|
|Milk (1 liter)||$1.59|
|Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre||$191.21|
|Combo meal at McDonalds||$3.72|
|Monthly Pass (local transport)||$46.51|
The city of Kinabalu is located in the state of Sabah, Malaysia on the island of Borneo facing the South China Sea. It is a city of 500,000 with a growing economy, and is the sixth largest metropolitan area of Malaysia. For Westerners, the city does not look urban enough, due to the prevalence of the green scenery around the city. Literally, the name Kota Kinabalu means “the town of Kinabalu” referring to the nearby Mt. Kinabalu.
The city is considered to have a tropical rain forest climate, although there is a significant dip in the volume of precipitation during the months of February to May due to the monsoon winds. The local temperature ranges from 22 to 31 degrees Celsius for most of the year.
The city of Kinabalu is not on the radar for high-end beaches and resorts. Instead, it is a gateway to Sabah and the natural rain forest, as well as access to great spots for diving, deep sea fishing, wetland river cruise, sailing and yachting. In the waters off Kota Kinabalu are several dive spots including World War II wrecks. Diving skills required range from recreational to advanced technical divers. Dive spots include Palau Tiga, Gaya wreck, Usukan Bay and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.
Deep sea fishing operators charter boats for up to 10 persons. These are not quite rudimentary boats with little amenities. However, what the boat lacks, the sea provides in terms of the variety of fish, quality and quantity. Visitors interested in deep sea fishing are advised to visit the parked boats near the Central Market and Hyatt, as well as the catch from the boat charters.
For those who like seafood, this is one of those few places where the seafood is fresh, and the cuisine is diverse. There is a market and restaurants in the area where the diner chooses the fish or seafood and can have it cooked in a particular manner, whether in a soup, fried, roasted over coals or fresh escabeche-style.
Kota Kinabalu is not a five-star destination, at least not yet. The upside is that it is not an expensive place to visit, once you get there. There are a variety of hostels for backpackers and not too many resort type places. It is better to take a look first at the amenities and rooms, as there is a big difference in quality for the same price lodging.