Free Things To Do in Kota Kinabalu

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

Sabah is a state of Malaysia located on the northern portion of Borneo. The capital city of Sabah is Kota Kinabalu. A major airport is located in Kota Kinabalu, so if you are traveling in Malaysia you will probably find yourself in this city. Whether you're looking for some things to do during a layover or low-cost options for your stay, this video and list below will help you achieve fun and frugality while you're in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia!

Here are the activities we did in this video with the tips I shared:

1. Pasar Kraftangan / Handicraft Market (Window Shopping)


It’s located along the Kota Kinabalu Waterfront and is a 5 to 10 minute walk from the city center. Here you can find every type of souvenir of Malaysian and other Southeast Asian relics. Items include clothing, instruments, decor and their famous selection of pearl jewelry. The Malaysian craft makers are very friendly and will help you find the perfect memento or gift. You can also get clothing tailored at this market. The never-ending maze of items makes this place A+ for window shopping.


2. Pillars of Sabah / Old Welfare Building / Land Surveying Building (Street Art on Ruins)


In the city center of Kota Kinabalu are ruins that date back to the British North Borneo administrative era. The ruins used to be a welfare building that was later changed into a land surveying building. The building was then burned in a fire in the mid 90's. Today, the ruins are now home to an art exhibit called the Pillars of Sabah. Every couple of months the gallery shows different "pillars" of the Sabah state of Malaysia. Both the graffiti and art in the exhibit are perfect for an artsy photoshoot.


3. Kota Kinabalu City Mosque / The Floating Mosque (Prayer or Viewing)

The Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is located on the shores of Likas Bay. Because of its waterside locale, it’s also called The Floating Mosque. Tourists are allowed entry into the mosque for worship. Also, the boardwalk surrounding the mosque is perfect for a leisurely stroll or picture taking! Entry used to be free, but now there is a small fee of 5 Malaysian Ringgits or $1.20 USD. Make sure your garments cover your shoulders and knees so you avoid extra clothing rental costs.


4. The Signal Hill Observatory Tower (Sunset Gazing)


This tower is the city’s highest point. From here you can see the whole town and more! The daytime view is nice, but people really go here for the sunset. To get here, you can hike a trail of 267 steps starting from the town up. Or you can drive! Like we did! Sunset viewing can be done on the road as well, with benches lining the street. While you wait for nightfall, you can grab a snack or drink at the KK View Cafe. No matter where you view it, the sunset will be beautiful! This is the perfect way to end your day in Sabah’s city capital. Hope these tips help you on your Malaysia trip! If you're interested in more Malaysia travel videos then here is my full Mighty Malaysia video playlist.


Tell me in the comments: would you rather go shopping at a market or roam abandoned ruins?