A Photographic Snapshot of Kota Kinabalu

By Paul Bourke
March 2011

The new waterfront renovation.

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Central markets.


City Mosque, the largest in Kota Kinabalu.

Central Sabah Mosque

Main prayer room of the Central Sabah Mosque. Contrary to some of the tourist information, if you are prepared to don some gowns then both men and women visitors can enter the mosque.

The poorer side of town.

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Rather a sad part of town, unlike the houses on stilts over the ocean these are essentially over a stagnant pool.

The people there are very friendly and the insides of the houses do not always reflect the condition of the exterior.

The Tanjung Aru stilted village.

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The so called "stilted village" is just north of some of the fancy resorts, quite a stark contrast.

Catch bus 16 (or 16a) from the south bus terminal.

Sure the beaches are "nice" but not much compared to many parts of the Australia coast. Unfortunately if you stray from the resorts and usual tourist haunts, the beaches are often covered in debris, mostly plastic bottles.

Fantastic fish markets.

Gaya Street Sunday Markets.

Fish must be the most popular pet for the locals, not shortage especially of fighting fish.

Chinese procession to the temple.

Food court before the night markets.

Around the "Asia" City.

And the Kampug Air area.

The standard approach is to choose your seafood, then try to gauge some idea of how it will be cooked.


Lights on Basar Baru Rd

Malay Martial arts

Street side doctors


Tun Fuad Stephen street, central market on right.

Garment repair outside the central market.

Random shopping center, there are perhaps a dozen of these within the city region, they all look much the same.

Tun Nustapha Tower.

Ground floor

Restaurant level 18

About 20 minutes out of the city the tower offers lovely views and a relaxing revolving restaurant (the staff can ring for a taxi for the return trip). One of the tallest buildings in Borneo, it was originally the Sabah Foundation Building completed in 1997. The building is fairly unique, being one of the few "hanging" buildings, each floor is a 72 sided polygon and column free.


  • Taxis are a very cheap and convenient way to get around, at least in the city area. The only trick is they are not metered no check the price to your destination beforehand, having said that unlike many Asian cities the operators are not out to rip off tourists.

  • I wouldn't bother with the State Museum, very run down and few interesting exhibits.

  • The buses are easy to catch once you know the number or the location, both of these are usually painted or written on the front. You pay at the start or at the end of the trip unless there is a conductor (only on the larger buses). There are two bus stations, the one for short local trips is in the south of the city, the one for longer distant trips in in the middle-east of the city.