I’ve only just begun traveling and despite how people really see it as luxury and living on top of the world, it’s kind of hard to know where to go, especially if you’re not familiar with the place. This is why maps were invented, to help us navigate through places we’ve never been to. But I’m not exactly the Dora of the year. In fact, I have no idea how to tell north from west and west from south. I just know that the sun rises in the east and sometimes, I don’t even know how to tell where it rises in a place.

Weird? Probably, but hey, I never said I was that good in all those geography stuff.

So anyway, despite my lack of actual map skills, I’m still pretty much intrigued by maps. I have a collection of it at home. And when we arrived in Kota Kinabalu, I took a few maps before leaving the airport. And boy, was I glad to have the right one.

This little baby below is the map that I used. If you look closely, it actually has tears at the sides because it’s already torn inside due to constant use (yey for me!).

On the other hand, this map, which I found at the hostel is pretty accurate too, although, it’s upside down. Don’t get confused though. The Waterfront and jetty should always be at the top of your map.

Anyway, because I’m very, very inspired at the moment, I took the time out to point to you guys some very important places for you to go to in Kota Kinabalu. I didn’t include the other tourist destinations not just because they’re not in the map I edited, but because you’ll find it in every other map available at the airport or in your hostel.

In this map that I re-adjusted, you’ll find some places you’ll want to go to and other places you’ll need to go to.

If you want a bigger copy of the map, you can see it here.

  1. Wawasan Plaza Bus Station

This is really important because if you plan on going anywhere around the city or out of the city, you’ll need to know where Wawasan Plaza Bus Station is. This is their main bus station with various buses going to different places in Sabah. You’ll also find the bus going to Likas here if you plan to visit UMS or the city mosque.

  1. Waterfront

Waterfront in Kota Kinabalu

Never miss the Waterfront when you’re in Kota Kinabalu. Why? Because on good days, it has some of the best sunsets. Unfortunately for me, I only caught glimpses of it. Along Waterfront, you’ll find several bars and restaurants where you can drink and eat merrily. At the center of it, where most tourists are, there are several restaurants, even a spa for massages right in the middle. However, along this area, the cost of each meal can be kind of hefty. I had a carbonara meal for RM 19 here and it was more expensive than my lunch and dinner the next day.

If you’re hoping to watch the sunset without having to spend too much, the Waterfront boardwalk also has a budget side. If you continue walking along the Waterfront, you’ll end up in a boardwalk with fewer restaurants and some kids and teenagers gangnam-ing and skateboarding. Food is cheaper here, at only RM 5 – 9 per dish.

  1. Borneo Backpackers

One of the most popular backpackers hostel, is just right across the street from Jalan Gaya. You’ll see it immediately, because it’s about 3 floors high, I think. And it’s green.

  1. Sensi Backpackers Hostel

where to stay in Kota Kinabalu

This, on the other hand, is my recommended backpackers hostel. I had so much fun here. They have clean rooms, clean bathrooms, free breakfast, free flowing coffee, tea and water and Wi-Fi. They also have television and a cozy common room for all the guests. Two thumbs up and a foot. Definite worth your money at only RM 30 per night.

  1. Currency Exchange at Beach Street (open until Sundays 2pm)

Because I forgot to have my money exchanged in the Philippines and I opted not to exchange all of my money at the airport (low rate), I had to find a good currency exchange within the city. Unfortunately, I still had money on my second day (Saturday) and only realized I was running out by night. I got worried that I would be able to have my money exchanged until Monday since most currency exchange stores are closed on a Sunday. After awhile of walking, we found the currency exchange in Beach Street (I have no idea what it’s called), but it’s just along the small, restaurant-codded street, facing Jalan Pantai (the other street next to Jalan Gaya). Their currency exchange store is open at 8am – 7pm (I think) and on Sundays, they are also open until 2pm.

  1. Fong Ip – has good dumplings

what to eat in Kota Kinabalu

Best thing about Sensi Backpackers Hostel is that it’s also in a very good location. On Sundays, you get to go out directly into the Sunday Market. And just right across the street, you have Fong Ip, one of the best restaurants for cheap and delicious Nasi Lemak and dumplings. Cheap too.

  1. Sabah Tourism Board

where to go in Kota Kinabalu

Now if you’re on the hunt to know more about Sabah and its tourist destinations, the Sabah Tourism Board is just along Jalan Gaya. Just walk along the street, heading to Jesselton Point and way, way before you reach the ferry terminal (don’t step out of Jalan Gaya), you’ll see the nice two (I think) storey establishment. We never got to go inside because we kept missing its operating hours. I think it’s open only until 4pm.

  1. Bus stop to Brunei

How to Go to Brunei?

If you want to take a side trip to Brunei, the bus stop is here. There are several buses going to Brunei, but the one we inquired in only had day trips going to the country. They leave at 8am in the morning and costs about RM 120 per way. Oh, and the ride is about 8 hours long.

  1. Restaurant with delicious Bak Kuh Teh

where to eat in Kota Kinabalu

Do you know what Bak Kuh Teh is? Neither did I. But when our friend Joe introduced us to the Chinese dish, we were delighted. At first, I wasn’t totally interested in it because it was too hot, I was sunburned and I really didn’t want to eat soup. Then when I got a taste of it, it was delicious! The dish cost us about RM 10 for a big bowl (fed 4 of us, 3 of them were guys and I eat like a guy) and RM 1 for a cup of rice. I think this was one of my cheapest meals.

  1. Afternoon Market

Market in Kota Kinabalu

For some reason, this market that they set up along the City Hall is only available sometime in the afternoon. I’m not sure what time, but when we passed it, it was around 3pm I think and then when we passed it again coming back, it was gone. There is another Night Market just around the area though. In fact, there’s so many markets around the area that you can just walk at night and I’ll bet you’ll find one. Geez, these people truly love markets!

  1. Cheap beer

And hoho! For sure, some of you will want to have some beer before you leave the country. Because Kota Kinabalu is so relaxed, with its very chill atmosphere, there’s no better place to grab a drink and laugh with new-found friends. While you can choose to drink at the Waterfront or the Beach Street for a beer that will cost you RM 16 – 18 for a jug (San Mig Light is RM 11/bottle), this restaurant here in this spot sells beer the cheapest in town. They have beer for only RM 4-5/can. That’s almost the same amount as the P45/bottle beers in Manila.

Now that you have the deepest, darkest (lol) secrets of Kota Kinabalu, I’m sure you’d enjoy it as much as I did.

If you want a bigger copy of the map, you can see it here.

Enjoy Kota Kinabalu!

Brenna is the sole owner of The Philippine Travelogue, an online journal of her travel adventures and experiences. Brenna is a freelance writer, online marketing and social media specialist and a blogger with a constant itch for adventure and thrill. For inquiries, suggestions and invitations please send a message.

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