“ City: Kota Kinabalu / Country: Malaysia / Country Region: Sabah / World Region: Asia „
* Prices may differ from that shown
I stayed in Kota Kinabalu (also known as KK) in October 2006 for nearly 3 weeks. Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah.
Getting to Kota Kinabalu (KK)
You can fly to KK from London Heathrow as we did. We travelled from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpar, and then to Kota Kinabalu as its not possible to do a direct flight. The flight in total was around 15 hours - 12 hours to Kuala Lumpar and 2 and a half hours to Kota Kinabalu. Accommodation
We stayed in a five star resort while we were in KK which was outstanding and very reasonably price.
There is a large variety of places to choose to stay in KK, these range from 5 star resorts, down to small beach huts and hostels which are great for backpackers as it keeps the cost of accommodation down. The hostels are especially good for backpacker as you get to meet like-minded people and can share your experiences and offer advice to one another.
Many of the hostels are very basic, offering a bed and a ceiling fan. There are shared bathrooms but these were in a clean condition. We stayed at a hostel for 2 nights while we were doing a trip and I found everything to be as expected. I was quite worried about the state of the shared bathrooms but there was no need as it was all very well maintained. We paid the equivalent of about £3.50 for each night we stayed at the hostel and this also included breakfast so prices are more than reasonable. The nicer hotels, 3-5 stars usually have pools and in resort facilities such as a spa and nice restaurants although food and drinks inside the hotels are about twice the price than if you were to get them locally in town.
There are some nice hotels in the main town of KK although the hotels nearer to town do not tend to have swimming pools etc.
Our hotel, which was in The Sutera Harbour Resort was about a 7-minute drive from the centre of town so I felt this was an excellent location. I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone wishing to visit KK.
Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of GMT. This means that you can often feel slightly jet lagged when you get there but we just made sure that we stayed awake and went to bed at their bedtime and out body clocks soon adjusted.
In Malaysia, their currency is the Ringgit. While we were out there, the exchange rate was £1 for RM 7.00
Getting Around KK
Getting around KK was very easy and cheap. The main method of transport is taxi. Out hotel was 10 minutes away from KK city centre and a taxi into town cost us RM 10.00 which is about £1.50 so it was reasonably priced. However, from our hotel, they also offered a free shuttle service which was very useful. It ran every hour up until 9pm. However, I am not sure that all hotels would offer this service.
There is also a local bus service which we were informed by other people was very easy to use. However, we never actually used to local bus service as we thought it would be easier getting taxis and then we didn't have to plan our days around the times of the buses.
There are lots of restaurants in KK offering a large variety of food. We found a lovely little Restaurant called Jothy's which was an Indian Restaurant. A three-course meal cost us £7 each and this included drinks. The food was delicious as well. Although the restaurant is very small and doesn't look up to much from the outside, I really would recommend this restaurant to other people. To be honest, we probably would not have gone there either but it was recommended to us by my parents who went to KK a few years ago. Jothy's is situated about a 5-minute walk from the Centrepoint shopping centre so is very easy to get to.
Another place we liked, was called Olives and was situated on the top floor of the Centrepoint shopping centre. In here, they served a range of food from typical Malaysian dishes as well as western food. We quite often went here for lunch where we got a milkshake each and also a toasted sandwich. It cost £1.50 for your whole lunch so we were very impressed with the prices and the staff were very friendly. It's only a small café style shop but very homely inside with a good range of cheap food.
In KK you will find a massive range of cuisine and there are restaurants located everywhere so you don't have to walk for miles to find somewhere to eat. You can have Malaysian food, English food, Chinese, Indian and there are the normal fast food shops such as McDonalds and KFC dotted around the town.
Another restaurant which I would recommend is Atlantis. This is situated on the seafront and you can have your meal outside and look out over the sea which was a nice touch. The food was outstanding, probably my next favourite restaurant after Jothy's. The restaurant is very modern and is very nicely decorated in blue with a bubble theme. Te food was slightly more expensive in here though, I assume because it is quite a posh restaurant but a 2-course meal and drinks still only cost £15 each.
Of course, as well as all the restaurants there are all the hawker stalls in town selling a variety of food. Some people were reluctant to eat from these stalls as to be honest they didn't look very hygienic but as long as the food if hot, I cant see you having any problems. My boyfriend tried some fried chicken (I'm vegetarian so obviously didn't eat any) and he thoroughly enjoyed it and it certainly didn't give him a dodgy tummy.
To sum it up, there is a great variety of choice of food in KK. I loved the fact the you could literally have something totally different every night and it was nice to be able to try some local dishes as well as my usual favourite like Chinese. You will certainly not go hungry in KK.
Things to do in KK
Although KK is quite small, you will still find loads to do. There are many shopping centres, the main one being Centrepoint which is a large shopping mall spread over 4 floors. There is also a cinema and a bowling alley. There are other smaller shopping centres but unfortunately I cannot remember the names of them. There is the Philapino market situated on the seafront at the far end. Although all the stalls are very small and its sometimes difficult to get around (as its so cramped). This market opens around 10am and closes around 8pm although some stalls are open till later at around 10pm. The stalls sell handmade goods as very reasonable prices. I bought some necklaces back as presents for friends and the more you buy the cheaper they will sell them to you. You can barter with the locals as often they will tell you a price that is too expensive and you eventually agree on a price somewhere in the middle. I enjoyed this market as local people run all the stalls and it was fascinating to see some of the crafts they had made by hand.
Also on the seafront is the fresh food market. This was also fascinating to walk around. The stalls sell fresh fruit and veg and also fresh meats and fish. This market is open all day, up until about 9pm. You will find hundreds of different types of fish and crabs. We didn't actually buy anything from this market as I think it's more of a market for local people who have cooking facilities at home which we didn't have at out hotel. They also sold meats such as chicken and beef. I must admit that some of the stalls were not very hygienic, for example, there were stalls with chicken meat laid out on them and this meat would stay there in the boiling hot sun until somebody bought it which I didn't think would be too healthy. At the far end of this market, they have stalls that cook food fresh there and then. We ate dinner here one night and had a Malaysian curry with some rice. This was very cheap - £2 for both meals. There are a few benches where you can sit and eat your food although this did get quite cramped as many of the locals come here to eat! The stalls offer a variety of foods such as curries with rice, whole cooked fish and chicken meat on skewer to name a few. There is a stretch of restaurants and bars along from the market. There are a few restaurants and also a few pubs / bars. There was an Irish bar here which had a pool table and played English music. The only problem with drinking in Malaysia is that the prices are not that different to here.
Many of the large hotels have a pub / club in the resort which can be useful if you only want to stay in one place. The clubs have various themed nights throughout the week. For example, the club called Jugs that was attached to our hotel has ladies night on a Thursday which meant all women got free drinks all night!! They also had special offers and happy hours which were good to take advantage of! Many of the bars and clubs in town had local bands playing throughout the week. We watched a couple of them and it was good entertainment. The Reef Dance bar and Grill was another place that I would recommend to people wishing to visit KK, this is situated on Beach Street.
There are five small islands located near to KK and boat trips to these islands are very cheap. It cost us £5 for a return boat trip to the islands. These islands are Palau Sulug, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Mamutik, Palau Manukan and Pulau Gaya. We visited Manukan and Mamutik. We went scuba diving from Mamutik. Scuba diving was spoilt slightly by the fact that we went during raining season and due to the many thunderstorms the visability was quite poor. However, on another day we went to Manukan Island to do some snorkelling and the visibility was great, we saw loads of brightly coloured fish. Again though, due to thunderstorms, we had to cut our trip shorts and head back to KK as the boats stop sailing in stormy weather. I would recommend this trip to anyone though, the furthest island is only a 2o minute boat journey away and its great to see the other islands. All sorts of activities are offered on the islands such as scuba diving, snorkelling, para sailing etc. The islands we visited also had restaurants and gift shops as well as small beach huts which you could stay in over night. If you are interested in the history of Malaysia there is the Sabah State Museum but we didn't visit it so I can't really give you any details!
Attractions that are easily accessible from KK
One of the main attractions of KK is Mount Kinabalu which is situated in Kinabalu Park. Kinabalu Park is on the northern end of Borneo. Trips were offered from our hotel and the price was £30 per person and that included the 2 and a half hour coach trip from our hotel and also entrance into Kinabalu Park. Kinabalu Park is dominated by Mount Kinabalu which stands at 4, 095 metres making it the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. The grounds are rich in species with examples of flora and fauna from the Himalayas, China, Australia and Malaysia.
We never got round to climbing the mountain or visiting the park as we ran out of time but we spoke to many people who had visited and they all recommended the trip. Also, within the grounds of the park are the pouring hot springs where you can bath in them - I have to say this did appeal to me!!
I have a friend that backpacked in Borneo and he climbed Mount Kinabalu, he did a 3-day package where you actually stay in accommodation at 3, 000ft! They watched the sun rise, sunset and also had a guided day of bird watching so there are a variety of activities to do while at Kinabalu park. White Water Rafting in Kiulu
About a two hour coach journey from KK is Kiulu and The Kiulu River. Here, you can take part in white water rafting. We paid £15 each for coach journey, the rafting and hire of all equipment and also a BBQ lunch. White Water Rafting is fantastic. As we had never done it before, we decided to go on a Grade 2 course which is basically the safest one. My only regret is that we didn't do a slightly higher grade. All the instructors were very professional, and gave us some safety tips like what to do if the raft capsizes etc! The white water rafting took about 2 hours down the Kiulu River and there were some amazing view throughout our journey. There are 6 people to a raft and we went with about 7 rafts in total. Each raft had a guide and all passengers were provided with a life jacket, helmet and paddle. After we had completed the course, we were provided with a BBQ buffet lunch before we headed back to KK. I would recommend this trip to anyone wanting to try White Water rafting, the course had a few drops in the water but if you are a bit of a dare devil then I would advise you to go for a grade higher then 2.
On the whole, Kota Kinabalu is an amazing city and well worth a visit. If you used to Ibiza clubbing holidays then it probably wouldn't be your sort of this but if you like cultural holiday with plenty to do then you would thoroughly enjoy Kota Kinabalu. I have only covered a small percentage of things to do as quite honestly we ran out of time to visit all the attractions so I have just reviewed the attractions that we took part in or visited.
Somewhere between packing our bags on our way out of the Shanghai Sofitel Hotel and unpacking them in Hong Kong, we'd somehow managed to properly lose all of our remaining collection of foreign cash resources.
I don't mean the sort of lost where the money pouch turns up after a heated discussion about financial responsibilities under a pair of flip flops at the bottom of the suitcase.
I mean the sort of lost where it's actually gone.
It's former money. Money from memory only. Ex-money.
We'd managed to collect together every article of clothing and every device that we set off from the UK with and had successfully secured them within our bags where they had remained. Except for the money.
Admittedly, since leaving home we had increased our number of accompanying suitcases by 100%, partly due to the seven chopstick gift sets, five decorative tiles, one stuffed toy panda bear, a pile of free China Daily English language newspapers, numerous badly re-folded City maps and an utterly unintelligible but pseudo novelty Chinese pamphlet about tea, but our main reason for the 2 wheeled cabin bag purchases?
The fact that the more often I had to re-pack my suitcase, the more progressively lazy I became and the careful folding and placing had quietly relaxed into chucking then lobbing and things were becoming close to stuffing.
It was probably my fault, and we down by $100 US and $500 HKD, with muttering and reluctance, I worked out that we were roughly £120GBP worse off, which just shows you how complicated exchange rate can be.
I did go to an ATM in Hong Kong to replenish spending supplies, but after my transaction was denied for the second time, we had to resort to bashing the plastic wherever possible, which is not a euphemism.
Like real life bondage enthusiasts, we were strapped for cash. Temporarily at least.
Magically, my mobile phone started ringing at 6am local time as we were waiting to board yet another flight, and answering it more through curiosity of Chinese telephone sound quality than interest in the actual caller, I was a little surprised to hear a Scottish lady from the National Westminster bank telling me that she was from the Fraud Team and it was a courtesy call to inform me that they had had to stop my card working because someone over in Hong Kong was trying to access my account.
That'd be me then.
It was all thanks to this collective demonstration of idiotic money borne drama that I made our driver in Borneo go all soft and weepy.
He'd kindly collected us from the unexpectedly modern Kota Kinabalu Airport, loaded our luggage enthusiastically single handedly into his little green minibus and driven us for 10 minutes to our lodgings at the stunning Shangri La hotel, before insisting on unloading all our bags himself into the hands of the concierge service.
Ordinarily I wouldn't mind this behaviour because it saves me doing it, and he's only doing it to supplement his income with tips. The trouble this time, as I desperately rummaged through the pockets in my shorts, I knew I only had a $10 HKD note on me.
I offered it thinking he'd laugh at the funny foreigner with the wrong money, but he accepted it like I'd paid for his future grandchildren's education.
It did make me do more pressure sums as I tried to calculate what I'd just gifted to the helpful man, and this time you can try too.
At the time of travelling, GBP to HKD was an exchange rate of approximately 1:11.
While GBP to RMB was 1:5.
So I reckoned I'd given him about 96p or 4 and a bit RMB, about enough for a Bigmac meal or a pack of 20 Marlboro.
I was very glad all that A-level Maths had stayed with me. No one at school says you need Maths to do travel.
His reaction did convince me for a considerable period of time that perhaps I'd unwittingly stumbled across an international financial loophole, where Hong Kong Dollars were worth Millions in Malaysian Ringgit when directly exchanged, and part of me is still wondering.
You may have noticed that in Borneo, they have the completely made up name of Ringgit for their currency. I didn't choose the name, it's genuinely called Ringgit.
Walking up the dozen or so wide steps into the huge open-fronted foyer of the hotel, we both quickly realised that this was a hotel like no other we'd seen.
Standing proud in the middle of Reception was an 8 foot tall flower display creation made entirely of pink and white lily's based, I assume, on the shape of a giant camp Dalek. I don't think they had this in mind when they put it together, but it did have a definite close resemblance to interstellar killers. Albeit nicely scented.
We sat on one of the sofas gawping at the exposed beams of the huge vaulted ceiling whilst we were privately checked in by a member of guest relations, who no sooner had sat down then told us that the room we were booked into was rubbish because it only had a limited sea view, blocked entirely by trees and if we wanted, we could have a completely uninterrupted view and free drinks from the lounge if we upgraded to a suite for 2100RMB, for the two of us for the 8 days.
I was tired, it was very humid, there was some hypnotically tranquil music being played by a talented man on an instrument of mini gongs called a 'Kulintangan' that sounded like an enjoyable Trance Tune : Lullaby Remix, plus I'd only just done maths not 5 minutes before, so we agreed to pay and went to see what we'd won before I actually sat down with a calculator to discover I'd just signed over about 470GBP for a room that had a separate lounge area, a slightly better view, and some drinks.
It took us until the following morning to decide that, as the driver had shown such excitement at 5RMB, then we should move back to our original room and go spend the 2100RMB on experiences outside the hotel instead.
Our room with no view turned out to have 6 spindly palm trees blocking the sea, and as we were on the third floor, you needn't even look at the trees if you didn't want to. The rest of the room was still large enough to be comfortable, and although we'd swapped the lounge for a 2 seat sofa in the corner, we actually preferred it.
Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the Sabah region of Borneo, an area 4 times the size of Wales, although only a tiny part of Borneo itself which is so big it has to be looked after by both the Indonesian and Malaysian Governments, who own and operate about half each of the third largest island on the planet.
For 15RMB (£3) we took a cab for the 15 minute journey into the centre of KK, and not being equipped with any local knowledge or even a map, we asked the driver to drop us wherever all the other tourists go.
He promptly told us about the new shopping mall, that was close to the restaurants and sounded spirited enough to commend a look.
The shops are open late in the mall, until 9pm.
We arrived just after 9pm, so everything was closed and the only places open for trade were a downstairs supermarket and the few fast food restaurants.
Looking around the interior of the mall, considering the taxi driver described it as 'new', it certainly wasn't New in the terms I understand like "recently opened." It was a bit like the Arndale Centre in Manchester, from the early 1990's - including the indoor market bit, a little bit tatty, but in an endearing way.
The supermarket was joyously cheap, with a can of coke costing about 12p and biscuits were 30p for the most unusual looking ones.
Deciding to take a wander on the streets outside, we hit the streets looking for the restaurants, but succeeding in the dark only to get a bit lost and find ourselves talking to a girl, who I thought was a boy, who gave us directions to the taxi rank before taking a huge snuffle of glue from a plastic bag.
We didn't feel threatened or outraged, just a bit sad as she appeared to be quite young, and she wasn't so addled that her directions were wrong and we felt slightly guilty returning to the luxury surroundings of our hotel.
We did return in daylight to KK, on market day, and had a much more positive experience. The market was set up in streets all around the centre and was bustling almost exclusively with locals, and only a peppering of western faces looking at the stalls that were selling tropical fish, or carvings, or CD's or souvenir hats or just about anything you want, including meat cleavers.
I had to stoop to look at some of the wares on offer as some of the stallholders had the
"If it's big enough for me to walk under, it's big enough for anyone"
approach to deciding how low the tarpaulin roofs should be. This is fine if you are also 5'6", but expect lawsuits if not.
For dinner, we found the restaurants that we'd heard about in an area by the sea that had at one end, local people with barbecues who would cook and serve your freshly caught or bought fish, and just a short walk away was a collection of restaurants that offered the choices of Indian, Italian, Chinese, Australian, and the obligatory Irish bar.
We were looking for something local, but had been warned to check for the rating of the restaurant before sitting down to eat. All restaurants are rated either A, B or C for cleanliness, 'A' being very clean and 'C' being lucky to be open. All of the barbecue stalls were 'C' and therefore perfectly avoidable.
We found a place rated 'A' and were invited to pick our own meal from a wall of fish tanks full of different species of crustaceans and fish that were priced by the kilo..
For 100RMB (£20) including drinks, we ate four dishes, as well as a delicious red snapper that I'd condemned to death with a wave of my finger 10 minutes earlier. It was so good that Birdseye fish fingers have been completely ruined for me.
The weather improved in the second part of the week and we finally had the chance to lie on a lounger under blue skies and toast under the sun reading our books. The pool was large and free formed, with a lagoon section that was hidden away from the volleyball net and the boisterous Japanese wedding party who repeatedly insisted on cheering in unison.
As there was a Spa connected to the hotel, we could have taken the opportunity for some extra pampering treatments, but the treatment prices were on a par with paying for a spa weekend in the UK, at up to £200 for a day's rubbing with oil, so we spent our money in other ways instead.
Kota Kinablu is nice, if a little underdeveloped compared to European standards, but the shabbiness only adds to the charm of the place and everyone we encountered, even if they were on glue, were extraordinarily friendly and welcoming - there is a custom the locals have to place their hand on their heart each time they say Thank you, or Hello, which gives the impression that they really mean it, and there's none of the "Have a nice day" Pontin's false cheerfulness.
Of course, there is really only one reason we chose to spend the second part of our Honeymoon in Borneo and that is the Orang-Utans.
We had already booked one trip to see the orang-utans in Sepilok, and went for two more visits to Rasa Ria with one visit leaving a 9 year old girl with a story to tell her friends that they'll probably never believe...
INTRODUCTION I am a rare contributor to Dooyoo these days. I get sick of the standard non personalised travel reviews that you tend to find round here. If I read once more that Kota Kinabalu "is affectionately known as "KK" by the locals, then I swear immenently, a cyber space scream...... I visited Kota Kinabalu city in December 2001. LOCATION Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah, part of Malaysia, formally known as North East British Borneo. Sabah is well known for Kota Kinabalu mountain, Orchid Farms, and Tunku Abdul Rehman National Park which are close to Kota Kinabalu. Sandakan, Sabah's second city, is closer to Sepilok Orang-Utan park, Turtle Island, and Kinabatangan National Park. FIRST IMPRESSIONS Kota Kinabalu is a modern city reminicent of perhaps a Spanish concrete modern high-rise capital. SHOPPING The Town Cenre is one big sprawl of modern indoor shopping malls. Don't get too excited, as a corpulent westerner, you will find that the average waist size, will get part way up one thigh, and the exceptionally impressive air con system will quickly turn your sweating back to a sharp sensitive jagged edge of goose bumps.... On the edge of town is a series of new malls, victims to the collapse of the far east economy - malls completely closed apart from to allow pedrestrian access, and unlike western equilivents blissfully free of graffiti, glue sniffers, and muggers - a erie place built from human hand, but free of human activity.... Further beyond, in a circle around town are the high rise hotels.... at the time I visited desperate for business post Sept. 11th (10% occupancy was considered the standard), with strangly colonial signs for "high tea" and "tiffin". THE MARKET Down at the edge of the modern shopping malls, lie the traditional market areas - the fruit and veg stalls
with dealers selling fake watches, the fasinating exotic fish stalls, with fishermen's wares laid neatly down in rows on newspaper, and the Phillipino Market, a disapointing display of mass market mobiles, shells, themomitors on pieces of wood, t-shirts, and wooden masks, in a fasinating hot, dusty, smelly, fly blown maze of stalls in a huge wooden sided tin roofed hut on the harbour. THE MOSQUE Close to the town on the modern harbour is the new blue and white tiled marble mosque - with space for 5,000 bums. Near the museum is the almost as impressive white and gold tiled mosque - but sadly obsqured from view by high rise hotels. THE MUSEUM Sabah National Museum is about a mile from town - 7 ringgets (£1.40) by taxi, or a hot sweaty walk away out of town (I chose the latter, and became fasinated by the velvet red and blue dragon flys along the drainage calverts). The museum contains a display of traditional community wicker and wood huts (suprisingly cool, shady and breesy - take off your footware, and you are welcome to sit in these stilt houses. Alongside, are the displays of human heads- many tribes took the head of an enemy to capture the "soul" - which was then duty bound to look after the "souls" of the residents of the long house. Inside the museum, also displays of the history of Kota Kinabalu, from Iron Age, to Dutch, British and Japanese colonalism, and finally independence, and the importance of the pot - tribes held pots from Cambodia and Vietnam dating from the fourteenth century, used for storage and for "burial" - the ancesters kept at the site of the house for spirtual protection. CONCLUSION The museum makes for a most intersting day, Kota Kinabalu itself another day in itself. With other places of interest close by, KK is worth a stay of a few days.
I regularly visit Kota Kinabalu on business and I strongly recommend a stay here should you go to Borneo. KK -as it is affectionately called by the locals-is a progressive and impressive place and is Malaysia's latest city. It is also handy for the Kinabalu Park,which houses the tallest mountain in South East Asia and was recently declared a world heritage site. A first time traveller to Kota Kinabalu need not be afraid of not finding good accomodation. Kota Kinabalu has a very good range of suitable hotels for both the tourist and business traveller. It has certainly come of age as far as the accommodation scene is concerned. The Shangri-la Tanjung Aru has long been established as a popular beach front resort hotel which is located approximately 20 minutes from the centre of the city. It has a nice relaxed atmosphere and a very good buffet breakfast spread which even includes japanese noodles and sushi. Prices are relatively high but promotional offers during non peak seasons can be very good. A newer and undoubtably my favourite hotel is the Sutera Harbour Hotel, located next to Magellan and the Royal Yacht Club. The rooms have very big windows which afford stunning views of the sunset on the clear waters or if you opt for the left wing, then a view of the 18 hole golf course. It s also just about walking distance from the town and offers plenty of activities for its guests. For some old world charm step into The Jesselton, located right in the heart of the old part of town. Jesselton is the old name for Kota Kinabalu and many artifacts and photographs in the hotel will give you an impression of the town half a decade ago. At approximately 90pounds, the main suite is a bargain, as it has its own little rock garden with cascading waters which can be heard from any part of the room. The bathroom is filled with chinese antiques, or more likely replica's and adds a touch of graceful elegance to this sma
ll boutique hotel. Other hotels in Kota Kinabalu include, The Magellan, The Hyatt Hotel, Shangri-la Rasa Ria at Dalit Bay and The Beverly Hotel. Whatever your budget, you won't be short of places to stay in Kota Kinabalu.
HONG KONG Everytime someone used to mention Hong Knog I used of the Film King Kong! Do ask me why! Hong Kong is the rich side of Asia, easily accessible from anywhere in the world. The new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok is great! Just like China, The food is YUMMY and you can get no complaits from passed visitors Great Place to visit when you are visiting the far East! Thanks again for Reading
Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton, is the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah, as well as the capital of the West Coast Division of Sabah. Located on the north-west coast of the island of Borneo facing South China Sea and Tunku Abdul Rahman Park on one side, and with Mount Kinabalu in the background, Kota Kinabalu sprawls for kilometers along the coast and towards inland. With a estimated population of 532 129 in the city and 700,000 in the urban area, it is the largest urban centre in Sabah and the sixth largest in Malaysia.