The Best Things to See and Do in Kota Kinabalu in 24 Hours

Explore the city on foot.


( Kota Kinabalu in Sabah may not be the most popular choice among Asian vacation destinations. But here’s the thing—airlines offer the cheapest flights to Malaysia and no visa is needed to enter the country, making it a go-to international destination if you want to veer away from the usual. You can even get there by sea.


Known for its grand mosques, beautiful beaches, and tropical rainforests, Kota Kinabalu’s (underrated) charms are sure to impress—if you know where to look.






The locals are friendly and can speak basic to fluent English so communication won't be a problem. Getting around the city is easy as there’s a ride-hailing service available 24 hours with accommodating drivers who are also willing to be your tour guides. Kota Kinabalu’s city center can actually be explored by foot. Here’s our suggested one-day itinerary for the next time you plan for a weekend getaway:





Signal Hill Observatory Tower

Jalan Bukit Bendera

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.


Getting to Signal Hill Observatory Tower, the highest point in the city, requires a little bit of a hike. Traversing the boardwalks is already an experience. Once you get to the top, the amazing cityscape and seascape await you; only then will you realize that you’re actually standing on a hill and in the middle of a highway. Make sure to visit before sunset so you can fully appreciate the view.




Wisma Intiutama

28 Lorong Dewan, Bandaran

Open 24 hours daily


This four-storey government building situated in the middle of Lorong Dewan is remarkable for its white walls painted with murals. They're great examples of the city's street art, perfect as backdrop for your OOTDs.



Atkinson Clock Tower

Signal Hill Road

Open 24 hours daily


Considered the oldest remaining pre-World War II structure in Kota Kinabalu that's still standing, Atkinson Clock Tower is a must-see if only for its historical significance.




Padang Merdeka

Jalan Padang Merdeka, Bandaran Berjaya

Open daily


Padang Merdeka is a popular venue for important events, national ceremonies, and commemorations in Kota Kinabalu. The place is adorned with colorful lights and turns into a night market every December in celebration of the Christmas season.




Segama Waterfront

Tun Fuad Stephen Road

Open 24 hours daily


Unleash your inner unapologetic tourist and pose with the city’s landmark “I Love Kota Kinabalu” at Segama Waterfront. Some locals spend their afternoons by the seaside to enjoy recreational activities while tourists can savor the serene view of sun and the sea. The place is actually perfect for taking photos.




Being an Asian country, local coffee shops are more abundant than big-chain cafés in Kota Kinabalu. In fact, there are about five cafés in the neighborhood of Lorong Dewan alone.




October Coffee House

The Peak Vista, Lorong Puncak, Tanjung Lipat


Open daily from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.


Spend your morning with a cup of coffee and freshly baked pastries at the vibrant October Coffee House.  The café’s mouthwatering pastries come in generous servings. Every corner is perfect for your Instagram story.




Party Play Lifestyle Café

117 Jalan Gaya


Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.


Party Place Lifestyle Café serves palate-pleasing meals for big appetites. But other than food, one of the café's main attractions is the flock of pigeons that perch on its roof.





B&B21 Hostel

Lot 21, Lorong Dewan


Rates start at 40 Malaysian Ringgit (roughly P500)


If you’re looking for cheap lodging for a quick stay, the area of Lorong Dewan offers quaint and clean hostels that won’t empty your pockets. B&B21 has a backyard and lots of greenery, making it look homey and picture-perfect.


You can rest easy as there’s a police station just a few blocks away. It will only take you 15 minutes to travel from here to the airport.


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