June 30, 2017

3 Days in Kota Kinabalu Malaysia

Just this week, out of the blue my son asked me if he has been to Malaysia already and I said yes. He doesn’t believe me at first but I told him that we’d been to Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, and Johor Bahru Malaysia. Then he remembered the Petronas Twin Tower in Kuala Lumpur and Legoland in Johor Bahru but he can’t remember our Kota Kinabalu trip.  

Some people say that it is better to travel when the kids are already old because they won’t remember it when they are still young. But for me, my son may not remember it but I have pictures, videos and stories to tell. There are so many memorable stories that I can share with him. 

Read: Why Do We Travel with Kids in Tow 

In fact, Malaysia is his first out-of-the-country, our first family overseas adventure, and the cheapest out-of-the-country trip we’ve experienced. Would you believe that I only paid P2000+ for our round trip fare and that is for 3 persons. Thanks to Air Asia promo! 

Read: Air Asia Experience

At that time, Air Asia only flies at Clark International Airport so we traveled to Clark Pampanga and parked our car at DMIA. Then after few hours, we landed at Kota Kinabalu Airport, the airport is not that big so we were out after several minutes. 

Where Did We Stay in Kota Kinabalu Malaysia?

I availed the airport pick-up service of City Park Lodge so we won’t have any problem haggling for taxi rate. I’ve read before that they don’t use taxi meter there and base on our experience, kontrata nga lagi pagsasakay, I’m not sure kung ganun pa rin. 

One of the reasons why our Kota Kinabalu trip was cheap is, we did not stay in hotel. We stayed at City Park Lodge, the lodge has a good location too so we just literally walk when we went to the port, restaurant, market, and other tourist spots. They even gave us a coupon too that we can use for our island hopping, RM4 per person discount. 

Read: City Park Lodge

And because of our flight schedule, we have very limited time in Kota Kinabalu Malaysia. Sharing with you our trip. 

Day 1

It was already late in the afternoon when we arrived in Kota Kinabalu so we just bought food and drinks at the nearest convenience store then we had dinner at Secret Recipe

Day 2

The following day, we woke up early so we can start exploring the city. From the lodge, we just walk to Jesselton Point Waterfront. It is where we’re going to ride the boat for our Island Hopping. 

Island hopping in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park  

We can visit Mamutik Island, Sapi Island, Sulug Island and Manukan Island but because we have very limited time, we just chose one island which is Manukan Island. It is 15-20 minute speedboat ride from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal. We had a great time at the beach, this was the first time na nakapagbeach ako sa ibang bansa. 

Read: Manukan Island

We only stayed for few hours on the island and we went back to Jesselton Point. From the port, we just walked to Suria Sabah Mall to eat our lunch. Most of the time we eat at KFC because it is everywhere and some stores are open 24 hours. 

Monsopiad Cultural Village  

Some people say that a trip to Sabah will not be complete if you will not visit Monsopiad Cultural Village, so I included this in our itinerary. Since we did not want to get lost and we want to save time, we rode a taxi even though the price is steep. RM100 taxi ride vs RM3 per bus per person.

Monsopiad Cultural Village is a historical site in Sabah so you will learn more about its history by visiting the village. Aside from that, they will show you how Kadazan people live before. If you like history, you will enjoy this tour but if not you can skip it. 

Read: Monsopiad Cultural Village

Seri Selara 

After our trip in Monsopiad Cultural Village, we asked the taxi driver to drop us at Seri Selara. He agreed but he asked for additional RM10. Seri Selara is an open-air seafood restaurant so don’t forget to include this in your itinerary. 

This is like Dampa Restaurant here in the Philippines, where you can choose the seafood from the glass tanks and they will cook it for you. We enjoyed our food trip here, there is Filipino staff here and he gave us a discount. From the restaurant, we just walked back to City Park Lodge. 

Read: Seri Selara 

Day 3

Gaya Street Sunday Market 

The following day, we woke up early to take advantage of the Gaya Street Sunday Market. From its name, it is only open every Sunday from 6:30 to 1PM. You can buy souvenirs, clothes, food and other stuff. I bought some souvenirs and pasalubong here.

DIY Kota Kinabalu City Tour 

Since we are budget travelers, we did not book any tour packages so we just hired a taxi driver to tour us around for 3 hours. We visited Signal Observation Hill, Wisma Tun Mustapha (Sabah Foundation Building), Pu Toh Tze Buddhist Temple, State Museum, State Mosque, and Handicrafts/souvenir Center. 

It was just a short city tour since we have to go back to our lodge to get our luggage. After check-out, we went straight to the airport so we won’t miss our flight. 

Read: DIY Kota Kinabalu Tour

Note: If you still have time, you can also visit Brunei, you need to ride a ferry boat from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei. 


  1. Ethan is so cute asking if he has been to Malaysia. Siguro when he gets a little bit more old, papabili sya ng map sayo, and will ask you to help him mark all the countries he's been to. I agree na we need to travel with our kids talaga. Who knows what will happen in the future.

    1. Naku panay tanong na nga ng mga places and countries, siguro dahil natuturo na sa kanila yung Regions sa Pilipinas so nacurious siya bigla.

  2. We've never been to Malaysia, but it's on our bucketlist. I agree that travelling with kids at an early age is okay since we can collect memories. Sure, they will not even remember, but we do! so we can share them how they made our travel more worthwhile. Tiring, but adds up to our happy memories 😊

    1. True, collect memories while they are still young.

  3. Ang liit pa ni Ethan! ♥ And who wouldn't say NO sa 2k php na round trip ticket for 3! Waaa! Those were the days! The cheapest ticket that Dane and I got was when we had a trip to Palawan, 400 naman yun round trip for both of us, 100 kada biyahe. Mas mahal pa pamasahe papunta airport kesa papunta Palawan, lol!

    1. Yes, those were the days. Nahihirapan na ko makabook ng mura, nauubusan na ko at madami na kalaban. Hehehe! Oo nga, mahal pa taxi fare kaysa sa airfare. ;)

  4. We recently went to Hong Kong with our nearly 2 year old boy. Most questioned our decision to bring him along. But I agree with you. There are photos, videos and stories to remind him he has been there. Also, traveling minus the kids makes it somehow sad because you would keep on saying to yourself, I hope my son is with me now.

  5. I was supposed to go there with some friends a few years back, but hindi kami natuloy for variety of reasons. Sayang. Anyway, we haven't tried going overseas yet with our girls since we wanted to wait until they are more manageable. Plus, we want them to be able to remember as well :)