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.
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.
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
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
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.