Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Loving Kota Kinabalu

Where: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
When: May 7-9, 2010
With: Mac, Miles, Paula, Ava

The Kota Kinabalu trip was booked as early as January. We availed of the Cebu Pacific zero fares. We were originally planning on staying until May 10, however we did not realize that the National Elections would be on that date. So to avail of our right to vote, Mac, Miles and I decided to cut our trip 1 day short. We skipped a lot of activities because of this so we decided to plan another trip going back.

Day 1:
We left the office at around 3:00pm to go to the airport. We arrived early and still had time to eat before we boarded the plane. I love the centennial terminal 3 because they have a Yellow Cab.
We met up with Paula and Ava at the terminal already. Miles and I exchanged some money in the airport since I read that money exchange in Kota closes early and we might not have any money for the taxi from the airport to our hotel. We arrived at 8:00pm. Since we did not arrange for transport services, we had to get the coupon taxi which usually costs RM30.00 (conversion to peso is RM1.00 = Php13.88) for 4 people but since there were 5 of us, we had to pay a little extra.
I booked us at Best Western Kinabalu Daya hotel. This hotel was the best fit for us because it is located downtown and priced reasonably cheap and comes with a buffet breakfast already.

Upon arrival, hotel staff will give you wet towels to wash your face and hands. Kota Kinabalu is so similar to the Philippines, you can cross any street, you can smoke anywhere even inside the hotel. They had no smoking signs but we were told that they just ignore the signs and smoke anyway.

After checking in, we went to CenterPoint Mall to look for an open money exchange place. Saw an Egg Tart Prince stall inside.
We walked to the waterfront to look for a place to eat. We wanted to eat at Seri Selara but nobody knew how to get there or we were just not pronouncing it right. We ended up eating at a bar in Waterfront. Food was good.
I ordered the Satay
Paula had the Tom Yum
Miles got her fill of the Tiger Prawns.

After dinner, we decided to just walk back to the hotel. We forgot to bring a map so we got a little bit lost. We saw the Kampung Air Night Market and passed by Seri Selera by accident.
We were finally able to locate our hotel. We were too tired to drink anymore.

Day 2:
The free breakfast in the hotel was just ok. They had sausages, noodles, rice, porridge, bread, potato.

Kuya Ismael arrived at promptly 9am. He is a Filipino who already lives and works in Kota Kinabalu. He was so nice. He gave us a lot of discounts and arranged for our island hopping activities. Paula and Ava also got his services for the Mt. Kinabalu tour the next day.
Arrival at the Port
Paula loves Kuya Ismael

Our first stop was Sapi Island. We availed of the seawalking package. There were so many fishes, it was fascinating. I have never seen that many fish.
From the boat
Welcome to Sapi island
Fish were everywhere. You can snorkel near the beach and still see different kinds of fish

Fish I found while snorkeling and sea walking. Saw Nemo!!!
We're so happy to be here!

We also decided to avail of the buffet lunch in Sapi Island worth RM45.00 per person. It was the best meal we had in Kota Kinabalu. I loved the chicken wings. Mac said the crabs were so fresh and delicious. Too bad I'm allergic.
Fried Rice, Noodles, Kerepek, Satay, Chicken Wings, Prawns, Crabs, Fish and Sausages. You can have this refilled. This was so worth it!
There were crocs just roaming around freely. They call this Beyawak. Very similar to how we call them in Tagalog - Bayawak. =)

After lunch, we transferred to Manukan Island. This was bigger than Sapi. Unfortunately, it rained so we decided to skip Mamutik already and just go back to the city. We need to really come back!
Manukan Island. This is the life.
Boat ride going back. The rain was so hard.
Kota Kinabalu by the Sea

Since we got back early to the city, Mac and I decided to walk around and see some of the tourist attractions. We wanted to go up to the Signal Hill observatory but decided not to when we saw how far it was since it was also getting dark already.

We saw the Atkinson Clock Tower.
There was a concert in Warisan.
Gaya street was like the streets in Ilocos - they had fountains and tiles.

We were finally able to eat at Seri Selera for dinner. Seafood galore. We met another pinoy working in Hua Hing restaurant. He was nice enough to remove the service charge from our bill. Pinoys in Kota Kinabalu are really nice.
Buttered prawns.
Like Thailand, they put a lot of spice in their food.
They give you warm water with orange peels to wash your hands in.
Soup. This was supposed to be chicken since I am allergic to crab but they still served crab. Good thing I did not eat a lot.

Asking around, people recommended Cocoon as one of the best places to have a night out in Kota. Either it was a real slow night or we were just expecting too much because we were a little bit bored.
Day 3:

Our last day in Kota Kinabalu was spent shopping for Pasalubong. We went to the Gaya sunday market, Wisma Merdeka and then off to the airport.
We really need to practice our jumping shot!
Mcdonald's in Kota have apple and raspberry sundaes! I love!
This store serves delicious shakes.
Nasi Lemak. Meal at the airport

It was a fun trip to Kota Kinabalu. We got a lot of discounts from fellow Pinoys working there and the people are really generally nice and eager to help.

Will definitely come back to try the different attractions that we did not get to see.


  1. yum... your post made me miss egg tarts!

  2. Anonymous3:46 pm

    egg tarts are really yummy!

  3. Hi! Do you have the contact number of Ismael? My fam and I are going there on Friday. Thanks

  4. Hi Jackie.

    Kuya Ismael's number is 0168442795.

    You can also try and email him at gherald_estijal@yahoo.com

    He answers emails after a day or two.

  5. Hello Ms. Leighnie!

    I've seen your blog and found out you had been in Kota Kinabalu before. May I know how much do you guys spent or what's the approximate pocket money to bring? I also contacted Kuya Ismael and he replied to us :) We're only two people to go there this incoming september. Thanks for your help! :)


  6. P15,000 pesos is more than enough pocket money for your trip.

    Kota Kinabalu is just a small place anyway. :)

  7. Hi! is $500 enough pocket money for 4D/3N trip for 2 pax? thanks