Welcome to the play-hard, party-hard capital of South-East Asia. Ever since adventurers started to trek to the summit of Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South-East Asia, and scuba divers first discovered the rich coral world of Sipadan on the east coast, Kota Kinabalu has been a crossroads and centre of Bornean life.
Nowhere is this felt more so than in the bars and restaurants on the waterfront boardwalk. Tourists swap tales about playing castaway on the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park or recount boat trips down the Kinabatangan River, the most accessible point to become a jungle explorer.
The bounty of natural wonders on the city’s doorstep has led to rampant industrial development and construction, making KK, as the locals call it, one of the fastest growing cities in the region. It’s also bang-on the equator, making it relentlessly hot and humid, no matter what time of year you visit. Fortunately, this gives you all the more reason to jump onto that departing speedboat to discover your very own tropical island paradise for the day.