Hello Peeps! Took me forever, but finally got time to blog about my awesome 4-day trip to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Where do I even begin, you all must have seen my stories and vlogs out there, and know I had a fantastic time. From the time I took off to getting back every part of my journey has been documented and I felt being a vlogger I had to really push myself to collect the best of what’s out there to showcase it. And hope that you take the time out to book yourself a nice vacation out there soon and tag me on your journey.
Kota Kinabalu, is the capital of Sabah that sits on the Northern side of Borneo Islands in Malaysia. You have the main land and have about 50+ Islands scattered around it. Sabah is known as the Land Below the Wind, as it lies below the typhoon belt of East Asia. Hence its safe from the rough winds and typhoons that hit Philippines. Sabah brims with a vast aquamarine ecosystem. The flora and fauna thrive in the Borneo rainforest and a must visit if you wish to see some of the more exotic animals and life’s that co-exists. Mount Kinabalu, is the most famous peak that sits about 4095m above sea level. A point to make a note of is no matter what part of KK you are or the islands, the sunset here is just spectacular. The sky just lights for some amazing sky gazing with its theatrics.
DYK – Borneo is made of three countries – Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei? Malaysia consists of two states Sabah and Sarawak.
There is a saying; you have to be at the right place, at the right time. How much of this holds true and how much of it is luck I am yet to figure out. But when Travel Earth, a Indian travel company. Invited me to be part of their Digital Influencers’ Convention in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia I had to say yes I am in. It took me a month or so to confirm and I finally decided to fill in the application, and boy did they ask for a lot of insights and links. It was worth it in the end. So I get picked to join about 50 bloggers/vloggers and photographers that put out content on all the social platforms. And boy was I in for a real treat to meet some amazing people. The trip and convention was co-hosted by official partners – Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB), Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), Sabah Tourism and Make My Trip Airline partners Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air and Air Asia
And Hotel Partner – Shangri La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa
– Getting There –
Plane – Fly into Kota Kinabalu. (KKIA) from Kuala Lumpur (KUL), Malaysia’s Capital City. The flight is about 2.5 hours. You have Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Malindo Airlines that operate out from India.
Drive – From KK its about 20 minutes away from the city roughly about 7 kms. To move around inside the city, you can get a Taxi or Grab easily.
We had the tour operator pick us up, we were a group of 6 ladies and got allocated to Exotic Asian Explorer (Borneo) Sdn Bhd – Sure Go Boreo for the two days of our travel, we had some exciting itinerary planned.
– The Hotel –
My stay during my entire trip was at Avangio Hotel Kota Kinabalu. A hotel managed by Accor Hotels. It is a 4-star hotel and is apt for both business travellers and leisure. The highlight of this property with 103 rooms is the pool. You get to watch some spectacular sunset. We had Breakfast here daily during our staycation. And have to say they cater to everyone’s palate. I particularly stuck to eating the local dishes. The hotel comes equipped with a gym and a conference rooms. You have a couple of eat outs close by main one being Lucy’s Kitchen, that serves some Asian and Western dishes, a 7/11 and an ATM.
– Activities –
The first day post arrival we were left to do things on our own and just relax. I took to dining at Lucy’s Kitchen for lunch followed by some much needed time at the pool.
The next two days were packed with a lot of fun things planned for us to do. Here are the activities we did.
Jesselton Point – Sepanggar Islands – Floating Mosque – Tanjung Aru Beach – Dine at Radha’s (Indian Restaurant)
Post breakfast we get picked up and head to Jesselton Point a quaint waterfront to shuttle or ferry across to the various Islands also house one of the main dive centers here. Jesselton Point is one the busiest jetty service at Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia. .It’s the best hop- on hop-off jetties used to travel to some of the breathtaking islands around Sabah.
DYK there are a total of 392 islands but top 7 you can ferry to from Jesselton Point are –
1. Sapi island
2. Gaya island
3. Manukan island
4. Mamutik island
5. Sulug island
6. Sepanggar island
7. Derawan island
Arrive at Sepanggar Islands which is about 10 mins boat ride from Jesselton Point. This island boasts of white sandy beach and known for just a leisure day out with family and friends. The various water based activities are Sea Walking, Parasailing, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling and Banana Boat rides. For the not sure aquaholics, you can just laze by the shore, get some henna tattoos or walk or hike up the hill. There are changing/shower rooms, and lockers incase (pay and use). Incase you wish to the island does offer Chalets, for you to spend the night in.
Lunch is served on the island and is a buffet themed lunch. Incase you are not into trying out the local cuisine you can carry your own lunch especially for vegetarians. There are a lot of options, but it’s good to carrt incase you are a fussy eater. The last ferry departs at 3pm.
I had a blast sea walking (the pressure can get to some so make sure you pay attention to the divers and the instructions before you take the plunge) and then just floating around the water, to just laze by the shore. To record a slow motion video I ended up jumping into the water about 5 times or so to get it right …and have to say it was better than I expected.
From here we ferried out way back and drove past the City Mosque, also called the Floating mosque. You can click images from the outside and as you can see the image from one side shows how the Mosque seems afloat from the lake beside it. It is one of the largest mosque in KK and the leaves a spectacular reflection especially at sunset.
A quick drive to ensure we caught the sunset in time, at the most famous beach at KK is Tanjung Aru beach. Locals and travellers alike come here to gaze at the spectacular sunset, the sky line turns into a sky theatrics of sorts. You can get a some quick snacks from the local makeshift shops across. There is ample parking incase you decide to drive down. If you are in KK I suggest you must visit this beach even if it’s just for a while to get front row seats to catch one of the best sunsets in the world.
A long day, packed to the brim and to unwind we ended up at a quiet Indian restaurant called Radha’s. It is one of the popular Indian restaurants, and they are known for the thalis served (veg). They do serve fish, mutton and chicken on the side incase you want a Non Veg thali. I just nibbled a bit as we too tired after a long day out. We chose to sit outdoors as its located on the main times square opposite the mall.
Mari Mari Cultural Village – Stone Age Spa and Cultural Park – Rumah Terbalik – KK Waterfront – Dine at D’Place Kota Kinabalu
Post breakfast we drive out to the countryside, to visit Mari Mari Cultural Village . Tourists can come here to learn the ancient ways of the indigenous ethnic groups of Borneo that co-existed. It is a living museum, and houses about 5 various tribes.
Kadazan-Dusun(rice farmer), Rungus (longhouse resident), Lundayeh (hunters and fisherman), Bajau (cowboy and sea gypsies), Murut (headhunters). You get to experience how they lived, what they ate to soak in the culture via traditional dance and enjoy a lunch soon after.
I got to taste about 2 different rice wines from the two tribes, some herbal tea, and long with it taste some of their local sweets. I got myself a henna tattoo which lasted a whole week. Participated in the tribal dance and close our afternoon with some simple local lunch.
Brain power or Creativity Rock
Prosperity and Wealth Rock
Fertility and Sexual Power Rock
Spiritual Cleansing Water.
I went to the river stream to have a cleanse of the evil eye, and then lay on the creativity rock to recharge myself and have a more open mind. I also ended up hugging the wellness rock and the wealth rock (straight for the billionaire rock).
All energized, our tour decided to have one more location added to our itinerary. We drove down the highway to make our way to one of first Upside Down House called Rumah Terbalik and 3D Wonders Museum. From the time we got there, all of us got a little busy trying to enjoy and click images that turned out immersive 3D environment. It was not only fun but finding angle to shoot and posing so we looked the part was extra jazz. The upside down house in particular does not allow photography. The tour last less that 5 mins. It is worth going inside to see how the entire house and its amenities have been placed upside down. We are allowed to click images from the outside or around it, the fun aspect being the upside down car.
Once again, our love for catching the sunset gets all us in lighten spirits and we make our way to the famous waterfront. If you are looking for some nightlife and just relax by the waterfront this is the spot. There are bars, restaurants that you can choose from, order your favorite cocktails, wines or rather mocktails or beers and just soak in the atmosphere. The food and drinks are reasonably priced. Tip make sure you get here just in time for sunset, that is where the beauty lies.
A visit to any country is not complete if you have not tired the local cuisine. The D’place Kota Kinabalu specialises in authentic local dishes. You also get to watch the tribal dance whilst dining. Note there is no alcohol served here, it’s a buffet style dine out but you can chose a la carte. The most famous of the dish here or a delicacy in Sabah is the Butod (Sago worm) you can eat it raw or just have it added as a topping on your pizza. I chose not to as I was not feeling that adventurous with my palate. I was tempted but did not go for it. The sight of seeing them alive made me squirm. Perhaps I shall test my bravery another time, with beer maybe to help wash them down. <wink>
For now I stuck to eating the Sago, which was super delish, the starchy and jello type of dish can be enhanced by adding some broth, lime juice and chili paste. Check my video here. 🙂 The red rice and chicken curry along with some greens made quite a wholesome dinner.
Day 4 & 5
Digital Influencers’ Convention – Earthy Awards 2019 at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa
Day 4 began quite early, as we had a long drive to head to Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa. The two day Digital Influencers’ Convention was hosted here. We had various speakers and judges along with dignitaries from the tourism broads grace the occasion and of course the 50 bloggers that were invited as well. They also had the local print and social media around.
Post the convention, we had a sundowner and a get together of sorts. Again all of us were set to click some awesome sunset shots, unfortunately that day it was a bit of an overcast and did rain with some strong winds. Over all a fab day to close the 1st day.
Day 5, or the 2nd day of the DIC was just what all of us were eagerly waiting for. The first half was the usual travel and tourism related fireside chats, but later we got to watch the sunset ceremony and the main reason to attend the DIC was the Earthy Awards 2019. I ended up heading to the tennis court to get some overhead drone shots with a well known photographer, Navaneeth. It was fun laying on the clay court as it was still quite warm from the harsh summer afternoon. Lucky for me I carried my change of clothes along and as we were headed to change, I caught the Sunset Ceremony a ritual that takes place at the Shangri-la Rasa daily. It was the fast change in my lifetime. I was adamant I get some sunset shots and I did, post this made my way to the convention hall in time for the awards.
The Ceremony began with some traditional dances and I too ended up participating in some of their activities, I did know I could pop a balloon with a sharp wooden needle but yay i did it. My night or rather my week or year, ended up being rolled into one as I won the Overall Event and Tour Coverage on-site award. I am still over the moon as I type this. Creating content has always been fun, and just using my smartphone to shoot images, videos and do my edits too on them proved quite successful. I am glad I could relay the entire trip via my social media handles.
– My Final Thoughts –
A massive shout out once again to Travel Earth, MATTA, Malaysia Tourism, Sabah Tourism and Malaysia Airlines for the fantastic trip one that I shall cherish forever. Here is to many more, the venue partner was Shangri La Rasa where you can see my capture of the main sunset walk and the sunset ceremony. From Jesselton point, to the boutique hotel Avangio where I stayed for the entire duration, and Sepanggar Island for the fun Sea Walking. Mari Mari Cultural Village and Stoneage Spa & Cultural Park for a warm experience. You can catch each one of the fun travel I did via my vlogs created for each itinerary. Here is hoping to create more such fun travel vlogs and anything off the beaten track. If you liked my work feel free to leave a comment or hit subscribe and like. I look forward to come back soon and cover more. A shout out to the new family of bloggers I met, the tourism board and everyone who I met during my trip out there in the land below the wind!
I love shooting and editing with my smartphone and its been crazy week out there. But again it was so worth it. To be recognized for the work and time put in to bring forth some fun content allowed me to win Overall Event and Tour Coverage Award – Earthys 2019. It still feels surreal as I am typing this. To quit my day job of 15yrs to focus on this on my own and no backing has been a fantastic ride. And I have to thanks Travel Earth for the opportunity.
Until next time have a good one x
Hope you liked the blog post? Have you travelled to Malaysia especially to Sabah before ?
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
© 2019, Skinnygirldiariez.com.
Chief Happening Officer, Lifestyle blogger & Content Creator from Bangalore, India. All rights reserved.
Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission. **Disclaimer: Even if the trip was sponsored, All images and views expressed are my own.