About Kota Kinabalu

When you call at Malaysia on a Kota Kinabalu cruise destination, you may be surprised to find yourself on the mysterious island of Borneo.  That is because Malaysia comprises not just the former Malaya peninsula, but two states in Northern Borneo as well - Sabah, the capital of which is Kota Kinabalu, and Sarawak.

Once called Jesseltown and largely rebuilt after World War II, Kota Kinabalu is now a cosmopolitan city of Malays, Indonesians, Indians, Chinese and Filipinos. With plenty to see and do, Kota Kinabalu cruises feature a wide range of shore excursions. The many interesting sites include the State Mosque with its 216ft-high minarets, the Sabah Museum and the outdoor market at Kampong Ayer Square.

As well as encompassing the towering 13,500ft Mount Kinabalu, the Kinabalu National Park contains a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including everything from rare orchids to deer and monkeys. There are also superb beaches at the nearby Tanjung Aru resort and fascinating tours to the stilted villages of the descendants of the head-hunter tribes, who gave Borneo its once fearsome reputation.


Shore excursions in Kota Kinabalu

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

Borneo Traditional Living

Activity highRefreshments included

Duration: 4¼ hours

Visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village and discover the cultural diversity of North Borneo's different tribes.

A scenic drive takes you to the Mari Mari Cultural Village, where you’ll gain an insight into the history, customs and traditions of Borneo.

During a guided visit around the village and the different tribal houses, you’ll discover how these indigenous tribes of Borneo learned to adapt before electricity was introduced to their land. Each tribe found different ways to carry out simple tasks such as cooking using bamboo, starting a fire without matches, making ropes from tree bark and even using local plants to create a refreshing drink!

Round off your tour with a refreshing soft drink, before being treated to a delightful musical performance.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. Passengers are required to access the cultural village via a short hanging bridge. The guided tour of the cultural village involves walking and standing for approximately 2 hours over uneven ground. There are up to 12 steep, narrow steps to negotiate to enter each of the tribal houses. Flat comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Passengers are advised to bring insect repellent, sunscreen and a bottle of water. The journey to the Cultural Village is approximately 45 minutes each way.

Colours of Borneo

Activity lowRefreshments included

Duration: 4 hours

Experience the rustic side of Kota Kinabalu as you take a short ride in a thatched roof raft on a mangrove river and try batik painting.

A unique opportunity to become acquainted with local life and to explore the different aspects of Borneo. Your scenic city drive will take you past the City Mosque, Tun Mustapha Tower and the University of Malaysia.

Enjoy a short cruise on a unique local thatch roof raft through mangroves, learning about the importance of the mangrove forest. Learn the art of Batik painting before enjoying a snack of ‘Roti Canai’; Malaysian bread. Share a cup of Teh Tarek literally translated as ‘pulled tea’, a popular drink amongst the locals, as you immerse yourself in the sounds of nature around this rustic setting.

Round off the tour with a visit to a pottery store to admire the local Borneo motifs used in ceramics, which have great significance in the local cultures.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach, bamboo raft and on foot. There is minimal walking on this excursion, however there is a wooden walkway to the jetty with 5 steps.

Essence of Borneo

Activity high

Duration: 4½ hours

Discover the culture and wildlife of Borneo on this fascinating tour.

Visit Sabah’s only zoological park, Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, to see Borneo’s most notable animals such as the Orang Utan, Proboscis Monkeys, Asian Pgymy Elephants and the colourful Hornbills. Spread over 300 acres of valley and hilly terrain, the park aims to educate the public on wildlife and environmental conservation, research into captive management, rescue native animals for treatment or rehabilitation and reproduction of endangered species.

Complete your Borneo experience with a stop at the Heritage Village to learn more about the ethnic groups found in Borneo. Gain a closer view of Sabah’s cultural diversity highlighted by the distinctive local architectural style and the unusual materials they use, such as bamboo, tree bark and Nipah leaves. Learn about the traditions of headhunting at the Skull Hut and the traditions and lifestyle of the different groups.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot and involves approximately 2 hours of walking and over 50 steps at the Heritage Village. Passengers wishing to visit the main museum building will do so unguided and the use of cameras is not permitted. Sightings of all animals mentioned are not guaranteed and the order of highlights may be reversed to prevent overcrowding. The Heritage village undergoes maintenance work from time to time to replace materials.

Kota Kinabalu Highlights

Activity medium

Duration: 3½ hours

Take in the highlights of the city’s landmarks, before visiting the Heritage Village at the Sabah Museum.

A scenic drive will provide you with an overview of the beautiful city of Kota Kinabalu. As you journey through the town you’ll pass major landmarks such as the stunning State and City Mosques, Tanjung Aru Beach and the city’s highest building, the Tun Mustapha Tower.

The Heritage Village provides visitors with a wonderful impression of the people and architectural styles of North Borneo. Each tribe has built their houses using local materials available in their area such as bamboo, tree bark and Nipah leaves with their own unique layout and design. A highlight of your visit will be the native houses, and the skull hut where you’ll learn more about the headhunting practice.

Inside the Sabah Museum, admire the unique handmade baskets and musical instruments. Complete your excursion with a visit to a water village to learn about the simple life enjoyed by the residents.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot and involves approximately 1 hour of intermittent walking and approximately 50 steps at the Heritage Village. Passengers are not permitted to bring cameras into the main museum, but will be able to leave them at the desk upon arrival. The Heritage village undergoes maintenance work from time to time to replace materials.

Kota Kinabalu Panorama

Activity lowRefreshments included

Duration: 2½ hours

Relax and see the sights of Kota Kinabalu City on this panoramic drive.

Kota Kinabalu City, the capital of Sabah, is a beautiful city located by the sea and this panoramic tour enables you to capture an overview of the city as you drive through the town and suburbs passing by major landmarks.

During your scenic drive, a photo stop will be made at the Tun Mustapha Building, formerly known as the Sabah Foundation Building, which is a remarkable architectural feat and is proudly known as one of the tallest buildings in Sabah.

Drive past the City Mosque, that was opened in commemoration of Kota Kinabalu achieving city status.

Continue past the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which was officially opened by Her Majesty, the Queen during her official visit in 1972. You’ll then see the State Mosque the pride of Sabah’s Islamic community, which boasts the largest honeycomb designed dome in the world, before driving by Tanjung Aru Beach.

During your tour a stop will be made for a refreshing soft drink.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot and requires minimal walking.

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