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Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

There’s literally two sides to Malaysia. East Malaysia — located on the island of Borneo, the world’s third-largest — is where you’ll find Kota Kinabalu. This seaport on the South China Sea can be thought of as a gateway to Borneo’s natural wonders like the plant-packed forest trails of Mt. Kinabalu Park and the endangered animal refuge of Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. But the city isn’t without constructed wonders of its own, featuring two ornate mosques, the historic Sabah Museum, plus the really-modern Tun Mustapha Tower. A reminder of the city’s colonial past is its former name “Jesselton,” but even older — and way more fun to say — is the indigenous “Api-Api.” Today Kota Kinabalu often simply goes by “KK”… and KK throws its doors open to visitors with a hearty selamat datang! (Now when you hear that, you’ll know it means “welcome.”)

  • Look up to the Atkinson Clock Tower on Signal Hill for more than just the time — for a look at the oldest existing structure in Kota Kinabalu.
  • Hike Mt. Kinabalu and you’re hiking the tallest mountain anywhere between Nepal and New Guinea — thousands of miles!
  • Bring your camera when visiting KK’s City Mosque. The building appears to be floating on the water that catches the beautiful skies.