Kota Kinabalu (Malaysian pronunciation: [ˈkota kinaˈbalu], Jawi: کوتا کينا بالو, Chinese: 亚庇; pinyin: Yàbì) formerly known as Jesselton, is the capital of the state of Sabah, located in East Malaysia. It is also the capital of the West Coast Division of Sabah. The city is located along the northwest coast of Borneo facing the South China Sea. The Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park lies on its west and Mount Kinabalu, which gave the city its name, is located towards the east. Kota Kinabalu has a population of 452,058 and, including the adjacent Penampang and Putatan district, the metro area has an estimated population of 628,725.
Kota Kinabalu is often known as KK in Malaysia and internationally. It is a major fishing destination and a popular gateway for travellers visiting Sabah and Borneo. Kinabalu National Park is located about 90 kilometres from the city and there are many tourist attractions in and around the city. Kota Kinabalu is also one of the major industrial and commercial centres of East Malaysia. These two factors combine to make Kota Kinabalu one of the fastest growing cities in Malaysia.
Attractions and recreation spots:
There are a number of cultural venues in Kota Kinabalu. The Sabah State Museum, situated near the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, is the main museum of Sabah. In the vicinity of the museum are the Science and Technology Centre, Sabah Art Gallery, and the Ethno Botanic Gardens. Wisma Budaya Art Gallery in the city centre hosts some national as well as regional art exhibitions. The Hongkod Koisaan building in Penampang is home to the Kadazan-Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA). It hosts the annual Kaamatan or Harvest Festival and the Unduk Ngadau beauty contest, which is held concurrently, in May. Monsopiad Cultural Village (Kampung Monsopiad) features cultural shows related to the Kadazan-Dusun culture. It is named after the legendary Kadazan-Dusun headhunting warrior, Monsopiad.
The Padang Merdeka or Town Field is the site where the declaration of Sabah's independence and formation of Malaysia took place.The declaration was announced by Sabah's first Chief Minister, Tun Fuad Stephens, on 16 September 1963, also known as Malaysia Day. Today the site hosts the annual City Day celebration on 2 February, Merdeka Day celebration on 31 August, and a number of other celebrations and functions.
The Atkinson Clock Tower near Bandaran Berjaya was built by Mary Edith Atkinson in 1905 in memory of her son, Francis George Atkinson. It was formerly used as a navigation aid for ships. It is only one of three pre-World War II buildings to survive the war. The Petagas War Memorial, located near KKIA, is a reminder of those who died when they went against the Japanese forces during World War II. It is situated at the place where the Kinabalu Guerillas were killed by the Japanese army in 1944. The Double Six Monument, located in Sembulan, is also a memorial to remember Sabah's first Chief Minister and six other state ministers who died on a plane crash known as the Double Six Tragedy on 6 June 1976.
Leisure and conservation areas:
There are many leisure spots and conserved areas in and around Kota Kinabalu. Anjung Samudra (KK Waterfront) is a waterfront entertainment spot in the city centre which features restaurants, cafes, pubs, and a nightclub. The Royal Sabah Turf Club in Tanjung Aru hosts weekly horse racing events but has since closed and moved to Tambalang Race Course in Tuaran due to the expansion of Kota Kinabalu International Airport. The North Borneo Railway, which begins its journey from Tanjung Aru station, offers a scenic tour of the countryside in the West Coast Division and the Interior Division. The railway journey ends in the town of Tenom.Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club near the city centre was built on reclaimed land.It features a golf and country club, a marina, and two hotels.
Tanjung Aru, located about 6 kilometres from the city centre, is one of the beaches along the West Coast. Its name was derived from the casuarina trees (locally called Aru trees) that grow on the shoreline. The beach is over 2 kilometres in length and is complemented with a number food and drink stalls, restaurants, and night entertainment clubs. In the vicinity of Tanjung Aru lies the Kinabalu Golf Club, Prince Philip Botanical Park, KK Yacht Club, and Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Beach Resort. This beach is famous for its sunset.
Located within the Likas Bay area is the Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary. With an area of 24 acres (9.7 ha), it is the only remaining patch of mangrove forest that once existed extensively along the coastal region of Kota Kinabalu.It was conserved in September 1996 by the State Government to assist and foster a better understanding and awareness of the value of wetlands. The Sabah Zoological and Botanical Park (Lok Kawi Wildlife Park) in Lok Kawi, about 20 kilometres south of the city, is the first zoo in Sabah. Set on a 280-acre (1.1 km2) piece of land, it is arguably the largest zoo in Malaysia. The Green Connection aquarium just outside the centre of KK showcases the fish, coral and reptile biodiversity of Sabah, with exhibits on many of the aquatic ecosystems of Sabah. At the Green Connection aquarium, there are 5 of the top 10 wildlife icons of Borneo like sharks, rays, coral, fish and snakes.
Tun Fuad Stephens Park, located in Bukit Padang, is a popular jogging and hiking spot among locals. It is surrounded by forests and also features a man-made lake. It has a few food stalls and restaurants. Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is a National Park consisting of the islands of Sapi, Mamutik, Manukan, Sulug and Gaya. It is a popular spot for snorkelling. The park is about a 15 to 30 minutes boat ride away from the city ferry terminal. Babagon River in Penampang and Kiansom Falls near Inanam are also popular places for picnics and leisure bathing.
Outside the city, Crocker Range National Park, located about 70 kilometres away from the city near Keningau, is a popular spot for jungle trekking and camping. Kota Kinabalu is also the gateway to one of the most popular national parks in Malaysia, Kinabalu National Park. The park is a two-hour drive away from the city and Mount Kinabalu, which is the 10th highest peak in South-East Asia and the highest in Malaysia, is located there. The Rafflesia Forest Reserve near Tambunan, which is 30 kilometres away from Kota Kinabalu, is also within the Crocker Range National Park boundary. The world's largest flower species, the Rafflesia, can be found there. The Gunung Emas Highland Resort, which is nearby, is another spot famous for its scenery and cool climate. The Tuaran Crocodile Farm, about 30 kilometres north of the city, has around 1400 crocodiles in its enclosure, making it the largest of its kind in Sabah.
The Tun Mustapha Tower (formerly Sabah Foundation Building) is about a 10-minute drive from the city centre. This 30-storey glass building is supported by high-tensile steel rods, one of only three buildings in the world that is built using this method.
Other buildings and sites in the city are the stilt villages found in the areas of Sembulan, Tanjung Aru, Kampung Likas, and Kampung Pondo in Gaya Island. These houses are built on shallow coastal waters and are homes for the Bajau and Suluk inhabitants.
The Sabah State Mosque in Sembulan is the main mosque in the city. The City Mosque on Likas Bay is another significant landmark in the city.The Signal Hill Observatory near the CBD offers a scenic view of the city centre, the islands, and the sea.
Kota Kinabalu also features a number of shopping malls. These include Kompleks Karamunsing, Centre Point, Wisma Merdeka, Warisan Square, Plaza Wawasan, Kompleks Asia City, City Mall, KK Plaza, Suria Sabah and Borneo, which is the largest hypermall in Kota Kinabalu. Newly constructed malls in Kota Kinabalu include the Suria Sabah Shopping Mall, which currently holds GSC Kota Kinabalu, and Megalong Shopping Mall, which is situated in the district of Penampang. Karamunsing, where Kompleks Karamunsing is situated, is an area that has more computer shops per capita than anywhere else in Sabah. The weekly Gaya Street Sunday Market features a gathering of local hawkers selling a wide range of items from traditional ethnic cultural souvenirs to pets and flowers. The Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market (formerly known as the Filipino Market) features vendors selling traditional handicrafts, souvenirs and foodstuffs.
There are four cinemas in Kota Kinabalu: 2 Golden Screen Cinemas (commonly known as GSC), Growball Cineplex and Megalong Cineplex. One of the GSC cinemas is located at Suria Sabah Shopping Mall, while the other is located at 1Borneo.Both GSC cinemas hold eight cinema halls each. 1Borneo Hypermall and Sutera Harbour Marina have bowling alleys and pool tables.
The Likas Sports Complex in Kota Kinabalu provides various sporting and recreational facilities for public use. It has, among others, a 20,000-seater football (soccer) stadium, badminton, tennis, and squash courts, a gymnasium, an Olympic size swimming pool, a driving range, hockey fields and a new Youth Challenge park consisting of an international standard skate park and indoor climbing centre. It is the largest sports complex in the state and has hosted numerous national as well as international sporting events. Likas Stadium is the home stadium of Sabah FA, also known as SabaHawks. There is another sports complex in Penampang which also has a full-sized football stadium.
There are four golf courses in Kota Kinabalu, namely the Sabah Golf and Country Club in Bukit Padang, Kinabalu Golf Club in Tanjung Aru, Sutera Harbour Golf and Country Club, and Karambunai Golf and Country Club.
Kota Kinabalu has hosted a number of national sporting events such as the 2002 Sukma Games, international tournaments such as the 1994 Karate World Championships and the 2008 BWF Super Series Masters Finals badminton tournament. It is also the starting point of the annual international Borneo Safari 4x4 Challenge. Kota Kinabalu has been one of the circuits for the F2 Powerboat UIM World Cup Series in December every year since 2007.
Kota Kinabalu is home to one of Asia's favourite jazz festivals, the KK Jazz Festival. It has become an annual event. International performers such as Son2nos (Venezuela), award-winning Korean jazz diva Nah Youn Sun, Hong Kong's Junk Unit, Malaysia's Double Take, Atilia and Mood Indigo from UK have all previously performed at the festival.
BandWidth Street Press Magazine is Kota Kinabalu's only free monthly magazine that promotes local Sabah music. The magazine was launched in March 2009, and was supported by the local government and was referred by Sabah's Minister of Culture, Environment & Tourism, YB Datuk Masidi Manjun, as a publication that will introduce and promote new local musicians while serving up the latest information on the local entertainment scene.