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Tags: Malaysia, Jungle Survival, Kinabalu Dives, Kinabalu Snorkelling, Mt Kinabalu Climb, Kiulu White Water Rafting, Tips

Top 5 Places to Catch the Sunset in Kota Kinabalu

KK one of the top places in the world to watch the sunset in. Read more for where exactly in KK to go (some are completely free)!

There’s no place better than the coastal town of Kota Kinabalu to catch beautiful sunsets that you will remember for the rest of your life. Huffington Post even listed it as one of the eight great places in the world to watch the sunset, alongside Dubrovnik in Croatia. Who would have thought that this unassuming little town would rank up there with King's Landing! 

Here are the 5 best spots to catch the sunset in Kota Kinabalu. Depending on which spot you pick, you'll either get to watch the sun slowly fall behind Mount Kinabalu (Borneo’s highest peak), or dip into the horizon in glorious jewelled tones.

1. Waterfront Boardwalk

This is easily our favourite spot. Not only is it free to catch the sunset here, the boardwalk is also super accessible (located right in the city centre), and there's enough space here to find a quiet corner and contemplate the sunset in silence. 

You can also see local fishermen go about their day as you watch the sunset from the boardwalk

Even when you're in the middle of Kota Kinabalu town idly shopping, you can sense when the sun is about to set - there's a sliver of excitement in the air as crowds of travellers and locals alike rush to the boardwalk. As we watched in silence from the boardwalk, the sky changed from hues of dusty pink, to purple, to a fiery orange. The sunset ended sooner than we would have liked, and just like that, the spell was broken and we returned to our idle wandering. 

Both the locals and tourists flock to the boardwalk when the sun is about to set.

We particularly enjoyed the people-watching here —local children running around playing a game of tag;  families laughing and chatting with an ice-cream in hand; and couples taking selfies with the sea as their backdrop. 

Check out Sinsuran Market — take your pick of fresh fruits and freshly caught seafood.

We recommend you head to Sinsuran Market just next door to enjoy fresh seafood right by the coast (Read more on other night markets and cafes you can visit in KK)

Cost: FREE - walk from your accommodation if you stay near the city centre.

Address: Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

2. Kokol Haven Resort

The landscape of Kokol Haven Resort is entirely different from the one at the boardwalk. 

Expect dramatic mountains, the skyline of Kota Kinabalu, and a much more private experience at Kokol Haven. Kokol Haven was a 40 minutes drive from the city centre, and the drive up involves steep and winding roads. We recommend pre-booking a driver and having him wait at the resort for the ride back down — Grab has an hourly package option in KK that allows you to book one driver for a few hours. It’ll be easier than trying to get another driver home (most drivers aren’t willing to drive up!)

The viewing platform of Kokol Haven.

Find yourself a good spot and set up your tripod.

Also, traffic conditions get really bad during the peak period. Our driver told us that if we left any later than 4pm, we would be caught in the jam and wouldn’t be able to catch the sunset (usually around 6.20pm).

We also got closer with our new friends while waiting for the sunset.

We are thankful for the conversations we had with Terence, a documentary filmmaker who just finished his project, and Daniel, our driver who has been to more than 90% of Sabah and is driving for Grab in order to meet new people.

Note: Kokol Haven is not to be mistaken with Kokol Elf, another popular but way-too-overpriced spot on Kokol Hill (Entrance fee of RM120 per pax for international travellers).

Cost: ~RM250 for the driver (Grab rates: ~Rm250 for 4 hours) + entrance fee (RM10 - inclusive of 1 soft drink)

Address: Jalan Kokol Kota Kinabalu Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

3. Tanjung Aru Beach

Photo credit: Lin from Borneo Scuba Academy

Kota Kinabalu has its fair share of beaches, but none is more iconic than Tanjung Aru, especially when it comes to sunsets. Locals tell us that Tanjung Aru is ranked the best place across the whole of Southeast Asia to watch sunsets (though we aren't sure where this ranking came from).

If you would like to pamper yourself, head to the Sunset Bar at Shangri La's Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa. It's not cheap (RM 37 per person, which includes a drink), but it's a lovely way to watch the sunset in comfort. That said, when we were there, we did see travellers who just went there for the sunset (without getting a drink) - so there is a way to hack it! 

Nothing like the sound of calming waves and the pastel hues of the sky after sunset. Photo credit: @terencetmatix

After viewing the sunset, head to the open-air food court for dinner where dozens of stalls offer authentic local dishes and freshly-caught seafood.

Cost: ~RM1.50 for bus fare (20 minutes) or ~RM20 for taxi/ Grab. RM 37 (entrance fee, including a drink) if you would like to watch the sunset from the Sunset Bar at the Shangri-La. 

Address: Tanjung Aru, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Getting there: Take the #16 buses signed "Tanjung Aru Beach"  from City Hall and Wawasan Plaza in the southern part of Kota Kinabalu and turn around in the parking lot of the food court—the last stop—before heading back to the city.

4. Sky Blu Bar 

Photo credit: Sky Blu Bar Facebook

Being on the 13th floor of Grandis Hotel, Sky Blu Bar is a great option for observing the sunset from a vantage point.

Head down early to use the rooftop pool. Photo credit: Sky Blu Bar Facebook

Either chill with a cocktail in hand, take a dip in the rooftop pool, or spend some time working out in the gym here! All of these facilities are open to public with a minimum spend of RM30 — a pretty reasonable price, especially if you plan on staying for a long time!

There are only 80 seats available so head there early to get yourself the best view!  Photo credit: Sky Blu Bar Facebook

Cost:  RM30 on food and drinks by Sky Blu Bar, inclusive of access to rooftop pool and gym

Address: Hotel Grandis, Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

5. Jesselton Point

Sunset in Jesselton Point. Photo credit: Lin from Borneo Scuba Academy

If you’re in KK, chances are you’d already have Jesselton Point in your itinerary. It’s the main ferry terminal for the Tunku Abdul Rahman islands for those planning on island hopping, snorkelling or diving. If these are not in your itinerary yet, be sure to add it in for an amazing therapeutic experience underwater. If you're interested in other adventures around KK, do also read this article on the incredible activities accessible from your hotel in KK.

Either take a seat outdoors (as shown above) or indoors at the coffee shops.

Don't be in a rush to leave once you’re done with your activities for the day. Instead, hang around Jesselton Point until the sun sets — there are plenty of coffee shops and little stalls around for you to wind down after a long day of fun. We promise you won't regret it!

Cost:  FREE - walk from your accommodation if you stay near the city centre.

Address: Wisma Perkasa, Jalan Gaya, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88200 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

We witnessed some of the best sunsets we have ever seen in Kota Kinabalu, and we're extremely grateful to have had the chance to catch the sunset almost every night when we were there. There's just something magical about watching a sunset — we love when the skies fill with different hues of red and gold and we love how sunsets have the power to stop just about anyone in their tracks — often, we tend to forget to slow down and appreciate the world around us but a sunset gives us so much to be thankful for. 

 Did we miss out any spots to view a sunset? Let us know!


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