Kota Kinabalu City Centre


Kota Kinabalu Equatorial/Tropical — The climate is generally always hot throughout the year. We have two (2) seasons which is dry and wet. The weather is quite unpredictable with rain spells lasting for one (1) hour during each afternoon. Dry season is between April & October. Tourists should prepare by wearing comfortable clothing to avoid sweating.


The average temperature around the lowland areas such as Kota Kinabalu, Kudat, Sandakan, Tawau is approximately 32°C. The average humidity is between 70 – 80 %. The highland areas such as Kinabalu National Park averages a temperature of 20°C whilst the summit of Mount Kinabalu – 4095meters above sea level can fall to freezing.


The Malaysian Ringgit (RM or known via banks as MYR) is accepted all over Malaysia. It is very rare that people would accept a foreign currency. There are many money exchange kiosks based in shopping complexes that do not charge a commission. Traveller’s cheques are accepted at Banks whilst hotels have their exchange rate’s for in-house guests. On arrival at Kota Kinabalu airports the exchange kiosks are open and provide the same rates as the shopping complexes. The Malaysian people sometimes refer to RM as a dollar. Do not be fooled into thinking US$.


All major credit cards are accepted in Malaysia such as VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club and Union Pay. Most places will charge a 3% commission when using a credit card.


Malaysian Time is 8 hours ahead of GMT (GMT+8).


The banks operate Monday through to Friday from 9.30am until 4.00pm


Shopping complexes are open from 10am – 9pm whilst supermarkets, restaurants and mini markets (7 eleven & Orange ) are generally open 24 hours. Hotel’s, restaurants and bars close around 1 – 2am and will normally always charge a 10% service charge and 6% government tax. These are both unavoidable and have to be paid. Tipping in Sabah is not common but rule of thumb, if you liked the service tip the guide!


The electricity is on the 240 Volts AC/ 50-Cycle system. Do not drink water from the tap unless they are using water filters such as Diamond. You may purchase bottled water in any 24 hour mini-market. Ice-cubes are always delivered from the factory and delivered in bags by truck. All local people will consume the ice. Hot water showers are very common in residential areas.


You will be able to use mobile (handphone) telecommunications mostly all over Sabah with the exception of some remote areas. Services such as Maxis, Digi, Celcom are the most common. A sim pack will cost you RM8.50 and credit at RM10.00. You can also buy a cheap unblocked Nokia phone for RM50.00. The country code for Malaysia is +60. Most of global branded cafe in Kota Kinabalu such as Coffee Beans and Starbucks gives free WiFi access (wireless internet) to their customers.


There is one (1) major government hospital in Kota Kinabalu known as Queen Elizabeth. They will require an entrance fee for the accident and emergency section. Private hospitals such as Sabah Medical Centre and Damai specialist are just a 10 minute drive from the city centre. Most high class Malaysian’s will travel to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore for treatment. Many clinics are found around the city centre and every doctor will always prescribe antibiotics and a bag full of tablets for you. There are two (2) decompression chambers at Kota Kinabalu. These are both located at Sepangar Navy Base. You must be referred from the local hospitals.


Public transport is always available but not usually on time. A city bus will operate around Kota Kinabalu for RM2.00. The Taxi’s will not go by the meter, so you will have to bargain a fare. A minimum of RM10.00 is always asked. Airports Taxi’s are a fixed price. Long Distance buses are available from Bandaran Berjaya or from Inanam Bus Station. Malaysia Airlines or Airasia is used by air. You can take ferries to Labuan, Brunei and Sarawak from Jessleton point ferry terminal.


The Sabahan people around Kota Kinabalu city are very friendly and will always welcome you with a greeting, handshake or smile. Malaysia is an Islamic country and most restaurants will not serve PORK. Physical contact and nudity in public is not allowed. If you’re invited to someone’s personal house, taking your shoes off at the front door is customary and offensive language is not tolerated. Tourist Police Officers in full uniform were always on patrol every night so you can feel safe when walking around the city.


Bahasa Malaysia (national language) and English is widely spoken. The Chinese people in Sabah normally speak four (4) dialects including Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien and Hakka. The latter being used all over Kota Kinabalu. Most Malaysian’s at Sabah like to add BAH to the end of the sentence for e.g OK BAH. LAH and MAH are also used but more common in Peninsular Malaysia. Most people around the city Kota Kinabalu can speak in basic English. Taxi drivers, tourist information counter and shopping mall sales staff are the best place to ask for places you want to go.


Below are some greetings that are used everyday at Kota Kinabalu. There in Bahasa Malaysia and all people will understand these phrases.

  • Welcome = Selamat datang (used on arrival to a place)
  • Thank You = Terima Kasih or ‘tear off my car seat’ (you must say this fast)
  • Your welcome = Sama Sama (used after saying thank you)
  • How Are You? = Apa Khabar?
  • I am fine = Saya baik
  • Good Morning = Selamat Pagi
  • Good Evening = Selamat Malam
  • How Much? = Berapa Harga?
  • Where is the toilet? = Di manakah tandas?

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