As Sabah‘s capital, Kota Kinabalu (or KK as called by the locals) sits on the edge of the South China Sea overlooking a cluster of coral-fringed islands. One of Asia’s fastest growing cities, KK is an interesting blend of European, Malay, and Chinese culture. Recent influx of Filipinos has added extra flavor to the existing cultural blend. KK is a modern city with a number of shopping complexes, and international hotels and restaurants.
Today, the allure of this awe inspiring mountain and its great heights act like a powerful magnet and challenge, which attracts eager climbers from all corners of the world. About 30,000 people scale the mountain each year, including more than 10,000 foreigners. Despite its intimidating size, Mt. Kinabalu is the one of the easiest mountains in the world to climb. No special skills or equipment are needed and each year, thousand of visitors climb to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu’s Low Peak.
Keep in mind, however, that the ascent is a physically tough and challenging climb, requiring a minimum of two days to reach the summit.
A group of five almost untouched islands – Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Mamutik, Pulau Manukan, and Pulau Sulug – make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. Located between 3 to 8km from Kota Kinabalu, the islands are a favorite among picnickers, divers, and nature lovers.
In order to protect the natural environment with its coral reefs, marine life, and its flora and fauna, the islands were gazetted as a National Park.
Only a short boat ride from the city center, they offer some of the best beaches in Borneo with crystal clear waters and a wealth of corals and tropical marine life. Pulau Gaya is the largest island in the park whereas Manukan is the second largest. The latter is also the only island with accommodation facilities.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is a State Park created to protect the natural environment, including the coral reefs, marine life, the fauna and flora. Notice boards are posted prominently on all the islands, and visitors are advised to read these notices before proceeding with their individual pursuits.
The Seria Town is Brunei’s oil town, where the oil wells are a common sight to the locals in the area. Nevertheless, Seria is an oasis of quiet city compared to the bustling city Bandar Seri Begawan. Bandar Sri Begawan is not the only city with famous architechture. The Billionth Barrel Monument, designed by a local architect is Seria’s famous landmark. The monument is designed through an arched entrance and between two straight rows of trees, with floor tiles designed in an Islamic pattern. The arch serves to remind visitors that Brunei is an Islamic environment.
The most impressive site in Bandar Seri Begawan is His Majesty’s Royal Palace, known as Istana Nurul Iman. As the largest residential palace in the world, its golden domed and expansive structure situated on the banks of the Brunei River makes a spectacular photograph. The palace is open to the public only during Hari Raya when residents and visitors alike have the opportunity to greet His Majesty and the Royal households.
Perhaps the best view of the Istana is from the Persiaran Damuan, a park which has been created along the river bank. Apart from tropical gardens and well-equipped playground, it features six unique sculptures of the six ASEAN nations. It is a popular place for jogging and picnicking as well.
Dominating the city of Bandar Seri Begawan, this is one of the most magnificent mosques in South East Asia and symbol of the strong Islamic faith of the inhabitants of Brunei Darussalam.Completed in 1958, it was named after the 28th Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque who was well-known as “The Architect of Modern Brunei.”
Labuan is a small island facing the South China Sea. It joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963 together with Sabah and Sarawak.
This splendid mosque was built at a cost of US$11 million and is the pride of the Labuan’s Muslim community. Its futuristic architecture symbolizes the progressive spirit of the people and island of Labuan.
Recently completed, the Financial Park at Jalan Merdeka houses international offshore banks, and insurance and trust companies.
A 1,500 sitting capacity convention hall and large shopping mall is also available for visitors. This modern complex is reputed to be the only one of its kind in any International Offshore Financial Centre