TRAVEL: Kota Kinabalu DIY Itinerary and Expenses

Almost a month ago, I went to a weekend backpacking trip to Kota Kinabalu (KK), Malaysia with my HS best friend, Angelique. It was a no- brainer when Cebu Pacific had a seat sale back in April, we scored our roundtrip airfares less than Php3000! See, need not to spend too much to go international, tiyaga lang :). Our budget for this 3-day trip is Php10,000 excluding airfare, accommodation and Philippine travel tax.

Sharing our itinerary and expenses for y’all.

Day 0

1:30AM Arrival at KK International Airport

The Bunk Gaya Street Check-in

Day 1

Atkinson Tower

Padang Merdeka

Centerpoint Shopping Center

Mt. Kinabalu Park- UNESCO World Heritage (half day)

Oceanus Shopping Mall

Dinner at Nando’s Peri- Peri Chicken

Night Market

Filipino Market/ Handicraft Market

Day 2

Gaya Sunday Street Market (6AM-12NN)

Lunch at Gaya Street

Jesselton Point to the KK Islands

Sapi Island

Suriah Sabah Mall

Day 3

Mari Mari Cultural Village (half day tour + lunch)

Imago Shopping Center

Dinner at Old Town Gaya Street

Day 4

Bye, KK!

Depart KK International Airport to Manila


Travel TIPS:

-Sabah, or KK is a small walking city, just like SG, you can easily get to destinations in just a few steps

-KK is one of the cleanest city/ country I’ve visited; not much people on the streets and very quiet

-Lotsa Kababayans, well, atleast half Filipinos and half Malaysian; They can also understand and speak Tagalog πŸ™‚

-No other mode of transportation in the city except cabs, which do not use their meter, instead, they will charge you a fixed rate (RM10 or RM15) depending on the distance

-Uber is mostly used by the locals because it is cheaper by almost 50%! (from our hostel to Imago Mall we paid RM6; going back to the hostel, the cab charged us RM15! Darn it!)

-They have commuter vans (or mini bus for the locals) for long distance/ provincial travel

-Airport bus service from KKIA to KK City Center from 7:30AM to 8:30PM

-More than half of the population are Muslims, thus, few eateries/ restaurants offer pork on their menus. Mostly, you can find pork at Chinese eateries.

-Best to visit the islands in the morning, low tide begins at around 2-3PM, rough sea at around 4PM.

-Book a travel package going to Mt. Kinabalu UNESCO Heritage Park and Poring Hotspring. It’s not advisable to DIY this because it is 2hrs no traffic, full- speed zigzag van ride from the city. Last van from Ranau to KK City is 4PM. If you still want to take the van back to the city, suggest you purchase your return tickets from the driver once they drop you off on your first destination and don’t forget to get their contact numbers, you will be needing it!


Β  PHP USD (USD1=PHP46.79) RM (RM1=PHP11.68)
Round trip Airfare (via Cebu Pacific Air)* 2,758.51 58.96 236.17
Philippine Travel Tax 1,620.00 34.62 138.70
Accomodation (The Bunk Hostel Gaya Street) with Breakfast 1577.58 33.72 135.07
Airport Transfer (c/o The Bunk) 525.60 11.23 45.00
RT Commuter Van Fare to Mt. Kinabalu Park 467.20 9.99 40.00
Island Hopping 607.36 12.98 52.00
Entrance and Environmental Fees 700.80 14.98 60.00
Mari Mari Cultural Village Tour 1,985.60 42.44 170.00
Pocket Money (Food, Transpo, Pasalubong, Misc) 5,187.84 110.87 444.16
TOTAL 15,430.50 329.79 1,321.10

*Cebu Pacific Promo Fare

Have a safe trip to KK, Guys πŸ™‚



  1. Jane · April 2, 2017

    Hi Good day! My sister and I are going to KK this month and we would like to do island hopping and visit Mt.Kinabalu. Saan ba makakahanap ng ganitong tour package in Kota?

    • karlabadarlaa · April 3, 2017

      Hi Jane, you can avail the island hopping at the KK port. You have options on how many island you want to visit. For island activities, meron sa port na nagooffer ng packages pero I find that the manongs on the islands offers a cheaper one (mostly Filipinos). Suggest you do island hopping early kasi by 4pm, high tide na, it’s time para bumalik na kayo ng city. For Mt. Kinabalu hike, it is best that you book with tour agencies like Borneo Trails and Amazing Borneo Tours. Thank you! πŸ™‚

  2. Marianne · October 4

    Hello arrival namin to KK is at 1:30am, may masasakyan pa ba noon? At may mag aaccept kaya samin ng ganon time na hotel? I mean that time? Kasi plan ko ibook na date is yung arrival date na talaga namin so I assume 12nn pa ang check in non. Ano po ginawa nyo? 1:30am din arrival nyo tama?

    • karlabadarlaa · October 10

      Hi Marianne, yes, 1:30AM arrival din kami via Cebu Pacific. We availed the hostel’s airport service kasi alanganin yung arrival for 12nn check-in, wala kami pwede pagstay-an. We decided to pay na lang din yung day of arrival para makacheck-in agad and rest. Suggest you book via agoda or other booking sites then check with their customer service if they have airport pick-up and early check-ins. Maraming affordable na hostels sa KK city center, highly recommended ko yung The Bunk, madali rin kasi sila kausap via Facebook. After ko magbook sa Agoda I immediately sent them a PM para maremind sila and to ask yung other services. Thank you πŸ™‚

  3. Anne Margaret · November 14

    Hi. Just want to know, I am planning to bring my parents here this coming January 2018. They are 61 and 62 years old na… so I am thinking we cannot do island hopping and hiking. Can you suggest other activities for us?


    • karlabadarlaa · November 16

      Hi Anne Margaret, I suggest you avail the Mari-Mari cultural village tour. This half day tour package includes hotel pick-up and buffet lunch πŸ™‚ Also, you can try the Mt Kinabalu Tour, no hiking required since you will be riding the van from the city to the mountain view top. Night and Sunday markets are also cool since you will be seeing a lot of handicrafts and local street food πŸ™‚

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