As its name suggests, Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI) primarily serves the city of Kota Kinabalu. It is also the main gateway into Sabah and the Borneo Islands.
The airport was first used as a military base in World War II. After the war, it was converted for commercial use. Since then it has been renovated to expand capacity and now boasts a terminal with modern design and state of the art security systems.
There are two terminals at this airport, but it is relatively small so just give yourself sufficient time and you should not get lost. There are many carriers that fly to Kota Kinabalu International Airport including AirAsia, Malaysian Airlines, Korean Air and JAL, ensuring that you have a range of options to choose from.
How to get around
The airport is around 8km southwest of the city, so getting there would not require much time. The best way to get to the city would be to request your hotel or hostel to provide you with an airport transfer. This is the easiest and most direct way.
Public transport wise, there are airport taxis that run from Terminal 1 which are at fixed prices and can fit up to four people. This is also a relatively inexpensive and simple way to get to either the city or direct to your hotel and hostel. There are also buses available, but it might be challenging for those not familiar with the route.
Alternatively, you might want to consider renting a car and driving directly to town and wherever you need to get to in the day. Car rental services are available from the airport and are run by companies such as Avis and Hertz.
Taxis are plentiful in Kota Kinabalu and are the most common way of getting around. The taxis usually do not run by meter so be sure to negotiate a price before you get on.
Another way to get around is to hire your own car either from the city or direct from the airport when you first arrive. There are many good car renting packages available (weekly or monthly) so be sure to compare prices to see which package suits you best. The car will also give you greater flexibility of time and allow you to plan your trip to suit your schedule.
What to see and do
The primary goal of many visitors to Kota Kinabalu would be to climb the famous Mount Kinabalu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The highest peak in the whole Malay Archipelago, Mount Kinabalu may sound a little daunting to climb, but there are a variety of different climbing packages at different parts of the mountain that cater to your skill and fitness level, so be sure to check those out before booking. Once at the summit, the views are spectacular, and will make the effort climbing up worth it.
For those less adventurous, you can head to the surrounding Kinabalu Park to take a look at the various flora and fauna native to Kinabalu. Keep an eye out for badgers, squirrels and the small-clawed otter that all call Kinabalu Park home.
Other than visiting the park, there are many other things to do such as visiting the Mari Mari Cultural Village to take in the culture of Kinabalu, the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park for some aquatic life, and the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, to learn about the religious history of Kota Kinabalu.
It is also possible to take a day trip to some of the islands around Kota Kinabalu including Sapi, Mamutik and Manukan Islands, which all have beautiful pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, perfect for a dive or swim.
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