Best Kota Kinabalu Day Trips “2023”: A Guide

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The Best Day Trips from Kota Kinabalu Borneo

Day trips are often the best way to see multiple places from one destination and Kota Kinabalu is no different. From climbing Mount Kinabalu, to snorkelling adventures and jungle experiences, if you are wanting to experience a lot of Borneo's activities, here are a great list of tours you can do from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo's capital.

Whether its a day trip or a multi day adventure, I found some great day trips that did exactly what I wanted to in Borneo. Here are my recommendations of some great activities from Kota Kinabalu.

Kota Kinabalu Snorkelling and Diving Day Trips

Head out to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park for some snorkelling or diving while in Kota Kinabalu. Most of these tours leave from the Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal which is easy to find and the diving tours are operated by qualified PADI dive instructors.


5 Star Rating from 85 reviews.

Guided Snorkeling Day Trip

From: $89 AUD
Snorkel Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park with 3 different snorkelling stops. Snorkel gear is included, lunch and water are also provided and the group is limited to 12.

Clown fish at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park Borneo

5 Star rating from 12 reviews.

Try Scuba in Kota Kinabalu

From: $145 AUD
Try out scuba diving with a qualified PADI instructor before venturing your way under the water for a bucket list experience. Lunch, small boat & permits included.


5 Star rating from 46 reviews.

3 Dives at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

From: $150 AUD
Get 3 dives in different locations in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. PADI certified guides, lunch included, small boat experience. Includes Permits.

PADI dive boat Kota Kinabalu

Alternatively, you could do a 3 day learn to dive course with PADI open water training from Kota Kinabalu.

Climb Mount Kinabalu Tours

Mount Kinabalu isn't for the faint hearted. However, I did this hike about 8 months after having my Achilles tendon reconstructed so it is possible if you aren't a dedicated hiker or don't have your usual fitness level. Today, the hike is made easier by the fact that you have to do it over 2 days (you could do it in one when I completed this hike). There are different routes too now so you can choose your poison so to speak.


5 Star rating

Mount Kinabalu Via Ferrata (Walk The Torq) | 2 Days

From: $1080 AUD
Climb Mount Kinabalu with an experienced guide. Training on using the cables will be provided. I nights accommodation in the mountain hut and Dinner, Breakfast and lunch provided also. Return transfers to and from hotels in KK.

Mount Kinabalu Via Ferrata Tour

5 Star rating from 41 reviews.

2 day Mount Kinabalu Via Ferrata | Private Tour

From: $1250 AUD min 2 pax
Climb Mount Kinabalu without the pressure of a group. This is a private tour which enables you to go at your own pace and get as many photos as you wish. 5 meals, hut stay and return transfers to and from hotels in KK are included.


5 Star rating from 162 reviews.

2 day Mount Kinabalu Climbing Trip

From: $1080 AUD min 2 pax
Pickup from hotels in Kota Kinabalu included. 5 meals, porters, dorm accommodation, summit photos and of course qualified guides are included.

Climb Mount Kinabalu

If you would like to ad an extra day and see the park as well, this 3 Day trip gives you time before your climb to check out the rest of Kinabalu National Park.

3 Day Trip to the “Tip of Borneo” From Kota Kinabalu

This 3 day trip from Kota Kinabalu, visits the tip of Borneo and the beaches this area is known for. Borneo typically doesn't have the white sand beaches of other Asian islands, mostly because or the surrounding reef. It does however have many turtles, a wide range of reef fish and heaps more to see under the water. The best beaches in Borneo are at the tip of the island and this tour will allow you to choose between snorkelling and just swimming or lazing on the beach if that is how you would like to spend your day.

Tip of Borneo Kudat 3 Days Private Tour

From: $560 AUD min 2 pax
Pickup from hotels in Kota Kinabalu included. Private transportation. Snorkelling, light house visit, sunset cruise, and the following meals:
Lunch (3), Breakfast (2), Dinner (2)

Kudat 3 night tour from Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu Boat Trips and River Cruises

There are more than a few options for river cruises or sunset cruises from Kota Kinabalu. Here are some of the best rated tours on Viator. Why book with Viator? I love that Viator enables me to book tours of local areas with the security of a major company holding my money. That's the same reason I also use Get Your Guide regularly.

Kota Belud Wetlands & Fireflies River Cruise Tour (8 hrs)

Kota Belud Wetlands Cruise and firefly tour
  • A$135.00 Approx
  • Tempasuk River Cruise
  • Proboscis monkey sightings
  • Buffet dinner included
  • Sunset cruise with firefly watching after dinner.
  • Hotel pick up included.

Klias River Safari Tour from Kota Kinabalu
(8 hours)

Kilas River Safari from Kota Kinabalu
  • A$165.00 Approx
  • Pass rice paddies & palm plantations
  • Small town local life visits
  • Dinner included
  • Firefly watching after sunset
  • Hotel pick up included.

Borneo (Klias) River Cruise & Fireflies Tour (9 Hours)

Kilas River Cruise Kota Kinabalu
  • A$75.00 Approx
  • Experience the Kilas Wetlands and see Proboscis Monkeys
  • Malaysian buffet dinner included
  • Mangrove Firefly watching after sunset
  • Hotel pickup included.

White Water Rafting Tours from Kota Kinabalu

If you feel like some action and adrenaline, consider doing a white water rafting trip from Kota Kinabalu. There are multiple companies that offer this tour, the best 3 are below.


5 Star rating from 4 reviews.

Kiulu White Water River Rafting

From: $98 AUD
Pickup from hotels in Kota Kinabalu included. Relax for an hour and a half while you are driven to the river. Learn about rafting from your English speaking guide and then take to the river for an afternoon of fun!

Kiulu white water rafting experience

Beware: Pickups start at 5:00am!

Padas White Water Rafting

From: $106 AUD
Travel to the Padas river before learning the basics of rafting and then taking to the rapids to test your skills. Qualified guides, pickups from your hotel and lunch is included.

Padas White River Rafting

8 Hour Tour
8:30 am start

Kiulu White Water River Rafting from Kota Kinabalu

From: $150 AUD
Kiulu offers the thrill of white water rafting with lesser class rapids. Suitable for beginners, lunch is included with free hotel pickup and drop off as well.

Kiulu White Water Rafting trip

Borneo Multi Day Tours

If you are visiting Borneo, it would be a shame not to see everything it has to offer. These 2 tours below are 17 and 10 days respectively and are with Intrepid Travel who are a supremely reputable tour company.

The first tour is 17 days and includes Kuching, Bako National Park, Mulu National Park, the Head-hunters Trail, Labuan Island and then on to Kota Kinabalu and into Sabah from there. The 10 day version starts in Kota Kinabalu, so misses Bako, Mulu and the places I mention above. Both cover all the animal places you would want to visit so you choice would be based around seeing more of the national parks on the longer version, or a more condensed trip that touches on all the animal sanctuaries.

They both visit

  • Mt Kinabalu National Park
  • Poring Hot Springs
  • Kinabatangan River
  • Sandakan
  • Turtle Island
  • Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary
  • Sun Bear Santuary
  • Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary

20 Days
From Kuching to Sepilok

Reputable Tour Company that uses local guides.

Best of Borneo (Intrepid Travel)

From: $4628 AUD
A great tour that covers heaps of the very best of Borneo. It covers multiple national parks, Kuching, a great hike on the Head-hunters Trail, Orangutan, Proboscis Monkey, Turtle & Sun Bear Sanctuaries & wildlife spotting on the Kinabatangan River. Use the Book Now button to see the tour.

Best of Borneo Intrepid Travel

11 Days
From Kota Kinabalu to Sepilok

Reputable Tour Company that uses local guides.

Sabah Adventure (Intrepid Travel)

From: $2848 AUD
A great tour that covers must see destinations in Borneo. You will visit Kinabalu National Park, Poring Hop Springs, see the Orangutan, Proboscis Monkey, Turtle & Sun Bear Sanctuaries & also go wildlife spotting on the Kinabatangan River. Use the Book Now button to see the tour.

Sabah Adventure Intrepid Travel

Wrapping up: Day Trips From Kota Kinabalu

While you won't see the main animal sanctuaries from Kota Kinabalu, it is a great place to base yourself to see everything you can in the surrounding are before moving on to Sabah to spend time there. You could reasonably easily see a good about of Malaysian Borneo by basing yourself in Kota Kinabalu for a few days and then flying to Sandakan and doing the same thing there.

Whatever you decide I'm sure you will love Borneo as I did. It is wonderful and a great place to start adventuring abroad.

The inquisitive Proboscis monkeys at Labuk Bay Sanctuary
Proboscis Monkeys At Labuk Bay Sanctuary.
Young Orangutan female.
A young female Orangutan at Sepilok Sanctuary.

Jenny Marsden - Charge The Globe
About the author

Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She's always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes. Learn more about Jenny and her travels.

Check out my Borneo Destination Page for all the info, posts & places to visit in Malaysian Borneo.