Travel Budget for Kota Kinabalu Visit Kota Kinabalu on a Budget or Travel in Style

Kota Kinabalu, State of Sabah, Malaysia

How much does it cost to travel to Kota Kinabalu?

You should plan to spend around $49 (RM232) per day on your vacation in Kota Kinabalu. This is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors.

Past travelers have spent, on average for one day:

  • $15 (RM73) on meals
  • $22 (RM106) on local transportation
  • $37 (RM173) on hotels

A one week trip to Kota Kinabalu for two people costs, on average, $687 (RM3,242). This includes accommodation, food, local transportation, and sightseeing.

All of these average travel prices have been collected from other travelers to help you plan your own travel budget.

  • Average Daily Cost Per person, per day
    $49
    RM232
  • One Week Per person
    $344
    RM1,621
  • 2 Weeks Per person
    $687
    RM3,242
  • One Month Per person
    $1,472
    RM6,948
  • One Week For a couple
    $687
    RM3,242
  • 2 Weeks For a couple
    $1,374
    RM6,485
  • One Month For a couple
    $2,944
    RM13,896
This data comes from the travel budgets of real travelers - How it works. Put these numbers on your website.


How much does a one week, two week, or one month trip to Kota Kinabalu cost?

A one week trip to Kota Kinabalu usually costs around $344 (RM1,621) for one person and $687 (RM3,242) for two people. This includes accommodation, food, local transportation, and sightseeing.

A two week trip to Kota Kinabalu on average costs around $687 (RM3,242) for one person and $1,374 (RM6,485) for two people. This cost includes accommodation, food, local transportation, and sightseeing.

Please note, prices can vary based on your travel style, speed, and other variables. If you're traveling as a family of three or four people, the price per person often goes down because kid's tickets are cheaper and hotel rooms can be shared. If you travel slower over a longer period of time then your daily budget will also go down. Two people traveling together for one month in Kota Kinabalu will often have a lower daily budget per person than one person traveling alone for one week.

A one month trip to Kota Kinabalu on average costs around $1,472 (RM6,948) for one person and $2,944 (RM13,896) for two people. The more places you visit, the higher the daily price will become due to increased transportation costs.




Independent Travel

Traveling Independently to Kota Kinabalu has many benefits including affordabilty, freedom, flexibility, and the opportunity to control your own experiences.

All of the travel costs below are based on the experiences of other independent travelers.

Is Kota Kinabalu expensive to visit?

Kota Kinabalu is a reasonably affordable place to visit. Located in Malaysia, which is a reasonably affordable country, visitors will appreciate the relatively low cost of this destination. It is in the top 25% of cities in the country for its affordability. If you're traveling on a budget, then this is a good destination with affordable accommodation, food, and transportation.

Within Asia, Kota Kinabalu is a reasonably affordable destination compared to other places. It is in the top 25% of cities in Asia for its affordability. You can find more affordable cities such as Mandalay, but there are also more expensive cities, such as Taipei.

For more details, and to find out if it's within your travel budget, see Is Kota Kinabalu Expensive?

How much money do I need for a trip to Kota Kinabalu?

The average Kota Kinabalu trip cost is broken down by category here for independent travelers. All of these Kota Kinabalu travel prices are calculated from the budgets of real travelers.


Category Cost
Accommodation 1 (Double Occupancy) RM173 ($37)
Local Transportation 1 RM106 ($22)
Food 2 RM73 ($15)
Entertainment 1 RM27 ($6)
Alcohol 2 RM15 - 45 ($3 - 10)
Accommodation Budget in Kota Kinabalu
Average Daily Costs

Calculated from travelers like you

The average price paid for one person for accommodation in Kota Kinabalu is $18 (RM87). For two people sharing a typical double-occupancy hotel room, the average price paid for a hotel room in Kota Kinabalu is $37 (RM173). This cost is from the reported spending of actual travelers.


  • Accommodation1 Hotel or hostel for one person
    $18
    RM87
  • Accommodation1 Typical double-occupancy room
    $37
    RM173

Hotel Prices in Kota Kinabalu

Looking for a hotel in Kota Kinabalu? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options.

Find the best hotel for your travel style.

 

Actual Hotel Prices
The average hotel room price in Kota Kinabalu based on data provided by Kayak for actual hotel rooms is $31. (Prices in U.S. Dollars, before taxes & fees.)

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world.


Recommended Properties


Transportation Budget in Kota Kinabalu
Average Daily Costs

Calculated from travelers like you

  • The cost of a taxi ride in Kota Kinabalu is significantly more than public transportation. On average, past travelers have spent $22 (RM106) per person, per day, on local transportation in Kota Kinabalu.


  • Transportation1 Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    $22
    RM106

Recommended Services


Flights to Kota Kinabalu
How much does it cost to go to Kota Kinabalu? Naturally, it depends on the dates. We recommend Kayak because they can find the best deals across all airlines.

Rental Cars in Kota Kinabalu
The price of renting a car in Kota Kinabalu will depends on dates, the type of car, the location, and your age. We recommend Kayak because they can find the best deals across all car rental companies.



Food Budget in Kota Kinabalu
Average Daily Costs

Calculated from travelers like you

  • While meal prices in Kota Kinabalu can vary, the average cost of food in Kota Kinabalu is $15 (RM73) per day. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out an average meal in Kota Kinabalu should cost around $6.15 (RM29) per person. Breakfast prices are usually a little cheaper than lunch or dinner. The price of food in sit-down restaurants in Kota Kinabalu is often higher than fast food prices or street food prices.


  • Food2 Meals for one day
    $15
    RM73

Recommended


Entertainment Budget in Kota Kinabalu
Average Daily Costs

Calculated from travelers like you

  • Entertainment and activities in Kota Kinabalu typically cost an average of $5.73 (RM27) per person, per day based on the spending of previous travelers. This includes fees paid for admission tickets to museums and attractions, day tours, and other sightseeing expenses.


  • Entertainment1 Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    $5.73
    RM27

Recommended Activities


Scams, Robberies, and Mishaps Budget in Kota Kinabalu
Average Daily Costs

Calculated from travelers like you

  • Unfortunately, bad things can happen on a trip. Well, you've just got to deal with it! The average price for a scam, robbery, or mishap in Kota Kinabalu is $36 (RM171), as reported by travelers.


  • Scams, Robberies, and Mishaps1
    $36
    RM171


Alcohol Budget in Kota Kinabalu
Average Daily Costs

Calculated from travelers like you

  • The average person spends about $6.40 (RM30) on alcoholic beverages in Kota Kinabalu per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.


  • Alcohol2 Drinks for one day
    $6.40
    RM30


Water Budget in Kota Kinabalu
Average Daily Costs

Calculated from travelers like you

  • On average, people spend $1.49 (RM7.05) on bottled water in Kota Kinabalu per day. The public water in Kota Kinabalu is considered safe to drink.


  • Water2 Bottled water for one day
    $1.49
    RM7.05


Kota Kinabalu on a Budget
Kota Kinabalu Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu, originally Jesselton, is the capital of Sabah, which is on the northern part of the island of Borneo. Kota Kinabalu is located just between the western side of the island and Tambunan Rafflesia Forest Reserve. Most of Kota Kinabalu's historic buildings were destroyed by bombing during World War II, so the city had to be rebuilt. KK, as it's commonly called, is a compact, but booming town today, with its new shopping centers, seaside condominiums, and bustling marketplaces.

While KK isn't a destination on many travelers' lists, it's an excellent takeoff point to go onward to other adventures, like climbing Mount Kinabalu, or to collect yourself after such treks. Many who have visited KK know the locals to be extremely friendly and helpful.

While climate is generally steady throughout the year with temperatures hovering between the lows of mid 70s to highs in the low 90s, rainfall varies. The driest time of the year is from January to March. While the rest of Sabah gets more rain between October and November, KK gets drier, making for another good time to visit, especially if you want to avoid the heat and humidity of the summer months.

However, if you don't mind the heat, you may want to schedule your travels to KK during May, when Sabah Fest takes place. This is the biggest cultural celebration of the year, during which you'll experience spectacular productions of music, dance, theater, and other art.

Those seeking retail therapy (even on a budget), may find visiting between June and September especially beneficial. During this time, the annual Malaysia Mega Sales Carnival offers the biggest shopping discounts of the year.
Sights
Within the city, only three historical buildings remain after the WWII bombings: the General Post Office, the Land and Survey Building, and the Atkinson Clock in the city center.

You can see the ornate golden dome of the Sabah State Mosque from many parts of the city, but you'll undoubtedly want to visit this one up close, as it's one of the country's largest mosques. Non-Muslims are welcome to visit, but be sure to dress appropriately, take off your shoes, and avoid visiting on Fridays.

Check out the Filipino Market, named because it's predominantly run by Filipino immigrants. It's open everyday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and sells handicrafts, like baskets, bags,and souvenirs, as well as traditional medicines and cultured pearls (but beware of fake pearls!).

If you're hungry, head over to the Central Market, located just further north for grilled chicken and murtabak, a spicy, stuffed pancake.

Activities
KK has plenty of natural scenery and activities for adventurers, including trekking, island-hopping, and water sports.

Just two miles west of KK is Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, established in 1974 to protect the coral reefs of its five islands. Take a boat to island-hop among Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik, and Pulau Sulug. Here, you can kayak, parasail, snorkel, and explore the waters for lionfish, batfish, and clownfish. Camping is allowed on all islands except Pulau Manukan and Pulau Sulug.

If you're seeking an adrenaline rush, head over to the Coral Flyer, the world's longest zipline which connects Pulau Sapi to Pulau Gaya. Caution: this zipline isn't for the faint-hearted, as you may reach speeds of 37 mph.

Divers may want to visit Pulau Sipadan, one of the top 10 diving spots in the world. KK is about 173 miles away, so you can take a 8-10 hour bus ride or an hour-long flight to reach Tawau before heading to the port town of Semporna (about 1.5 hours away), and then taking a boat (50-60 minutes) to the island.

Meanwhile Trekkers can begin their ascent to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu, which clocks in at 13,435 feet. Not a trekker? For a less-strenuous experience, explore the lowland forests, meadows, and botanical gardens at the base of the mountain in Kinabalu Park. Afterward, head over the Poring Hot Springs to rejuvenate in your own or shared mud bath.

About 37 miles east of KK is the Tambunan Rafflesia Forest Reserve, in the Crocker Mountain Range. This reserve was set up specifically to protect the Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world. Rafflesias are especially interesting because of the putrid scent of rotting flesh they release in order to lure in carrion flies, which pollinate them. These flowers only bloom once in nine months and even then, for only a few days before wilting, so call the information center in advance to find out blooming schedules.
Food and Dining
Because the population of KK is so diverse with Chinese, Filipinos, Indians, Indonesians, Kadazan-Dusun, and Brunei-Malays, among other ethnic groups, the food is likewise varied and you will have no problem satisfying your palate in this city.

You'll easily find a variety of great food and accommodations around historical Jalan Gaya, the main tourist area of KK. Along the seafront are the more expensive 4-5 star resorts, while cheaper accommodations remain around Jalan Gaya and Australia Place.

You can't leave KK without at least tasting some of the fresh seafood at KK's night market. A plethora of stalls are available along the waterfront for your very own food crawl, from grilled stingray to seafood claypots to deep fried fish. Local specialties include Kon Lau mee, which translates to dry sauce noodles, served with barbecued pork and mustard greens and Sang Nyuk Mian, which are pork noodles served in a clear broth.

Food courts are also available inside shopping malls, which are perfect if you're on a budget. On the third floor of the Suria Sabah Shopping mall is the Suria Food Court, where self-service is the norm.

Transportation
To get into KK, hop a flight into Kota Kinabalu International Airport, just four miles from the city center. Airlines serve all major cities within the country and international flights to and from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Korea.

From the airport, you can take an airport bus into town, which leave at about every hour. Minibuses are another means to get to the center for a low-cost. While you may opt to take a taxi, but beware that fares may increase 50% between midnight and 6 a.m.

If you are arriving by bus, the North Bus Terminal is the only one current in use and it's located about 6 miles from the center. Again, fares may increase by as much as double if you take the bus at night.

To get to KK by sea, take the three-hour long ferry ride from Labuan daily at 8:30 a.m. or 1 p.m. and arrive at the Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal.

You can also opt to take a comfortable, air-conditioned train ride on the Sabah State Railway, which stops in KK, Putatan, Kinarut, Kawang, Papar, Kimanis, Bongawan, Membakut, Beaufort, Saliwangan, Halogilat, Rayoh, Pangi and Tenom.

KK is walkable because it's so compact and you'll easily find everything you need on foot. However if you need a ride or are going a longer distance, Uber and Grab (Malaysia's version of Uber) are both available and may be more comfortable for foreigners.


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We've been gathering travel costs from tens of thousands of actual travelers since 2010, and we use the data to calculate average daily travel costs for destinations around the world. We also systematically analyze the prices of hotels, hostels, and tours from travel providers such as Kayak, HostelWorld, TourRadar, Viator, and others. This combination of expenses from actual travelers, combined with pricing data from major travel companies, gives us a uniqe insight into the overall cost of travel for thousands of cities in countries around the world. You can see more here: How it Works.



1 Categories averaged on a per-item basis.
2 Categories averaged on a per-day basis.
For example, the Food2 daily average is for all meals for an entire day, while Entertainment1 is for each individual purchase. Thus, the overall daily average cost is not a summation of the individual categories.