Best food in Kota Kinabalu that’s walking distance from your hostel (probably)

KK has an incredible range of delicious food walking distance from most hostels (on Gaya Street or in Kampung Air). Here we bring you our favourite food spots on a backpacker’s budget, which are (probably) walking distance from your hostel.
A quick note: single-use plastics are used excessively at KK’s market stalls. Every time we went to the markets, we brought our own takeaway containers and metal straws. We got a few funny looks from stallholders, but it was worth it to know that my straw wouldn’t end up in the sea. You can buy metal tupperware at the Sunday Gaya Street markets or regular plastic containers from any supermarket, and metal straws from Biru Biru or Nook Cafe.

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Gunung Mulu National Park 

Gunung Mulu National Park is a vast protected area of primary rainforest and cave networks in the interior of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. The Park contains one of the largest and longest cave networks in the world, some of which is still being explored. As there is no major road to the Park, the surrounding area is still very remote, with a few villages nearby connected by the river.

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Danum Valley – The Heart of Borneo

Danum Valley Conservation Area is a vast protected area in Borneo’s interior. At 130 million years old, the rainforest in Danum Valley is one of the oldest in the world. It is a lowland Dipterocarp forest that contains a diverse range of flora and fauna. This includes endangered species such as orangutans, Pygmy elephants, clouded leopards and slow loris. Trees in the Dipterocarp family can reach 60 meters in height or more, with the tallest reaching 89.5 meters!

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Tungog Rainforest Eco Camp on the Kinabatangan

For our time on the Kinabatangan River, we chose to stay at Tungog Rainforest Eco Camp (TREC), which is run by KOPEL, a community-based eco-tourism cooperative of the Batu Puteh community. KOPEL was established to conserve forests and biodiversity, and to support sustainable local livelihoods and Indigenous knowledge. KOPEL has 209 members from all four of the Batu Puteh villages.

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Saving the Bornean Sun Bear

Malayan sun bears are the smallest bear in the world and are only found in south east Asia. The sun bear is classified as a vulnerable species by the IUCN, and is the second rarest bear specie after the giant panda. According to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), sun bears continue to be threatened by forest degradation, illegal hunting for bear parts which are often used for traditional medicine and poaching to obtain young cubs for the pet trade. Yet before visiting the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok, Sabah, we hardly knew anything about sun bears.

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Kota Kinabalu’s Filipino Markets

The air is hazy with the smoke from burning chicken skewers and the scent of durian. Hawkers shout and wave their menus, drawing you into their seafood stall. Stallholders delicately pile their produce into pyramids, and lay out rows of packaged spices and chilies. The tourists pouring from the tour buses outside barely make inroads into the markets, hanging in clusters and cautiously buying durian from the stalls on the edges.

This labyrinth of stalls is the ‘Filipino markets’ on the waterfront of Kota Kinabalu (KK).

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