Best places to stay and explore Sabah, Borneo!

You have decided to venture to Borneo and make Kota Kinabalu your base of exploration? Good choice – there are plenty of options for all types of hotels and budgets available, so let my Travel Made Easy post give you some insights to help you find the best place to stay in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, in Northern Borneo!

Kota Kinabalu for first-time visitors: If you are in Kota Kinabalu (or simply referred to as KK) for the first time, I’d recommend to stay in the city itself. You’ll have access to all the tour providers, travel offices and stores you might need. The waterfront is pretty and you can explore the city with its friendly people and busy markets. You’ll also be able to get the historical backdrop for your trip at the Sabah Museum! You will find the greatest variety right in downtown, from basic accommodation at $20/night to the excellent, upscale Hyatt Regency, or similarly upscale Le Meridien KK. Hyatt KK BedEach overlooks the waterfront, you’ll get sunset views from some rooms and the lounges and are in walking distance to plenty of local stores and restaurants. Most of the hotels in town are independent hotels, so picking one does require a little research to avoid unpleasant surprises. Agoda and Trivago both have a good mix of reviews, so you can find one that fits for you!

Hyatt KK ViewNature and Beach combination: If you are planning to do trips to the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center at Sepilok or the Danum Valley, but also want some beach time in luxurious surroundings, you might want to consider the Shangri La Tanjung Aru. It’s right on the beach and close to the airport, making for easy trips to the other sites of Sabah. It’s one of the most expensive hotels in town and I haven’t stayed myself, but the reviews promise a wonderful stay! I would not recommend to stay at some of the beach resorts further out of town, as it will make the day trips and airport transfers much more time consuming. If you want some beach time, but are on a budget, keep reading!

Chaya BedAirport Stop-Over: If you have been to KK before or just have a short layover between your flights, you can stay near the airport. If you are budget doesn’t allow for the Shangri La, you can try the much more affordable C’haya Hotel. The hotel is new, the rooms are clean and the airport transfer reliable. If you are like sunsets over the ocean as much as I do (or have a few hours to spend on the beach), you can even walk to the nearby beach in about 20 minutes. That’ll give you a beach-on-a-budget option – and the public beach is nice, with a bars and restaurants overlooking it!

Sepilok: If you are visiting the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center at Sepilok, you can easily do that as a daytrip from KK. There are lots of inexpensive flights for under $50 round-trip and the visiting times align well with the flight schedules. If you do want to stay nearby, there are a few, simple resorts near the center, at the airport or in the next-biggest town of Sandakan.



Danum Valley requires a longer trip – it takes time and patience to see the animals in their natural habitat. The excellent Borneo Rainforest Lodge is the place to stay, there are not a lot of choices to see this national park.



You are excited to go? Check out my TravelMadeEasy tips how to get great deals on airfare to Sabah and how to get around Sabah! If that all sounds like too much work, check out my TravelMadeEasy Services and let me help you plan your trip!

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