Kota Kinabalu on the beaten path

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We usually avoid resort hotels but this time we just wanted to spend a few days taking it easy with the children in a convenient place – we were still looking for a new destination but it needed to be close to Hong Kong and have a decent swimming pool and kids club.
This is how we ended up on an Air Asia flight heading to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia to stay at the Shangri-La hotel…. only 5 minutes drive from the airport! Something different for us but extremely convenient compared to some of our destinations! The intended program was basically the following: enjoy the hotel facilities. The swimming pool, beach, kid’s club and the water slides were our main targets…it was going to be a  “busy” few days.

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But not to worry, Voyagista hasn’t changed… we couldn’t manage to stay three days in a row within the hotel grounds. In fact after one day we ended up escaping  the hotel for a few hours to see what was going on in and around Kota Kinabalu. Our main destination was the Kota Kinabalu mosque: I had seen a pretty picture of this local landmark in the inflight magazine on the way to Malaysia and decided I needed to take a picture of it myself! We hesitated to go: the concierge was claiming it was VERY VERY far, over 45 minutes drive away, a bit far just to take a nice picture… which was a bit strange given its location on the map. However we ventured out and 10 minutes later we where there… I guess the concierge isn’t kept very busy with questions about the world outside the hotel! The mosque is located at the end of a bay surrounded by a water pond and is indeed very photogenic!

On our last day we also went to Mamutik Island in the Tunku Abdul Raman National Park. Mamutik is supposed to be one of the most pleasant islands of the park but we were a bit disappointed: on the day we visited, the place was really busy and the water was very cloudy, which meant the snorkeling was not good…. not my idea of a island paradise and we quickly went back to our original progam at the resort!

For families with children based in Asia, Kota Kinabalu is a very convenient and a relatively cheap option for a long week end away. Little G thought that the whole experience “was like a party”. Little A can’t really talk but he seemed to have had a blast. Kids were happy… and parents were happy too!

What about the main attraction of the area? Well we saw it briefly from the hotel but didn’t hike Mount Kota Kinabalu this time…we will come back.

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Voyagista’s tips
  •  Air Asia offers direct flights to KK from Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur

  • To reach Abdul Raman National Park, you can either use the hotel boat  shuttle or go to Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal and take a shuttle from there. If you include the price of a taxi to take you to the Ferry Terminal, it is getting relatively expensive.

  • On our KK environs trip we ate at a nice north indian restaurant on the esplanade in the center of town called Kohinoor

  •  In Kota Kinabalu, you can pick your Shangri-La from two on offer. There is another one further away from KK that offers an orangoutang reserve.

Where are you going with your children when you want to get away for an Asian weekend escape?

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