We’ve just returned from The Land Below The Wind. Can you believe it is our first time stepping foot into East Malaysia? We’ve always wanted to visit Sabah but somehow always ended up in Thailand but this time Darling wanted something different. He said enough of Thailand already. Let’s experience something new.

I know nothing much about Sabah so I did not know where to start to plan for our itinerary. The first thing I did was to contact my friend who is currently residing in KL but originated from KK (Kota Kinabalu). Her parents are still based in KK so she is the perfect person to get guides from. It was my lucky shot as she had just hosted a group of friends in KK recently so she still has the itinerary fresh with her. She immediately shared it with me and I promptly customized it to suit my family of 2 adult / 1 teenager / 1 kid.

First thing first, buy flight tickets. Depending on when you travel, the price of flight tickets fluctuates so I won’t include them in my sharing today. You have to budget your own on this one.

Next is lodging. I was torn between spending all my nights in KK or spending one or two nights in Kundasang as my aim this trip is to cover KK and Kundasang. If I stay a night in Kundasang, I will have more time to explore the area but I am not fond of staying on hill slope and most of the homestays in Kundasang are on hilly areas. Furthermore, I was afraid it will be difficult to get food at nights so I scrape the idea of staying in Kundasang.

This means that I will have to do a day trip to Kundasang. I toyed with the idea of self-drive. I get quotes from car rental companies to compare. We wanted comfort as the drive from KK to Kundasang will take a minimum of 2 hours (can be more since we are not familiar with the road there) and if we are including Poring it will be at least 3 hours so small cars are definitely out. If we talk about MPVs it will be about RM250 – RM300/day plus petrol (at least RM100) it will come to RM350 to RM400?

Let’s give it RM400 for self-drive to Kundasang if we rent an Innova. There are so many places and activities I want to cover in Kundasang. Can I do it all in a day? Not if we don’t know the way as we will spend considerably a lot of time navigating the map and bear in mind the road condition in Kundasang is not great. My friend reminded me that the drive back to KK will take another 2 hours plus and by then we will be extremely exhausted. We don’t want that for our holiday. We want to enjoy and relax.

So our next option is to hire a driver. We contacted several drivers and one particular guy caught our attention. Firstly, his rate is the cheapest. Secondly, he drives an Innova while the rest are either van, Axia or Bezza. Thirdly, he is willing to drive us beyond the 3pm cut off time with a small additional fee. Almost all of the chartered driver for Kundasang gave us a cut off time at 3pm. They told us we need to be back at KK by 5pm. But why? That will be such a waste.

Next step, I listed the places and activities I wanted to do in Kundasang and sent it to our driver. He is simply the best because one look at the list, he proceeded to arrange my route for a smoother journey and time saving. Of course I had to also omit certain places that will take up too much of our time such as the Hot Spring and Canopy Walk at Poring. The Hot Spring is always over crowded and Canopy Walk will easily take a couple of hours so I gladly cut it off our itinerary.

Okay, so Kundasang arrangement is done. At about RM500, we got an Innova, a licensed driver cum photo/videographer and our itinerary is printed in black and white.

Now let’s plan what to do in KK. The first thing I wanted to do is to enjoy some sea activities that is not available in West Malaysia. What is it? Sea walking. Sea walking is currently not yet available in West Malaysia. You can get it in some other countries but not in Peninsular Malaysia.

For all these water activities, you’ll need to bargain because they will open their price higher hoping to get lucky. Take sea walking for example. They’ll quote you RM280 but you can bargain until RM140. That’s not it. You can still go lower if you add on other water activities.

We added parasailing and asked them to quote us as a package inclusive of island hopping and snorkeling gear. The price won’t be more than RM200 per pax. It’s like doing the limbo game. Let’s see how low can you go. Put on your bargaining skill here but do bear in mind that they still need to earn a living lah.

We choose to stay at Mercure KK because it is just opposite Jesselton Jetty (for our sea activities). It is also walking distance to Suria Sabah mall and there are many convenience stores nearby. Oh yeah, it is also walking distance to Todak Waterfront so we had our seafood dinner there on two nights.

The other two major activities in this trip are cruises.

The first being Sunset Dinner Cruise in KK and another is KLIAS Wildlife Safari Cruise. Both these cruises include dinner. The Sunset Dinner Cruise was a last minute addition into our itinerary as Darling found too many free hours on our first day in KK. KLIAS Wildlife Safari Cruise is an interesting cruise to look for Proboscis monkeys and fireflies. I would highly recommend this cruise.

Here’s our complete itinerary for your reference:

✅ DAY 1
11am Arrive KK
* Book online one day in advance
✅ DAY 2

8am Island Hopping & Sea Activities
Seafood dinner at Todak Waterfront as it is walking distance from our hotel.
Photo album:
✅ DAY 3
Depart KK at 7am (or earlier) to these places:
3. SINALAU BAKAS (Non halal)
4. PEKAN NABALU (Fee: Free)
Photo album:
* Get your driver to help call around to look for Rafflesia the day before your trip. Pay only when they confirm there is a blooming flower to see.
7. FISH SPA, KG MARAKAU BONBON (RM5/adult RM3/child)
* Bring slippers along. Dont wear shoes.
9. DESA DAIRY FARM (RM5/adult RM4/child)
* Purchase tickets online in advance. Discuss with your driver on your itinerary before purchasing your tickets. Seek his opinion on which time slot you should purchase the tickets for.
✅ DAY 4

Morning Free & Easy
2pm Depart to KLIAS
* Purchase tickets online one day earlier
✅ DAY 5
Free & Easy
Check out hotel and head to airport


Contact Cang for driver service. We hired him to Kundasang and KLIAS as his rates are very competitive and he drives an Innova. He knows his way around Kundasang which is why we managed to get many activities done there in just a day. He also helped us on photography and videos without additional charges.
Cang: 013-551 4201

Contact Wahab for your Island Hopping and Sea Activities arrangements.
Wahab: 010-242 8661

About the Author: Merryn Tan

5 Comments + Add Comment

  • //

    Nice trip.

  • //

    KK’s got best sunset isn’t it?

  • //

    I always wanted to go to KK and experience the cold mornings there! Haven’t gotten a chance yet!

  • //

    Between island and river cruise, which would u recommend?

    • //

      Each of them have their own unique point. Really depends on what you want?

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I am a mother to two boys; Ethan and Ayden and a wife to Darling William. I'm a stay at home mum who blogs to break the monotony of life and to avoid feeling jaded. Would love to get to know all the Super Mommies and Daddies and Babies or Singles out there with the hope that we can learn more from each other. Most of all, I am a happy person, and I hope YOU are too.

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