Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah, is a relatively new town; the original one was destroyed during World War II. Strung out along the coast with jungle-clad hills as a backdrop, Kota Kinabalu, or KK for short, is home to a population of about 500,000. It was known as Jesselton before the war.
The state of Sabah occupies the northern part of Borneo and is about the size of Ireland. After World War II, the British declared Sabah a Crown Colony. In 1963, Sabah gained her independence and joined the Federation of Malaya to form the country of Malaysia. The old seafarer's name for Sabah was 'Land Below the Wind', referring to the state's location just below the typhoon belt.
Kota Kinabalu's deep-water harbour gave the town strategic significance, evoking a Japanese invasion in 1942 and heavy bombing by the Allies. Following the war, the capital was moved from Sandakan to Jesselton and renamed Kota Kinabalu after the mountain.
The pride of Sabah is Mount Kinabalu. At 13,435 feet (4,095 metres), this is the highest mountain in Malaysia and a spectacular sight. For centuries, the Dusuns, Sabah's largest ethnic group, regarded the mountain as the final resting place of their departed. High priests still perform annual rites to appease the spirits.
Going Ashore in Kota Kinabalu
The ship is scheduled to dock at Kota Kinabalu. The distance to the town centre is about 1.5 miles (2.4 km). Taxis are not permitted inside the port, but may be found along the main road outside the port area.
Local handicrafts such as baskets, beadwork and pottery are best buys. The Handicraft Market is a good place for cultured pearls; it has everything from fake gemstones and wooden salad bowls, to shirts and traditional local medicines. The local currency is the ringgit.
Popular dishes include hinava (marinated raw fish) and sup terjun (a soup). The favourite dessert is hinompuka, made from tapioca, sugar, and coconut.
The site where the declaration of Sabah's independence was declared in 1963, this field hosts the annual city celebrations and functions.
Atikinson Clock Tower
Built in 1905 by a mother in memory of her son, this tower has been used for navigation by many ships and is the one of only three pre-World War II buildings to survive the war.
For those guests interested in touring at your leisure, we are pleased to offer Silver Shore Privato - both half-day and full-day private arrangements by private car or van. You may book this in advance at Silversea.com or it may be purchased on board, subject to availability. Other private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be arranged by emailing Concierge@silversea.com.