Mist-cloaked mountains and lush rainforests surround the lively town of Kota Belud. Stroll around the charming town centre, shop at the bustling Sunday market and visit the picturesque hilltop mosque. The town is a popular stopover on the way to famous destinations like the Mantanani Islands.
Things to do in Kota Belud
You can find everything from handmade souvenirs to sizzling street food at the Sunday market. Stroll past towers of fresh produce and sample exotic fruits like mangosteen, rambutan and durian. Food vendors serve local favourites like “roti canai” flatbread with spicy curry sauce and “nasi lemak” coconut rice wrapped in green pandan leaves.
Mount Kinabalu soars over Kota Belud and is one of the most iconic hiking destinations in Southeast Asia. The summit is more than 4,000 metres above sea level and often enveloped in clouds. Guided tours are the best way to hike the famous peak. The mountain is set in Kinabalu Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with incredible biodiversity. See hundreds of species of orchids and fern, as well as unique birds like the rhinoceros hornbill and Bornean spiderhunter.
Discover a pristine tropical paradise in the Mantanani Islands. The archipelago features gleaming white-sand beaches framed by swaying coconut palms. Strap on a snorkel or scuba diving gear to explore the colourful underwater ecosystem.
Enjoy a scenic cruise through the Kawa Mangroves. Boats glide through the emerald-green waterways and offer a chance to see animals like proboscis monkeys, famous for their enormous noses. Most tours depart in the late afternoon and finish on the coast, where you can enjoy fiery sunsets. Book a night tour to see the mangroves lit up with thousands of twinkling fireflies.
Getting around Kota Belud
Kota Belud is pedestrian-friendly and easy to get around on foot. The town is on the northern tip of Sabah, a 1.5-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu. Ferries run between Kota Belud and the Mantanani Islands in 30 minutes. Kota Kinabalu International Airport is a 1.5-hour drive away.