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Heritage Walk in Kota Kinabalu Sabah

KK Heritage Walk Tours Sabah
A heritage walk in Kota Kinabalu Sabah is one of the must-do things when you visit this beautiful state here in north Borneo.

This special and unique walking tour of Kota Kinabalu was created and founded by Grace Leong in 2005 and is a very interesting educational trip.

The walking tours of Kota Kinabalu is also considered something out of the ordinary, and if you love to know more about the history of Sabah or North Borneo, this is the tour you should be taking.

Heritage Walking Tour in Kota Kinabalu

This is a simple three hour walking tour around the city viewing the many historical sites and monuments which in turn is narrated by your professional tour guide,

Why it is done this way? The reasons is that the tour is one of the best ways of introducing Sabah's interesting heritage to travelers.

Merdeka Field in Kota Kinabalu
Merdeka Field in Kota Kinabalu Sabah

Kota Kinabalu Merdeka Field or Padang

The Heritage Walk in Kota Kinabalu Sabah starts at the Padang or Merdeka Field where the basic history on the independence of Sabah was proclaimed.

Looking like a common field, I assumed games were played here, but I was wrong as this was the spot for Sabah's Independence.

Let me just state that if I am going to tell you every detail that happened during my tour, then you will probably not need to go for it.

Hence, in this article, I am just going to give you bits and pieces of this unique and interesting Heritage Walk around KK. The next time you visit here, you can go for the tour. 

KK Heritage Walk Tour
An old tree near the Padang in Kota Kinabalu
One thing that I noticed was that Grace was very passionate about her heritage walking tour where almost every detail and information was passed on to me during the tour.

There were also many things that I did not know especially when Grace asked me if I knew the older name of Kota Kinabaluwhich was originally called Jesselton. 

A unique narrow building between two roads in Sabah

Atkinson's Clock Tower Kota Kinabalu

From the Padang, we headed over to a beautiful clock tower called Atkinson's Clock Tower, which is just five minutes walk.

This striking monument had much of a history which was built back in 1905 and you could even climb up the stairs to get a closer look at the clock tower here in Kota Kinabalu city.

A plaque is also found at the base of the hill describing the tower in not one, but four languages for the convenience of non English speaking tourist. 

Gaya Street Photo
Pre-War Shops along Gaya Street in Sabah

Gaya Street

After the clock tower, we then cross the main road that leads us to Gaya Street which was once called Bond Street. 

Grace then points out that it was on this street that the first actual commercial shop lots of Kota Kinabalu were built back in 1900's.

After all these years, you can still find some of the older shops that have had minor renovations. Originally, they were all made of wood, but over the years, they renovated them into brick and mortar.

For the market and shopping lovers, Gaya Street is also very popular due to the Gaya Sunday Weekend Market held along this main street, so if you are here on a Sunday, do visit this street.

As we walked in the hot afternoon, I could not help but notice some of the old shop signs place high above the doors and some of them still read in English. A tip while exploring these places, look all around as you may spot something unusual.

Jesselton Hotel Kota Kinabalu 

After Gaya Street, we made a stop at the famous Jesselton Hotel where apparently Muhammad Ali once stayed. Honestly, I never knew he visited Kota Kinabalu.

This beautiful hotel was also established in 1954, and has maintained the same original look from back in the day, and is also the oldest hotel in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Malaysia Monument in Kota Kinabalu
Malaysia Monument in Kota Kinabalu Sabah
Malaysia Monument Kota Kinabalu

We next passed the Kota Kinabalu Municipal Council (MBKK) building which was one of the stops during the tour.

But since it was a public holiday and the MBKK was closed, we continued to the next stop which was the Malaysia Monument. Another interesting part of Sabah's past was revealed here by Grace.

Kota Kinabalu North Borneo War Memorial
North Borneo War Memorial in Kota Kinabalu
North Borneo War Memorial

Just nearby across the City Hall, we crossed the street and made our way to a small park where the North Borneo War Memorial is located.

Apparently this structure was moved here many years ago and now it sits perfectly in this little park by the main road in town.

 The monument was unveiled back in 1923 in memory of the fallen soldiers from Britain, Australia and Malaysia. 

Bangunan Sabah Tourism Board
Sabah Tourism Board building in Kota Kinabalu town

Sabah Tourism Board Building

Continuing our journey, we made a quick stopover at the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) building which was built in 1916.

The architecture was absolutely beautiful following the old British structure. This place has also gone through some major renovations on the interior while the facade still maintains the natural look.

Grace added that this is one of the three original structures left standing after the second world war, which also affected Kota Kinabalu.

Crossing the main road at the back of the STB building, we stop at the Independence Community Center where historical moments are explained by Grace. This place is now known as the Kota Kinabalu Multi Purpose Hall.

Australia Place Kota Kinabalu

Our next stop was just a stone's throw away and called Australia Place. This was where the Australian Liberation Forces set up camp when they landed in Jesselton back in the day during World War Two. 

Bottled Coffee Kota Kinabalu
 Kopi Botol of Kota Kinabalu (Bottled Coffee)

Museum Kopitiam Kota Kinabalu

Our final stop for the heritage walk was at the Museum Kopitiam (Museum Coffee Shop) where Grace then invites us to try the famous Kopi Botol or Bottle Coffee of Kota Kinabalu.

This museum cum coffee shop is well decorated with all sorts of memorabilia from the days of the Australian Liberation Forces.

Plaques, pictures and various items are spread out in the premises so you can spend some time reading and photographing these items. While here, we also tried the famous ANZAC Biscuits.

Update: The Museum Kopitiam is now closed. 

Museum Kopitiam in Sabah
Memorabilia at the Museum Kopitiam in Sabah
I was then presented with a really beautiful gift from Grace after the Heritage Walk Tour, and it now sits on my desk as a reminder of this amazing tour.

A big thank you again to Sabah Tourism for organising this trip and to Grace Leong for making this one of my most educational and memorable tours of Kota Kinabalu. 

Heritage Walk at Kota Kinabalu Sabah;

Each guest will also be presented with a KK Heritage Cap and a Guide to KK Heritage Walk Booklet as souvenirs before you start the tour.

Please bring drinking water and wear proper walking shoes for this tour. An umbrella would be practical for ladies.

Please Note: There are many other agents claiming they also have the KK Heritage Walk Tour. The official proper tour is run by Grace Leong and her specially trained guides for this special tour.

Please check with the contact details below or with Sabah Tourism as the original walk gives you a passport chop at each of the buildings you visit while the impersonators do not.

Tour departures: Every Tuesday and Thursday ( any number of pax) / (Other days except Sunday by prior arrangement through participating tour operators or hoteliers with minimum 4 pax)

Time: 09:00 am to 11:30 am (approx.)

Tour Guides for KK Heritage Walk;
  • Grace Leong
  • Lilian Agama
  • James Chew
  • Mary Ann
  • Donald Lim
  • Alvin Chin
  • Leong Choon Kiong
More information can be obtained from the official KK Heritage Walk Website.

Contact for KK Heritage Walk in Sabah
Name: Grace Leong
Telephone: +6012 802 8823
Email: info@kkheritagewalk.com

Please note that after publishing this in 2010, tour guides and fees may have changed, but Grace is still the person in charge for the tours.

Sabah Tourism Board
51 Gaya Street,
88000 Kota Kinabalu,
Sabah Malaysia.
Tel: +6088 212121
Fax: +6088 212075
Email: info@sabahtourism.com

This Heritage Walk in Kota Kinabalu Sabah was one of the best tours I have taken in a very long time therefore I highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting the city of KK in Sabah.

Again, you are required to book ahead for a spot and it can get busy on weekends and public holidays. Enjoy your trip to Kota Kinabalu and have a great time there. 

Post a Comment


CathJ said…
Great to know they have tour like this. ^_^..

P.S : 'Api..Api!!'.... LOL...
Traveling Ted said…
Wow, this looks like quite a tour. Love all the historical aspects of it.
louisebah said…
Haha! Kopi Botol! I have not tried that yet!
Love this blog. Of course, I'm from KK, so I may be a bit biased! Hahaha
Malaysia Asia said…
Hi Cath, Guess you're still in KK? Tried this tour already?

Traveling Ted - Thanks. It is very interesting if you are in for learning the history of KK/Jesselton.

LouiseBah, thank you and I found out that there are only 2 places that still sell this in KK town. Let me know when you try it out :)

Wilson Ng said…
A must visit when I go to KK one day. Thanks for the heads up!
Malaysia Asia said…
Wilson, as they say, you have not seen Malaysia until you see Sabah. Now only if they can reduce the air fares there...

hmm those gaya street shoplots actaully built after WWII... just a small correction...
Malaysia Asia said…
Thanks for the correction. I may have misheard the guide wrongly then.

Henry Lee said…
i'm from sabah but i seriously think u know more about kk heritage than i do! that's good... btw i miss the kopi botol a lot! must have that when i go back to kk next month! :)
Malaysia Asia said…
Henry, since you commented, I too am missing the Kopi Botol in KK now. Must make another trip soon.

Prime said…
I never associated Sabah with art/cultural travel. thinking that this is mostly for mountaineers and trekkers. But this post gives me another view of KK. Thanks!
Grace Leong said…
Finally I'm dropping a few words here to say thank you for writing about the KK Heritage Walk. Terima Kasih banyak!
There are some corrections on the history parts and certain names but I'm not saying what they are. It's for those who want to find out and join one of our Walks. Lol! :)
However, the walks are now on every day and minimum persons 2 to go.
I have done a short introduction and posted it on youtube. Just sesrch for KK Heritage Walk.
Thanks again David. Hey, please do give me a call when you're here again. We go for Kopi botol together and catch up on news, k ?

de engineur said…
Great write up about Kota Kinabalu. Mind sharing How much did you spend for the tour?