"Formerly Jesselton, now simply KK" Kota Kinabalu by Willettsworld

Kota Kinabalu Travel Guide: 1,062 reviews and 2,794 photos

Kota Kinabalu, or simply known as KK, is the capital of the state of Sabah in East Malaysia with a population of around 600,000. In the late 1800s, the British North Borneo Company (BNBC) began to establish colonies throughout North Borneo (now Sabah). In 1882, the Company founded a small settlement in the area known as Gaya Bay which was already inhabited by the Bajau people. The first settlement was on Gaya Island (Pulau Gaya). In 1897, this first settlement was burned and destroyed by the indigenous Bajau freedom fighter led by Mat Salleh. After the rebellion, the Company decided to relocate the settlement to the more easily defended mainland opposite Pulau Gaya. This new location was then designated as the main harbour and port, as well as the terminus for the North Borneo Railway. It was expanded and renamed Jesselton, after Sir Charles Jessel, the then Vice Chairman of the Company. Eventually, Jesselton became a major trading post of North Borneo, dealing in rubber, rattan, honey, and wax. The new railway was used to transport goods to Jesselton harbour. Jesselton was razed by the retreating British early in World War II to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Japanese. It was renamed to Kota Kinabalu in 1968 and became a city in 2000.

Kota Kinabalu is the gateway into Sabah as well as to the island of Borneo with the second largest international airport in the country. Being the industrial and commercial centre of East Malaysiam Kota Kinabalu is one of the fastest growing cities in Malaysia. The city is located about 90 km from Mount Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in Borneo. Apart from this, there's not a great deal to see in the city itself except for a good museum complex. I left Kota Kinabalu by bus to Sandakan in order to see the Orang-Utans at Sepilok.

  • Last visit to Kota Kinabalu: Mar 2009
  • Intro Written Sep 1, 2010
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