When it comes to jet-setting with little ones, the travel destination’s got to tick all the boxes: short plane ride, fun activities for the whole fam to enjoy and a hotel that’s both plush and kid-friendly. So here’s our travel pick for the summer: Hilton Kota Kinabalu in Borneo, Malaysia! With a plane ride of just two and a half hours from Singapore, Kota Kinabalu (fondly known as KK) is a bustling cultural centre with orangutan-filled jungles and pristine white sandy beaches to explore. And with school holidays just around the corner, it’s exactly the right time to be thinking about your next vacay spot…
What to do in Kota Kinabalu with kids
Get up close and personal with fishy friends at Tungku Abdul Rahman National Park
If spending the day snorkelling and checking out gigantic monitor lizards sounds like your fam’s idea of fun, then hop on a 15- to 20-minute boat ride to Tungku Abdul Rahman National Park. This beautiful collection of islands with its powdery beaches and clear waters is picture perfect. Spend the day hanging out at Gaya Island or Manukan Island, try a water sport or two, and grab a nice barbeque lunch by the water for daytrip heaven.
Hang out with the orangutans at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Sure, we get to see them in action at the Singapore Zoo, but observing them in their natural habitat is an unmissable experience. At the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, you’ll meet these gentle creatures IRL, get some in-depth knowledge on all things orangutan, and even get to help during feeding time (as parents, we’re pretty clued in when it comes to feeding small apes after all… sorry, not sorry, kids).
Discover your inner culture vulture at the Mari Mari Cultural Village and Sabah State Museum
For an unforgettable experience, head to the Mari Mari Cultural Village for a cool anthropology lesson on Sabah’s five ethnic communities – the Bajau, Lundayeh, Murut, Rungus and Dusun – set in lush jungle surrounds just 30 minutes from KK. You’ll get to try out tribal traditional activities including hunting with a blowpipe, fire-starting, tattooing and dancing, and sample authentic tribal delicacies from each ethnic group. And while you’re still in a cultural kinda mood, get yourselves over to the Sabah State Museum for the full lowdown on Sabah’s fascinating history and culture. Kids will love the interactive exhibits and awesome dioramas.
Where to eat
If your young ones are adventurous eaters (lucky you!), the Filipino Market has a dizzying array of local faves including chicken satay and ikan bakar (grilled fish) with spicy sambal (you can skip this one, kids) – don’t forget to ask for extra rice! For a delish KK-style laksa, you can’t go wrong with Yu Kee restaurant on Gaya Street. Order a delish steaming bowl of peppery bak kut teh: the perfect comfort food after an adventure-packed day of sunny escapades.
Where to stay
Hilton Kota Kinabalu’s sleek design is an ode to everything techy with its smart guest rooms (so much excitement for its smart lighting and motion sensors). With 360-degree city, harbour or mountain views (you pick!) and a rooftop pool and kids pool, it’s the perfect launchpad for your KK vacation. The best part? It’s only 15 minutes away from the airport, which means you can get started on your KK-scapade sooner rather than later. It’s also nice and near to some fab shopping malls as well as the KK City Waterfront. Make sure to swing by the hotel’s Urban Kitchen when you’re feeling peckish: it serves up Indian, Chinese and Malay delicacies with live cooking stations. We’ll definitely be taking advantage of its cool promos for kids!
Book a family room at Hilton Kota Kinabalu and enjoy complimentary buffet dining for maximum two kids (below 12 years old and must be accompanied by paying adult(s)), a 20% dining discount at Urban Kitchen or Rooftop Poolside Bar & Grill (excluding alcohol), and welcome goodies for the kids, including ice cream by the poolside! Book your stay now and take advantage of these promos while they’re available!
Hilton Kota Kinabalu, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Asia City, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
This post is in partnership with Hilton Kota Kinabalu