Interesting Buildings In Kota Kinabalu.

Sabah Tourism Building


Situated at 51 Jalan Gaya, the building was constructed in 1961 to house the Printing Office and later the Treasury, Audit Office, Town Board, the District Office and the Attorney General’s Office. It was one of the only three buildings still standing after Allied bombings at the end of World War II. From the 1950s until September 1986 the Post Office occupied the building. Fully restored, it was gazetted as a heritage building and officially became the Sabah Tourism Building in January 1991 and now serves as a Tourist Information Centre.

Jesselton Hotel


Located right on Gaya Street is the Jesselton Hotel. Built in 1954, it has the distinction of being KK’s oldest hotel. Notable early dignitaries who stayed at the hotel included Lady Edwina, wife of Lord Louis Mountbatten. In recent years, Jesselton Hotel has been recognised as one of Malaysia’s leading boutique hotels.

Australia Place

While in downtown KK, do walk to Australia Place, where Australian soldiers camped when they landed in Jesselton in 1945. This is now a quiet street of print shops, the downtown Police Station, a popular back-packers hostel and the Dewan Merdeka. Although times and landscapes have changed, old memories linger and the site continues to be known as Australia Place to some.

Dewan Merdeka

The Jesselton Community Centre, renamed Dewan Merdeka (Independence Building), was completed in March 1958. It was the venue for many important and historical events, including the historic signing of the Cobbold Commission of Inquiry that collected the views of the people of Sabah and Sarawak on the proposal for the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. In the Inquiry, Sabah and Sarawak agreed to the formation of Malaysia together with the Federated States of Malaya and Singapore. This led to the Proclamation of the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963.

Atkinson Clock Toweract

Building a British colonial empire in faraway Borneo had its share of difficulties and challenges. One of these was tropical diseases. The first District Officer of Jesselton, Francis George Atkinson, died of malaria at the young age of 28. His mother, Mary Edith Atkinson of England, built the Atkinson Clock Tower on Bukit Brace (Brace Hill) in 1905, in memory of her son. While the original mirabau wood used to build the Clock Tower has been replaced over the years, the building’s overall structure has been retained. As late as 1956, the lights of the Clock Tower were used as a navigation aid by local ships coming into port. However, the Tower can no longer be seen from the sea due to the tall buildings. The Clock Tower was gazetted as a heritage building in 1983.

Padang Merdeka

It was at Padang Merdeka on 16 September 1963 that North Borneo was proclaimed independent, became known as Sabah and together with the Federated States of Malaya, Singapore, and Sarawak formed Malaysia. To this day, national and states occasions are celebrated here with parades and colourful festivities.

Wisma Tun Mustapha (Formerly known as Sabah Foundation Building)

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Built in 1977, the sparkling 30-storey tower block is one of the few buildings in the world that utilise a single column structure, with 96 high-tensile steel rods supporting its steel radial brackets. It has an auditorium, two mini-theaters, exhibition foyer, a gymnasium, a kindergarten and the Centre for Borneo Studies — a Research Library.

Sabah Museum

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Located on the grounds of the former British Colonial Governor’s Residence and where the early Sabah State Assembly sessions were convened. Built in 1985, the Sabah Museum Complex consists of several buildings.

The Main Building resembles a Rungus longhouse. Its slanting roof-beams, horizontally extended at the lower ends, resemble the outstretched arms of a sumazau dancer. It houses the permanent Exhibition Galleries, including the Ethnography Gallery with its collections of traditional ethnic costumes, musical instruments and various artifacts of the many ethnic communities of Sabah. The Brass Collections are acquired heirlooms, as are the jars and ceramics that include a rare tabu dita jar, a huge 18th-century Qing Dynasty blue-and-white porcelain jar. In the Pre-Historic Gallery is a replica of a typical limestone cave, famous for the edible bird’s nests, believed to have curative and anti-ageing properties.

Science & Education Centre-designed with a roof resembling the seraung or sirung (woven bamboo native hat), the Science & Education Centre has a permanent Shell Exhibit that takes visitors on an educational journey of the important off-shore oil and gas industry in Sabah that contributes greatly to the national economy.

The Heritage Village

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A typical village environment planted with fruit trees and herbal gardens of medicinal plants. Visitors may cross a swinging hanging bridge to see and explore the traditional houses of some of Sabah’s ethnic communities but without prying their privacy. There are the the longhouses of past head-hunting Murut of the Interior and the Rungus of northern Borneo; detached bamboo houses of the Tambunan Kadazandusun, the Dusun Lotud of Tuaran and those of the Bajau,Illalun and Brunei Malays. There are also a Hakka-Chinese farm house.

Sabah Art Gallery-Also located in the same seraung-shaped building, the Art Gallery exhibits the work of Sabah’s talented artists. Special exhibits and sales  are held year-round at the Gallery or in selected venue around KK to promote works of art. Look out for these special announcements.

Entrance fee: A nominal fee is charged.

Opening hours: 9.00am-5.oopm (Sat-Thurs)

Closed on Friday.

Museum of Islamic Civilisation


Officially opened to the public on 5 April 2002, it is located off Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman on a 2-ha site. The building is of Islamic architecture. Its five domes, including the main dome at the centre of its roof, depict the five Islamic commandments or pillars.

The Museum has six Galleries; An Introduction to Islamic Civilisation, Islam in Nusantara, Islam in Malaysia, Islam in Sabah, the Prophet Muhammad Gallery-exhibiting the history of Muhammad’s struggle to spread the Islamic faith. The items on display are replicas of Prophet Muhammad’s sword, Zulfaqar and verses of the Quran in the form of, embroidered calligraphy. At the Islamic Commandment Gallery, the exhibits included wooden rehal from Kashmir and brass gantang. 

Likas Sports Complex

Sabah’s main sporting venue, the modern multi-million dollar Likas Sports Complex is equipped with complete facilities and has hosted major national and international sports events.

Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary

The KKCBS is located just 2 km from the city centre on about 24 hectares (60 acres) of mangrove wetlands, near the Likas Sport Complex and residential bungalows. The Sanctuary is an environmental nature education centre, providing urban recreation and nature appreciation. Mangrove plants are specially adapted to grow in the mud and brackish water to give home to many birds, crabs, prawns and fish. The Sanctuary is a vital refuge and feeding ground for many species of resident migratory birds. About 80 species have been identified. Community volunteers from all walks of life help to man the Sanctuary; supported by WWF Malaysia, Sabah Wildlife Department and corporate donors. Bird watching is best at dawn or at dusk when they return to roost for the night.

Opening hours:

8 am-6pm (Tues-Sun), Closed on Monday.

Sabah State Mosque,Sembulan


Officially opened on 28 June 1977 by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the State Mosque is elegantly influenced by both contemporary and ancient Islamic architecture. This beautiful State landmark has a single minaret that stands about 65.5 meters (215 feet) alongside a massive golden dome encircled by 16 smaller domes. It can accommodate 5,000 devotees. The azan (call to prayer) from the State Mosque can be distinctly heard around Kota Kinabalu.

KK City Mosque


Situated at Likas Bay near the sea, this mosque has similar features to the Nabawi Mosque in Medina. It is the biggest mosque in KK and is perhaps one of the most beautiful in Malaysia-an amazing sight on a full moon night. Built in 1997 on a 1-ha site, the prayer hall can accommodate 9,000-12,000 people.

All Saints Cathedral

All Saints Cathedral in Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, which was designed by W.H.Kwan and complete in 1959, can seat about 800 worshipers.

Petagas War Memorial

The Petagas War Memorial is a poignant reminder of all those who lost their lives defending Sabah against the Japanese Occupation during World War II, particularly those of the ill-fated Kinabalu Guerrillas. Led by Albert Kwok, the Kinabalu Guerrillas staged a surprise attack on the invaders on the eve of 10 October (Double Tenth) 1943 in Tuaran and Menggatal and marched onto Jesselton before they were finally defeated.

Located across the highway from the KK International Airport, the Memorial Park is sited on the very spot where 176 of the Guerrillas were massacred on 21 January 1944. The remaining 131 were sent to labour camps in Labuan. It is believed that only nine survived. In 1948, the remains of the Kinabalu Guerrillas who perished in Labuan were brought back in jars and buried next to their heroic comrades. Their return remained a well-kept secret until 1979 when the jars were discovered during the reconstruction of the memorial.

British North Borneo Memorial

In downtown KK, directly across the road from the High Court amidst the flame-of-the-forest tress in the City Park, is the British North Borneo Memorial, which commemorates soldiers of World War I. Originally sited in the cenre of Gaya Street, it was unveiled on 8 May 1923. A total of 79 men in the service of the British North Borneo.

Chartered Company answered the call to take up arms to defend the British Empire during World War I (1914-1918). The names of the 13 who lost their lives are inscribed on brass plates on the obelisk.

Double Six Monument

On 6 June 1976 a light aircraft carrying Tun Mohd Fuad Stephens, Sabah’s fifth Chief Minister, three ministers, an Assistant Minister and two senior government servants crashed in the shallow waters off Sembulan. The tragedy wiped out much of the top ranks of the newly appointed government. Tun Mohd Fuad Stephens had the distinction of being elected Chief Minister of Sabah twice, in 1963 and 1976. The Double Six Monument was unveiled on 6 June 1982 on the exact spot of the crash. Once surrounded by water, the monument now stands on reclaimed land amidst new housing developments.

Heroes Monument

Located at km 2.5 Penampang Road, the Heroes Monument is an impressive structure set amidst the landscaped gardens of Sabah’s first Public Park project. The annual Heroes Day ceremony is held here to honour Malaysians, past and present, for their bravery and noble work of protecting this nation. The 6-ha park was designed to incorporate recreational and educational facilities, to allow visitors to enjoy the outdoors tranquility, and to have moments of reflection for those who gave up their lives in order for the people and nation to enjoy peace and to be safe.

Tun Mustapha Memorial

One of Sabah’s most illustrious political figures, Tun Datu Haji Mustapha bin Datu Harun was born on 31 July 1918 at Kg Limau Limauan, Kudat. At the age of 10, he worked as a houseboy for the Resident of Kudat, E.W.Morell. Thirty-five years later, he became Sabah’s first Head of State. Charismatic  leader, World War II freedom fighter and the man who led Sabah into the union of Malaysia, thus securing its independence from the British, Tun Mustapha’s contribution to Sabah’s political maturity is immeasurable. He died on 3 January 1995 and was buried in Putatan. The Tun Mustapha Memorial, opened in September 1999, is located on a hill that was used as a base by rebel Mat Salleh prior to his attack on the British Settlement at Gaya Island in July 1897.


In 1969, ex-servicemen of ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) who fought in Sabah during World War II applied for a 2-ha piece of land to erect a monument and school to commemorate the close bond of  friendship between the people of Sabah and ANZAC during the war. The army barracks on the site were converted to classrooms, and more classrooms were built in 1971. On 30 May 1974, SMK SANZAC (Sabah, Australia and New Zealand Corps) was officially opened. The Monument, which is located in front of the school, is visited annually on 25 April, ANZAC Day, to honour those who sacrificed their lives to liberate North Borneo and its people. The bond of friendship continues through these young people.



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