Josephine Falls and Crystal Creek
Gateway to Borneo
Kota Kinabalu also referred to as KK is located on the northwest coast of Borneo, in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Kota Kinabalu, which was once formally known as Jesselton is the state capital of Sabah. The location is an ideal base to explore the northern region of Borneo.
Borneo is the third largest (non continental) island in the world. Located in South East Asia, and surrounded by the south China sea to the north and northwest. The Island is divided by three separate countries. Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia. Brunei has the smallest portion of the Island. The Malaysian part of the Borneo is split between two different states, Sabah and Sarawak. The Indonesian state of Kalimantan controls the largest portion of Borneo.
Borneo is a nature lovers playground. The majority of the island is covered by dense rainforest, with a great richness of species diversity. This rainforest is one of the oldest rainforests in the world! Estimated to be 140 million years old. Home to a range of unique fauna and flora, and the center of evolution and distribution of many species. It is understandable that a lot of ecological research is conducted here. With this, Borneo is also home to a number of sustainable, conservation and responsible travel projects. The Island of Borneo is a really unique and magical place.
Four days in Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu was our first introduction to this amazingly unique island. Spending four days in this city was truly wonderful, the only negative was that it was not enough time! We stayed at a backpackers hostel, close to the center of the city. As we arrived in the afternoon, our first day was spent walking around and taking in the atmosphere of the city. Our first evening was spent at the night market, then on to an all you can eat buffet – and buckets of beers, the price was ridiculously cheap. The next morning, we woke up and started to explore more of the city. In addition to visiting the sights and attractions of KK, the majority of our stay was spent island hopping, which included snorkeling and hiking adventures.
City highlights and attractions
KK water font and times square
With crystal clear waters and sunny skies the waterfront is gorgeous to walk along. Times square represents the commercial downtown area of Kota Kinabalu.
Sabah state mosque
Located close to the city center, the mosque is worth a viewing. The architectural design is very impressive.
Signal hill observatory tower
Provides gorgeous views of the city at the highest point.
Atkinson clock tower
This is the oldest standing structure in Kota Kinabalu. The towers sits on a hill overlooking the city.
A vibrant and busy market located on the waterfront. A great place to explore and take in the atmosphere of the city.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
The Tunku Abdul Rahman park is a marine park with a cluster of five islands (Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik) located off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. These islands are easily accessible. The distance ranges from three to eight kilometers off the coast, and you can take a 15-20 minute speedboat ride from the Jesselton point ferry terminal. Plus, all of the islands are a short boat ride from each other. Island hopping was the highlight of our time in Kota Kinabalu. We were able to visit many stunning beaches, go snorkeling, hike through jungle trails and see some pretty impressive animal and plant species.
Kota Kinabalu, with its tropical islands and stunning landscape is a nature lovers playground, and is rapidly becoming a more popular tourist destination, due to the city being a cultural hub with natural beauty. Kota Kinabalu was the perfect introduction to the island of Borneo. I am so eager to return and explore even more of the Island. I would love to experience a wilderness trip, absorbing the true remoteness and adventure that Borneo can offer.
Sunshine and smiles
Phuket, my first introduction to Thailand and to Southeast Asia. It was a wonderful introduction, such beautiful and friendly people and very helpful. Smiles, great scenery and amazing food. Culture and history, perfect. A great week in Phuket and it is on the list to visit again! Hot weather, sunshine and beaches, a perfect combination. Tasty and cheap Thai food was a definite winner, one of my favourite cuisines and easy to find healthy and vegetarian options. Walking around the streets, chatting to the locals, exploring the markets, spending time on the beach and drinking Thai cocktails whilst enjoying the Phuket vibrant nightlife, is a perfect way to explore the beauty of Phuket.
Highlights and must-sees of Phuket
- Patong: Beach resort town. It is the center for Phuket’s shopping and nightlife. Beach by day and explore the many beer bars, go go bars and nightclubs during the night.
- Old Phuket town: Historical part of Phuket with shrines and temples.
- Bangla road: The heart of Phuket nightlife, music, cheap beer, street performances and more. An interesting and must do experience.
- Wat Chalong: A stunning Buddhist temple and considered to be one of the most important in Phuket.
- Simon Cabaret show: An entertaining and beautiful musical performance, performed by ladyboys.
- Thai boxing: Exciting to watch live.
- Phuket weekend market: A maze of stalls to get lost in.
Phuket is located in Southern Thailand, it is a rain-forested and mountainous Island. It is also the largest Island in Thailand! The climate is hot and humid year round. There is a monsoon season from May – October to be aware of. The official language is Thai and Baht is the currency. It is easy to get around Phuket. Most places are walkable, and a great way to explore the streets and markets. Tuk Tuks, and buses are readily available. Plenty of accommodation options. We stayed in a guest house in the Patong region. The local people are very friendly and willing to help. Can’t wait to go back!
Phi Phi Island
Day trip to Phi Phi Don, Thailand.
A Tropical Getaway
Breathtaking scenery, turquoise waters and stunning limestone formations. Phi Phi island is the perfect tropical getaway. I love hot weather, beaches and remote locations, Phi Phi Island is the perfect place to enjoy nature, relax in the sunshine and to immerse yourself in the water. A time for reflection and relaxation. Whilst I was staying in Phuket, this was a great day trip to explore more of the amazing Thailand.
I made the trip to Phi Phi Don the largest and main Phi Phi Island. The Phi Phi view point was the highlight of my visit, a scenic 20-30 minute hike to the top, located 186 meters above sea level. It is well worth the hike, as the view is absolutely stunning and provides a great overview of the Island. After the hike, Exploring and relaxing on the beautiful beaches is a great way to spend your afternoon. To finish, eating the amazing local Thai food and drinking cheap beers or cocktails at an outdoor restaurant tops off the visit before heading back to Phuket! I would love the opportunity to go back and explore more of the surrounding Islands. Next time I would take advantage of and enjoy the snorkeling and kayaking experiences.
Phi Phi Island is only a 90 minute ferry ride from Phuket, or a 45 minute speed boat ride! The Phi Phi Islands are a small archipelago consisting of six Island groups. The Islands are apart of the Krabi providence in Southern Thailand. The region of these Islands are a part of a marine national park The largest Island Phi Phi Don (where I visited) is the ‘main’ Island, it is the only inhabited Island. The peak season to visit is from December to March (dry season). Be weary if you visit during April-November, as this is wet season, where monsoons are likely to occur. These are some of the most beautiful Islands in the world, however they are at risk from tourist leaving their mark. When visiting the Island, do so in an eco-friendly way to ensure the preservation for future generations. Be a responsible guest and don’t leave your mark.