Calling all bargain hunters: here’s your complete guide to Kota Kinabalu’s awesome markets

Calling all bargain hunters: here’s your complete guide to Kota Kinabalu’s awesome markets

Do you get a thrill from hunting for authentic local food or gifts and souvenirs in day or night markets? If you haven’t been to Kota Kinabalu’s markets, then that’s something you should remedy soon.

In the market buzzing with action, sample a culinary mix of flavorful dishes and Southeast Asian cooking styles, get to know the local cultures with friendly retailers, watch how the locals barter for goods and find everything else that is available at a market.

Catch some local lingo to enhance your bargaining expertise before making a trip to Kota Kinabalu’s top five markets that promise a memorable shopping experience:

1. Filipino Market

Filipino Market

Filipino Market is a dream come true for the bargain hunters. The humble pasar malam is a melting pot of awesome street food, local fruits and vegetables, a separate wet market section and everything else in between.

Take a stroll through the different sections at Filipino Market – Salted Fish Market, Fruits Market, Handicraft Market, Vegetables Market, Fish Market and Cooked Food Stalls. Be adventurous and try some local delicacies while you are here!

Filipino Market

Location: Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Kota Kinabalu

Operating hours: 5pm to 12am

2. Sinsuran Night Market

Sinsuran Night Market

If I were to live in Kota Kinabalu, I’d be having seafood all day errday. Sinsuran Night Market lives up to its reputation as a seafood haven – take your pick from tiger prawns bigger than your palm, superb variety of fishes, fresh leafy green vegetables, giant lobsters and more!

Enjoy the freshest catch with the fish landing port located just behind Central Market. Our dinner of steamed fish with lime and garlic, buttermilk prawn, crispy squid fritters and stir fried kailan with shrimp paste only costs us RM30!

Sinsuran Night Market

It’s not all seafood here. Sample the traditional snacks made by the locals – some of the popular ones are kuih cincin (loosely translated as ring crackers because it shapes like joined rings), Sabah’s version of churros which is kuih tiram or kuih lidah (due to its shape similar to a tongue or an oyster), kuih jala (because it looks like vermicelli noodles tangled together) and kerepek pisang (sweet yet salty banana crackers).

These local snacks can also make wonderful souvenirs for you to bring back home. Flight-friendly compared to the seafood! 😄

Location: Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Kota Kinabalu

Operating hour: 6pm – 12am

3. Gaya Street Sunday Market

Gaya Street Sunday Market
Credit: Kwang Chun Gan

The stretch of Gaya Street vibrates with the colorful cultures of the Sabahan – a must-visit for anybody who finds themselves in the vicinity of Kota Kinabalu on a Sunday morning. From everyday clothing and accessories to local produce and antiques, the market will keep you preoccupied for as long as you’re willing to look (and walk!).

Sure, the pasar can be crowded and hot, but the experience is definitely worth it. Don’t forget to try the purple dragon-fruit smoothie!

Gaya Street Sunday Market

Location: Gaya Street, Kota Kinabalu

Operating hours: 6am – 1pm

4. Jesselton Artisan Market

Jesselton Artisan Market
Credit: Jesselton Artisan Market Facebook

Take a peek into Kota Kinabalu’s whimsical arts and craft scene through Jesselton Artisan Market’s careful curation of the local’s skilled artisans and their unique creations from jewelery, clothing, food, handmade goods and more stuff that will amaze you. Unicorn yogurt or beef bacon ice cream, anyone?

If you have some time to spare, indulge in the workshops and class sessions organized by the artisans themselves during the bazaar. There will also be food stalls, food trucks and performances by local bands and artists.

Jesselton Artisan Market
Credit: Jesselton Artisan Market Facebook

Location: Riverson The Walk, Kota Kinabalu

Operating hours: 10am – 6pm

5. Handicraft Market

Handicraft Market

Navigating your way through the narrow alleys and cluttered stalls of Handicraft Market filled with locals and tourists almost feels like a game of treasure hunt. Before wrapping up your Kota Kinabalu trip, drop by Kota Kinabalu’s ideal gift and souvenir spot.

This market has something for everyone to bring back home – Borneo sarongs and pareos, pearl jewelleries, fridge magnets, keychains and all things handmade with love and care. You never know what you will find.

Tip: Be sure to haggle for anything and everything. Amuse the stall owners with some Sabahan lingo and if Lady Luck smiles upon you, you might just get the best price!

Handicraft Market

Location: Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Kota Kinabalu

Opening hours: 9am – 4.30pm daily


Travel like a local in Sabah – check out Traveloka’s latest deals for the best hotel and flight discounts. Book your pasar adventure now!

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