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5 Awesome Flea Markets You Must Not Miss in Kota Kinabalu

More than half of the time, shopping is decidedly part of every traveller’s itinerary no matter the destination — especially in Southeast Asia. Take Kota Kinabalu for example; with its beautiful diving spots, incredible beaches and biodiversity, both locals and tourists would still make some time to venture to one of Kota Kinabalu’s famous offerings: the flea markets. 

Let’s face it, we all love a super cheap bargain especially if it doubles up as a souvenir from a certain country or state!

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Affordable Shopping Spots Around Southeast Asia

If you find yourself stopping by Kota Kinabalu city on your way to climbing Mount Kinabalu or visiting the National Park, be sure to check these flea markets out:

1. Filipino Market

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Ask a local about flea markets and the first to top their list is the Filipino Market. Here, you’ll find street food, local fruits, fresh produce and an entirely different section dedicated to the wet market. If you’ve recently acquired a taste for salted fish, here’s the best place to get them. Food aside (be sure to try local snacks like kuih cincin and the Sabahan version of churros called kuih tiram, kuih lidah), you’ll also find some beautiful Bornean handicraft to bring home — ranging from clothes to accessories and more.

Location: Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Kota Kinabalu

Operating hours: 5pm to 12am

2. Sinsuran Night Market

Image: Sabah Eats 

One of the best things Kota Kinabalu (or East Malaysia in general, for that matter) has to offer is the seafood! And the best place to get some fresh-out-of-the-sea offering is right here at the Sinsuran Night Market, where you’ll find tiger prawns as big as your palm (or bigger), a variety of fish, larger-than-life lobsters and more.

Location: Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Kota Kinabalu

Operating hours: 6pm – 12am

3. Gaya Street Sunday Market

Image: Wikimedia Commons

If you find Kota Kinabalu relatively empty on a Sunday, you’ll find them all at the Gaya Street Sunday Market. This colourful flea market is a must-visit for those within the area, and for those who have come near or far. Take your pick of vibrant clothing, antiques, souvenirs and more, and enjoy the hustle and bustle while you’re at it. The Gaya Street Sunday Market can easily keep you occupied for hours (read: for as long as your legs can carry you, of course). 

Location: Gaya Street, Kota Kinabalu

Operating hours: 6am – 1pm

4. Jesselton Artisan Market

Image: Jesselton Artisan Market

The local talents here in Kota Kinabalu will blow you away, with their whimsical take on arts and crafts, which you will get to see if you stop by the Jesselton Artisan Market. Refreshing sight aside (right next to the seaside), you get to treat your eyes to some beautiful jewellery, clothing, food, handmade goods, shows, performances and more. It’s the perfect place to be adventurous and try new things. If you have more time to kill, why not take part in some of the workshops and classes hosted by the artists themselves? 

Location: Riverson The Walk, Kota Kinabalu

Operating hours: 10am – 6pm

5. Handicraft Market

Part of the Handicraft Market experience is to manouvre your way through the alleys and clutter that is the stalls combined with a throng of people getting their Borneo shopping mode on. We’re not surprised, with the market’s impressive collection of Borneo sarongs, pareos, pearls, magnets and keychains (all handmade, of course), we could spend hours just sifting through souvenirs and other goods! Hint: be sure to haggle for the best price, especially if you’re buying in bulk!

Location: Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Kota Kinabalu

Opening hours: 9am – 4.30pm daily

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Written by Kathlyn Ursula D'Souza

Professionally a journalist, personally a lover of all things fried chicken, Gogorn (her big black German Shepherd) and ice cream.

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