One of the reasons why I was having second thoughts about going to Sabah was money. I had some unexpected expenses last January and I have several trips lined up in the coming weeks, so I figured it’d be better to cut my losses at Php 1,289 (my airfare) instead of spending so much more on the trip. However, in the end I threw caution to the wind and went to have an awesome trip.
Kota Kinabalu is pretty cheap compared to other Malaysian cities. Sure, the taxi drivers are averse to using the meter, but KK is so small you can just walk anywhere (except to the Mount Kinabalu Park and other attractions because it’s FAR). I’ve had a couple of expensive meals over the weekend, and I was surprised that my end total is just Php 1,337. Shopping in Kota Kinabalu is not too exciting, except if there are sales I suppose. Some of the items sold in Peninsular Malaysia is also available in Sabah, but there are also a number of brands and products that are locally produced like teas and cigarettes.
There are a number of souvenir shops in the shopping centers, but if you’re looking to buy Sabah tea, it’s best to check the supermarket, as the prices are much cheaper. There’s also the handicraft market, or the former Pasar Filipino (Filipino market), where local souvenirs are sold (batik, wood carvings, anything and everything made with sea shells).
A final note on Sabah: if you’re bringing US dollars, make sure that they are series 2006 or more recent. Money changers do not accept dollars from earlier years, which is a real pain. There are plenty of ATMs that accept VISA and Mastercards, so you can make a cash advance if needed (some hostels, like the Lavender Lodge does not accept credit card payments).
|February 13 – 16, 2010|
|MYR 1 = PHP 14|
|in local currency||in Philippine Peso|
|Air Asia||PHP 1,289.00||PHP 1,289.00||1|
|Philippine Travel Tax||PHP 1,620.00||PHP 1,620.00|
|Airport tax||PHP 600.00||PHP 600.00|
|Transport to and from DMIA||PHP 740.00||PHP 740.00||2|
|Transport to and from KKIA||MYR 55.00||PHP 770.00||3|
|Twin room MYR 70/night||MYR 210.00||PHP 2,940.00||4|
|Ferry||MYR 23.00||PHP 322.00||5|
|Meals (Manila)||PHP 400.00||PHP 400.00|
|Meals (Kota Kinabalu)||MYR 95.50||PHP 1,337.00||6|
|Travel Insurance||PHP 368.00||PHP 368.00|
|Admission||MYR 16.00||PHP 224.00||7|
|Tour||MYR 185.00||PHP 2,590.00||8|
|Souvenirs||MYR 20.20||PHP 282.80||9|
|Shopping||MYR 52.70||PHP 737.80||10|
|1 Bought last August during an Air Asia seat sale. This includes fees for check in baggage, but no food.|
|2 Cab to Megamall, then Php 300 each way on Philtranco|
|3 MYR 30 taxi from the airport, MYR 25 from the lodge. Forgot to ask about the free airport transfers!|
|4 Originally reserved a twin room, since I was supposed to travel with Melo, but ended up going alone. The room is huge for hostel standards.|
|5 Ferry to the islands cost MYR 13 for one island, additional MYR 10 for 2.|
|6 Breakfast is included in the lodge, so this is mostly lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks.|
|7 Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park fee is MYR 10 for all islands, plus MYR 6 government tax|
|8 River cruising tour to see the proboscis monkey. Quite expensive, but well worth seeing the monkeys in the wild. Fee includes transport, guide, snacks and dinner buffet (drinks apart from coffee and tea not included)|
|9 Another sarong, a magnet and a couple of post cards|
|10 Couldn’t stop myself from buying the Slumdog Millionaire novel and this cute doo-something.|