Kool-krazy-kat-Kota-Kinabalu, the capital and gateway of Malaysia’s Sabah region on Borneo island. This is the city where treks up to Borneo’s highest mountain (Mount Kinabalu) begin, the tropical waters of the Gaya islands are right on your doorstep, lots of different magnificent experiences can be found, and, the coolest nickname ever for a city: KK!
Whilst most travellers will skip out KK, using it just as a transport hub to enter/leave Sabah, we think you should spend a few nights here. We visited KK during our trip around Malaysia and loved it. It’s a relaxed, modern place that offers so much. It also has a large LGBTQ community and sometimes even a gay bar – ie it closes/reopens a lot (more on this below)!
We’ve put together all our findings from our trip in and around gay Kota Kinabalu in this article. We’ve included important practical safety tips for LGBTQ travellers, gay friendly hotels we tried/loved, queer friendly hangouts and some of our favourite things to do which we hope inspires you.
Is Kota Kinabalu safe for gay travellers?
On the whole, yes, but as long as you’re careful to avoid PDAs. Malaysia is not on par with some of the places in the Middle East, but it’s obviously no Bangkok here!
In relation to progressive LGBTQ rights in Malaysia, there are none at all. There is even a horrible archaic anti-gay law which carries with it a 20-year imprisonment as well as caning, fines and/or deportation! The reality is that the anti-gay law of Malaysia is rarely ever enforced, particularly against foreigners. However, this gives you an idea of how society regards homosexuality and therefore why it’s best to avoid PDAs.