Kota Kinabalu makes list of ‘hottest’ Asia travel stops

Passengers waiting for the flights at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport. — AFP pic
Passengers waiting for the flights at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 ― The coastal city of Kota Kinabalu is among the 10 picks on Agoda.com’s “Asia's Fresh Destinations” list this year, following a spike in interest among travellers throughout 2013 on the hotel booking site.

The popular website, whose annual list is now in its fourth year, said the capital city of Sabah enjoyed a steady increase in tourism arrivals over the past few years, due to the variety of physical and cultural attractions that are easily accessible to the intrepid visitor.

“Its multicultural makeup ensures a variety of languages, food, culture and festivals that have piqued travellers’ interest in the past year, as indicated by Agoda.com trends and review data.

“Kota Kinabalu offers great dining, museums, gardens, monuments and nearby beaches, while its surrounding areas boast of world-class dive sites, marine parks, golf courses, wildlife sanctuaries, and of course Mt. Kinabalu, one of Asia’s tallest – and surprisingly easiest – mountains to climb,” Agoda.com said in a statement today.

The website noted that Kota Kinabalu’s ratings were helped by the fact that three of its hotels - Horizon Hotel Kota Kinabalu, Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai and Bunga Raya Island Resort - earned Agoda.com’s Gold Circle Awards in the area of e-commerce and online booking.

Kota Kinabalu is the fifth Malaysian destination to make the annual list since it was started in 2011.

Kuantan was the first Malaysian tourist spot to be listed in 2011, followed by Pangkor Island/Pangkor Laut in 2012. The two other destinations, Cameron Highlands and Langkawi, made the list in 2013.

The list is compiled based on booking patterns, customer reviews and ground checks by Agoda.com’s selection team.

The website, however, noted that the list is not a ranking of the most popular or highest-rated destinations or a summary of the least known or seldom visited locations.

It instead lists places that saw a boom in travellers, attracted a large number of “expert travellers” who frequently go to new destinations, and offer “genuine, unfiltered travel experiences” that are easy to find despite the destination’s growing popularity.

“As in previous years, 2014’s Fresh Destination list offers travellers a wide variety of options, from a burgeoning city in Myanmar, to a buzzing and culturally unique city in Japan, to one of the most isolated cities in the world,” Agoda.com chief executive Rob Rosenstein said in the statement.

“These sites represent destinations that offer tourists plenty of options for a great journey, but have not yet been diluted to the point that exciting experiences are hard to find.” 

Other destinations that made the 2014 list include Mandalay in Myanmar, Kenting (Taiwan), Okinawa (Japan), Lombok (Indonesia), Kaosiung (Taiwan), Osaka (Japan), Chiang Rai (Thailand), Perth (Australia) and Da Nang in Vietnam.

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