Photo: The tip of Borneo.


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Laidback and slightly threadbare, Kudat is a friendly port town in the northern tip of Sabah, a flea tucked into the dog’s ear of the map. It’s unhurried, and easy to like, but there’s not a lot to keep most travellers hanging around for too long.

Kudat is found 175 kilometres north of Kota Kinabalu, and 380 kilometres northwest of Sandakan. The Kudat peninsular has long been the heartland of the longhouse-dwelling indigenous Rungus and today, several of their villages are open to passing tourists.

Welcome to Kudat. Photo taken in or around Kudat, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Welcome to Kudat. Photo: Sally Arnold

Back in the early 1880s, Kudat was the capital of North Borneo, however the honour was short lived (too many pirates), and Sandakan soon took the accolade. This time saw an influx of Chinese migrants, and the town bares many Chinese street names. A colourful Chinese temple near Hotel Ria is worth a look. Around here, at the western side of town, you’ll find some old wooden shophouses of interest too. Moving east, the fish market does a brisk business on the port side, and city side, equally busy is the produce market.

Past the markets, a grid of concrete shop-lots dispersed with large shady trees in the Secdo area houses Kudat’s budget hotels, banks with ATMs and a notably uncommon number of pool halls that all seem to be full (there’s really not a lot to do in Kudat). The esplanade edging Marudu Bay makes a pleasant stroll to watch the fishing boats. Nearby the small but busy ferry terminal transports folk daily to Banggi Island, Malaysia’s largest island just north of Kudat. If you want to get off the tourist trail, jump aboard.

Kudat's Chinese temple. Photo taken in or around Kudat, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Kudat's Chinese temple. Photo: Sally Arnold

Kudat’s main attractions, and where you’ll want to head, are the spectacular, yet deserted beaches and windswept rugged cliffs of the Tip of Borneo — take your bags, you’ll want to stay longer. A handful of accommodation options makes that possible.

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The only ATMs are in the town of Kudat, so if you plan staying around the Tip of Borneo or Banggi, do take enough cash. Be aware that many only operate 0:600-00:00. The post office is next to Hotel Ria. The police station and Kudat Hospital (T: (088) 613 333) are in the northern part of town.


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Kudat.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda
 Read up on where to eat on Kudat.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Kudat.
 Read up on how to get to Kudat.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Kudat? Please read this.
 Browse the web securely while travelling with TunnelBear. Try with a 7–day free trial.

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