Photo: Rice wine yeast at the Central Market.

Central & Handicraft Markets

Our rating:


Kota Kinabalu’s Central and Handicraft markets are both worth checking out for a taste of local life and to see how many mass-produced souvenirs can be stuffed into a single space.

Help us hold our breath. Donate to Travelfish today!
Click here for more information on how you can help.

Located on Kota Kinabalu’s busy waterfront is the sprawling labyrinth of the Central Market. This extravaganza of colour and smells is a great place to explore. Bursting with dried fish, fragrant spices, exotic fruit and other household essentials, it’s where locals come to shop.

So many “I wonder what that is!” things to see. Photo taken in or around Central & Handicraft Markets, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

So many “I wonder what that is!” things to see. Photo: Sally Arnold

Try some seasonal fruit — if you don’t know, ask the vender to show you how to eat it. Unusual things we spotted include neat bundles of what looks like dried grass, which are a traditional remedy for skin problems, and strings of white oblong beads that are a yeast for producing the local rice wine. It’s very photogenic and the vendors are happy to pose.

As well as the central fruit and vegetable area, the vast complex merges into a wet market, dried fish market, and handicraft market. The northern outside area morphs in the evenings into a lively night food market brimming with fresh seafood and other ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 200 words.)

Get the full story.
Create an account.

Join Travelfish

Log in

Becoming a Travelfish subscriber costs A$35 for a year. Benefits include:
1) Full access to the site
2) 250+ PDF guides
3) Discount coupons
4) 50% off our travel planning service
5) And of course, our gratitude and a warm fuzzy feeling for helping us stay in business!

Popular attractions in Kota Kinabalu

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Kota Kinabalu.

Best places to stay in Kota Kinabalu

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Kota Kinabalu.

What next?

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

Heading to Malaysia?
Heading to Malaysia?
Ad Search for cheap flights to Malaysia
on Skyscanner.

Read more

See below for more sights and activities in Kota Kinabalu that are listed on

Top of page

Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Kota Kinabalu? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Malaysia.

Top of page