I know I have mentioned this before, but KK has really nailed the tourist vibe. Which can make for a really nice SE Asia holiday – if you are going for the cheap, not quite too-resorty vacation. But if you are looking for more experiences, cultural or adventure, then you need to hunt a bit further.
Not that I’m saying we really had to hunt for the Sabah State Museum – trust me, it’s easy enough to find. It’s more like, when you ask people about it they seem hesitant to say anything because it is not the usual tourist destination in KK. In fact, even some of the locals don’t know much about it because they aren’t asked about it a lot.
It’s not just one building of stuff – The museum is part of a large property that includes museums, displays, gardens, art galleries and a cultural village. The only thing it was missing was a decent cafe or street hawker.
The first building we went to was the Main Building, housing the largest whale skeleton in Malaysia. It also has Natural History, Ceramics (burial pots), Archaeology, and Cultural Heritage (costumes). The museum was under renovation when we visited and, by the look of many reviews I found online, had been for some time. And continues to be. Which might not be a bad thing (because they are updating and maintaining), but if you have ever been to the Napoli Museum you will understand how frustrating constant renovations are. There is always something closed and ongoing presumptions on what they think you want to see instead.
So we moved onto the greater grounds. And they are fantastic! In the Science and Technology Centre, the boys got a kick out of playing with old television and radio equipment.
Make sure you also check out the art gallery – the boys also loved the flamboyant colours and beautiful images that kept true to the Borneo we had seen so far. The themed room upstairs also provided the opportunity for a bit of themed play with the kids, breaking up the monotony of the first building.
After a walk around the gardens (including the suspension bridge over the lotus pond), we visited the Heritage Village. Obviously not as impressive as the Sarawak set-up, but the traditional houses are lovely to check out at your own pace. These are also a bit more accessible for children to play – “Look Mum! I’m cooking dinner!”
Tip: As mentioned above, it would really benefit from a cafe or street vendor out front. Maybe there is one now (if you know, please share in the comments!) But otherwise, make sure you bring plenty of water and food, especially with little ones.
Our 5yo and 2yo really enjoyed it. Definitely worth a visit to round out your travels through Sabah. Even just for the change of perspective and the leisurely walk around the grounds.