If you’re bar-hopping, this list will get you to the best places in Kota Kinabalu, by foot. There’s only one bar you might need an Uber for — can you guess which one?
Who says you can’t get lucky in KK? At the Shamrock, it’s all about beer, burgers, and St. Patrick’s Day. The old-school, rustic family ambience will make you think you’re back in the UK — except there’s a waterfront deck where you can watch the sun retire under a cloudless sky. Drop by to watch football with your mates, or just chill out with a Heineken and usual pub grub. If you drive, parking spots are aplenty.
If you’ve shopped ’til you dropped but don’t want another coffee at Starbucks, then head on opposite to the outdoor terrace of Imago for some soulful love. The stylish, urban design is the work of renowned interior architect Ed Poole, featuring a diamond-shaped bar (!), extra large ceiling fans, and colorful chairs out on the deck. Try the mojitos, sangrias and martinis — you might go home happier than from shopping.
When the sun goes down, the light baubles go up, and this place turns into that beach bar scene from Forgetting Sarah Marshall — without the flower garlands. You can relax on rope-hewn hammocks, dance barefoot to the beats of their in-house DJ, watch the fire-eating performer risk his life, and enjoy the extensive buffet selection of charcoal-grilled meats. Ladies drink for free on Fridays.
After dinner hours, the Hard Rock Cafe becomes more bar than café. With impressive light features, a waterfront view, and rock-n-roll themes on the wall, this place is a funky marrying of American culture and local landscape. Rock it out to the beats of the DJ while downing another shot, or enjoy their Legendary® Burger out on the balcony as you watch the boats pack it in for the evening.
Feeling the blues? Then head on over to Biru-Biru (literally, “blue”) for a quick pick-me-up! Compared to the other establishments on this list, the vibe here leans local and vintage. With up-cycled furniture, a funky marble-slabbed dancefloor, and cocktails with names like Bittersweet Suicide, you might even find your reason for living.
Occupying two floors at the KK Waterfront, this place commands a spectacular view of the sky and sea — but hey, if for some reason you’re not sentimental about KK’s vista, there’s also a large-screen TV behind the bar for you to watch some good ol’ football. The seating area out on the terrace is perfect for large groups, and you get to enjoy the sea breeze that sweeps in during the evenings.
If you fancy yourself something of a wine connoisseur, this is the only place in town to wine down and relax. Favored by the locals, Vino Vino can be a little pricier than your average pub — but with a private wine cellar, who’s complaining? The establishment is an elegant affair, and if your partner doesn’t care for wine, Vino Vino offers an admirable range of whiskeys, too.
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