The Best Backpacker Hostels in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Courtesy of Faloe Hostel, Kota Kinabalu /
Photo of Michelle Leong
29 May 2019

If you’re roughing it in Northern Borneo, you’re in luck — we have the best picks for your stay.

Akinabalu Youth Hostel, Kota Kinabalu

Akinabalu Youth Hostel
Akinabalu Youth Hostel | Courtesy of

Clean, cheap, and generally quiet (with a bit of token noise from the street outside), this is the hostel where you’ll be able to get some sleep. With iron-framed bunk beds, rattan-woven chairs, and free-to-use computers, this place combines simplicity with convenience and offers you great bang for your buck.

SKYPOD Hostel, Kota Kinabalu

SKYPOD Hostel | Courtesy of

No sky here, but there are definitely “pods” to fit you and your small valuables. Stylish, urban, and super clean, each pod has a reading light and clothes-hanging area. It’s like the bunk beds in Some Like It Hot, but updated 60 years, and you probably won’t get caught for drinking indoors. If you take advantage of the hostel’s promotions, you might even get a free airport transfer.

Faloe Hostel, Kota Kinabalu

Faloe Hostel
Faloe Hostel | Courtesy of

When you’re far from home, it’s nice to feel like you’re at home. That’s exactly what Faloe Hostel offers — easy-going staff who feel like family, a help-yourself kitchen (mostly with breakfast foods and teas), a small living area with Netflix, and a strict no-shoes-indoors policy. Beds are clean, with pale wooden frames, and if you’ve packed half your house with you, the lockers are big enough to fit it all.

Halo Hostel, Kota Kinabalu

Featuring wood panel floors, large colorful lockers, and well-lit rooms, Halo boasts a central Kota Kinabalu (KK) location next to Padang Merdeka, and within walking distance of popular eateries. If you play nice, the staff might offer you a free city tour (so smile and say “Terima Kasih”!). There’s no elevator though — so if you have a thick suitcase or your knees aren’t so good, you might want to request a room on the lower floor.

The Jesselton Cabin, Kota Kinabalu

Jesselton Cabin
Jesselton Cabin | Courtesy of

Starting from RM 32.50 ($8.2) per night, this place is a runaway steal. Rooms are basic, with iron-framed bunk beds, but the common area makes up for it with cozy chairs and a coffee table, complete with magazines, books, and a TV. If you’re going for the dormitory bed option, why not bump it up RM5 ($1.27) for a room with air-conditioning? The humidity in KK can be unforgiving, and it’s always best not to smell someone else’s armpit sweat.

Borneo Backpackers, Kota Kinabalu

Borneo Backpackers
Borneo Backpackers | Courtesy of

If you know of Biru-Biru and their delightful waffles, you might know of Borneo Backpackers too. Operated by the same management, this hostel adds to the chilled out, artistic experience of Biru-Biru with an airy rooftop terrace complete with potted plants and a picnic-style seating area. Wi-Fi is a bit hit-and-miss, but staff are very friendly and accommodating.

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