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Sabah Shopping

Where to Shop and What to Buy in Sabah

Featuring an idiosyncratic ethnic and geographical makeup, the costumes, traditions and languages of Sabah are quite unique – not long ago the state was mostly inhabited by tribal peoples who had minimal contact with the outside world. The best time to visit is in May when the week-long Sabah fest takes place; celebrations include a range of music, dance and food and culminates in the Pesta Kaamatan (Harvest Festival). Try to visit one of Sabah’s weekly tamus – market fairs – that take place in towns and villages across the state. They’re lively social affairs with vendors selling produce and merchandise while crowds purchase items and perhaps more importantly catch up on local goings-on with neighbours.

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Central Market

Held along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Kota Kinabalu’s Central Market is much like its Kuala Lumpur counterpart. Occupying a strip of waterfront real estate in the middle of town, this souk has vendors that sell a variety of merchandise including local food – the stalls selling nasi campur have good value-for-money meals.

  • Opening Hours: 06:30 – 18:00
  • Location: Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens
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Handicraft Market

Sandwiched between the Night Market and Central Market in Kota Kinabalu, this bazaar is the perfect place to get reasonably-priced souvenirs including jewellery, bamboo goods, pearls, seashell crafts and textiles. Be sure to bargain as you’ll get better deals than the advertised sticker prices.

  • Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00
  • Location: Jalan Tun Mohd Stephens
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Jalan Gaya

Reminiscent of Malacca’s Jonker Street, this lively Chinese flea market takes place along the length of Jalan Gaya. Vendors and shoppers are friendly and you can purchase a variety of merchandise including souvenirs, produce and handicrafts; the market takes place every Sunday.

  • Opening Hours: Sunday
  • Location: Jalan Gaya
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Night Market

Also located along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens behind the Filipino Market, this market takes place underneath the imposing Le Meridien. At the southwest section of the market you can purchase a veritable variety of produce while at the northeast zone is a huge hawker centre with a smorgasbord of local fare – try the fried chicken and barbecued fish.

  • Opening Hours: Early evening – 23:00
  • Location: Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens

Tawau Bazaar

Located along Jalan Clinic in Tawau, this souk takes place opposite Marco Polo Hotel. Vendors sell batik prints, sarongs, souvenirs, T-shirts, handicrafts, cosmetic products as well as local fare. You can get great bargains as long as you negotiate well with the traders.

  • Location: Jalan Clinic
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