Shangri-La Rasa Ria in Kota Kinabalu makes for a beautiful wedding venue
From the moment we set foot in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah in East Malaysia, stories of some of the most amazing weddings that have taken place here magically seemed to find a way to our ears. You can just imagine how intrigued we were to find out that city has also hosted a number of very exclusive Big Fat Indian weddings! By the end of our stay, we knew exactly why Kota Kinabalu, or KK, has fast become a very popular wedding destination. We couldn’t wait to share our experiences with you, so read on to know more about why you might want to say ‘I do’ in this picturesque city.
An aerial view of the pristine Gaya Island
When you think of Borneo, you can’t help but imagine a paradise of sorts. Think untouched islands, lush rainforests and azure beaches. Kota Kinabalu, which lies on the northwest coast of Borneo, is all this and more. But, perhaps, the best part is that it embodies an urban vibe alongside its reputation as a tropical destination.
Nights out by the waterfront
Kota Kinabalu offers endless activities to keep your wedding guests engaged. They could enjoy exciting evening jaunts at the lively Gaya Street and waterfront markets, or a cultural trip to the Sabah State Museum, Sabah Art Gallery and Mari Mari Cultural Village. The more adventurous will be thrilled to visit the Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary, Mount Kinabalu National Park and Signal Hill Observatory for panoramic city views. The Gaya Street Sunday Market is a great place to scout for local handicrafts, while 1Borneo — the city’s largest mall — houses some good stores including H&M.
Sapi Island is a treat for adventure lovers
But, if there’s one thing that keeps travellers coming back for more, it’s Kota Kinabalu’s five gorgeous islands reputed for their well-preserved coral reefs, abundant marine life and adventure sports. Sapi Island, for instance, is perfect to indulge in a bit of snorkelling, scuba diving and ziplining. Because the town is small and its islands are well connected via the Jesselton Jetty, it takes 10 minutes or less to reach any of these destinations!
One of the most important criteria for destination weddings is good connectivity. While there are several airlines to choose from, we cannot refrain from presenting you with the best and most-reliable option. Singapore Airlines flies out from all major Indian cities and offers frequent connecting flights from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu through its regional wing — SilkAir. If you, like us, cannot get enough of Singapore, or for that matter even the amazing Changi Airport, you’ll want to fly Singapore Airlines and SilkAir like we did. Malaysia has also made it very easy for Indian nationals entering Kota Kinabalu to avail of the Visa on Arrival (VoA) facility if the point of entry is from Singapore or Thailand. We flew Business Class on both Singapore Airlines and SilkAir and had a fabulous experience.
A banquet set-up at Hyatt Regency in Kota Kinabalu
Weddings to remember
So Kota Kinabalu is that picture-perfect paradise you’ve been looking out for. But you should also know that the city is reputed for its warm hospitality and extensive culinary offerings (besides traditional Malay cuisine, we even sampled some impeccable Indian and Italian food on this trip!). Beautiful venues to suit weddings of all sizes coupled with the fact that the city has a well-connected network of wedding vendors adds to the ease at which a Kota Kinabalu wedding can be executed.
We explored some top-notch wedding venues, which you can read about in depth in our subsequent blog posts. The Shangri-La group of hotels has two properties in Kota Kinabalu, both of which make for fairy-tale wedding locations. The more city-centric yet sea-facing Le Meridien and Hyatt Regency hotels are also great options for wedding-related events, given their amazing F&B options, ballrooms and experienced event planners.
Credits : Image 1 : Shangri-La Rasa Ria, Kota Kinabalu | Image 2 : David Kirkland/Sabah Tourism Board | Image 3 : Melissa Ewot/Sabah Tourism Board | Image 4 : Beverly Pereira | Image 5 : Hyatt Regency Kota Kinabalu |
Beverly Pereira is a luxury and lifestyle writer