The Colors Of Filipino Market @ Kota Kinabalu

(Photos by @joehairie)

Every city in this world has its own market that attracts both the locals and tourists. Kota Kinabalu has its own market as well, yup, right in the middle of the city, facing the sea. The market area is quite big actually and the locals named it as Pasar Besar (Central Market), Pasar Ikan (Fish Market-behind the Central Market) and Pasar Filipino (Consist of Salted Fish Market, Fruits Market, Handicraft Market, Vegetables Market, Fish Market and Cooked Food Stalls). For the benefit of future travelers to Kota Kinabalu, I did one big round of the Filipino Market, took some photos and wrote some notes. I went home after that and started drafing this entry so that it can be posted, which in the end will enable foreign visitors to navigate themselves around the market easily.

First of all, to the newbies, where is this market? By using the map above, navigate yourself to the circled area. The area is just next to the Le Meridien Hotel. If you see the Le Meridien, then you are at the right place. Below image is the enlarged map of the area. Take note that the name of the market is not that correct. Again, Filipino Market actually consist of Salted Fish Market, Fruits Market, Handicraft Market, Vegetables Market, Fish Market and Cooked Food Stalls. Whatever you can find in the Central Market can be found in the Filipino Market at reasonable prices (negotiable).

Best time to go: After 4.30 PM (Daily)

Let us start the journey at the Salted Fish Market. This area specialized in products from the sea, mostly being dried and packed and sold to customers at bargain price. You may see the price tag on each item but you are actually welcome to negotiate. You need to be particularly ‘clever’ to undermine the vendors or else they will do that to you. Among products being sold here are dried salted fish, crackers that made of seafood, dried seaweed, mix items of local snacks and many more. There are more than 10 stalls in this area so you need to be a bit particular with the items that you need and be alert with the ‘attitude’ of the vendors. They all look nice but which stall is the best to go? I will save your time and you do not have to go around looking at the same items over and over again. I went around and did a survey in details which means I know which stall is worth the visit. Once you are inside, go to the Stall number 10.


If you see the signboard as shown in the above image, you are at the right place. Of all the stalls, this particular stall offer better price after negotiation. Your items can be packed nicely to be taken on board your flight.  Ms Lily @Nesa is the owner of this stall and she is a wonderful and nice person. A very down to earth person that communicate better with customers. I guess it will be much easier to talk to a seller that has the ability to understand customers needs. Ms Lily can be contacted at + 60 11 3692 9287. Keep this number handy in case you need help with bulk purchase.

Let us proceed to the Handicraft Market, a very popular market among visitors from Peninsular Malaysia looking for Sabah Pearls and souvenirs. Again, there are just too many stalls and most of them selling the same items. You may go around and bargain at each stall if that is your wish but to those who want to save time, I found one stall with the owner by the name of Ms Liah and she is polite and friendly. On top of that, she is willing to negotiate more than the other sellers. Packing is possible if you request. Trust me, I did my homework already. The only problem is that the stalls are not numbered and to add to that mysterious position of each stall, every 6 months the authority will make each stall move to  a new slot/position. No worries..Ms Liah can be contacted at + 60 11 3658912 0r +60 14 827950. Do keep these numbers handy in case you want to call her to ask for the exact position of her stall (that changes every 6 months!!!).

If you happen to be in this Handicraft Market and in need to buy some pearls or souvenirs, call her and tell her your position and she might fetch you (if she is not busy with other customers). I asked her the price of each item that she sells and she said that the price tag is open for negotiation. Again peeps, your negotiation skill is required here. However, she is the best person to talk to in terms of getting the price lowered to a reasonable number to both parties (buyer and seller). Let us look at the items she sells, shall we?

Oh my, that is an attractive display of souvenirs. If you go to the other stalls you will find the same items but this particular stall gives you the best price. Compare em’ yourself if you ain’t trusting me. Good luck in shopping for your souvenirs and good luck in finding her stall!!! Okay, let us move to the other side of the Filipino Market, the Cooked Food Stalls. This area is located behind the Handicraft Market. If you see smokey area that comes from the barbecuing, that is the place. You get to see different ‘colors’ here and that comes with the nice aroma and taste. However, my big advise is, be a bit picky in choosing your favorite food stall. Choose the stall that is clean by your standard. If you choose not to eat here, that is okay. You are more than welcome to stroll along the alley of the food stalls and enjoy looking at the colors of the food. Take some photos as mementos. Lets us start the journey again….

Next is the wet market, the Fish Market , a place where you can find raw and fresh seafood-fish, prawn, crab, squid or just anything that lives in the sea and might end up on the plate. A bit wet here so mind your steps.

Next, there is this section that concentrate on fruit products. A very nice to stroll along and looking at the awesome and magnificent colors of the fruits being sold here. The fruits here are sold relatively cheap in comparison to the same items in Central Market.

Well peeps, we covered the entire area of the Filipino market, from the Salted Fish area to the fruit area. I do hope that you enjoyed reading my long entry and fascinated with the ‘colors’ of this Filipino Market @ Kota Kinabalu. This market is among the must visit spot if you are in Kota Kinabalu. You do not have to buy anything if you don’t want to but at least do your own promenading and see for yourself the colors of this Filipino Market. Oh, before that, everyday starting 5 PM, there is a night market adjacent to the Le Meridien Hotel. Shoes, bag, T shirts, souvenirs and more can be found in this market. It is open until 10 PM or so. If you are not tired from the long walk at the Filipino Market, this is the next place to visit. Below are some images I captured right after strolling at the Filipino Market. I do hope that my post will enable you to plan properly your visit to Kota Kinabalu City.  Enjoy shopping peeps…see you soon in the next entry!!