Sabah has many interesting places to visit. Among one of the most interesting places is Signal Hill as it is the highest point in Kota Kinabalu. Standing on the observatory on Signal Hill lets you see Kota Kinabalu in all its magnificence.
About Signal Hill Observatory, Sabah
The Signal Hill Observatory stands tall at about 100 meters above ground level. The observatory was built at the edge of a cliff and is a sheer drop into the dense green vegetation underneath.
The observatory was built on the hill known as Bukit Bendara. It is accessible by wooden steps that wind through the jungle. Visitors can also get to the observatory by the Jalan Bukit Bendera road.
At the vantage point, you get to see an expansive view which is mesmerizing and unforgettable of Kota Kinabalu.
The incredible view of the city is not the only thing Signal Hill is known for. There is also an eco-farm at Bundit Bendeka that sells organic produce. Fresh produce from the eco-farm is used to cook flavorful meals at a restaurant run by the farmer. At the bottom of the hill, there sits an abandoned mansion from colonial times for guests to explore.
The Signal Hill Observatory is open from 9:00 am to 11 pm everyday. It is less busy during the day. There is no entrance fee for visitors. You can also enjoy drinks and snacks at the small cafe inside the observatory.
How to get to Signal Hill Observatory from Kota Kinabalu
Since the Signal Hill Observatory is in Kota Kinabalu, you will have an easy time locating it. If you want to walk to the Signal Hill Observatory, it is 1.7km away from the City Center.
There is a trail from the City Center called the Signal Hill Observatory Trail that takes you right up to it. The dense foliage of the jungle provides shade for the path. But you should prepare yourself for the ascent. It takes about 15 minutes of climbing to get to the top.
Taking a car is also a great option. It is a 4-minute drive from Jala Gayan. If you are taking a cab, a trip would cost around RM135
Where to stay near Signal Hill
Finding accommodation near Signal Hill Observatory is quite easy as it is in the central area of Kota Kinabalu. There are luxurious lodgings as well as comfortable places for a modest fee.
It is advisable to book a room at a hotel before arriving at Signal Hill. Here is a list of places to stay in Kota Kinabalu during your visit:
- BumBleBee Homestay
- Kokol Hill Villa
What to do at Signal Hill Observatory, Sabah, Malaysia
1. Enjoy the view from the Observatory
At 100 meters high, the Signal Hill is Kota Kinabalu’s best lookout point. You can lean against the rails or sit on the steel benches as you look over the city. Let your eyes enjoy the blue sea, the Atkinson Clock Tower and the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. There is a cafe on top of Signal Hill where you can enjoy snacks and drinks as well.
2. Visit the abandoned house
For the adventurous and thrill-seekers, Signal Hill has just the right place for you. At the foot of the hill stands an abandoned mansion. This is an old building from colonial times. Green ivy covers the outside of the old and empty structure. There are fallen trees giving this place an eerie look so that you have an extra fun time exploring it.
3. Watch the sunset
One of the best things to do at Signal Hill is to wait for the end of the day to watch the sun go down. The view of the darkening sky is breathtaking. The sun sinks slowly into the sea and you can catch the last golden rays of the sun as it disappears. This is a picturesque moment that does not feel quite the same when experienced anywhere else.
4. Visit the Eco Farm
At the foot of the hill is the Signal Hill Eco Farm. This farm uses natural farming techniques to cultivate the plants. It is an all-organic farm that grows and sells fresh produce. Ducks, chickens, and fish are also raised for consumption.
The Eco Farm is very peaceful and it is a great break from the noise of the city. Visit the farm for a much needed break in life. You can walk around and see how the animals are raised and how the crops are grown.
The Eco farm is divided into a few parts – the vegetable farm, livestock section, fishery and the restaurant where produce from the farm is served. Kale, cabbage, spinach, choy sum, and ginseng leaves are grown without pesticides.
As you walk around the farm amongst the waddling ducks and baby chickens, you can enjoy watching the tilapia fish swim around their pond as well. Aside from fresh healthy produce that the Eco Farm provides, its serene environment makes you forget that you are in the middle of busy Kota Kinabalu.
5. Enjoy a meal at the Eco Farm Restaurant
The Eco Farm restaurant is a rustic and beautiful place which provides you with an outdoor dining experience. Guests eat what the owners harvest and cook directly from the farm. Eating here is an experience that you should definitely have if you are in or around Kota Kinabalu. It is open from 11 am to 10 pm.
The seats are nestled underneath a bamboo platform with tree branches hanging within reach and Chinese lanterns lighting up the place at night. You can enjoy watching koi fish swim beneath hanging plants as you eat the healthy and tasty meals.
It is highly encouraged to visit the farm to see the produce in fresh form. A true farm-to-table dining experience, you are able to experience the taste of the earthy vegetables fresh from the soil.
It serves both vegetarians and non-vegetarian meals. The kale salad is a favorite for vegetarians that dine at the farm. If you are not a vegetarian, be sure to try a meal made with the corn fed chicken.
Although the restaurant serves generally healthy food, you can indulge in the delicious taste of salted lotus root with deep-fried egg. The restaurant offers a few drinks with the popular ones being the kale juice or Tongkat Ali coffee.
6. Trek up the jungle trail
The footpath to the Signal Hill Observatory takes you through the lush greenery of the forest that surrounds the hill. Guarded with green handrails and a well-marked out footpath, you can explore the jungle that lies underneath the hill.
There are several trails that lead up to the observatory. One starts behind Hotel Garden on Jalan Dewan and the other route starts near the Atkinson Clock Tower.
The 1-kilometer trail has about 250 steps which is not a very long trek. The noise of the city is tuned out and replaced by the sound of birds chirping in the trees. As you walk along the trail, there are signs to give you directions to the observatory so don’t be afraid about getting lost.
It takes about 15 minutes to walk up the trail.
Visiting the Signal Hill Observatory lets you see Kota Kinabalu through a new perspective. Take time to enjoy all the things available at Signal Hill and enjoy watching the sunset from the top of the hill while the evening breeze tickles your face. It is an experience not to be missed. Pay a visit to Kota Kinabalu and have an adventure of a lifetime.