Located in Kota Kinabalu of Sabah in Malaysia, Tanjung Aru is a small city sub-district that is home to many important sites such as the Royal Sabah Turf Club, La Salle Secondary School, Sabah State Railway station, Terminal 2 of the international airport, and the widely known Tanjung Aru Beach that is surrounded by first-class hotels, affordable resorts, famous restaurants and amazing entertainment centers. When staying anywhere within the capital city of Kota Kinabalu, make sure to visit Tanjung Aru even for a quick dinner while watching its spectacular sunset. People on the beach stop to watch the red golden sun slowly sinking behind the South China Sea, creating a picturesque silhouette of Mamutik Island and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park located in the open sea. Simply spectacular, it makes professional photographers out of everyone.
There are many reasons to come to Tanjung Aru Beach, which is an often visited Kota Kinabalu beach. Both locals and foreigners come here to swim, meet people, jog, stroll, sit on the soft beach for hours waiting for the sunset, or do what most people do here-eat. People flock to the open-air food court to enjoy savoring the freshly caught fishes and the very popular Malaysian noodle dishes.
Westerners (and locals) get a kick trying out the no-recipe, side-street noodle dishes, which include the fatty Char Kway Teow (stir fried with pork, eggs, prawns, fishcake and soy sauce), Mee Hoon (thin, stir-fried rice noodles with vegetables), Hokken Mee (prawn noodles with boiled eggs, spinach, bean sprouts, and chili paste), Laksa (noodles in a delicious and very spicy coconut-based soup), Mee Rebus (with sweet potatoes, egg yellows, shallots, and lime juice), Mee Mamak (Muslim Indian egg noodles fried in ketchup), Loh Mee (thick gravy and slimy in texture), Wan Tan Mee (with dumplings or wantons), and Curry Mee (with coconut-based curry). Any of these will surely savor one’s dining experience in Kota Kinabalu and they cost no more than US$2.00.
Meanwhile, popular sea foods are lobsters, stingrays, shellfish, and other types of fish that are sold by weight and cooked stir-fried. Some stalls within the open-air food court serve food until there are customers, which could mean way past midnight. The area surrounding the food court is filled with the pungent smell of durian fruit when in season. Locals say this Southeast Asian fruit “smells like Hell but tastes like Heaven”.
For tourists who are not that adventurous with food, Tanjung Aru Seafood Restaurant is the place to go. Located right by the seafront, this fine-dining restaurant serves lunch and dinner every day, with live dinner shows on Fridays through Sundays at 7:00 p.m.
The most expensive accommodation in the area is the five-star Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Beach Resort and Spa that is equipped with a private beach, 25-acre garden, and 450+ rooms facing the South China Sea; while the most popular lodging for backpackers is the very affordable Borneo Beach House Backpackers guesthouse near the beach. The guesthouse has free Wi-Fi, communal kitchen, and a very friendly staff.
Other interesting facilities within the Tanjung Aru area are the following: Kinabalu Golf Club (KGC), one of the oldest clubs in Sabah situated near the beach, Waikiki Condominium, Casuarina Hotel and the Shangri-La; KK Yacht Club located along Tanjung Aru Beach going to Shangri-La, also a very old club that opened in the 1950s; and the Prince Philip Botanical Park. To get to the Tanjung Aru, simply take a taxi or a public bus (labeled “Tanjung Aru Beach”) from City Hall or Wawasan Plaza.