Filipino Market in Kota Kinabalu

As if we weren’t tired enough from shopping at Gaya Street Sunday Fair in the morning in a tropical heat, we continued to walk around Kota Kinabalu (KK) city to while our time before heading off to the Filipino Market which only opened at 5pm. Because the weather was scorching hot, we cooled off in air-conditioned places. We walked around in Suria Sabah and Centre Point shopping malls as my friend wanted to buy mobile phone accessories. By the time it was nearly 5pm and the weather became a little cooler with the sea breeze blowing in from the waterfront, we walked towards the Filipino Market.

Filipino Market is located by the waterfront on Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens and it’s basically an area combining the handicraft market and the wet market. As the name implies, it is run by mainly Filipino immigrants who make up a sizeable population in the city. Due to troubles in southern Philippines in the early 1970s, refugees started arriving in KK but by the late 1970s onwards, the Filipinos who came to KK were mainly migrant workers. Majority of them became naturalised Malaysian citizens, however, there is some still living as illegal immigrants in the city.

Upon arriving at the market, the first thing which attracted our attention was these mangoes in full yellow glory!


filipino market kota kinabalu mangoes

filipino market kota kinabalu mangoes galore

And then we came across tailors seated along the street. You can have them alter your clothings, jeans or bags for a small sum of money, and they use these vintage sewing machines which you hardly see in shops nowadays. My parents still have a vintage sewing machine at home – they don’t use it anymore but keep it at home for sentimental reasons. It requires skill and coordination to rock the pedal at the bottom with your feet, the hand wheel and the cloth (sorry, can’t think of a proper sentence to describe the action!)

Tailors along the street

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We walked past the handicraft section of the market and then saw a huge area of food stalls. We followed the aroma – hawkers grilling chicken and seafood, and displaying an array of fresh ‘catch of the day’. Customers choose the seafood and the hawkers cook for them. I was amazed by the variety of seafood displayed – gigantic lobsters, tiger prawns and huge fishes that I have never seen before!

Grilled chicken and fish

filipino market kota kinabalu grilled chicken wings

filipino market kota kinabalu food stalls

filipino market kota kinabalu grilled fish

Catch of the day

filipino market kota kinabalu grilled seafood

filipino market kota kinabalu fresh seafood

filipino market kota kinabalu catch of the day

The Filipino Market doesn’t end just there. It continues to stretch to the ‘wet market’ where fresh produce of meat and vegetables are sold. The atmosphere is incredible – hot and muggy, and noisy as hawkers holler out to get shoppers’ attention and shoppers are haggling to get a cheap price – and all of this against the backdrop of KK waterfront.

The ‘wet market’ – fresh produce

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filipino market kota kinabalu fresh seaweed

filipino market kota kinabalu seaweed

The wet market against the backdrop of KK waterfront

filipino market kota kinabalu wet market against sea backdrop

Coconuts and local cheese crackers here

filipino market kota kinabalu coconuts

filipino market kota kinabalu local snacks

My friend and I didn’t buy anything (well, except for a few more snacks of local cheese crackers) nor did we eat the delicious seafood at the market (we were still full from our late lunch), but we had fun walking around the market, taking in the atmosphere. By the time we came out of the market, we were soaked in perspiration due to the high humidity but happy that we got to experience the Filipino Market.


Are you planning a trip to Kota Kinabalu? How about booking your accommodation here?


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filipino market in kota kinabalu katpegimana

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