Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu sprawls between the South China Sea and the towering ramparts of the Crocker Range. The capital of Malaysia’s Sabah State in Northern Borneo, the town dates from 1963 and occupies the site of Jesselton, the old British colonial capital. (Jesselton was razed during World War II.)

More importantly, Kota Kinabalu is your gateway to the natural wonders of Northern Borneo. Offshore sit the five coral islands of Tunku Rahman National Park, a Mecca for hikers and divers. To the north is Mt. Kinabalu National Park, home to the highest mountain found between New Guinea and the Himalaya. On a clear day, one can stand on its summit and look across the South China Sea to the Philippines.

The only remainder of the old colonial settlement is Atkinson Clock Tower, built in 1905 and named after the first British District Officer.