"Waking up at the fish market is quite an experience - you are immediately approached by several people, who try to get you to eat at their tables. Walk around first and make good decisions - we got extremely high prices for seafood on our first go round, and those prices dropped on our second go. We had tiger prawns one night - bigger but not meaty and opted for the smaller one the second night. They will bring your dish little by little, so you may get fish first and then the rice after you eat the fish. The smoke from the grills can be very bad - try to sit further away and make sure you have plenty of mosquito repellent with yout."
The Philippine Market
Pasar Malam or nightmarket is a specialty often encountered in many Southeast Asian countries. It is a market, which opens in the evening. They sell vegetables, fruit and other foodstuffs, but also toys, clothing and music. It is a market for bargains, often for example counterfeit branded goods. In addition to being a center of evening trade, a pasar malam often also functions as a tourist attraction. Markets abound in Kota Kinabalu, even on Friday and Saturday nights. There are markets during the day (Central Market and Fish Market) and markets in the evening. Here, the darker it gets, the busier and livelier it gets on the Pasar Malam.
The markets in Kota Kinabalu are all at the sea side.
The Fish Market
One of the most prominent Pasar Malams in Kota Kinabalu is the Filipino Market, which stands proudly opposite chic Le Meridian. The Philippine market is also known as the handicraft market. The market is open from morning to midnight. This market, made up of hundreds of small shops, is undoubtedly the best place to buy souvenirs. It's a lively mess of tacky souvenirs stacked next to excellent local handicrafts such as batik, Borneo beads, cultured pearls and jewellery.
The smiling vendors are literally trying to charm you with their smiles and coax you into buying, what becomes offered. With a little bit of cleverness and negotiation you can make sure you leave with an equally big smile on your face. There are vibrant batik print t-shirts, sarongs, scarves and cloth bags, leather bags, rattan handbags, wooden beads and colorful bracelets and accessories, printed t-shirts and the beautiful wooden handicrafts are the highlight here. Due to the high concentration of immigrant vendors from the nearby Philippines, the locals refer to this market as the "Filipino Market".
At the Api-Api Night Food Market you will mainly find small local entrepreneurs, who drive here from all over the north of Sabah. They join forces to sell authentic local food, drinks, fruits and handicrafts to the visitors. The market is clean, colorful and aesthetically pleasing and is one of the most attractive tourist platforms. It is one of the newer markets in the city and was established to promote the business of the locals.
You should not forget to taste the local delicacies, such as Murtabaks, Malaysian Kuih-Muih and terangbulan. Each stall has a unique taste and smell. Satays of all kinds, be it chicken, shrimp, beef or pork, peek mischievously as many bites lie tempting when you put one in your mouth. We recommend eating a little bit of each stall so you can taste everything. Apart from the food, you will also get handicrafts made by the inhabitants of the city.
The Fish Market is a market for seafood lovers as you will find a wide variety of dried and packaged items from the sea. Seafood processed crackers, dried shrimp, dried salted fish, dried seaweed, dried sea cucumbers, many kinds of mixed local snacks and more. The dried packets will tempt many, but here you will find stalls selling poultry and beef, along with fish, crabs, shrimp, squid, lobster etc.
This fish market is located between Central Market and the sea. This is where the locals do their shopping in the morning. There are various things for sale here, from the normal veggies, fruits and meat/fish to magazines, toys and even some hardware. There are some fabric and clothes for sale upstairs. In the morning there are plenty of cakes (Kuih-Muih) and noodles for sale. Many bags of rice are for sale.
Visit the Central Market on a free afternoon and discover fruits and vegetables that are foreign to our side of the world. The king of fruits, the Durian is a seasonal favorite on the market.