Before the arrival of the supermarkets and hypermarkets chains, the Kota Kinabalu markets are the most important markets for supplying fresh produce, vegetables, and seafood. Most of the daily consumption commodity for KK Lites can be found here. Even till today it is still very busy and buzzing with life. Many restaurants, kopitiams, and canteen- operators do their daily shopping for fresh ingredients at these markets regularly, if not daily. Even household aunties come and sort after fresh produces for their family daily meals.
Kota Kinabalu Markets are made up of five main buildings, the largest is the Central Market, immediately opposite the KK Plaza on Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens. Sandwich between the Central Market and the sea, is the Fish Market, which is painted with maroon on the outside. And next to the Central Market along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens are three smaller markets namely the Fruits Market, Handicraft Market, and the Dry Sea Product Market.
The Handicraft market, formerly known as Filipino market, is where tourists come to hunt for souvenirs and other interesting local hand made products. This place although small, compared to the Central Market and the Fish Market, has thousands and one things on sale here. There are only a few alleys inside the handicraft markets, and stalls are packed very tight to one another, it is like a maze. Just fun to come in here even if one is not shopping for souvenirs.
From T-shirts to key chains, rattan floor mats, hand made baskets, musical instruments, wooden crafts, table cloths, local produced vases, batik, etc. No wonder this place is so popular with the tourists. Products here consist of local, and imported products from the Philippines and Indonesia.
Just a few metres away from the Handicraft Market is the Central Market. This is where life evolves from the KK Lites point of view, where hundreds, if not thousands of locals depend their food supplies from the Central Market. Vegetables sellers, meat butchers, poultry suppliers, bean growers, spices traders, fruits farmers , even newspapers and magazine vendors, all of them have stalls parked along the alley ways inside.
One can walk around this market and find out what food that KK Lites tend to consume. Colourful vegetables, meats, local cakes and fruits are the common find. Local tobacco and Pinang with lime for stimulants are some interesting discovery here. The market is kept clean ; and a walk around the Central Market is a pleasant experience.
A walk around the Fish Market can be a good education outing, where one can see many different types of fish in whole before they go under the knife. Kota Kinabalu Fish Market is blessed with plenty of freshly caught produces from the South China Sea, supplied by the numerous fishermen boats seen parked beside the fish markets.
Fish can be seen in big and small sizes. Common fish like Sweet Lips, Garupa, Jack fish, Tuna, and sometime even reef shark are seen here. Prawns, crabs and squids can also be easily found at the Fish Market. The floor at the Fish Market seem to be always wet, so do walk with caution.
The empty space next to the fruits and handicraft markets and beside the sea is transformed into a hawkers centre from late afternoon to the evening. Goreng Pisang, Nasi Lemak, burnt fish, steamed rice, noodle and many mouth watering food can be found here.
There is a plan in the pipeline to redevelop this area to a more affluence shopping facility in the not too distance future. Do visit these wonderful markets of Kota Kinabalu before they are turned into another page in history.