The Most Popular Street Fair in Sabah – Gaya Street (Sunday Market)
Gaya Street History
Originally named Bond Street, Gaya Street located in the Kota Kinabalu Central Business District has been the center of business for over a hundred years. The wooden shops with Nipah roofs are long gone but here is where generations-old family businesses are still thriving passed down from father to son.
Every Sunday morning, the length of Gaya Street is closed off to traffic to make way for the Fair, local families would gather in Gaya Street to buy their whole week necessities if not just wandering along the street and enjoy the morning walk.
*Gaya Street starts around 7.00 am (only on Sunday) and reach its peak at 9.00 am, be sure to reach there early if you are driving to avoid traffic congestion.
Gaya Street – Main Street
Main Gaya Street
The main Gaya Street consists of over-sized umbrella stalls stacking along the streets, and you might need to spend at least one hour in order to visit all the stalls.
There are tons of merchandises being display along the street, from daily necessities to tourist’s favorite, so stick with us and learn more about Gaya Street.
*Feeling hungry after exploring Gaya Street? There are also great restaurants on both sides of the streets selling local breakfast which definitely worth a try.
Traditional Chinese Pastries
They are mostly descendants of Hakka’s, very professional in making traditional pastries and being handed down for generations, few must-try pastries including – Pork Rice Dumpling, Green Bean Pastries, Pandan-Coconut Roll and Rainbow Layer Cake.
These traditional pastries are selling in a small portion (price shown for each piece), enables you to pick a more different option and serves as a perfect treat while walking along the busy Sunday street. 😉
Pineapple/Watermelon Fresh Juice
We personally called it the “fruit Sludge” which is the newly invented product in Gaya Street and made famous by overseas tourists from China, Korea, and Japan.
The stall owner will crack a hole (based on the fruit you had chosen) then applies the driller into it and let it spin for like few minutes, the final product will become like fresh fruit store in their own jug kind of thing which is seemingly fun and delicious. 😉
*Bonus Tips: You may request the stall owner to carve a “heart-shaped” fruit slice to put on top of the fruit and take some lovely selfies.
Best Selling Guava
This fruit stall in the middle of Gaya Street is very popular for their Guava Fruit – Sweet, big sized, very juicy and has a light crunchy texture.
You can even savor at ease without peeling the guava skin since they are planted with care aka non-chemicals applied! 😉
*You can treat it as the apple substitute while traveling in Sabah and feel free to ask for a small discount if you are buying for more than one kilo.
Street Antique Collection
An array of Malay/Chinese antiques also can be seen here, most of them have a long background story to tell if you are willing to listen.
In the sense of Genuity, we can’t tell anything regarding this matter since we are not the expert, well it’s up to you to decide on your own. 😉
Traditional Malay Herb & Medicines
The herbal roots and fungus are originated from the local state while medicines in fine packaging are imported from Indonesia, they don’t smell bad at all and in fact, some Malay even suggests that these traditional medicines are actually efficacious and use broadly in their daily life.
Among Malay Ladies, there is also a special beverage called “Jamu” (yellowish color, a strong galangal brew) that they would consume daily which is said to be a very good natural remedy for beauty.
Local Factories Textiles
Similar like The Central Market, Gaya Street also a bargain paradise when it comes to hunting for fashion and textiles. The best selling item would be the colorful pattern of batik scarfs which is the best symbol to proves that you had been to Malaysia.
Don’t be surprised if you happen to stumble across someone who actually wears similar like you in Gaya Street because it just shows that you both practically have the same taste! 😉
Local Hand Crafts
When it comes to souvenirs, you can consider buying these local handcrafts that strongly emphasize the art of Borneo which includes – Rafflesia, Gong & Seruling (a musical instruments), and Proboscis Monkey.
Some stalls even offer custom handmade on the spot service if you willing to pay more for the exclusiveness.
Gaya Street Interesting Activities
Other than delicious snacks, sweet fruits, affordable textiles, and pretty handcrafting, there are also some extraordinary activities ongoing on Gaya Street that you can’t or barely see elsewhere.
Hey, we know whats crossing in your mind but don’t get the wrong idea because we can guarantee that it was actually a legal and healthy activity! 😉
Professional Calligraphy Master
You might see it as a normal calligraphy master in the street, then how about if we tell you that he’s a pure Indian with a Chinese name?
Yes, his name is Huang Poh Lo aka N.Poolohgasingam (N.Polo) the man below the wind and very into Chinese & Shah-Rumi Al-Arabia Calligraphy.
*You can pinpoint his stall within the Gaya Street and request him to custom write specific word characters (different sizes) at a little extra charge.
Blind Association Concert
Yes, they can’t see, but they can really play well with the musical instruments and sing popular local dialect song. They might not be the best singer in town but they insist doing it solely just to entertain the crowd.
This trio Malay band is actually from the local blind association, so next time when you happens to meet them, do remember to toss some pennies into the donation box just to show your support and gratitude! 😉
Street Massage Parlour
Well, who needs a visit to high-end massage parlor when you can actually get a cheaper one in Gaya Street? They actually consist of Malay and Filipinos who are expert in performing simple neck/foot massage to visitors across the street.
Based by the locals, this massage service is operating every day and available all day long at a specific area around Gaya Street, so walk around the street and ask those locals if you really in need of some great massage! 😉
Gaya Street – Behind Shop Row
Gaya Street Vegetable Market
Gaya Street situated behind shop row is known as the Sabahan Paradise – a vegetable market which sustains the local needs on vegetable, fruits, and spices throughout the whole week.
This is the place where local people would gather and do their grocery shopping since the product is fresh and naturally grown by local farmers.
*Some interesting yet never seen before vegetable and fruit are also available in this market, you might need to ask the store owner for the proper usage regarding it.
Bornean Wild Vegetables
Wild vegetables and roots could be real delicacies provided if you know the correct way to cook and preparing it while Sabah indigenous are categorized as one of them.
Akar Wali – has a rattan-like brownish appearance, its stem can be used to boil with water and serve as a drink which is effective on controlling diabetes.
Mountain Snack Corner
A local snack stall which sells pre-cook food grown in high mountain areas especially around Mt.Kinabalu (Kundasang & Ranau Area).
Tapai Nasi Manis & Tapai Ubi is a fermented tapioca that has a soft texture like a cake while taste sweet and mildly sour, locals would savor it right away or use it for making other pastries.
*If you are curious enough, feel free to buy a packet of salted peanut or sweet corn, the kernel is bigger and much sweeter than the usual ones.
Natural Raw Honey
Natural Raw Honey also one of the healthy product which you can expect in Gaya Street Market, they will demonstrate in front of the audience how to extract honey from the beehive if you lucky enough.
Love the larvae part? They also sell the beehive that attached with larvae at quite a reasonable price if you are interested as well! 😉
Borneo Premium Rice
One of the most iconic food that you must try while traveling in Sabah is none other than the Borneo Bario Rice which has different types of grains and colors.
This famed rice is as precious as gold for local farmers that they would rather sell for extra income instead of serving it on their own plate, the grain is in perfect size which known to be as delicious as the Japanese Pearl Rice.
Fruit Plant Plantation
Other than vegetables, fruits, and spices, the “fruit tree stall” is also a popular attraction among the locals (general hobbies for elders), you can expect from a rare fruit tree species at a much higher price.
From coconut, mangosteen, mango, avocado, mandarin orange, rambutan, langsat and many more, generally, they have all sorts of tropical fruit trees as long as you able to name it.
*This spot is also a gathering place for the local farmer during the weekend, you can seek some advice from the expert regarding planting/harvesting crops and plants.
Cute & Awkward Moment
The Oldman & Dog Superstar
This is undoubtedly the weirdest yet funny scene that we had ever encountered in our whole life, an old man with his beloved dog, he called his dog “Shaggy” by the way.
Notice the poses that the old men gave us? He was actually quite confident in front of the camera, just too bad that he isn’t wearing any suit and sunglasses, while on the other hand, Shaggy was actually acted as a western cowboy + delivery dog with a notably Nokia 3310 on the left and a fake burger toy on the right side! 😉
Gaya Street (Sunday Market) Information
Address: Jalan Gaya, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Contact: +6088 212 121
Open Hour: 06.00 am – 12.00 pm (Sunday Only)