Gaya Street Sunday Market

Going to Kota Kinabalu Malaysia Sabah very soon? Gaya Street is the main street of the Market. Gaya street has lot of shops surround there and the most famous part is the Gaya Street Sunday Market. Sunday market is running in Gaya street on every Sunday morning from 6am until 12pm. It is the one of the top tourist attraction must be plan to have a visit. You will be experiencing with the local cultures, foodies, beverages, clothes etc….

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.  

Please note: Gaya Street starts around 7.00 am (only on Sunday) and reach its peak at 9.00 am, be sure to reach there as early as you can. If you are driving, the only thing to avoid traffic congestion is to go as early as possible. The jam always start around 7am, it is because the Sunday market is running on the main street which mean the street is blocking, that’s why the street is traffic after the road being close.


Regarding to the History of the Gaya Street, this is originally named Bond Street, Gaya Street is 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.

On 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.

Main Street

The main Gaya Street consists of over-sized umbrella stalls stacking along the streets, and you would 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 them and learn more about Gaya Street and local cultures

You will be very hungry after exploring the street. There are also great restaurants on both sides of the streets selling local breakfast which definitely worth a try. 

Traditional Malaysian Kuih-Muih

Regarding to the photo taken above, these are local Malaysia Kuih-muih made by the Malay people. Malay people is defined as Malaysia Muslim/Islamic people. But these are mostly Hakka’s people made it, 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, it enables you to pick a more different option and serves as a perfect treat while walking along the busy Sunday street. The kuih-muih is cost RM0.50 each which is very cheap and worth for a try.

Malay Cultures

Photo Taken at the Malay instrumental booth somewhere in the main street

First of all, Malay is defined as the Malaysian Muslim/Islamic people. Their cultures are very interesting and you should understand and get some knowledge about their culture. Regarding to the picture shown above, i was experience the Malay instrumental at the musical booth. It was remind me of the African culture. This drum pretty much similar with the African Drum.

In a gist, Malays are an Austronesian ethnic group and nation native to the Malay Peninsula, eastern Sumatra of Indonesia and coastal Borneo, as well as the smaller islands which lie between these locations — areas that are collectively known as the Malay world. These locations are today part of the nations of Brunei and Malaysia (two of the modern-Malay nation state), Indonesia, Singapore, and southern Thailand.

There is considerable genetic, linguistic, cultural, and social diversity among the many Malay subgroups, mainly due to hundreds of years of immigration and assimilation of various regional ethnicity and tribes within Maritime Southeast Asia. Historically, the Malay population is descended primarily from the earlier Malayic-speaking Austronesians and Austroasiatic tribes who founded several ancient maritime trading states and kingdoms, notably Brunei, Kedah, Langkasuka, Gangga Negara, Chi Tu, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Pahang, Melayu and Srivijaya.

Malaysia has a rich cultural life, much of which revolves around the traditional festivities of its diverse population. The major Muslim holidays are Hari Raya Puasa (“Holiday of Fasting”), or Aidilfitri, to celebrate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and Hari Raya Haji (“Holiday of the Pilgrimage”), or Aidiladha, to celebrate the culmination of the season of pilgrimage to mecca. Buddhists honour the life of the Buddha on Hari Wesak (“Wesak Day”), and Chinese Malaysians celebrate Chinese New Year. Deepavali, a Hindu festival of lights spanning several days, is observed by many Indian Malaysians, while Christmas is the principal holiday of the Christian Community. On most of these holidays, it is customary to host an “open house,” where guests are treated to Malaysian delicacies and hospitality. A holiday that spans all ethnic groups and religions is Hari Kebangsaan (National Day), a celebration of Malaysia’s independence on August 31.

I also want to clarify sport of Malaysia. Sports in Malaysia are a mixture of traditional and Western games. From the mid-19th century, British expatriates introduced soccer, cricket, events, and rugby to the peninsula; they formed a number of clubs and organized competitions. The Malaysia Cup (formerly the H.M.S. Malaya Cup), first contested in 1921, is the country’s premier football competition.

Traditional sports also enjoy local popularity. Top-spinning (main gasing) competitions are seriously contested, with winning tops often spinning for well over an hour. In some areas, top spinning is not merely a random pastime but is associated with the agricultural cycle. Kite flying also is a favourite activity, as are bird-singing contests, which may feature hundreds of birds, all with unique songs. Sepak takraw (“kick ball”) is a uniquely Southeast Asian game (now played in other regions) that is similar to volleyball but is played with a woven rattan ball and without using the hands. The sport is internationally competitive, and Malaysia has fronted winning teams.

These are Malay Gongs.

This is Malay Gongs. It is one of their traditional music instrument. 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. 

Today, the Malays, Malaysia’s largest ethnic group, make up more than 50% of the population. In Malaysia, the term Malay refers to a person who practices Islam and Malay traditions, speaks the Malay language and whose ancestors are Malays. Their conversion to Islam from Hindustan and Theravada Buddhism began in the 1400s, largely influenced by the decision of the royal court of Melaka. The Malays are known for their gentle mannerism and rich arts heritage. Traditional Malay dance in Malaysia can be classified into 3 primarily categories. Court Dance, Folk Dance of the West Malaysia and East Malaysia are widely practiced in Malaysia.

Court Dance started as entertainment for the Royal Households of Malaysia. The style is very graceful and the movements are slow, sustained and controlled. Most of the Court dances begin in seated position then slowly to a kneeling or standing position. Such dances used to be performed for the public in many places. As for Folk Dance, these dances are always associated with joyous occasions for the community. Folk Dance is popular but the origins are unclear. Most of the dances use hand-held props that are easily recognisable. Some of these dances can be traced to animistic beliefs and rituals. Since the 15th century, Malaysia had tremendous influx of traders and missionaries that brought with them their own culture, tradition and beliefs. Folk Dance is quite alive in eastern Malaysia. These dances are simply yet beautiful. The style appears to be without tensions or muscular action and fairly relaxed. The dance movement often depicts nature, life in jungle, movement of birds and others. The major differences of Folk Dances in East and West are the dancers, musicians and musical instruments. Dancer’s costumes are very ornate and often with an elaborate headgear and other accessories in the East. Primarily a 4 stringed, elongated guitar for the Sarawakian Dance and the Kulintantan for the Sabahan Dance. These instruments are mostly handmade and very artistic. They are many Malay Dances; Joget, Silat and Dikir Barat are some examples.

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. 

Apart from Herbal Medicines, 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!

Professional Calligraphy

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. 

If you would like to buy his book marky, it would be charge RM5 each only which is good and billion.

For extra info about the market, 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 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.  

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.  

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. 

For instance, I do recommended to those whoever never visit Kota Kinabalu Malaysia Sabah, you must visit this Gaya Street Sunday Market during your visit one day. It is one of the best market and it is worth to go to explore. Make it like 2 hours explore around as it would be very crowded. For those who have been there, what the best experience you gain 🙂

#Vacation #Summers

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