Kota Kinabalu is the highest peak in Borneo, an island in south-east Asia, shared by 3 countries: Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. Mount Kinabalu is situated in Sabah, on the Malaysian side of the Island, and is the highest mountain in Malaysia. Climbing Mount Kinabalu is one of the biggest adventures you can embark on while visiting Malaysia!
Mount Kinabalu is situated within the Kinabalu National Park, a World Heritage Site according to UNESCO. This area is among the most important biological sites in the world thanks to its rich and diverse flora and fauna, and is home to famous species such as the gigantic Rafflesia and orangutans. Climbing Mount Kinabalu is a unique experience, but it doesn't have to end at Low’s Peak. Once you reach the top, you can choose to do the Via Ferrata experience, in which you will be climbing on a vertical wall with the aid of a steel cable secured to the rock. Are you brave enough to Walk the Torq? Check all our trekking options for Kota Kinabalu here.
What are my options for climbing Mount Kinabalu?
When looking for a climb on Mount Kinabalu, you can opt to go with the classic, 2-day climb to the summit and then go back down or you can choose to combine your trek with some other activity. Mount Kinabalu and Borneo have a wide range of options to spice up your Kota Kinabalu trek. Here you will find all our offers for Mount Kinabalu.
There are several combinations when it comes to climbing Mount Kinabalu. If you like going up the mountain and then taking a well-deserved rest, then a good option for you would be to combine your Kota Kinabalu trek with a relaxing bath at the Poring Hotsprings.
For those adventurous trekkers, the climb to the top can be combined with a white-river rafting expedition or, if you prefer hights and adrenaline, you can add one of the breathtaking Via Ferrata trails to your climb. Here you can find all the offers we have for these combinations.
Via Ferrata on Mount Kinabalu, what is it?
Mount Kinabalu has the world’s highest Via Ferrata or ‘iron road’ in Italian. This road starts at 3,200 meters and ends at 3,776 meters above sea level. The Via Ferrata is a mountain pathway that consists of a series of rails, cables, and bridges that lead you from the starting point to the end, walking next to the rock’s face.
The Via Ferrata in Kota Kinabalu has 2 routes: Walk the Torq and Low’s Peak Circuit, the latter being more physically demanding.However, no climbing experience is required for any of the two. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy this unique experience, the views from the Via Ferrata are breathtaking!
Here you will find all our offers including the Via Ferrata trails. Are you brave enough?
What does a typical trek to the summit of Mount Kinabalu look like?
When it comes to climbing Mount Kota Kinabalu there are several options. The classic trek to the top takes 2 days. Here is the2-day climbing itinerary offered by Mount Kinabalu Tours, one of our trusted local partners in Borneo:
Day 1: Kota Kinabalu - Kinabalu Park - Timpohon Gate - Laban Rata
We will pick you up from your hotel lobby at 06:30-06:45 am and will drive you to Kinabalu Park. Upon arrival, you will register with the Park office and we will then continue to the Power Station by coach (approx. 15 minutes), where we will start the climb. We will start our climb to Laban Rata with a packed lunch. The climb will take approximately 4 hours. We will finally check-in at the Mountain Guesthouse. You will have the rest of the evening to rest and explore the surroundings.
Meals: Packed Lunch / Dinner
Day 2: Lows Peak - Descent Mt Kinabalu - Kota Kinabalu
We will wake up as early as 02:00 am and we will start our ascent to the summit with the help of our torchlight. The climb will take about 3 hours. We will use the RANAU TRAIL. Once on the top, we will witness the beautiful sunrise from the summit. Afterward, we will descend to Laban Rata Guesthouse to have breakfast, and we will then go back to the Power Station. Finally, we will take you to the Park's Head Quarters and we will have lunch at a local restaurant. After you collect your certificate, we will drive you back to your hotel at Kota Kinabalu.
Meals: Supper / Breakfast / Lunch
What is the best season to go hiking on Mount Kinabalu?
Luckily for those planning on trekking in Malasia, you can pretty much visit Sabah at any time of year. Bear in mind that June to September can be hot. For those interested in climbing Mount Kinabalu, however, we recommend doing it during the dry season, in March and April, when you have higher chances of a clearer view. Anyhow, rain can occur at any time of the year. The least recommended months are November and December because of the monsoon season.
Although the summit can be attempted at any time of the year, if the weather does not permit, Sabah Parks Authority will close the gate to the summit for safety reasons. Choose the time of the year that suits you best and find the perfect trek for you here!
How fit do I need to be to climb Kota Kinabalu?
Is the trek to the top of Mount Kinabalu difficult? Am I fit enough to make it to the top? Well, the truth is that it depends on the trekker, always. The climb to the summit is not a hard climb, but it is by no means a walk in the park. Let's not forget that Mount Kinabalu is 4095 meters high, so altitude is a factor that must be taken into account.
Take it easy from the first steps, save your energy, don't rush, and most importantly: listen to your body. With all that being said, if you are relatively fit, you do sport every week and keep in shape, you should be able to reach the top without any problems.
What is the accommodation like while climbing Mount Kota Kinabalu?
The accommodation during your climb will depend on whether you are adding the Via Ferrata to your climb or not. Those trekkers going for the regular climb will spend the night at Laban Rata resthouse, while those brave enough to do the Via Ferrata will relax at Pendant Hut.
Laban Rata resthouse
Those spending the night at Laban Rata resthouse will sleep in a dormitory bed. Located at 3,272 meters above sea level, the Laban Rata resthouse offers climbers warm lodgings and hot meals before and after climbing to the peak of Mount Kinabalu.
If you want to combine your Mount Kinabalu summit trek with a Via Ferrata adventure, then you will spend one night at Pendant Hut, in a shared dormitory. This cozy and eco-friendly hut houses guests in a dormitory-style setting. Form this hut you have easy access to Mountain Torq’s activities.
How does the permit system for Kota Kinabalu work?
As the number of tourists wanting to climb Mount Kinabalu have increased over the recent years, to obtain the climbing permit is one of the more important things. You will not be able to climb the mountain if you do not have a climbing permit. 185 climb permits are the maximum daily limit issued per day by Sabah Parks for climbing Mount Kinabalu. Moreover, Sabah Parks issued a mandatory requirement that a fixed number of permits be reserved for the people of the State and Country: 10 permits for Sabahans only, 25 permits for Malaysians only, and 150 permits for Malaysian and/or International trekkers.
The price of the permits also changes depending on the nationality of the trekkers. The permit for the locals costs MYR 50,- (EUR 11,-/USD 12,-) for adults and MYR 30,- (EUR 7,-/USD 8,-) for children under 16 years old. The permit for international trekkers costs MYR 200,- (EUR 43,-/USD 48,-) for adults and MYR 80,- (EUR 18,-/USD 19,-) for trekkers under 16.
What should I pack for my Kota Kinabalu climb?
No matter where you are going, if you are going trekking, you need to be prepared. Our local partner,Mount Kinabalu Tours, prepared a recommended packing list for you to take into account when packing for your adventure:
- Suitable walking shoes and Sandals
- Warm clothing Windbreaker
- Change of clothes
- Drinking water, high energy food (chocolates, raisins, nuts, glucose)
- First aid kit
- Basic Toiletries
- Camera for unforgettable moments
Enjoying the peace and quiet of nature is one of the pleasures of trekking in the mountains. However, sometimes we need an extra push to keep going. When you feel like giving up, having the right playlist in your bag can help you to get the motivation necessary to reach the top. Here are ourtop picks for your Kota Kinabalu trek playlist. Don't forget to take your headphones and some extra batteries in your backpack!
Should I tip the guide after the hike?
Tipping is not common practice in Malaysia and most people won’t expect it. However, it would be much appreciated by your guides. There is no fixed sum that you should follow, but for good service, tipping around MYR 25-30 per day for your guide would be about right. You could give a bit more if you are a larger group, they will appreciate it.
How much does climbing Kota Kinabalu cost?
The treks for Mount Kinabalu range from EUR 300,- / USD 332,- to EUR 850,- / USD 942,- per person. As you can see, there are options for every taste. The prices vary depending on the number of days and on the activities that the trek includes. The classic 2-day hike includes transfers, accommodation, the meals during the trek, the permits, and the guide. The hikes might also include one of the Via Ferrata trails, a white-river rafting adventure or a relaxing bath at Poring Hotsprings. Here you will find all the options we offer on Kota Kinabalu, all of them with local partners.
Where to book your trekking on Mount Kinabalu?
The great thing about the internet is that you can find anything anywhere. The same goes for hiking and trekking providers. However, since there is so much on offer, it can be overwhelming to find a trekking operator of your liking. That is why Bookatrekking.com does the selection for you.
We only join hands with the best hiking and trekking providers we can trust. You can rest assured that the trekking operators on Bookatrekking.com are reliable.Find your perfect hike on Mount Kinabalu here!
Also read about:
- Climbing Mount Rinjani
- Trekking in Nepal
- Best Walking Holidays in Europe
- Tour du Mont Blanc
- Trekking in Sapa