Mount Kinabalu, Kota Kinabalu: How To Reach, Best Time & Tips
Day tours.jpg
Day Tours
1595830413 tag sghtseeing.png
Sightseeing Tours

Mount Kinabalu Tours & Activities

About Mount Kinabalu

The Southeast Asian country, Malaysia, is home to the 4,000-metre high peak of Mount Kinabalu. Mount Kinabalu has derived its name from the Kadazan word, ‘Aki Nabalu’, meaning ‘the revered place of the dead’. It is the tallest mountain in Malaysia and infact one of the highest mountains in Southeast Asia. 

Mount Kinabalu also ranks as the 20th highest mountain all around the globe, by topographic prominence and is one of the highest peaks in the world that can be easily trekked by most of the people. Mount Kinabalu, along with other upland areas of the Crocker Range is well-known worldwide for its tremendous botanical and numerous biological species biodiversity with plants of Himalayan, Australasian, and Indo-Malayan origin.

Nature lovers will be overwhelmed to be able to witness the many variations of flora and fauna that are to be found on the mountain at different altitudes. 
Mount Kinabalu can be placed in between the Himalayas and New Guinea in terms of descending elevation.

The majestic Mount Kinabalu exerts a magical quality that is both ineffable and unbelievable. Low's Peak is the highest point and can be climbed without much struggle. From having a stunningly dense tropical forest to the tallest peak in the country with the addition of its wildlife diversity, Mount Kinabalu has a lot to offer.

How to Reach Mount Kinabalu

By Road

If you are planning to drive all alone around the city and to Kinabalu National Park, there are a wide range of cars to rent from MVP to vans and others. It will cost you around INR 1951 for a basic sedan. Taxis are also available if you want to travel faster. The standard price for the taxis to take you to the KK city centre is INR 532.

By Bus
There is a special airport shuttle bus service that has buses leaving the KK international airport approximately every hour. The price of the bus tickets are INR 89 for adults and INR 53 for children. The journey can take anywhere from 20 minutes to around 30 minutes or more depending on the traffic.

You can also take the public bus available which is in the form of an old minibus. The minibus number 17 will drop you off in the city area at Terminal Wawasan and it costs around INR 35, each way. From the terminal, one can take the City Bus to the city centre for just INR 18.   

What Not to Miss at Mount Kinabalu

Apart from the trek, there are plenty of other activities you must not miss at Mount Kinabalu and surrounding. 

1. Kinabalu Park
As mentioned earlier, the Kinabalu park finds its name in the UNESCO world heritage list. It is the home for various species of plants, birds and other wildlife creatures. It covers four different vegetation zones spread over a region of 75000 hectares.

You will get to catch here expensive orchids, Rafflesia - the world's largest flower and even endangered butterflies. Other activities include walking on the Canopy walkway and visiting the eight nature trails.

2. The Poring hot spring 
Poring is a small town located at the base of the mountain, roughly 40 km away. This place is popular among tourists for its sulphuric hot springs. After completion of the trek and trail surfing, the Poring hot spring is a favourite next stop for most tourists.

3. Kundasang War Memorial Garden 
If you are someone who is intrigued by the incidents that have occurred in World War II in Borneo or for that matter anywhere in general, it is a place that you must visit. This memorial garden is for the prisoners of the British and Australian origin who lost their lives in the infamous Sandakan death marches. The war memorial is also for remembering the lock Sabahan who sacrificed their lives to save the captives.

4. Sabah Tea garden 
If you are fond of tea which is in your cup that is lying on the table. Then, you must pay a visit to the Sabah tea garden. It is an absolute treat, the best part is that you would not have to take the sip to feel relaxed.

A tour to the plantation field and the factory will make you feel all the more relaxed. Usually, there are 45 minutes of tours organized by the authorities for the tourists, and they are accompanied by a guide who explains the painstaking process step by step. 

5. The Atkinson clock tower
If you want to have a view of the seaside city from a high altitude, then Atkinson clock tower is your place to visit next in the list. The tower was built in the memory of Francis George, he was the first governor, who died at a young age of 28 from malaria. Moreover, The tower was used as a landmark for ship navigation in the 1950s. 

6. Shopping at the flea market on Sundays 
The flea market on Sundays is an exciting place for shopping with plenty of ethnic and dated items on display. Some of the well known unique collectables include the rattan handbag, colourful batiks, and uniquely embroidered handicraft.

After you are done shopping, you can always head to the seaside food market and restaurants which have some of the exquisite seafood cuisines. The grilled prawns, the poached fish, and the barbecued chicken are some of the things that you indulge in at cheap rates.  

7. Sunset at winter fort of Kota Kinabalu
This place is designed in the most premium form possible. It closely resonates with a resort with shopping facilities. The fort acts as a popular place to hang out for the tourists due to its bars and restaurants alongside the beautiful sunset. The view of the setting sun over the South China sea is a perfect way to unwind your day.

8. Kota Kinabalu City Tour
Apart from the above-mentioned places and the trek, you can also have a city tour in Kota Kinabalu. The panoramic view of the city from Signal Hill is indeed a moment to capture.

You can also visit Puh Toh Tze, which is a Chinese Buddhist Temple. To mention, City Mosque and Filipino market can be also included in your itinerary if you truly want to know about the local culture and lifestyle.

Other Essential Information About Mount Kinabalu

The mountain is located in the state of Sabah, East Malaysia on the island of Borneo. Mount Kinabalu’s speciality lies in its location which is a renowned and famous World Heritage Site - Kinabalu Park.

The Kinabalu National Park opens daily from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM. 

Entry fee
A ticket to visit the Kinabalu National Park is INR 266 (RM 15) for an adult and INR 177 (RM 10) for a child. An addition of INR 2129 (RM 120) is required for those who want to climb Mount Kinabalu.

The rugged mountain stands to keep its head high at a height of 4,095.2 meters (13,435 ft) above sea level.

Best time
The best months to climb Mt. Kinabalu are February, March and April. Basically, the desired time to visit is the dry season.

Average Temperature
The temperature of Mount Kinabalu usually lies between −4°C and 8°C from December to January and 3°C to 12°C from June to September.

Trek Duration
It is an 8.8 km trek to the top where the trail runs along the southern side of the mountain over the Tinompok ridge. Climbers usually need two days to complete the trip, up and down, which also includes an overnight stay at the camps of Panalaban. All climbers must be accompanied by the experienced mountain guides at all times.

Distance from Kota Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu is somewhat, 54.7 km away from Kota Kinabalu.

History of Mount Kinabalu

The naming convention of Mount Kinabalu traces back to its Kadazan natives. This place is considered as the spiritual homeland of Kadazan folks. The root word for Kinabalu is Akinabalu which in itself means revered places for the dead. 

Initially, Mount Kinabalu was known as St. Peters Mount. The first man to ascend the highest of mount Kinabalu was Hugh Low. Thus, the low's peak being the highest point makes sense. It is might come off as a surprise that the Kadazans included a large majority of people having Muslim origins, while the remaining were mostly Christians.

Trek Routes to Mount Kinabalu

There are two trek routes both via Ferrata- the Low’s peak and Walk The Torq circuit. 

1. Walk The Torq
It is the most preferred with less steep rocks and cables and rails, as it helps novice trekkers to cross the somewhat tedious section of the trail. If we look at the numbers, the entire journey is about 1.5 km.  

2. Low’s peak circuit
Although, we have been reinstating the fact that an individual does not need to be an expert mountaineer this route takes a lot out of you because of its large boulders and loose rocks. It is less preferred and the toughest route.

Places to Stay near Mount Kinabalu

There are several places near the summit of Mt Kinabalu where you can stay overnight after completing the first-day trek. Such as:

1. Ayana Holiday Resort
If you are looking for a room that can give you the view of the mountains in the early morning, then Ayana must be your pick. It is around half a kilometre away from Kota Kinabalu. There are two types of rooms to choose from, standard and medium-sized.

2. Lupa Masa Camp
Generally, the camps are regarded as the makeshift place to stay, but the Lupa Masa camo is in itself- “a place to visit”. Lying on the fringes of Kinabalu Park gives the closest experience to the rainforest. No wonder the term Lupa Masa means ‘forget time’ as you reach here, you get lost and the scheduling stuff takes the backseat.  

Places to Eat near Mount Kinabalu

There are a few restaurants serving delicious food located near the mountain. The popular ones are:

Liwagu Restaurant: The Liwagu has provisions for all kinds of meals and is also vegetarian friendly.

- Nabalu Kundasang: Available cuisines include Asian and Malaysian alongside Chinese.

- Sabah Tea House: This one is a cafe and it also provides breakfasts in addition to lunch and dinner. It is vegetarian friendly.

89 Station Restaurant: Although this place specialises in Chinese dishes it provides Asian and Malaysian alternatives as well. It serves lunch, dinner and brunch.


Kota Kinabalu is pretty well connected to the city. The Kota Kinabalu City Centre can be reached from the Kota Kinabalu international airport by airport bus, taxi, minibus, car rentals or e-hailing services. 

From there you can go to the Kinabalu National park using shared taxi, minivan, coaches or transport services availed by tour operators.

Medical Facilities on Mount Kinabalu

The available medical facilities comprise accident insurance, the Sabah Medical Centre and a few other hospitals. The accident insurance of every climber has medical coverage of RM 5,000. 

In cases of emergency, the Sabah air centre and medical centre are aptly designed to tackle the situation. You can also visit the Damai Specialist Centre, Rafflesia Medical Centre or the Queen Elizabeth hospital.

Network Connectivity on Mount Kinabalu

The network connectivity might lose strength on the mountain due to unfavorable weather conditions. However, the overall connection is quite good in the Kota Kinabalu area.

For starters, there won't be any hindrance in your internet usage as most of the resorts and homestays have wi-fi or you can avail the ethernet connections. In addition to that there is also provision for long-distance calling. 

Things to Carry for a trek to Mount Kinabalu

There are various essential things that you need to carry as you head to Mount Kinabalu. Some of them are mentioned below: 

1. Waterproof windbreaker.

2. A water-bottle with an adequate amount of water as you begin the trek.
3. Energy bars for keeping balancing your carbohydrate levels.

4. Hiking and trekking poles.

5. Basic medications like painkillers and a small first aid kit.  

6. Head torch for climbing in the dark a must.

7. Hiking shoes that are in good condition.

8. Gloves and beanies.

9. Carry a waterproof camera bag.

10. Fleece jacket is also a must. 

Traveller tips to visit Mount Kinabalu

There are various key elements that you need to keep in mind if you are travelling to Mount Kinabalu. The key tips are divided into two categories- before a climb, and during the climb.

1. Before climb

- First and foremost, keep your packings under 8 kg for a smooth trek. Avoid carrying valuables.

- Look for a professional guide, and read through the trekking rule set by the authority. Make sure you do not violate any. 

- Try to wear comfortable gear for the trek. Wear boots that can take the challenge of absorbing shocks.  

2. During climb

- Avoid running, just walk at a steady pace.

Also, you must feel comfortable to walk in the initial hour of the journey, if not so turn back to the base. 

It is ideal to have lunch when you are two hours into your trek.

Rest for at least 10 mins after every 5km.

Most importantly respect the mountains and its natural biodiversity.
Newly Added Kota Kinabalu Experience

Trending in Kota Kinabalu

Recommendations for Kota Kinabalu

Explore All (52)

Kota Kinabalu Top Attractions

Places To Visit In Kota Kinabalu

Popular Related Destinations

People Also Ask About Mount Kinabalu

  1. How long does it take to get to the top of Mount Kinabalu?

    It can take about two days and one night to reach the top of Mount Kinabalu. On the first day, climbers start their trek in the morning to Panalaban where they camp overnight. This part of the journey takes around 5 to 7 hours. The remaining ascent begins at two in the morning of day two and is completed around 5:30 am.
  2. How much does it cost to climb Mount Kinabalu?

    The cost depends on a range of factors. For a non-Malaysian adult, the average expense is INR 4435. This value comprises of INR 1774 or climbing permit cost, INR 1242 to 1774 or guide fee which varies according to route or group size, INR 124 or insurance cost, INR 177 to 532 or Timpohon Gate transfer cost, INR 887 to 1064 or mid-trip overnight accommodation and INR 266 for visiting Kinabalu National Park.
  3. Is climbing Mount Kinabalu hard?

    No, according to popular opinion Mount Kinabalu is not a dangerous or very challenging climb. The terrain is trek-friendly and the elevation is also not that steep. There has been no unsuccessful attempt to the summit and back till date. It is said that if you can climb a 10 to 12 storeyed building up and down by the stairs a few times in a day easily, Mount Kinabalu would not be a hard climb either.
  4. Is Mount Kinabalu the highest mountain in southeast Asia?

    No, it is not. Mount Kinabalu of Kinabalu National Park is one of the highest peaks in Southeast Asia with an elevation of about 13,435 feet or 4,095 meters but it is not the highest in the region. That distinction is held by Hkakabo Razi of Myanmar which is around 19,296 feet or 5,881 m high.
  5. When should I visit Mount Kinabalu?

    The best time to visit Mount Kinabalu is between the months of March and September. This is because the weather is quite dry at this time and chances of rain are also low making this interval the best time to climb the summit. October to January is also a good alternative that climbers can opt for.
  6. How do you get to Mount Kinabalu?

    First, you have to reach Sabah by flight. If direct air services are not available you will have to take another flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) in Sabah.

    Then from KKIA, you will have to reach Kota Kinabalu City Centre (by taxi, airport bus, minibus or by renting a car) and from there to Kinabalu National Park (by shared taxi, minivan, coaches or a rented car).
  7. Is it safe in Kota Kinabalu?

    Yes, Kota Kinabalu is a safe place to visit. The people are in general, friendly and peace-loving. Pickpocketing, bag snatching and street drunkards are also rare. The police are present almost all the time on the streets and they can be easily identified by their blue uniforms. They are usually friendly and willing to help the tourists.
  8. How to get from Singapore to Mount Kinabalu?

    Take a flight from Singapore’s Changi or Senai international airport to Malaysia’s Kota Kinabalu or Kuala Lumpur international airport. The rest of the journey requires a trip from the airport to Kota Kinabalu City Centre (by airport bus, taxi or minibus) to Kinabalu National Park (by shared taxi available from Jalan Padang, minivan from the Long Distance Bus Station or coaches from Inanam’s North Bus Terminal) which is the home of the summit.
  9. How cold is the top of Mount Kinabalu?

    The peak (4,095 m) of Mount Kinabalu can go down to freezing temperatures of around 0 to 3-degree celsius. On the other hand, the foot of the mountain and the Panalaban region has a temperature score of 15 to 26 and 6 to 16-degree celsius, respectively. Weather conditions can change any time of the year owing to heavy tropical showers.
  10. Is Mount Kinabalu a volcano?

    No, Mount Kinabalu is not and never was a volcano. So there is nothing to worry about volcanic calamities. It was formed of intrusive igneous rocks namely granodiorite over a long period of time and is a pretty young mountain.
  11. Do you need to train to climb Mount Kinabalu?

    Not really. However, a reasonable amount of fitness and staying injury-free is recommended before the climb. If you exercise regularly or routinely you can be pretty confident about the climb as the fitter and healthier you are the better. Also, being able to climb stairs tirelessly is highly advised.
  12. Does it snow in Mount Kinabalu?

    No, it doesn't snow on Mount Kinabalu. There have been a few rare sightings of snow at the top but the mountain is more or less always rocky with scant vegetation. However, regular showers and cold winds can make the temperature drop to 3 degrees or even less but it rarely crosses zero.
  13. What does Kinabalu mean?

    The word Kinabalu originates from the name ‘Aki Nabalu’ which means ‘revered place of the dead’. ‘Aki’ stands for ‘ancestors’ whereas ‘Nabalu’ is what they have named the mountain in the Dusun language. Some sources also say that the name is formed of ‘Ki’ meaning ‘exist’ and Nabalu meaning ‘spirit of the dead’.
  14. Why is Mount Kinabalu important?

    Mount Kinabalu is considered to be one of the world’s most important biological sites. It is famous for its amazing display of biodiversity with flora of Australasian, Himalayan and Indo-Malayan origin. It is said to shelter around 5,000 to 6,000 different plant species according to a recent survey.
  15. How high is Mt Kinabalu?

    Mount Kinabalu has an elevation of 13,435 feet or 4,095 meters above sea level. It is the highest peak in Malaysia & Borneo Island and also the 20th in the world. It is still one of the most easily trekkable high summits in the world.
  16. Who climbed Mount Kinabalu first?

    Mount Kinabalu’s summit plateau was conquered for the first time by Hugh Low, a British colonial administrator, in March 1851 while being accompanied by Lemaing of Kampung Kiau, a local Dusun guide. The mountain peak was first reached by zoologist John Whitehead in the year 1888.

Popular Nearby Places Around Kota Kinabalu