Mount Kinabalu Overview

Located on the west coast of Sabah, Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain peak in Malaysia, standing at a whopping height of 4101 meters. This humongous mountain is abundant in the different species of flora and fauna at various altitudes. It is renowned for its biodiversity of plants that serve as a vast array of natural habitats for animals to thrive. The fantastic views and the thrill urges visitors to go trekking on this mountain. 

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.

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• Travel to the luscious and welcoming Mount Kinabalu with your family and watch the sprawling fields of cold-climate fruits and vegetables.
• Hike to the mountain and discover the gorgeous variety of flora and fauna at different altitudes.
• Watch the sunrise over the Sabah after reaching the summit of the great mountain.
• Witness more than 300 bird species and 600 vibrant butterflies sucking nectar from the flowers or flying around.
• Experience a powerful sense of spiritual connection between the mountain and the people residing on it.
• Refresh and revitalize yourself on the Poring Hot Spring you might encounter on your journey to Mount Kinabalu.
• Camp around the rustic foothills under the sky and the stars if you want to make your family holiday more adventurous.
• Give your eye a retreat and rejuvenate yourself with the flavorful taste of the tea at the Sabah Tea Garden.
• Walk on the Canopy Walkway and pay a visit to the eight natural trails at Kinabalu Park.

How To Reach

By Road: If you are planning to drive all alone around the city and to Kinabalu 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.

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Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Kinabalu Mountain is between March to September. During this time, the weather remains dry, and the temperature is favorable to indulge in climbing activities. There is little to no chance of rainfall during this time, so you can effortlessly conquer the tallest mountain in Malaysia with your squad of climbers.

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Other Essential Information

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.

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Places to Eat near Mount Kinabalu

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

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

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

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

4. 89 Station Restaurant: Although this place specialises in Chinese dishes it provides Asian and Malaysian alternatives as well. It serves lunch, dinner and brunch.

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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.

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Point of Interest for Mount Kinabalu
Kinabalu Park

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.

The Poring hot spring

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.

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Kundasang War Memorial Garden

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.

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Sabah Tea Garden

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.

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The Atkinson Clock Tower

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. 

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Sunset at winter fort of Kota Kinabalu

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.

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Kota Kinabalu City Tour

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.

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Shopping at the flea market on Sundays

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. 

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Tourism Board Alliances

Mount Kinabalu FAQs

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.

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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.

What are all the things we need 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. 

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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.

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.

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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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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’.

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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.

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.

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