Mount Kinabalu – Attaining New Heights With This Mountain

Hiking Mount Kinabalu

The majestic Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in all of Malaysia. It lies within the Kinabalu National Park on Borneo Island. At an altitude of 4,101 m, the mountain is a hot-spot for rock climbing Malaysia, with tourists planning for months to climb to the summit for one of the best experiences on the island. 

The mountain is sacred to the locals and is also ecologically rich with 5,000 different species of flora and fauna. The climb up to the summit takes two days on average, which is plenty of time to enjoy the mountain fully. While anyone can do it, it also attracts bouldering Malaysia enthusiasts who come there to take the ropeway to the top. 

How to get here

Since Mount Kinabalu is located in the state of Sabah, Malaysia on Borneo Island, you need to first get to the city of Kota Kinabalu (KK) by a flight. To get to the Kinabalu National Park, you have to first go to the KK city centre to find your preferred means of transportation. Airport Shuttles terminate at Padang Merdeka at the center of KK, and from here, you can find numerous transport options to the national park. 

If you prefer to take the bus route, get to the Kota Kinabalu North Bus Terminal located in Inanam. From here, you can pick any of the coaches that go to Tawau, Sandakan, Ranau, and Semporna with stops at the Kinabalu National Park. You can book a bus ticket online and be on your way.

Alternatively, you can rent your car and drive the 90km distance from the city. Be warned, however, that the drive can be challenging. Tour operators are also a good option to choose from, but you may have to pick their whole package.

Recommended reading: All you need to know about Kota Kinabalu


The main activity at Mount Kinabalu is hiking different trails to the summit and camping halfway to the top. Permits are needed to climb the mountain, and it’s compulsory to have a guide with you. Since only 150 people are allowed on a given day, there will be 75 on their way to the top and 75 on their way back. Therefore, you need to book your slots for at least six months in advance. Since it is a great spot for rock climbing in Malaysia, you can expect to see a lot of that crowd there. Based on your capacity, you can choose different paths to the top. 

Climbing the mountain

The hike to the top is 8.72km one way and takes two days to finish. The gain in altitude is 2300m, and you might need time to acclimatize to the thin air and cold temperatures. The hike begins at Timpohon Gate and pauses at Laban Rata for an overnight stay. It resumes at 2 am to the peak to catch the sunrise, and the long descent begins.

The Via Ferrata

The Via Ferrata is the most adventurous way to the top with ropes, ladders, anchors, and walkways that run along the rockface. Most popular with bouldering Malaysia enthusiasts, this is a bit challenging but is also equally rewarding.

If you don’t want to climb to the summit, you can hike around the lower ridges and enjoy the scenery and take pictures.

Travel tips

  • The AH 150 highway that connects to Ranau goes through the park and is the main bus route for all the coaches and minivans that travel to the park with stops both outside and inside the park. If you don’t wish to take the coaches, you will have to take the minivans that depart from the Long Distance Bus Station located close to the Night Market city center. 
  • What to take with you: Kundasang has several shopping places and lodges on the way to the park, therefore, all your consumables are set. If you’re going to climb the mountain, take all your backpack, torch, warm clothing, hiking boots, waterproof gloves, and some cash. 
  • Best time to visit: Since the island sits in the middle of the tropical belt, you can expect sudden showers any day. Bad weather and dense fog can call off treks, and that’s something you need to look out for. The best months are March and April. June to September will do intermittently between weather breaks as well. 
  • How fit should you be: Your fitness level should be good enough to scale the mountain as the trek up and down is full of jungle, dirt, and rocks. The altitude will also make a difference as the summit is 11,000ft high. If you have a health condition, you can always stay at the lower levels and explore the walking trails and the gardens.

If you’re planning to conquer the peaks of Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia and travel from your place to the hiking spot, check for the available buses on redBus to the point. Book your online bus ticket on redBus today to secure an easy and convenient journey!