This trip, I’d like to invite you guys to hike to Mt.Kinabalu which is the highest peak in Malaysia. It is located at Kota Kinabalu of Sabah state. Our destination is the summit called Low’s Peak with the height of 4,095 m above sea level (Doi Inthanon in Thailand is only 2,599 m).
Although the highest peak of ASEAN is Mt.Hkakabo Razi (Myanmar) with the height of 5,881 m and the second to the fourth highest being located in Indonesia, those peaks are not allowed for trekking…..Therefore, we can say that Mt.Kinabalu is the highest peak in ASEAN which welcomes travelers like us to conquer.
But before we could happily conquer Mt.Kinabalu, we must prepare ourselves quite a bit and here is a few tips to help you get started.
Preparation before the trip
1.) We must book the hiking day with the national park because Mt.Kinabalu only allows 135 tourists per day to trek. Hence, we must reserve our spot 3-4 months in advance with the national park by email: [email protected] or for more information, please click http://www.mountkinabalu.com/
2.) Book the flight, there’s no direct flight from Thailand to Kota Kinabalu. We must fly from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur first and then transfer to Kota Kinabalu … We book our flight with Traveloka which at that time offered some promotion with K-Bank credit card of which we got discount for 400 THB/ticket. In summary, our round trip ticket including loaded luggage is 6,000 THB/person (4 flights/person)
3.) Travel time is 4 days 3 nights. We choose to travel on the weekends so that we won’t have to take many days off. Here is our itinerary:
- 2 Feb 18 : Fly from BKK - KL - Kota Kinabalu and spend a night at the foothill
- 3 Feb 18 : Hike from Timpohon Gate - Laban Rata
- 4 Feb 18 : Hike to the Summit and trek down to stay at downtown Kota Kinabalu
- 5 Feb 18 :Fly back from Kota Kinabalu - KL - BKK
- We should sleep near the national park on the first day because we need to hike early morning the following day.
- For the third day or the day trekking down, we should not fly back that day as there’s a high chance we could miss the flight because we might get back down late.
What to bring in our backpack for hiking?
4.) We should make our backpack the lightest possible as it gets really heavy the more we walk.
- Warm jacket, scarf as the temperature on the summit is between -5 to 5 Celsius degrees
- A raincoat
- A set of dry clothes for wearing to bed
- A rain-covered backpack
- A trekking pole
- Proper trekking shoes
- Candies, chocolate, or protein bar which gives us energy while walking down
- Gloves as we need to climb along ropes at certain point and we could use it for the cold up there too
- A headlight because we need to walk up to the summit at 2 AM on the second morning
- Bottled of drinking water
- Other things like clothes, we could deposit at the accommodation we stayed at the foothill, the charge is not expensive which costs about 8-10 MYR.
- Only take necessary things and the backpack should be somewhat waterproof. -
Mt.Kinabalu Trekking Route
5.) It is about 18 km trekking up to Mt.Kinabalu.
- The first day from Timpohon Gate to Laban Rata is 6 km.
- The second day from Laban Rata to Low’s Peak summit is 3 km and then from Low’s Peak down to Timpohon Gate for another 9 km.
- In total, we need to walk 18 km (6 km + 12 km).
-On the first day journey, you will see this lush abundant forest. -
Accommodation & Food
6.) When reserving a trekking package up to Mt.Kinabalu with the national park, room and food will be included….For example, we bought a 3D2N dormitory package, it is 1,286 MYR/person (which is about 10,400 THB). This price includes the first night stay in the national park and the second night stay on the Laban Rata, and food.
- Day 1 – Dinner buffet at the national park (1)
- Day 2 – Breakfast buffet at the national park (2) + Lunch box while walking up (3) + Dinner buffet on Laban Rata (4)
- Day 3 – Super early breakfast at 2 AM before trekking (5) + Breakfast at Laban Rata (6) + Lunch after walking down at the national park (7)
- To conclude, dinner is quite good as meat is provided but most of breakfast is fried noodle, fried rice, bread, or soup. If you think that it wouldn’t fill you up as we need to have quite a strength to walk up, you could bring some dried food from Thailand.
- We 4 get to stay in the same room for dormitory room type (2 bunk beds). The restroom is shared but separating male and female. Blanket, towel, soap, and shampoo are also provided.
- Room at Laran Rata will give out tea and coffee only on the second morning before walking down, other than that, you have to buy it. Coke is 11 MYR/ can, a 0.5 L bottled water is 7 MYR, and a 1.5 L bottles water costs 14 MYR.
- There’s a cheap way to drink water as they sell the boiled water for 5 MYR a jar (it used to be free but now we have to buy it, haha).
- Since the room at Laran Rata is 3,272 m height and the Low’s Peak is 4,095 m, to prevent AMS symptoms, please prepare the Diamox.
- Accommodation at the national park the first night before trekking up -
- Accommodation on the peak the second night which soap, shampoo, and towel are provided -
7.) Here is other expenses that will be paid in MYR:
- National park entrance fee is 15 MYR/person.
- Climbing permit fee (200 MYR) and insurance fee (7 MYR), so the total is 207 MYR/person.
- Local guide fee (compulsory) is 230 MYR each (1 local guide can take care up to 5 people).
- Transportation fee from the national park to Timphohon Gate (round trip), if more than 5 people, it is 9 MYR/person but if it is between 1-4 people, it would cost 36 MYR in total.
- We take a hired taxi from the airport to the national park which cost 190 MYR (divided by 4 later)… On the way back from the national park to the airport, we together with other Thai tourists hire a bus which cost each of us 30 MYR.
- Hotel at downtown Kota Kinabalu costs us about 40 MYR each (2 people in a room).
- If you cannot carry things up to the peak, please prepare to hire local people to help you carry up. It is 130 MYR/10 kg (minimum charge is 10 kg and will add up if more weights).
- If you want a certificate from the national park, it is 11 MYR/person.
- In total, we spend about 20,000 THB/person (we carry things up ourselves and no certificate as we didn’t bring enough MYR so we can’t just spend as we wanted T___T)
Now, that we have the idea of how to prepare for Mt.Kinabalu. If you guys are ready, let’s climb to the peak of Mt.Kinabalu at the height of 4,095 m together!!! : )
- A glimpse of Kinabalu from the national park, the first morning before starting to trek -
- We get this name tag at the registration and they would check this name tag at the checkpoints, so please do not lose it. -
- A van from the national park will drop us at Timpohon Gate and after that, it’s a show time! -
- Here is a straight 6 km trekking up which gets us quite exhausted. -
- Signs are seen along the way so don’t be worry of getting lost. -
- Trekking pole is really helpful. -
- At the 5 km, we start to be above the clouds and looking back, we would see this magnificent view. -
- Once reaching the Laban Rata, we have to quickly eat dinner and go to bed as we need to climb the summit the next early morning. -
- Waking up at 2 AM and getting ready to start climbing at 2.30 AM -
- After 3 hours of hiking, the sun starts to rise and this sky is just so magically beautiful. -
- The South Peak Summit, although it is not the highest peak, it is so much more outstanding than other peaks. -
- Malaysia used to print the South Peak view on the MYR banknote too. -
- Many people including me wanted to come to Kinabalu because we wanted to see the South Peak summit with our own eyes. -
- Start walking again in order to conquer the Low’s Peak at the height of
- The sun starts to rise but is all blocked by King Edward Peak. -
- Let’s take a big break at St John's Peak. -
- Low’s Peak looks near but it seems like the more we walk, the further it is
- Yay, finally we are here at Low’s Peak. Looking back, people are as small as ants. -
- And then, we start to slowly walking down. The way down is harder than the way up T__T -
- It is so tiring walking up and so is the way down but when seeing this view, it’s so super worthy. -
- It is truly amazingly beautiful. It is so beautiful that I wanted to stop and enjoy this moment the longest possible. -
- Now we start to hurry down in order to check out at Laban Rata at 10.30 AM. -
- Looking back to see the Low’s Peak is so high up, oh wow, how did we hike up? -
- Again, we are at the South Peak. And now the sky is open so she shows us different beauty. -
- After that, we just keep on walking down that our legs start to shake. -
- Now, we are passing the checkpoint before going up to the summit…..On the way up it’s so dark that we didn’t see anything. -
- After the checkpoint, we just keep walking down. -
- Giant stone here used to fall and hit people, so it’s a dangerous zone that we must quickly pass. -
- Here is another highlight of this trip…..climbing the rope down…now I understand why we must hike up in the dark, it is because we won’t get too scared, haha. -
- It’s a bit thrilling but the stones are not slippery so if we are careful, it’s quite alright. -
- After the rope, it’s a long stairs down. -
- Now we are walking down towards another viewpoint. Well, we are really so high up, how did we make it? -
- What an amazing view!!! Now we are so up and above the sea of clouds. -
- Let’s take another break here with this spectacular viewpoint terrace. -
- After that, we walk straight down to check out at Laban Rata. -
- We enjoy our breakfast at the terrace of Laban Rata, the view is so beautiful… After that, we keep walking down straight until we reach Timpohon Gate. -
Let me make a confession, after checking out at Laban Rata to walk 6 km down to Timpohon Gate, my legs are all shaking. My legs didn’t seem to work very well since the first km so I really have no energy taking more photos.
We start walking down at 11.00 AM and reach Timpohon Gate at 3 PM ish, all are very exhausted and no one can really walk straight, haha. Then, we take the truck back to the national park and hire a car to the hotel in downtown Kota Kinabalu before flying back to Thailand the next day.
Well, let’s say the first day is already hard but the second day is worse as we almost couldn’t walk straight. We also need to wake up at 2 AM in order to walk 3-4 hours to enjoy the sunrise, then walk back down 9 km….and the trip is quite expensive (actually it’s not just quite, I mean, it’s really expensive, haha). This 4 days 3 nights trip costs each of us about 20,000 THB and then we also torture ourselves with this hike.
But I highly recommend this trip because the view at Mt.Kinabalu is just speechlessly beautiful……If you are an adventurer seeker and lover, please do not hesitate to make this trip happen. Come first and you get to feel it first. The fare seems to increase every year too so please hurry. And if you do make it here, please do not forget to share your journey with me too of how impressive you are with it…..So, let’s say see you guys again in my next trip : )
If you have any questions, feel free to chat with me here : )