Kinabalu National Park – our day trip to the highest mountain in Malaysia

Kinabalu National Park – Our day trip to the highest mountain in Malaysia

In the very north of Borneo is one of Sabah’s favorite destinations, the Kinabalu National Park. The green jewel of the park is the impressive Mount Kinabalu. At 4,095 meters, it is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. We decided against the summit and visited the park as a day trip from Kota Kinabalu.

Kinabalu National Park is referred to as the center of Asian plant diversity. Due to the strong increase, this diversity extends over four climatic zones. From the tiny flowers of the smallest orchids in the world to the gigantic red flower of the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia, there are a variety of plants to discover. The protective treetops grow up to 50 meters high and protect half of all bird, mammal and amphibian species in Borneo.

In total, Kinabalu National Park covers 75,370 hectares of land and was listed in 2000 as the first park in Malaysia as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hiking routes through the national park

There are seven ways to get into the national park. The two most famous are the main entrance to Kinabalu Park headquarters and the Poring Hotsprings.

We decided on the first variant. After paying for our ticket at the entrance, we stopped by the information center for a short while and were given a map and important tips for our day out in the park.

There are several paths that lead through the park. Some start and end directly at the entrance.

walking routes description length
T1: Kiau View Trail This path starts directly at the main entrance. With a little luck, you can discover pitcher plants. We did not find any, but we were accompanied by a loyal dog. 2.5 km
T2: Bundu Tuhan View Trail One of the shortest routes in the park. From the lookout you can look up to the Bundu Tuhan village in the distance. 0.5 km
T3: Liwagu River Trail On this path you run parallel to the river and occasionally cross small streams. 5.6 km
T4: Silau Silau Trail A very simple, flat path and the only path from which we could observe several birds. 3.1 km
T5: Bukit Burung Trail “Bukit Burung” means bird mountain. The path leads up the mountain to a hut, but there were no birds in sight. 1.1 km
T6: Mempening Trail “Mempening” is called oak. This tree species grows in abundance around the mountain. 2.5 km
T7: Pandanus Trail This path leads from the first trail to the center. Here we have discovered some interesting flowers. 0.6 km
T8: Bukit Ular Trail To take this route, start at Timpohon Gate if possible. Since it is so far away from the main entrance, it is rarely visited and thus a good place to see rare birds, pitcher plants and many horns. However, we could not get our own picture. 1.0 km

We started our day hike on the Kiau View Trail (T1), after half we bent on the Pandanus Trail (T7) and relaxed for lunch at the Liwagu restaurant. From there we ran the Silau Silau Trail (T4) and snaked us over the Bukit Burung Trail (T5), Bukit Tupai Trail such as Mempening Trail (T6) through the rainforest. Back on the Silau Silau Trail we still hiked the Liwagu River Trail (T3) along until we came to the water at one point. Finally we took the way back to the main entrance.

Overall, we were traveling much faster than expected. The paths were not as long as expected, so we have gone almost all paths with this route.

Opening hours from the Parkoffice: 7:00 to 17:00
Entry: Adult 15 RM, children 10 RM

Climb to Mount Kinabalu

There is no better way to explore the National Park than to climb to the summit. The 8.5-kilometer trip is possible with normal condition in two days. However, to acclimatize the body well, it is recommended to schedule three days.

Since we were not well equipped, our time on Borneo became more and more scarce and the tour was just too expensive for us at the moment, we decided against this highlight. Unfortunately! Nils from was upstairs and brought incredibly beautiful photos. If you not only want to hike into Kinabalu National Park, but also want to climb the highest mountain in Malaysia, you will find all the most important information in his article.

Relax in the Poring Hotsprings

40 kilometers northeast of the park’s main entrance you can take a well deserved bath in Poring after a long hike or even ascent of Kinabalu Mountain. Locals believe that the natural materials have healing powers, especially for the skin. For bathing the 49 to 60 degrees hot water of the sources in outdoor pools, as well as roofed bathtubs led.

But not only to relax is worth a trip to Poring. In this part of the national park you will find a canopy walk as well as large Rafflesia gardens. At the Tourist Information Center of Kota Kinabalu, we asked if the world’s largest flower is in bloom. Unfortunately, we had no luck and thus omitted the visit to Poring.

Directions to Kinabalu National Park

The best way to reach Kinabalu National Park is by bus or minibus heading for Ranau, Kundasang or Sandakan. The minibuses can be found at the bus station south of the clock tower and cost 20 RM per person. There are no fixed departure times. They leave as soon as they are full. We arrived in the morning at half past eight and then had to wait more than an hour to finally get rid of it.

Buses stop at the car park below the main entrance of the National Park. The driver will let you know as soon as you get there and get out.

Once you’re through the entrance, it’s best to check the transport desk as you come back. We were told by minibus that we can wait again at the main road. However, none of the buses stopped because they were all fully occupied. Since the transport switch was already closed, we tried it with Hitchhiken and were finally taken hours later by a family from Brunei.

Here you can stay overnight

If, like us, you just want to climb into Kinabalu Park and not the mountain, it’s enough to drive from Kota Kinabalu to the National Park for one day.

We used to live in the City Park Lodge. The room was a good size with a desk and a private bath. Since the accommodation was already fully booked the next day, we moved around the corner in the D’beach Street Lodge. Again, the room was big enough, had its own bathroom and a huge balcony! In the evening you can hear the live music from the Beachstreet until 11 pm, which did not bother us at all.

If you are looking for something sociable, then I can recommend the Halo Hostel. Here we spent our last night in Malaysia before moving on to Brunei. Unfortunately we had to leave early and could not try the free breakfast.

Accommodation at Kinabalu National Park

Staying in the middle of the national park is definitely a very special experience! The Sutera Sanctuary Lodges At Kinabalu Park offers a variety of lodges within the nature reserve. Far away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and tourist hotspots, you can enjoy the fresh air of nature and soak up the tranquility.

But even outside the park, there are good accommodations:

  • Mile 36 Lodge: Beautiful accommodation south of the park with a wide variety of rooms for single travelers, couples and groups. Enjoy your free breakfast here with a fantastic view of the green surroundings!
  • Ayana Hol >Our conclusion to the Kinabalu National Park

Compared to what we heard before our visit to the National Park, we were finally a bit disappointed. The fact that the national park is higher than the other parks on Borneo and therefore a bit cooler, we had expected more animals. We also introduced the variety of plants in a more exciting way. Part of the park seemed like abandoned. In the huge restaurant we were completely alone and on the way we rarely met other tourists. It was beautiful to walk undisturbed through the rainforest, but we were all the more surprised by how little we discovered. We were used to it differently from the two previous national parks, Bako and Mulu.

If you want to discover the national park on your own, then it is enough if you make a day trip. I would rather recommend the ascent to the summit. This should really be worthwhile!

I hope we will one day return to Kinabalu National Park. But then we climb the mountain!

Have you been to Kinabalu Park and maybe even climbed the summit? How did you like it? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Hey! Nice that you pass us by. We are Bina & Francis – globetrotters, adventurers and drone freaks. Since January 2015 we travel with camera drone in the luggage around the world. We love to explore our Earth from a new perspective!

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About the author

Hey, I’m a Bina world traveler, media designer and blogger. Since January 2015, I travel with Francis around the world. Always in the luggage is a camera drone, with which we capture the most beautiful places from the air. On our blog we share with you the best tips for your next trip. Do you still have questions about this article? Then write us in the comments!

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