Mount Kinabalu Climbing Scams & How to Book Your Climb Safely

Mount Kinabalu is a popular destination worldwide for its unique and challenging climbing experience. However, some scams target potential climbers, leaving them with lost deposits. One of the recent ones involves climbers from the Philippines.


Filipino Climbers Scammed for RM5940

Credit: Ray-Maylyn Pang (Facebook)

In February 2024, a group of climbers from the Philippines was scammed by an individual named Aaron Sim Mao Xian. Previously, he was known to have scammed West Malaysian climbers, but he has shifted his target to foreigners.

He gains trust by posing as a legitimate business, often using fake names or other companies' licence numbers. He convinces climbers to book through him, then disappears with their deposits when the climb date approaches.

One of the climbers, Mary Grace Hapin Reyes, filed an official police report detailing their experience, including getting no answers from Aaron when trying to get their refund totalling RM5940.

Updated on 07 March 2024

Credit: Joan Salas Lapore (Youtube)

In February 2024, Aaron claimed more victims, where they were scammed for RM3,560.

Credit: Joan Salas Lapore (Facebook)

General Warning Signs of Scams:

Tales of climbers being scammed is not a new one. So, here's what you need to know to avoid falling victim to these scams. 

1. Unrealistic prices
If a climbing package seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of significantly cheaper offers compared to licensed operators.

2. Pressure to pay quickly
Legitimate operators would not pressure you for immediate payments. Scammers often create a sense of urgency to rush you into booking before you can research properly.

3. Requests for personal bank transfers
Avoid sending money directly to personal accounts. Licensed companies have official bank accounts for secure transactions.

4. Vague or missing information
If the operator avoids providing clear details about permits, licenses, or insurance, it's a red flag.

5. Negative online reviews
Check online platforms like TripAdvisor and Facebook for reviews and complaints about the operator.


Tips for Safe Mount Kinabalu Booking

If you are looking to book a Mount Kinabalu climb slot soon, here are the guidelines you can follow to avoid being scammed:

1. Book only through licensed operators
Book your climb slot safely with us at or look for companies registered with the Sabah Tourism Board holding valid KPK licenses.

You can also book via legitimate travel booking platforms like, as all their listed vendors are licensed operators.

To verify the registration status of any operator, visit the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) website:

2. Request an official invoice before paying
Only transfer money if you have received an invoice or booking confirmation with a registered company's official letterhead.

3. Use secure payment methods
Opt for credit card payments or bank transfers to the company's official account. Avoid personal transactions.

4. Do your research
Read reviews, compare prices, and ask questions before booking. Check the operator's website and social media presence for legitimacy.

5. Beware of fake profiles and pages
Scammers often create fake Facebook pages or use stolen photos to lure victims. Verify the authenticity of the company before engaging.

6. Trust your gut
If something feels off, do not hesitate to walk away. It is better to be safe than sorry.

By following these tips, you can avoid scams and ensure a safe and enjoyable Mount Kinabalu experience. So, when planning your climb, remember to be vigilant and alert to warning signs before making any payments. With some preparation and these helpful suggestions, you can conquer Mount Kinabalu with confidence and peace of mind!

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