Mount Kinabalu is known as the highest mountain in Malaysia. Standing at 4095.2 metres above sea level, it is one of the few mountains you can climb without any prior mountain-climbing experiences. Anyone in good health can make an attempt to reach the summit however, that doesn’t make it an easy climb! Read More
When we booked our climb with Amazing Borneo Tours, I was sent a very detailed itinerary of our climb up Mt. Kinabalu. Ours was to be a 2day climb, with the trek up to Laban Rata on Day 1, and the Summit climb on Day 2. We’d landed in Kota Kinabalu the day before, and so had arranged for the tour company to pick us up from our hotel at 6.30am for the 2 hour drive up to Kinabalu Park. At the park entrance, we rented ourselves a walking stick each @10RM (trust me, it comes in VERY handy during the trek down the mountain).
We flew from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu for a few days. We went on a tour with Amazing Borneo (www.amazing-borneo.com) and they were amazing! I would highly recommend travelling with them. On the first day they brought us up the mountain and we visited an upside down house, went to the local markets, had a tour around Kinablu park, went on a canopy walk and the hot springs. The tour guide was so nice and slowed down so we could take photos and brought us to a village even though it wasn’t part of the package haha. He was great.
We did the Mt. Kinabalu during a trip in Borneo. We arranged it on the spot, which was no problem. Early morning you’re dropped at the ‘foot’ of the mountain, and your guide will escort you up. Halfway you have a long pitstop at Laban rata, a cabin where you buy some food and soup, and enjoy a little rest, before your hit the summit just after midnight.
We didn’t really prepare, and still managed to hit the summit without any problems. So there’s no need for extensive preparation, you just need to be a bit in shape. The way down, is the tough part, where you twist ankles, and are just tired.
The top (summit) was impressive (but cold, so don’t let the tropical beach temperatures in Borneo deceive you).
Pippapig1 (United Kingdom)
“The sense of achievement make the sore legs worth it!”
We booked the trip through amazing Borneo & it really was amazing! They pick you up from your hotel & issue you with a pack lunch, bottle of water, identity tag & guide then take you to the starting point where for 10ringett you can hire a walking stick (I would happily have paid more & was sad to part with it at the end)
The climb is hard & if like me you are a slower walker insist on setting the pace, otherwise you feel like you are holding the group up. The first 4km is steps & big steps at that, some came up to my knee if not higher which is where the stick comes in.
There are rest stops every km with flushing toilets and your guide will let you stop for as long as you like. After the first 4km the ground becomes rocky which I found easier to handle than the steps although difficult when raining as they turn into a river.
Laban rata is a welcome sight & provides comfortable beds good food & big mugs of tea & coffee. Extras are expensive up there but the porters carry it all up 30kg at a time so if you want a beer after the climb you will appreciate the cost! Dinner is plentiful & we were ready for an early night. 2am comes round after a good nights sleep & more food is provided.
It was then head torches on & off into the dark for the climb to the summit. This is easier in the dark, as you can’t see the ledges, but frustrating as you can’t see the top!
Altitude can be a problem, I found it hard to breathe & felt sick & nearly gave up with less than 500m to go. Thanks to our guides patience I made it to the top before it got too busy & just as it was gettoing light.
The views are incredible & well worth the climb but be prepared to battle with other climbers for your summit picture & appreciate the views & your achievement from a little lower down.
Don’t be disappointed if you miss sunrise or don’t get one like us as the views are still incredible. When your ready it’s back down to Laban rata for breakfast & then it’s off down the mountain in time for afternoon tea & the bus back to your hotel.
Overall; Freendy our guide was patient & cared for our safety. I took a few slips & he was always ready to catch me. Use the equipment list & go prepared. Waterproof gloves are a must for the night climb as the ropes may well be wet. Disposable ponchos are also good as you can throw them on to cover both you & your bag without carrying too much extra weight. Also a bit cooler than a Mac. There is no hot water at Laban rata so be prepared with wet wipes for a quick freshen up. Deodorants explode up there due to the pressure, so don’t bother carrying it up. Both me & a room mate covered our room with ours – both roll on but apparently sprays do the same. Dorms are mixed & climb groups are kept together. We were a group of 2 & shared with another couple. Don’t bother with taking nightware up everyone sleeps in their clothes & take layers for the night climb. By the time you near the top it’s freezing so you need to be able to add or remove easily. 500ml of Water is provided & there is fresh water to refill bottles with at Laban rata. Warm socks are also a must for over night as you won’t feel like walking round in your walking shoes. Take a high energy snack for the climb up as the pack lunch is sandwiches & a piece of fruit.
The climb down is hard but our guide didn’t rush us. Have tiger balm at the ready for aching legs. Steps were a challenge for me for a good 3days after but KK residents seem to be used to seeing people struggle following the climb & are happy to help you.
I has an amazing trip & it was well worth the pain for the sense of achievement. Go prepared for all weathers with a spare change of clothes & a book for Laban rata as there is no entertainment up there, but most importantly take a fully charged camera & determination. Come back proud to have reached the summit of the 20th highest mountain in the world!!
“What a Mountain!”
If you are fit and well enough and are planning to visit Borneo you MUST climb Mt Kinabalu. The best experience of our holiday and one of the best experiences of our life.
Every climber or group is issued with a guide and it pays to listen to him/her – they are experienced with the mountain.
Don’t take up too much gear – you don’t need it. Just a change of hiking clothes and warm gear for the summit plus a rain coat for if it rains. It didn’t rain for us. Plenty of water as it gets hot.
The food is nice at Ratan Laba but just a tip – if you are gluten free take your own bread with you or you will be hungry. It is a wheat lovers paradise up there. Yes there are eggs, rice and fruit and that’s about it. All the sauces etc are thickened with wheat/gluten and the Malayans don’t understand the meaning of GF. That is all good as long as you are prepared. I coped but was sick for a couple of days – ate the rice noodles oops – I was really hungry.
Take warm clothes for the summit – good pair of gloves. Don’t leave too early for the summit – trust your guide as to his estimation of your fitness as to when to leave. We stayed up on the summit for an hour waiting for the sun rise and it was freezing.
Take a pair of walking sticks. Don’t argue with me just do it – unless you are an elite trail runner you are going to get the shakes. Your quads and calves will thank you for it at the bottom of the mountain.
Oh and the lunch at the bottom of the mountain – forget it – better off refuelling somewhere else.
Take a good camera and memorax as much as you can. You can never take too many photos. The scenery blows your mind. What an experience. The easiest way to climb into high altitude and so worth it.
Finally – we went to the pharmacy and purchased high altitude (Diomox) tablets to help us with the climb. The climb is an expensive exercise and we wanted a security blanket that we would be ok. And we were – I have a heart arrhythmia and even then I did not have a problem at all. Well worth it. And the expense of the climb was worth it too – it provides the community with employment and keeps the park in good condition. So worth it on so many levels.
Go on – do it!
“Worth every inch”
I just climbed this mountain with 2 colleges and 15 of our students (13-16 years old). We all thoroughly enjoyed the hike. It has a steedy incline in which there is very little flat but very interesting terrain. There are sheltered huts to stop at, have a drink and something to eat along the way. Most of the stops have a toilet and drinking water, just take toilet paper and water purifying drops. We did it over 2 days though I would have prefered to summited first day and then stay at Laban Rata overnight, have breakfast then decline. It took us 5 hrs on the first day from HQ to Laban Rata, we got up at 1.30am had supper and started hiking at 3.00am it took 2 1/2 from Laban Rata to sumit. The kids spread out going back down to Laban Rata taking about 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. We had breakfast, go our gear and headed back down to the main gate taking about 3 hrs. We live in a town which highest hill is 960 m, so this mountain just amazed us. The view is absolutely amazing, to think you climbed something to see it was so self rewarding. I would love to climb it again. To make it easier on yourself, train 3 months prior to comming. We hiked every weekend for at least 6 hrs and found Mt Kinabalu very achievable. Wear good shoes, have a backpack with a brace, bring snacks that work for you and 2L water. We climbed the first day with our sleeping bags, cool weather clothes and shared out toiletries in which we shared. It is cold at Raban Lata so a shower is the last thing you want, we took wipes. They sell snacks and hot drinks at the top, so take money if you want more than a coffee or tea or pack snacks. Climb slow and steady, its a personal achievement not a race, we had many people race pass us then stop puffing whilst we passed them. On the second day start the climb from Laban Rata not rugged up. I wore merino tshirt, thermial and wind jacket, as we went up i put on gloves and hats then whilst at the summit waiting for the sun to rise put on a fleece. Don’t miss it, it is definatley worth the effort!
Liz Pang (Hong Kong)
“I’m really glad I did it!”
Initially I was coordinating the trip with some friends but they later withdrew so I was left planning this trip alone. There are a number of agencies online but after some research, I chose Amazing Borneo. I procrastinated about dates but despite my own uncertainties they proved to be very efficient and professional. As a single traveler, they are much more reasonably priced than other agencies which charge double. All my queries, no matter how petty, were speedily answered via email. I was provided an itinerary, and punctually picked up from my hotel in Kota Kinabalu and driven 1 ½ hours to base camp. They assigned a very good guide, Joe, who took good care of me. He gave me a safety briefing before we embarked. As his English was very good we had some interesting chats on the way.
Much of what other reviewers mentioned regarding what to bring up is pretty much spot on; prepare 3 sets of change; preferably cargo trousers, lounge pants ( to relax in), 2 short sleeved t-shirts, 1 long sleeve t-shirt, fleece, rain coat (for the summit), 3 pairs of socks, underwear, beanie, waterproof cap, waterproof hiking shoes, and a poncho. If you don’t get wet from the November rainfall then you’ll get wet from your own sweat. Even on the way up to the summit, you will sweat and end up taking off a layer of clothing! Take gloves, and a torch light to strap on your head, and most importantly a walking stick. Package the main bulk of the kit in a simple bag, and hire a porter to carry it. Repack the lunch box into a plastic bag to save space and have additional energy bars to snack on every kilometer or so. And don’t forget to carry water and a first aid kit containing plasters and basic medicine.
The trek is challenging but very doable for moderately fit people. The key is to ascend slowly, taking baby steps. Enjoy the diverse flora and fauna, and take the time to appreciate the transition in nature on the way up. This helped me to acclimatize to the change in altitude. Consequently, I did not suffer any ailments that some other people may have experienced. I meandered, and it still took the average 4-5 hours to climb.
Although there is no hot water to take a shower, try to book Laban Rata guesthouse. It’s convenient, and you will not have to walk in and out for the meals. I was amused to find that in Laban Rata guesthouse, slippers were provided just like a hotel!
Much of the headache and feeling of nausea that people get, I suspect, comes from dehydration and extreme exhaustion. Drink a lot of water, and take ibuprofen to kill the pain in your head, and as a prophylactic for the pain you might suffer the day after the climb.
After getting used to the warmth of being inside for a few hours it was shock to the system to have to get up early in the morning to start the last leg to the summit. Nevertheless, the night climb was thrilling. I experienced so many emotions in that period of time. The night climb seemed never ending, and was physically challenging, and the last 500 metres was the most intense. I ran out of bottle eventually, and finally Joe had to literally take me by the hand and yank me up to the summit. The final reward of witnessing the sunrise, and infinite sky line was gob smacking. You can cry out of exhaustion, and be astounded by the awesomeness of it all at the same time. Everyone clambered to the top in anxious bid to get the ultimate “I was here” photograph. Just as dawn broke to reveal the amazing scenery, Joe said, “Welcome to my office!”. And I thought, how cool is that?!
Going down was a problem for me. The granite, even when wet, should provide grip for your shoes but I still found it tricky. Joe taught me and a small group of people how to repel down the rock faces. I was so surprised to see where we had climbed in the dark.
Joe taught me to zigzag down. Don’t jump. Baby steps going down as well. This way, you’ll avoid the toe hammering, and knee jolting. The next day, I felt the onset of sore thigh and calf muscles. Admittingly, for a bit I felt like I’d been stretched on a medieval torture rack but I recovered after a couple of days.
I met some lovely people! And it was fun to say hello and briefly swap progress reports with them. I don’t think I saw anyone really suffering from the climb. Most of it was all smiles and a lot of joking. I am particularly pleased that my leg held out especially as I had surgery, a few years back, on a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Just bear in mind Frank Sinatra’s song, and “Do it your Way”. Then go and pamper yourself by getting a massage.
Jeannine Tan (Singapore)
Did the 2D/1N plus Via Ferrata with Amazing Borneo in Nov ’13.
Picked up and returned to my hostel. Provided with a packed lunch consisting of a sandwich, piece of chicken, boiled egg, apple, and 500ml bottle of water. Our group (5) were given a guide each, that all spoke reasonable English. We were given a reasonably informative tour on the way up, however coming down it became apparent that my guide very clearly wanted to get home, and kept urging me to continue on rather than wait for the others in the group. Aside from that, it was amazing to trek to the top for the sunset and sense of achievement. Accommodation at Pendant Hut was nice, with sleeping bags provided, however the showers aren’t heated. Take altitude tablets with you, the headache is no fun. Unlimited photo opportunities, and the food provided at Laban Rata is delicious. Beers are MYR25, and that’s a warm can of Tiger.
An amazing experience.
“Appreciation as high as this mountain”
I don’t know what to say, but seeing this magnificent mountain really makes me realize that the best things in life are free! We did not do mountain climbing but seeing this mountain from a perfect angle is really breath taking. This is the highest peak in southeast asia and I’m very honored to see this creation in my own eyes. Nature has it’s own way in letting us appreciate what it can offer! Kinabalu mountain is the perfect landmark for this country. Malaysian people must be very proud and thankful to have such gift that you can’t see from other places.
“Totally worth it”
Booked through Amazing Borneo for the 2D/1N trek. Had THE BEST guide called Joe who spoke great English, was very friendly and chatty but most importantly ensured my safety was paramount. Had prepared myself for it to be hard – which it was, but no harder than expected. Hardest part is simply having the energy to cope with tiredness and altitude sickness while climbing the final 1.5kms very early in the morning. Worth it at the top though. Rest house had great food and HUGE mugs of hot chocolate which were perfect after the first day. Beds in dorm surprisingly comfortable, but only criticism was that there was alot of noise heared during the night – more the other guests fault than the rest houses. I got very lucky with the weather and had no rain for any of the trekking time. Wonderful experience overall, highly recommend it.
Mark W (Denmark)
“Nature at it’s best”
Spent a number of dayswalking the trains of Mt. Kinabalu during our many trips to Borneo. This is a must on anybody’s top list of natural parks to see anywhere in the world.
Gill541208 (United Kingdom)
Lovely scenery, good walk up through the rainforest to a canopy walk. Amazing to see such a variety of vegetables grown on the mountain sides – not what we would have expected.
OwenThreadgold (California, US)
“Experience of a lifetime”
We had two perfect days with the weather on our climb and it definitely is a tough climb. My wife and I are both young fit and healthy and found it a good test and legs were aching for a few days after. Well worth it when you get up towards the summit, views are amazing and so peaceful there.
Try to get an experienced guide who can point some things out along the way
“Fantastic if you make it to the top”
We did the hike over 2 days (overnight at Laban Rata lodge), to be at the top for sunrise. The hike is fairly challenging but very do-able if you are in decent shape. It is also do-able all in one day if seeing the sunrise isn’t a priority.
Well worth the visit, and a great experience to get to the top.
“Stunning views from Laban Rata to summit”
Endless stairs and slopes, from Laban Rata to summit, all views are amazing, especially the sunset and sunrise!! Sandy stars in the sky!!!!
195Lou (United Kingdom)
“Tough but fun!”
We did the 2 day 1 night Mount Kinabalu climb as a bit of a last minute decision the week before we flew out to Borneo.
The climb is hard work, especially in the heat and humidity but it’s definitely do-able. We both go to the gym but I wouldn’t say we’re super fit. We made it to Laban Rata in just under 5 hours on the first day, to the summit in just under 3 hours and then back in just over 2 hours, before climbing back down in about 4 hours.
Laban Rata is a great rest stop. It’s really basic but clean and everyone’s doing the same thing so it’s really friendly and a good laugh in the evening. The food is really good and after walking up a mountain the cold shower is actually quite refreshing! You’ll see people carrying your food and drinks up the mountain to Laban Rata whilst you’re walking up so you really won’t mind paying for a can of coke when you get there!
I’ve never climbed anything in my life but we made it. Most of the climb is a steep walk up a path made of large steps, boulders etc. Make sure you take a head torch and some warm clothes for the summit. It’s really cold at the top and quite exposed so you need a hat and warm clothes. There are a few bits that are a bit hairy where you have to use a rope along rock face to climb up, but your guide will help you. The climb back down will hurt your knees so be prepared and don’t plan to do too much the day after your climb. You’ll be able to spot people who’ve just finished the climb in your hotel for the rest of your holiday when they gingerly walk into the bar!
Overall a great challenge and good fun.
bluesky104 (New Zealand)
“A challenge well worth it”
Our climb up Mount Kinabalu will never be forgotten. Every step of the way was memorable, exciting and challenging. It’s a climb so you wont find many (if any) flat points but there are lots of opportunities for rest along the way. And it’s well worth stopping because the trail is full of interesting plants, trees and creatures. The trail is well maintained. Our arrival at Laban Rata was met with surprise – what a great place! Nearly at the top of the mountain, you have all the creature comforts one could hope for. Clean linens, towels, proper showers, great food and a stunning view. Our guide was friendly, helpful and we learned a lot about the area. The climb to the peak is absolutely an amazing experience…a string of headlamps silently trekking along the face of an incredible iconic mountain. The only safety risk is wary legs so taking your time is advisable…..as the greatest test is the walk down. At the bottom, the feeling of accomplishment is indescribable and your leg muscles won’t let you soon forget the experience. Don’t plan on doing much of anything after the hike except treating yourself to a good feed and somewhere nearby to rest your tired limbs. We had a great stay pre- and post- hike at quiet J. Residence which is a very short walk from the Park’s entrance. Overall, this experience is not to missed on any trip to Sabah.
It is a fantastic place. great mountain for the fit and younger, many trails for older folks and not so fit, at least enjoy the fresh air and look out for beautiful birds. I will come again.
Lim Bak Wee (Malaysia)
“We received VIP treatment throughout and it was way above our expectation.”
I actually wanted to give you some excellent feedback earlier but was busy with work upon my return. I think your tour really lives up to your reputation of being “AMAZING”. We received VIP treatment throughout and it was way above our expectation. I want to take this opportunity to thank your guide Shafik (?) for making our trip a very memorable one. He is strong yet courteous, patient and always pointing to us the hazards in front of us. This is especially important for 60+ couple like us. We will strongly recommend all our friends to choose Amazing Borneo Tours for the Mt Kinabalu Climb and we shall try out some other KK nature packages offered by your company.
Johnny Hessellund Iversen (Denmark)
“A great trip.”
We had a great trip to Mount Kota Kinabalu, where your driver “David” picked us up and welcomed us to KK. David took good care of us until our start climbing up Mt. KK
Dinner at the middle station was good – better than expected.
All in all, we did however have a very good trip
Ooi Jian Yuan (Singapore)
“I suppose the first thing we climbers want to do after coming down is to go back to the hotel.”
I took the 2-day-1-night Mount Kinabalu climb package with via ferrata from 19-20 May.
It was a great experience and my guide, Marjuan Liong, more than made up for his relative youth and his command of the English language by helping me at the higher altitudes and the more rigorous areas of the climb. I did not bring gloves, and he kindly lent me his. Many thanks to him for that!
It was also great for Amazing Borneo tours to schedule minivan departures from Kinabalu Park at regular intervals eg. 3 pm, as I suppose the first thing we climbers want to do after coming down is to go back to the hotel and have a good bath.
Thanks Amazing Borneo for the memories. I will contact you guys again should I visit Sabah again in future.