Kinabalu Park is a vast area of trees, trails, home of Mount Kinabalu, and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. We came here in order to see the beauty of some of Borneo’s nature and to do some hiking. Unbeknownst to us when we booked our accommodation online at the Kinabalu Mountain Lodge, the hike began when the bus dropped us at the side of the road and we marched 1km up and down steep slopes with our big backpacks to the scenic, but surprisingly tiring to get to, homestay.
While climbing Mount Kinabalu is one of the most famous attractions of Borneo, neither of us felt we were in peak climbing form, and took a pass on the summit. While part of us definitely felt that this was wussing out, after seeing so many people hobbling around the park after their recent ascent, we felt a little better about the decision! Instead, we chose to check out the trails, hiking the longest trails up, down, and around Kinabalu Park.
In some sections, heavy clouds would roll in and we’d suddenly be surrounded by a thick, eerie mist. Matt described it as a scene out of Predator, which seemed oddly accurate.
Throughout the hike we only ever crossed paths with one other couple hiking the other direction, otherwise we were alone – well, in terms of other human beings. The forest was very much alive, the sounds of birds and insects creating a wonderful soundtrack.
By the end of our everlasting-hike we took a seat in the restaurant just outside the park gates to rest our weary legs. After looking back at the map and how far we walked, we realized that perhaps we could have gone to the summit successfully as we did about the same distance! The only sad part about our whole time there was that not once did the clouds part enough for us to actually see the peak. Ah well, next time we’ll conquer the mountain.
TIPS: Many tour guides will tell you to get the permits and guides for climbing the mountain long in advance. When we inquired upon arrival, we could have organized it the day before hiking for cheaper than previously offered. Also, staying and eating in the park is quite expensive compared to anything outside it. There are many options for accommodation within a short (or long) walk or drive to the park entrance that could save you quite a few dollars. Plus, BRING RAIN GEAR! It is a rainforest, and it will rain while you are there, be prepared!
7 thoughts on “Hiking in Kinabalu Park”
Hi – loving your blog! Did you enjoy Borneo? I am looking at going in July, do you have any tips? Hoping to spend a week in the Malaysian part of Borneo, do you think a week is long enough? Thanks for any info you can give me, hope you enjoyed your travels 🙂
Hi Claire! Thanks for following the blog. We loved East Malaysia (Malaysia Borneo). In a week you could see a lot of cool things, but we were there almost 3 weeks and could have stayed so much longer! We explored only sabah, and missed out on Sarawak (the 2 different provinces on the island). In a week, you could see sepilok, kinabatangan, and kinabalu park, though it would be a pretty busy week and tight schedule. Maybe more realistically you’d only see 2 of those in a week depending if you were busing or flying between locations. What are you looking to see more of, jungle or animals?
Cheers for your reply Matt! Sounds like you had a great time. I think animals are the priority for me – especially the orangutans. Would you recommend Sabah? Did you have to take malaria medication for that area too?
Sabah is great for animal watching! Sepilok is a must see with their orangutan sanctuary. Kinabatangan River was also great for animals, though it’s a little more luck of the draw down there. Sabah also has great diving and snorkeling too.
Emer has been on malaria pills our entire trip while I have not been on them at all. Most travelers in that area don’t seem to be on them, but it’s your call how cautious you want to be. I would definitely recommend checking out Sabah if you can!
Thanks so much! We’ve booked just over 10 days in Sabah for the end of next month, very exciting. Interesting to hear that you haven’t used anti-malarials, I’m thinking I might take the risk. Did you find that most accommodation had mosquito nets? Hope you’re enjoying your travels, I can’t wait to get going now! Cheers 🙂
Most of the places in Asia do have have mosquito nets, but thinking back on it, most places in Sabah we stayed did not. I know that you’ll have a blast there, kinda jealous that I’m not going back anytime soon!