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Climbing Mount Kinabalu - the Cheapest Way

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Rara is an engineer by profession, a traveler by heart, a marathon runner by dreams and a certified scuba diver. She also blogs at

So I just came back from Sabah a few days ago.

Managed to climb Mount Kinabalu.. finally!

It is actually one my 30 things to do before 30. A year late but still… achievement unlocked!

I’ve been wanting to climb this highest mountain in Malaysia (and Southeast Asia!) since my university days. I remembered the main reason I joined the outdoor and recreation club in my university was because they wanted to organize an expedition to the mountain. Dunno what went wrong but the expedition never occurred. T_T

Post university days, friends from the outdoor club did invite me to join their trips to the mountain but it always clashed with my schedule. It’s either I was out of the country or I had other personal events to attend.

After delaying for so long, recently I had the urge to go for it. I was so determined to climb the mountain that I didn’t care even if I had to go alone. But being a solo climber, all the tour operators that I emailed quoted me around RM1100.
So expensive… Gahhh!!

Annoyed with the expensive rates they quoted me, I went to Google and typed ‘How to climb Mount Kinabalu the cheapeast way’. hahaha… And thanks to Google, I successfully climbed the mountain the cheaper way, paying not more than RM500!


 So.. this post is to share how I managed to climb Mount Kinabalu the cheaper way.

Contrary to popular belief that you have to book your climbing slot months in advance, you can actually book it in a short notice, but at your own risk la.

I did mine only the day before. Yup you read it right, I booked my slot just the day before my actual climb. 
Booking the Climbing Slot
You can do this by going to Sutera Sanctuary Lodges office at Wisma Sabah.
Lot G15, Ground Floor, Wisma Sabah
68000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Tel : (60-88) 243629 / 245742 / 244634 
You can check the availability of the climbing day with them and straight away make the booking.
For the climbing package, I paid RM347, which includes:
x1 Night Accommodation at Laban Rata
x1 Packed Lunch at Balsam Restaurant, Kinabalu Park
x1 Buffet Dinner at Laban Rata
x1 2am Early Supper at Laban Rata
x1 Buffet Breakfast at Laban Rata
x1 Afternoon Tea Break at Balsam Restaurant, Kinabalu Park 
x1 Climbing Permit
x1 Climbing Insurance
On top of this, you need to pay the Entrance Fee to Kinabalu Park which is only RM3.
Then, there’s also the Mountain Guide Fee. The fee depends on the number of climbers in your group and the trails you take. For 1-3 climbers climbing via Timpohon trail, the fee is RM128 per trip. I shared the mountain guide with another solo climber so I paid only RM64.
Other than those items, you can opt for transportation from the HQ to Timpohon Gate, where the main starting point for the climb is. Otherwise, you can start trekking from the HQ for about 5.5 km. The transportation cost RM16.50 per way but I didn’t pay for both ways since a good samaritan paid for me. :D  
 moi and my climbing partner at Timpohon Gate
Getting There
Since climbers need to register themselves at Kinabalu Park HQ latest by 9 am on climbing day, I thought it was best to spend the night nearby.
So after securing my climbing slot, I made a move to Kinabalu Park in the afternoon. The mountain is 90 km away from Kota Kinabalu, or around 2 hours away by road transportation. You can take a bus heading to Kundasang or Ranau at the City Bus Terminal. The fare is RM20 per person. To return to Kota Kinabalu, just wait across the road outside the Kinabalu Park HQ for buses heading to Kota Kinabalu. 

Stayed at Kinabalu Mountain Lodge, 4 bed dorm for RM30 per night.
 the mountain as seen from the small road to Kinabalu Mountain Lodge
For summary:
 Climbing package = RM 347
Transportation KK –> Park HQ = RM 20
Transportation Park HQ –> KK = RM 20 
Kinabalu Mountain Lodge = RM 30
Park Entrance Fee = RM 3
Mountain Guide = RM 64
Certificate = RM 10
Total = RM 494
Note that the rate will be a little bit higher if you are non-Malaysian.
 Will write about my climbing experience later. :)
The Mountain Torq Via Ferrata is 88 kilometers away from Kota Kinabalu, or 1 hour and 30 minutes away by road transportation.
By bus, visitors can take a bus headed to Kundasang or Ranau at the City Bus Terminal (North). Buses from Kota Kinabalu to Ranau are available from 7.30a.m to 5p.m; bus fare is RM15 per person.
To return to Kota Kinabalu, take a bus across road outside Kinabalu Park (reconfirm with Kinabalu Park reception counter) headed to Kota Kinabalu.
By taxi, visitors can take the Ranau taxi at the Ranau taxi stand (next to the Merdeka Field) or request from the hotel lobby. From Ranau Taxi station, taxi fare charged is RM160 per taxi; while from hotel lobby, taxi fare charged is RM300 per taxi.
For a return trip to Kota Kinabalu, take a bus from Poring Hot Springs to Ranau town. From Ranau town, find a taxi back to Kota Kinabalu.
Visitors can also rent a car and drive by themselves. – See more at: write on my climbing experience later. :)


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