July 15, 2013

Climbing Mount Kinabalu - the Cheapest Way

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

Managed to climb Mount Kinabalu.. finally!

It is actually one of 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.
Booking the Climbing Spot

Contrary to popular belief that you have to book your climbing spot 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 spot just the day before my actual climb. Risky, I know. I guess this is only suitable if you are a solo climber or in a very small group who are open to any possibilities. Kalau kau bawak rombongan cik kiah jangan la cari penyakit!

You can do this by going to Sutera Sanctuary Lodges office at Wisma Sabah. The building is located in the city centre, very close to Jesselton Point Waterfront and Suria Sabah shopping mall.

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.

How much does it cost?

I chose the 2D/1N package, climbing via Timpohon trail.

For the 2D/1N 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

* There are cheaper SSL package since the 2015 Sabah Earthquake so you might wanna call them and check the latest rate *

On top of this, you need to pay the Entrance Fee to Kinabalu Park which is only RM3.

There's also the Mountain Guide Fee. Park regulations require climbers to engage the services of a registered mountain guide. 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. Note that the fee for climbing via Mesilau trail is a little bit higher.

You can opt for transportation from the Kinabalu Park 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

Other than those items, for those who wants to bring a backpack but too lazy or don't have the energy to carry it, you can hire a porter. The cost is RM80 per trip (Timpohon trail) to Laban Rata for up to 10kg. The fee is also different for Mesilau trail.

 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 spot, 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 Padang Merdeka Bus Terminal. The fare is RM20 per person. Later when you want to return to Kota Kinabalu, just wait across the road outside the Kinabalu Park HQ and flag down buses heading to Kota Kinabalu. The fare is same, RM20.


I stayed at Kinabalu Mountain Lodge, located about 2 km from the Park HQ. The hostel provides shuttle van to the HQ for RM15 per way. To save cost, just walk! It's a good exercise. hehe..

Stayed at 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

*Amount is based on my climb in July 2013*

Note that the rate will be a little bit higher if you are non-Malaysian.

My climbing experience
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: http://whoaadventures.com/adventure/highlands-and-jungle/mount-kinabalu/ferrata-mount-kinabalu#sthash.SCVA05rY.dpuWill write on my climbing experience later. :)


BibiErr Karim said...

Yay! U're in KK. Congrats dah selamat mendaki. Ni pure Sabahan kononnye, tapi setakat sampai Timpohon Gate tu jela. Must climb one day!

Henry Fox said...

wahhh! congratz rara! proud of u. i pun ade teringin nak daki gak gunung kinabalu ni. ;)

anakomak said...

wah best nya!!

rara said...

BibiErr: Thanks! Oohh u from Sabah? Nice! Next time I nak pegi sana lagi boleh tanya tips :) Anyway, u should climb!

John: Thank uuu! Go go go! Make it as your things to do before 30. hehehe..

anakomak: Thanks! Memang best bila dah sampai kat atas tu :)

ilykpurple said...

Hi! Would you know how much the climbing fee for non Malaysians?

rara said...

@ilykpurple: it'll roughly cost around RM700 for the climbing package all in.

karthik said...

Thank you very much for the information. It was really helpful for us and saved some bucks for me and my friends. we are climbing in December and pretty much excited about it :) . If you don´t mind i would like to ask you some basic questions in order to get prepared for the climb.


rara said...

@karthik: yeah sure.. u can email me or ask it here :)

karthik said...

Thank you for the reply Rara.. :) .. Can you ping me at somebodyinnobody@gmail.com . I couldnt find ur email id. looking forward. :)


Ku fwu haur said...

Hi, your blog is really nice and great!!! Can I ask you which hotel you overnight on the day before you report in park HQ. Because I need to find out a hotel to overnight before I reported in Park HQ in the early morning.

Pip Kasim said...

hi, thanks for the informative post! teringin nak panjat kinabalu.. hopefully rate dia still sama this year.. :) quite affordable yea.. cuma kena training nak memanjat la sekarang ni..

thanks again!

rara said...

@ku fwu haur: Read the post and you'll see I did mention about the accommodation.

@Pip Kasim: Arrange sendiri memang murah sikit. Training panjat tangga! hehe..

Christianne said...

Hi! 500RM for Mt. Kinabalu?! that is amazing! Iam planning to climb this April. I am not Malaysian. If its around 700RM for non-Malaysian, where do I go to get this rate? I've been looking around in the internet and most of the agencies charge 1000+RM package. Helpppp! :D

rara said...

@Christianne: If you sign up for a package through agency it'll definitely cost more. Try email Sutera Sanctuary and get the quotation from them. It's around rm700 (not including the transport to/fro KK and hostel though).

ninya yabut said...

Hi thank you for your blog. You have me hope in finding a cheaper way to mt kinabalu. If i am non-malay how

my.name.is. said...

Hi sis, bestnya naik Mt Kinabalu. Ingat nak pergi sana dalam bulan 8, macam mana ya nak arrange sendiri, naik dlm 2 orang je. Sbb nak save cost. Your reply is highly appreciated :)

rara said...

@ninya: Refer my reply above :)

@my.name.is: Hi sis! You can book the climbing spot at Sutera Sanctuary office in Wisma Sabah. Or email them pon boleh.
then for transport just go to the bus terminal.

shahrul nizam said...

hi nak tanya sikit..u from sabah?
my friend from sabah and i from KL..we ask the sutera santuary tu.
they qoute my friend that from sabah rm 350 but they qoute me rm 700.btw we just called them last week.

so just wanna know..are u sabahan?and price utk semenanjung lain ke dari org sabah?

rara said...

@shahrul nizam: Nope.. I'm from KL. For Sabahan memang diorang get cheaper rate than the rest of Malaysians.
U punya package 2D/1N or 3D/2N? If 2D/1N suppose U can get the rate macam what I got. But I'm not sure if the rate dah naik..

shahrul nizam said...

they qoute me for 2d1n punya.
but we called them la not directly go to the center.and just now i email them they said no 2d1n..mcm saja ja mahu suruh take the 3d2n punya pakej..btw thanks for reply.

i might need to ask directly to the office for better price.

rara said...

@shahrul nizam: perhaps 2D/1N package dah takde tu is true.. I got email enquiry from a foreigner. He also said the same thing. SSL quoted him for 3D/2N package..
But yeah.. better pegi direct to their office to check.

Kopi Kaki said...

wow. love your entry about mt kinabalu climb. job well done!


rara said...

@Kopi Kaki: thanks! well done to u too! :)

huhdo said...

Awesome. Thanks for sharing the info! May I know how and where you got the guide? Were they at the Sutera office and would it be easy to find one?

rara said...

@huhdo: The guide is assigned to you when you register on the day of the climb at the Kinabalu HQ. no need to worry :)

huhdo said...

Thanks for the info! :)

ijam said...

Searching the net for the last bus or taxi from kk town to kinabalu mt lodge in futile. I hope there are still bus or taxi at 3pm.

Pujangga Belantara said...

looking a partner from semenanjung(Kl) .. T_T anyone interested?? jomm! pm me aite..


rara said...

@ijam : when are u going? I think van still ada around that time. But maybe have to wait a bit la coz they usually wait sampai van penuh.

Siva Sree Hari said...

Thats wonderful and cheap.Can you please pm me the contact for this package ?

IRIS SANEZ said...

Hi Ms. Rara your blog is very informative and encouraging! i am planning to climb Mt. Kinabalu this coming Nov. 15-17 but the problem is there's no available lodge for that days... can you give us some help to look/find any cheap lodges please :(?
thank you...

by the way im Iris and this is my FB act.

you can PM me... pls. help :)

Fredrik Hagfjäll said...

Great post!
I'm planning on doing the hike around 21st-28th of december, if anyone would like to join just contact me! hagfjall [a t ] gmail.com

da us said...

Pergghhh.. Redaahh je eh.. Kire sehari sblum naik tu selamber je lah g booking tanya eh.. 17&18 januari2015 sape nak ikut sy redah.. Hahaha.. 16hb smpai kk tros nk tnya ade ke x..

rara said...

@da us: Gamble je. hehe.. pegi sorang or in a small group boleh la. lagipon masa tu bukan peak season kot.