I recently hiked to the summit of the immense Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia, a mountain which sits on the island of Borneo and is the 20th Highest Mountain in the world going by topographic prominence. Booking Mount Kinabalu Hike isn’t just a “turn up and book it” thing these days, especially not if you want to save money and ensure you get on the hike. You’ll end up being forced to pay for a last minute deal with a tour operator or end up missing out (we got into the last hut AND we booked in advance), so this is one hike I’d recommend booking in advance. There’s a limit to how many people can climb per day and how many can stay at Laban Rata.
Here’s the first bit of advice – DON’T EVER BOOK a 3 nights, 2 days tour – it’s completely overpriced, trying to takle advantage of tourists and most of all it’s totally unnecessary. It’s a 2 day hike for even the slow hikers, and you only get one night in Laban Rata anyway, so book a 2 days, 1 night trip. Go to the Sutera Sanctuary Lodges official website and book it through them. Sutera Sanctuary Lodges – Here are their fees. They hold a monopoly over Laban Rata so everything is booked through them – that’s just the way it is. Tour agents in the city of Kota Kinabalu all sell tours to the Mountain which includes the hike – but these are more expensive. Book it yourself and book things as individually as you can.
What to do to book Mount Kinabalu
So you need to e-mail Sutera at either of these two e-mails and ask them to book the 2 days, 1 night climb up Mount Kinabalu:
They will most likely reply quoting you the price and cost of the 3nights, 2 days tour. Point blank refuse and keep at them on e-mail tennis until they give you the 2nights, 1 day tour. Which they will eventually when they see how adamant you are that that is the one you want. They will also tell you something like “You better book it quick as the places will fill up, and you better book the 3 days, 2 nights tour.” Again – this is false and they’re just trying to do business. They will also tell you that the 2days, 1 night tour accommodation is only released a month before the hike. Again, legitimate bullshit as they have the foothold on the hike ultimately. But just keep at them until they book you in on the 2 days, 1 night hike. To save money get your own transport to and from the hostel from the city of Kota Kinabalu. You only need one night out by the mountain and that’s the night you spend at 3,300 odd metres high in Laban Rata.
Now check this post I wrote which covers the cost of the climb in DETAIL:
Once you have it booked, you need to sort out transport to the National Park. Go to the shared car rank in Kota Kinabalu at 6.30 am and wait for a car to fill up. The price is only 20 Ringitts, much cheaper than if you booked it through an agency, or booked it late. You will get to the National Park entrance before 9am (it’s about a 2 hour drive). On the morning you arrive at Kinabalu National Park there is a need to finalise all the things you need to pay for and organise before heading up the mountain on the trek. It’s all fairly straight forward. Before starting the hike like I said you have to make sure you have booked everything in advance. You can’t just turn up and walk up the mountain. This post is also an overview of what you will need to organise at the entrance to Kinabalu National Park: How much does it cost to climb Mount Kinabalu?
So once we had got all that sorted and had our receipts, permits, passes, meal vouchers and guide, we got into a shared shuttle bus to head to Timpohon Gate where the magic of the hike could begin. I personally hate doing paperwork and it was a relief to get all that out of the way and get to the start of the hike. I should also mention that you sign your name for a few of the things at the entrance so they know you have collected them. Having done all the paperwork, the hike got underway! The next time I write about Mount Kinabalu I will start writing about the hike itself!
A few pre hike videos for you after booking Mount Kinabalu:
Breakfast at Masada Backpackers in Kota Kinabalu at 6.34 am:
First sighting of Mount Kinabalu from our shared car:
Arrival at Kinabalu National Park:
Day 1 Part 1 of the hike up Mount Kinabalu: