Mount Kinabalu Climbing Tips

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THINGS TO NOTE (Mount Kinabalu Climb)

Preparation Stage
Day Climb
Night Climb


You are advice to book at least 6 months in advance. Due to conservation reason and limited rooms, the accommodation is always fully booked.

All passports and visas must be valid at least 06 months from the date of entry into the country destination

Always book the tour with licensed tour agent. There have been cases tourists cheated by UNLICENSED tour operators/agents.

Always check the availability of the mountain slots before booking your flight tickets.

Conquering Mt. Kinabalu requires only 2 days 1 night. However, for a proper appreciation of your climb, it is better for you to spend 3 days and 2 nights at the mountain.

2 days 1 night accommodation package is available, but only open 30 days before the climbing date, which usually are fully booked.

It’s good to be at the park a day before your climb. Not advisable to fly to Kota Kinabalu and climb on the same day & Not advisable to catch the same day’s flight going back to your hometown after the climb.


Have enough sleep a day before the climb.

Make sure you cut your toenails and have correct fitting footwear.

Carry light and do not wear jeans.

Bring cash instead of credit card.

Passports/Original Identification are required for verification during registration

Extra luggage/belonging that you don’t wish to bring with you for mountain climbing can be keep at Sutera Sanctuary Lodges reception office (RM12/luggage).

You may hire porter to carry your backpack at Park HQ. Payments will be made directly to the porter by cash.

In case you miss anything else, you still can buy the basic items at the shop next to Kinabalu Park HQ.

Display your climbing permit to Park Officials at Timpohon Gate’s check point before you start your climbing.

The climbing gate will be closed at 10.30am. Afterwhich, no climbing will be allowed.

Wear your climbing tag at all times.


Set a slow and steady pace from the beginning and avoid overexertion.

Distance from Timpohon Gate to Panalaban is 6km (approximately 4-6 hours climb).

There are signage and markers every 0.5 or 1KM along the trail.

Washroom available at every shelter with basic set up, however, toilet tissue paper is not provided.

Trail can be slippery after rain. Please be extra careful and never walk off trail.

Do not litter, keep the mountain clean. Please bring the rubbish with you if there is no rubbish bin around. Rubbish bin can be found at all shelter.

There are shelters at every 1 KM where you can have a rest, use the washroom, throw your trash and refill your water (untreated mountain water – you may bring some water purification tablets to avoid any upset).

Mountain guide will always follow the last person; they may not trek as the same speed as you do.

It is safe to hike alone, however, we recommend you to hike with partners.

Use your climbing stick to push and pull yourself up the steep parts.

Do not shout and do not pluck flowers or leaves, do not pick stones or any other things from the mountain. Leave only footprints, take only photographs.

As you move upward to higher alpine zone, the vegetation will become thinner, so is the air.

If you encounter Altitude Sickness, stop immediately; continue slowly only if you feel better.

Laban Rata is about 12-15 Celsius.

Change a set of dry cloth while you reached to Laban Rata before you can enjoy your meal comfortably.

Balsam Cafe & Laban Rata Restaurant are no longer providing hot water/drinking water for climbers. Mineral water is available for purchase at the grocery counter – MYR 7 for 500ml / MYR 14 for 1.5 liters. Coffee & Tea will only be provided during Breakfast Hour and Supper

Check in to your mountain hut and rest early. Please be considerate, keep silent as other climbers might be sleeping.


To cut down weight, you may leave unnecessary stuffs in your mountain hut, remember to lock the door before you leave your room.

Carrying 500ml water is enough as you won’t really feel thirsty under cold temperature.

Temperature at the peak could be lower than 5°C and windy day makes it worse.

Distance from Panalaban to Low’s Peak is 2.4KM. There is marker at every kilometer as well.

The climb from Panalaban to the summit normally takes 3 to 5 hour.

New trail – Ranau Trail has been introduced to replace the old damaged trail. Start from Panalaban (previously known as Laban Rata) to Sayat-Sayat Check Point. Ranau Trail is near vertical with steep sections of wooden stairs of 70-80 degree incline. Some sections did not even have wooden steps and you need to haul yourself using a fixed rope over large boulders. Proceed slowly and cautiously.

Follow and use the white rope for your own safety.

Cut-off time for the last check point – Sayat-Sayat is 5.30am.

Last toilet stop will be at Sayat-Sayat Check Point as well.

Display your climbing permit at Sayat-Sayat Check Point in order for you to earn the climbing certificate.

Chances of the mountain being free of clouds are highest during the early morning hours.

Note that the sunrise takes place as early as 5:30am to 6:00am. Don’t miss the beautiful sunrise!


Descending stresses your knee and muscle more than ascending. Try to descend slowly to avoid serious joint and muscle pain later.

Traverse zig-zag, sideways or s-shaped rather than going straight down hills in order to protect your toes and knees.

Take the KOKTAS shuttle bus from Timpohon Gate to Kinabalu Park HQ.

If you store your luggage at Sutera Sanctuary Lodges, remember to claim your bag before transfer back to Kota Kinabalu city.

If you hire a porter, please claim your belongings before you transfer back to Kota Kinabalu city.


Please take a minute to listen to your Mountain Guide(s) and read through these instructions. They may save your life:

Identify your Mountain Guide(s) who will display an identification card.

Travel together in your group

Follow the instructions of your Mountain Guide(s)

Alert your Mountain Guide(s) if you face any difficulty.

Display your climbing permit and show it to Park Officials at the check points at Timpohon Gate, Laban Rata and Sayat-sayat on your way up and down.

If for any reasons, you are separated from your group or the Mountain Guide(s), please follow the white rope that marks the Summit Trail. If visibility is very low or in the dark, please hold on to the rope and follow it. (There is a thick white rope leading all the way from the vegetation belt above Panar Laban to the Summit. Use this rope to help climbing up and prevent falling when walking down. PLEASE FOLLOW and USE THE ROPE FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY).

The weather on the summit area can deteriorate in a matter of minutes. Thick mist may reduce visibility to only 3 meters, and rainstorm and wind of up to 120 km/hr may occur at times. Please hold on to the rope, which will lead you to safety.

If you are separated from your Mountain Guide(s) and lose sight of the rope, STOP IMMEDIATELY, stay where you are and blow your whistle to attract attention. PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO FIND YOUR WAY OUT. HELP is definitely on the way. The Park Officials at Sayat-sayat Check Point will notice that you are missing.


Dusun communities in the region hold Mount Kinabalu as a sacred site, a resting place for the departed souls of their dead ancestors in their journey to Libabou (the eternal resting place). Until now, Kinabalu’s name is still a mystery. The most popular view derives it from the Kadazan words, Aki Nabalu, meaning ‘the revered place of the dead’. The local Kadazandusuns belief that their spirits dwell on the mountain top. Among the bare rocks of the summit grows a moss which early Kadazandusun guides said provided food for the spirits of their ancestor.



High-altitude Sickness affects every single climber differently; anyone can be susceptible to the effects of high-altitude illness. Common mild symptoms of high-altitude sickness include headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, irritability, decreased concentration, and lack of energy. In more serious conditions, symptoms such as severe headache, chest tightness, nausea and vomiting could happen. However, mild symptoms can be treated by drinking lots of water or by eating. Do not continue if you have those symptoms. Stay at the same level or descend until the symptoms resolve. If these symptoms increase and worsen, you should descend the mountain, rehydrate, and rest.

A key to a successful climb is to appreciate the mountain. The difficult parts of the climb are the last two KMs to Laban Rata Resthouse. So, it is advisable to rest longer at Layang-Layang Hut for your body acclimates to its surroundings. Try to conserve energy whenever is possible. Take your time, as frequent short breaks are better than longer breaks. Keep steps short, and keep your weight centered over your legs.

DO NOT CLIMB IF you are suffering from or have a history of the following ailments:

Heart Disease
Chronic Asthma
Peptic Ulcer
Severe Anaemia
Epileptic Fits
Hepatitis (Jaundice)
Muscular Cramps
Obesity (Overweight)
Any other sickness that may be triggered by severe cold,exertion,and high altitude.
Climbing while pregnant is NOT recommended