Mount Kinabalu Climbing Tips

” How to prepare for Mount Kinabalu Climb? In this Mount Kinabalu Climbing Tips document, we will share with you all the tips to Climb Mount Kinabalu. Read before your Mount Kinabalu Hike!”


Complete Mount Kinabalu climbing guide for beginner


Everything You Need To Know before Climbing the Borneo’s Highest Mountain in our Tips to Climb Mount Kinabalu!


  • The most important point you have to take note in our Climbing Mount Kinabalu Tips is you are advised to book at least 6 months in advance. Due to conservation reasons and limited rooms, the accommodation is always fully booked.
  • Always book the tour with a licensed tour agent. There have been cases tourists cheated by UNLICENSED tour operators/agents.
  • Secure your climbing permit before booking your flight tickets.
  • All passports and visas must be valid at least 06 months from the date of entry into the country destination.
  • Conquering Mt. Kinabalu requires only 2 days 1 night. However, for a proper appreciation of your climb and let your body get used to high altitudes, it is better for you to spend 3 days and 2 nights on the mountain.
  • 2 days1 night accommodation package is available, but only open 30 days before the climbing date, which usually are fully booked.
  • You are Not advisable to fly to Kota Kinabalu and climb on the same day AND catch the same day’s flight going back to your hometown after the climb.
  • Kindly inform us if you have any dietary requirements and we will assist accordingly. This is because Laban Rata Restaurant cannot fulfill all special dietary requirements as some meals are served in buffet style.
  • Train a little beforehand. Exercise regularly and start your training well in advance before your climb.
  • Do not climb if you are suffering from or have a history of Heart Disease, Hypertension, Chronic Asthma, Peptic Ulcer, Severe Anaemia, Diabetes, Epileptic Fits, Arthritis, Palpitation, Hepatitis (Jaundice), Muscular Cramps, Obesity or any other sickness that may be triggered by severe cold, exertion, and high altitude.


  • Had enough sleep a day before the climb. Do not consume alcohol prior to your climb.
  • Make sure you cut your toenails and have correct fitting footwear. The sturdier the shoes, the less risk of stumbling and injuring yourself.
  • Carry light and do not wear jeans.
  • Bring cash instead of a credit card. Mountain hut also accepts some e-wallet payment gateway as well.
  • Original Passport/Identification is required for verification during registration.
  • KEEP the extra luggage/belonging that you don’t wish to bring with you for the climb at Sutera Sanctuary Lodges reception office (RM12/luggage).
  • You are not allowed to climb on your own. It is compulsory to hire a mountain guide for Mount Kinabalu climb.
  • You may hire a porter to carry your backpack at Park HQ. Payments will be made directly to the porter by cash.
  • In case you forget anything else, you still can buy the basic items at the grocer shop next to Kinabalu Park HQ. (Example: Poncho, headlamp, batteries, toiletries, insect repellent, etc)
  • The distance from Park HQ to Timpohon Gate starting point is about 4KM (by land transfer).
  • Display your climbing permit to Park Officials at Timpohon Gate’s checkpoint before you start your climbing.
  • The climbing gate will be closed at 10.30 am. Afterwhich, no climbing will be allowed.
  • Wear your climbing tag at all times.


From Timpohon Gate to  Panalaban Base Camp

  • Set a slow and steady pace from the beginning and avoid overexertion.
  • Distance from Timpohon Gate (the starting point) to Panalaban is 6km (approximately 4-6 hours climb).
  • Signs are placed every 500 meters along the trail up to Panalaban base camp.
  • Restroom is available at every shelter with basic set up, free of charge. However, you have to prepare tissue paper on your own.
  • The trail can be slippery after rain. Please take a little extra caution 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. The rubbish bin can be found at all shelters.
  • There is a shelter at every 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 stomach upset).
  • Mountain guides will always follow the last person; they may not trek at 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.
  • Please 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.
  • In order to avoid altitude sickness, trek at a slow pace, and stay hydrated. Take a short rest at each shelter to get used to the altitude.
  • If you encounter Altitude Sickness, stop immediately; continue slowly only if you feel better.
  • Time keeping is important for climbers who had booked Via Ferrata activities. All via ferrata climber have to reach Pendant Hut before 4 pm to attend a mandatory safety briefing.
  • Temperature could drop significantly from the 5th shelter. Put on your warm jacket to stay warm.


  • Located at 3,272 meters above sea level, Panalaban is the final pit stop before ascending to the Low’s Peak Summit of Mount Kinabalu. Climbers are compulsory to spend a night here before the summit hike.
  • The temperature at Panalaban is about 12-15 Celsius.
  • There are a few mountain huts at Panalaban, which are Laban Rata Resthouse, Pendant Hut, Panalaban Hostel (Mokodou & Kinotoki), and Lemaing Hut.
  • Replace your wet clothes to avoid getting cold once you reached your mountain hut before you can enjoy your meal comfortably.
  • Standard check-in and check-out time for Laban Rata Rest House is 1 pm and 10.30 am.
  • For Pendant Hut, the standard check-in time is 2 pm to 4 pm; the Standard check-out time is before 12:00pm.
  • The only restaurant at Panalaban is located at Laban Rata Resthouse.
  • Laban Rata Restaurant no longer provides 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. The restaurant will only provide coffee & tea during breakfast hour and supper.
  • There is a small grocery shop next to the restaurant selling beers, beverages, snacks, glove, socks, etc.
  • Dinner will be served from 4.30 pm to 7 pm. Ala carte menu is available as well.
  • There is a water dispenser at Pendant Hut and Panalaban Hostel.
  • All rooms at Panalaban are non-heated rooms, equipped with a blanket/sleeping bag, mattress, pillow, and bedsheet.
  • The highest post box, certified by the Malaysia Book of Records, is located at Pendant Hut. You can buy a nice postcard from here too!
  • Rest early. Please be considerate, keep silent as other climbers might be sleeping/resting.


From Panalaban to Summit Low’s Peak

  • To cut down weight, you may leave unnecessary stuffs in your mountain hut. Pack only essentials for summit hike.
  • Headlamp is essential for night hike. Choose headlamp instead of torchlight as they leave both your hands-free.
  • Waterproof glove with good grip is the best as you’ll need to hold on the white rope frequently.
  • Climbing ID tag is a must. Please bring it with you at all times.
  • Carrying 1-liter water is enough as you won’t really feel thirsty under cold temperatures.
  • Distance from Panalaban to summit Low’s Peak is around 2.8KM. There is marker at every kilometer.
  • Climb from Panalaban to the summit normally takes 3 to 5 hours depends on your fitness.
  • 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 checkpoint – Sayat-Sayat Check-Point is 5.30 am.
  • Display your climbing permit to the officer at Sayat-Sayat Check Point in order to earn your climbing certificate.
  • The only restroom along the summit trail located at Sayat-Sayat Hut.
  • Low’s Peak Circuit climber(s) must arrive at KM 7.5 – Via Ferrata starting point before 6.30 am. Walk The Torq climber(s) must arrive at Via Ferrata starting point – Sayat Sayat before 7.15 am. Late arrival will be disqualified from participate in the Via Ferrata activity.
  • Chances of the mountain being free of clouds are highest during the early morning hours.
  • Be ready for cold, wind, and rain. The temperature at the peak could be lower than 5°C and windy day makes it worse.
  • The last part of the climb is on a bare granite rock, proceed slowly and carefully.
  • Only a few people can stand at the photo-taking signage at a time, so it gets very crowded. Climbers are required to take a turn for photo taking session.
  • After you reach the top of Mount Kinabalu, there will be a wait in the pre-dawn cold before sunrise. It is important to keep your body warm.
  • Note that the sunrise takes place as early as 5:30 am to 6:00 am. Don’t miss the beautiful sunrise!
  • A small water pond can be found near the summit where you can take beautiful reflection photos!


  • Descending stresses your knee and muscle more than ascending. Try to descend slowly to avoid serious joint and muscle pain later. This is one of the important tips to climb Mount Kinabalu during descending.
  • Keep your center of gravity over your legs at all times.
  • Traverse zig-zag, sideways or s-shaped rather than going straight downhills in order to protect your toes and knees.
  • When you’re carrying trekking poles, lengthen them accordingly. Poles that are too low will have you reaching unnecessarily forward, thereby disrupting your center of gravity.
  • Make sure nothing is left behind when you check-out your room.
  • Take the KOKTAS shuttle bus from Timpohon Gate to Kinabalu Park HQ.
  • Remember to claim your bag before transfer back to Kota Kinabalu city if you store your luggage at Sutera Sanctuary Lodges
  • If you hire a porter, please claim your belongings before you transfer back to Kota Kinabalu city.
  • Lastly, your certificate of achievement! (Collect from our team before heading back to the city).

Myths and legends of Mount Kinabalu


Firstly, knowing the myth is one of the important tips to climb Mount Kinabalu. Kadazandusun 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 from the Dusun words, “Ki Nabalu”, meaning “a giant rock associate with spirit” or “the revered resting or dwelling place of the spirits of the death”. In previous times, they performed a ritual named monolob near the summit, slaughtering chickens as an offering to appease the spirits of the mountain as well as the ancestral spirits who lived there. After that, when Kinabalu Park was gazetted in 1964, turning it into a fully protected area managed by the state government, they discontinue the traditional rituals due to access restrictions.

The local communities believe if anyone curse, shout, or disrespect the mountain, they will offend the spirits of the mountain. In conclusion, respect the mountain and the local belief is what every climber should do. It is one of the very important Mount Kinabalu Climbing Tips.


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) 

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 Officers when you pass by the checkpoints located at Timpohon Gate and Sayat-Sayat on your way up and down.

If for any reason, you are separated from your group or the Mountain Guide(s), please follow the white rope that marks the Summit Trail. Besides that, 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 Panalaban 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. Besides that, a 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.

In the case when you are separated from your Mountain Guide(s) and lose sight of the rope, STOP IMMEDIATELY. Then, stays where you are, and blow your whistle to attract attention. Most importantly, 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.



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 addition, there are more serious conditions, symptoms such as severe headache, chest tightness, nausea, and vomiting could happen. 

However, you may treat those mild symptoms 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 resolved. If these symptoms increase and worsen, you should descend to lower elevation, rehydrate, and rest.

A key to a successful climb is to appreciate the mountain. In our tips to climb Mount Kinabalu, 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 Shelter for your body to acclimates to its surroundings. Furthermore, try to conserve energy whenever is possible. Take your time, as frequent short breaks are better than longer breaks. Finally, keep steps short, and keep your weight centered over your legs.

Follow all the Mount Kinabalu Climbing Tips here will give you a more comfortable and well-prepared hiking experience.

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

Please follow all the Tips to climb Mount Kinabalu to avoid any unhappiness during your Mount Kinabalu Climb