Hiking in Kinabalu National Park, Borneo

Orangutans and rainforests aside one of the other great things to do is hiking in the national park surrounding Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia. There is a multi-day trek option to summit the Mountain itself, but it certainly isn’t cheap. There are plenty of trails in the surrounding national park which we decided to take on instead.

Getting there

The national park is located around 2 hours from Kota Kinabalu by bus, before we arrived we honestly thought it was a little closer than that. Getting the bus is quite simple, walk over to <insert bus name here> and look/ask for a bus heading to Ranau. Let the driver know you want to get off at the National Park (he’ll probably already presume you are) and off you pop. The bus should cost between 20-30 MYR (we had read 25 was the most common price but we only paid 20).

A rather bumpy 2 hour ride later we pulled up outside the national park and were bundled off. A short walk up the hill to the entrance we paid the entrance fee (15MYR). After passing the gate it’s worth taking a right and heading around to the visitor centre, here you can get a very poor quality photocopied park map. Although the quality is poor it is just about good enough to navigate the many trails. We had planned to do one day of hiking, so decided on a loop that should take us a few hours.

Colourful fauna in the Kinabalu National Park
Colourful fauna in the park

The Hiking

Before getting to the park I was under the impression the mountain itself would be quite a prominent feature, it wasn’t actually viewable from a single point on any of the treks we did. It was quite a cloudy day but it still didn’t seem like there were many points you could actually get a view of the mountain. It was much better from the road to the west of the main entrance. The hiking was still pretty good though and there were plenty of wildlife including pygmy squirrels and different species of tropical birds.

Viewpoint from within Kinabalu National Park
Viewpoint over the surrounding area

We hiked from the main entrance off to the left on the Klau View trail crossing onto the Silau Silau trail and finishing down the Mempening . This took us around 4 hours and wasn’t overly strenuous. It took us higher up and through forests and finished off walking down past the river.

Getting Back

Once finished with the hiking getting back to Kinabalu is as simple as walking back down to the main road, crossing over to the other side and flagging down a passing bus/mini-bus. We ended up on a full sized coach that had come from Sandakan and paid 15MYR each for the journey back. A further 2 hours later and we were back in Kota Kinabalu.

In Summary

James on the trail in Kinabalu National Park, Borneo
On the trails of the National park

Kinabalu National Park is well worth a visit when in Borneo, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the hiking itself. From speaking to other travellers who had paid and been up the mountain is did sound like that was a worthwhile trek, but coming in at around £200 (we met one guy who had booked last minute and paid £400+). Well worth a day trip from Kota Kinabalu, but don’t get your hopes up for some of the best trekking the world has to offer.


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