Kinabalu National Park: A Guide For Adventure Travelers In Sabah

Kinabalu National Park: A Guide For Adventure Travelers In Sabah
| 2 min read

Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak in Southeast Asia, extending over 4000 meters (13123 feet) into the bright blue Bornean sky. Many adventure travelers will head to Kinabalu Park with the intention of climbing this mountain, however, the cost can be prohibitive. That being said, a trip to Kinabalu Park is still well worth it, regardless of whether or not you climb Mount Kinabalu. If you have less time or money to spare, or if your fitness level is simply not up to it, don’t fear; Kinabalu Park’s lush jungles, abundant hiking trails, clean air, and beautiful views are enough to inspire a trip to this mountainous region of Malaysian Borneo. Entry to the park, which serves as a conservation fee, is 15 MYR (about 5 USD).

An easy trip from Kota Kinabalu

Kinabalu Park's colorful surroundings
Source: Noey Neumark

With shuttle buses leaving frequently from the town of Kota Kinabalu, the journey to Kinabalu Park is simple as can be. Travelers should be prepared to wait for at least an hour, as bus drivers don’t leave until the bus is totally full, but the cheap cost (around 25 MYR, or 8 USD per person) justifies this minor inconvenience. The ride takes just under two hours and takes you up, up, up into the rolling mountain range surrounding Mount Kinabalu. Although the smooth, winding road can lull passengers to sleep, try to keep your eyes open to catch the lush green views in all directions. Mountains brimming with jungles fill the entire landscape, and colorful flora decorate the roadsides.

The bus driver can drop passengers off anywhere along the main road; there are several accommodations within a few kilometers in either direction from the Kinabalu Park entrance. Or, if you want to start exploring the park straight away, just hop off with the majority of passengers at the park’s large wooden gates.

Hiking trails to keep adventurers busy for a day or two

Jungled hiking trails
Source: Noey Neumark

While a trek up Mount Kinabalu may deserve a spot on your life bucket list, the trails throughout the park are perfect for travelers without the proper gear, time, or fitness to climb the mountain. With trails ranging from short to long, steep to flat, as well as an onsite Botanical Garden and several restaurants, the park offers something for everyone. Visitors to Kinabalu Park can hit all of the major lower trails in a day or two, from the Liwagu Trail along the river to the upward-sloping Mempening Trail. All trails are well-marked and most connect to one another, so trekking is both straightforward and convenient. These trails are all rich in biodiversity and hikers will appreciate the shaded paths and the delicious smell of fresh rainforest air.

Beautiful natural scenery including views of Mount Kinabalu

Beautiful nature overhead
Source: Noey Neumark

Whether you’re up at the summit of the Mempening or Bukit Tupai Trails or meandering along the rocky riverside, the scenery in Kinabalu Park is breathtaking. With abundant flora and fauna adorning every trail, from the mossy grounds below to the thick canopy above, Kinabalu Park makes hikers easily forget that Kota Kinabalu city is only two hours away. Towering green trees, moss-covered rocks and logs, and flowers of every color decorate the trails, and butterflies flutter overhead.

The ultimate rainforest experience in Kinabalu Park

Even for travelers not tackling Mount Kinabalu, the surrounding Kinabalu Park offers prime hiking for those seeking a rainforest adventure. Conveniently located a short jaunt from Kota Kinabalu and deep in the jungles of Borneo, a trip to Kinabalu Park should absolutely be on your Malaysian itinerary.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Noey has lived all over the world, from San Francisco to New York, Hanoi to Bangkok, and is currently pursuing an MBA in Nashville, Tennessee. Noey's ideal vacation consists of a bit of beach, a...Read more

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