Checklist of climbing hills and mountains of Sabah

10 Breathtaking Hills and Mountains of Sabah

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Sabah is a state of hundred mountains, and the top three highest mountains of Malaysia are located in Sabah (i.e. (1st) Mount Kinabalu, (2nd) Mount Trus Madi, and (3rd) Mount Tambuyukon). Climbers and hikers will be spoiled with choices, as every hills and mountains here have different characteristics in terms of geology, landscape and biodiversity. For example, today you can climb a mountain with dense rainforest cover, then tomorrow challenge a limestone pinnacle with bald rockface. The following is a list of 10 most unique hills and mountains in Sabah for a diverse climbing experience. Please note gunung and bukit mean mountain and hill in Malay language respectively.

Location map of Mount Kinabalu, Bukit Perahu, Bukit Kokol, Bukit Bongol, Batu Punggul, Mount Silam, Mount Nombuyukong, Bukit Lugas, Bukit Tengkorak, and Maragang Hill
Location of (1) Mount Kinabalu, (2) Bukit Perahu, (3) Bukit Kokol, (4) Bukit Bongol, (5) Batu Punggul, (6) Mount Silam, (7) Mount Nombuyukong, (8) Bukit Lugas, (9) Bukit Tengkorak, and (10) Maragang Hill

1. Mount Kinabalu

Height: 4,095 Metres (13,435 ft)   Location: Kinabalu Park (GPS: 6.075260, 116.558813)

As the first UNESCO World Heritage Site and the highest mountain of Malaysia, Mount Kinabalu is the No.1 tourist destination of Sabah. Mount Kinabalu is 700 million years old, and a snow-capped mountain during ice age back in 30,000 years ago. Today climbers still can see the ancient traces and jagged peaks carved by glacier near the summit.

Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu is so prominent that you can see her in most parts of Sabah (even Sandakan in East Coast)

But what truly makes Mount Kinabalu special is its cloud forest which is high in plant endemism. On the way up, you would see bright-colored pitcher plant and rare orchid next to the trail. The majestic Mount Kinabalu is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Malaysia. The climb is about 8.7 Kilometres in distance and usually take 2 days 1 night. → More Info…

Climbing Mount Kinabalu
Conquering Mount Kinabalu is in the bucket list of most Malaysians

2. Ruhiang Hill (Bukit Perahu)

Height: 300 Metres (984 ft)   Location: Tamparuli (GPS: 6.135493, 116.278955)

The locals say there are two ships stranded on the cone-shaped Ruhiang Hill. Actually they are two huge boulders that look like ships. The climb takes less than an hour.

View of Mount Kinabalu on Bukit Perahu
For this view, you need to reach the top of Bukit Perahu before 8am. Mount Kinabalu would be covered in mist after 9pm

Early birds who reach the peak in early morning would be rewarded by the breathtaking view of Mount Kinabalu on a sea of cloud. I can’t help to imagine that I can get on a big ship to sail to Mount Kinabalu on the cloud. After the climb, the bonus is to eat Tamparuli Fried Noodle in Tamparuli town. → More Info…

Ruhiang Hill (Bukit Perahu)
You would find many locals climbing Ruhiang Hill (Bukit Perahu) during weekends. See the ship-like boulder?

3. Bukit Kokol (Kokol Hill)

Height: 800 Metres (2,625 ft)   Location: Menggatal (GPS: 6.007611, 116.207367)

Two cool things draw many visitors to unwind on Kokol Hill. It is the nearest spot to escape the heat of Kota Kinabalu city, and its magnificent sunset view. You can just drive up there without climbing at all. If life is tough, have a cup of hot coffee in cooling breeze of Kokol Hill and enjoy the scenic view of Kota Kinabalu city and islands far away. To really free your mind, try paragliding on Kokol Hill. → More Info…

Kokol Hill (Bukit Hill)
The nice view, cooling temperature and paragliding are the highlight of Kokol Hill (Bukit Hill)

4. Bukit Bongol

Height: 500 Metres (1,730 ft)   Location: Kota Belud (GPS: 6.310287, 116.408424)

Want a fun hike with a group of friends? I heard a lot of praises about Bukit Bongol. The slopes are mostly gentle and the trail is less challenging. The whole hill is carpeted by grass, which is green in wet months and yellowish during drought, a spectacular scenery you all won’t forget. Climb to the high point before 9am and you would be lucky to see Mount Kinabalu, a perfect backdrop for your Instagram shots. → More Info…

Bukit Bongol in Kota Belud
Bukit Bongol in Kota Belud is the most grassy hill of Sabah

5. Batu Punggul

Height: 244 Metres (800 ft)   Location: Nabawan (GPS: 4.607299, 116.587644)

Located in interior, where Murut headhunters roamed in the past, Batu Punggul is the most mysterious hill of Sabah. Legend says this limestone pinnacle is a longhouse being turned into rock by angry God because the villagers made fun of the animals. At the foothill there is a cave where you can find the “fossilized furniture” such as jar and table. Climbing this vertical 800-feet limestone pinnacle will peak your adrenaline rush, and nobody will question your bravery if you can conquer Batu Punggul.→ More Info…

Batu Punggul in Sapulut
Batu Punggul is a 800-feet limestone pinnacle in Sabah interior. Photo (left) by Sticky Rice Travel

6. Mount Silam

Height: 884 Metres (2,900 ft)   Location: Lahad Datu (GPS: 4.956901, 118.165534)

You don’t need to get on a plane to have a bird-eye view of this beautiful land. Just visit the tower of heaven on Mount Silam, where you can see the picturesque scenery of Darvel Bay. The air up there is refreshing and the peak is covered in fog sometimes. Beside the tower is a nature trail that leads you to an alien world filled with mossy forest, forest crabs, rare orchid, pitcher plant, etc. → More Info…

The view of Darvel Bay, mossy forest and Tower of Heaven on Mount Silam
The view of Darvel Bay, mossy forest and Tower of Heaven on Mount Silam

7. Mount Nombuyukong

Height: 1,603.57 Metres (5,261 ft)   Location: Kota Marudu (GPS: 6.275650, 116.687114)

Mount Nombuyukong is another mountain in north of Kinabalu Park. Its pointy peak kind of triggering my insect-like instinct that motivates me to crawl to its tip. The climb is quite challenging but takes only half a day. This is a forested mountain for nature lovers who appreciate the fauna and flora in tropical rainforest of Borneo. You won’t be disappointed when you see so many interesting fungus, flowers, trees, and birds along the way. → More Info…

Mount Nombuyukong in Kinabalu Park
Mount Nombuyukong is one of the mountains in Kinabalu Park (Serinsim Substation, Kota Marudu)

8. Bukit Lugas

Height: 600 Metres (1,965 feet) above sea level   Location: Tambunan (GPS: 5.506507, 116.277218)

This is a great example to inspire a person that he doesn’t need to be tall to be attractive, if he has awesome characteristics. Bukit Lugas is just a small hill, but it has an impressive ridge that looks like dragon spine. Though the narrow path is a nightmare for people with acrophobia, they still want to try it. Anyway, it is safer than it seems. This hidden dragon is exposed when its pictures went viral a few years ago. → More Info…

Bukit Lugas between Tambunan and Keningau (Apin-Apin)
Ridge walk on Bukit Lugas

9. Bukit Tengkorak (Skull Hill)

Height: 183 Metres (597 ft)   Location: Semporna (GPS: 4.438507, 118.619756)

Bukit Tengkorak is part of an ancient volcanic rim (about 2 KM in diameter) and the largest pottery making site in Southeast Asia during the Neolithic period (about 3,000 years ago). It is estimated that more than 6 million prehistoric potsherds found on this hill, and you would see hundred of pottery potsherds on the way up.

Bukit Tengkorak (Skull Hill)
Beautiful grassland on Bukit Tengkorak (Skull Hill)

On top of this hill, you can have a panoramic view of Semporna town and islands. You can go further behind to explore the grassy knolls dotted with black volcanic rocks, to bag some amazing profile photos. → More Info…

Black volcanic rocks on Bukit Tengkorak (Skull Hill)
Black volcanic rocks on Bukit Tengkorak (Skull Hill)

10. Maragang Hill

Height: 2,232 Metres (7,323 ft)   Location: Kundasang (GPS: 6.039138, 116.585750)

The distance between the peaks of Mount Kinabalu and Maragang Hill is only 5 Kilometres! This makes Maragang Hill the best viewpoint for the highest mountain of Malaysia. The viewing platform on the peak allows you to capture Mount Kinabalu, lush montane forest and blue sky in one frame.

Maragang Hill in the morning
Maragang Hill in the morning

The 4-Kilometre climb is fairly easy and takes only an hour. A camping site is available nearby for those who want to stay back for stargazing. → More Info…

List of Hills and Mountains in Sabah

The list doesn’t end here. The following is a list of over 140 hills / mountains grouped by city and towns. Please note that not all of them are tourist-ready. Some destinations would require you to hire a guide or apply an entry permit. I try to link them to some useful websites (informative articles are so hard to come by nowadays). Please share in comment section below if you are keen to recommend any other good places. Thank you.

Beaufort

  1. Bukit Balibata

Keningau

  1. Gunung Alab (2,050 Metres / 6,726 ft)
  2. Matanoi Hill
  3. Bukit Donguan (Facebook)
  4. Bukit Janda
  5. Bukit Malik
  6. Bukit Matanoi (Facebook)
  7. Bukit Selomitha (Facebook)
  8. Bukit Sigup
  9. Bukit Soborong
  10. Bukit Trig Apin-Apin (574 Metres / 1,883 ft)
  11. Chanang Hill
  12. Bukit Bandukan
  13. Bukit Baverly Kikiran
  14. Bukit Gonipis
  15. Bukit Kara
  16. Bukit Kawah
  17. Bukit Masin
  18. Bukit Silui Mandanan
  19. Bukit Sumbiling Kikiran
Peak of Mount Nopungguk (1,430 Metres / 4,692 ft) in Kota Belud
Peak of Mount Nopungguk (1,430 Metres / 4,692 ft) in Kota Belud

Kota Belud

  1. Mount Nopungguk (1,430 Metres / 4,692 ft)
  2. Bukit Bongol (527 Metres / 1,730 ft)
  3. Mount Nungkok (1,652 Metres / 5,420 ft)
  4. Bukit Bendera
  5. Bukit Budu Sundu (599 Metres / 1,965 ft)
  6. Bukit Garas (690 Metres / 2,264 ft)
  7. Bukit Tinjau (video)
  8. Bukit Tunggul (video)
  9. Bukit Singkug
  10. Gunung Minodtuhan (2,360 Metres / 7,743 ft)
  11. Bukit Pinontungan (1,119.6 Metres / 3,673 ft)
  12. Bukit Bogung via purak ogis (866 Metres / 2841 ft)
  13. Bukit Kowatuan (986 Metres / 3,235 ft): Facebook
  14. Bukit Kolumpisau (1,033 Metres / 3,389 ft)
  15. Gunung Sadok
  16. Bukit Bagong via narinang
  17. Bukit Kujau
  18. Bukit Mogilin
  19. Bukit Trinity Kg Pandat
Bukit Botak / Bukit Gundul in Sepanggar
Bukit Botak / Bukit Gundul in Sepanggar is named after its bald top

Kota Kinabalu (KK)

  1. Bukit Kokol / Kokol Hill
  2. Bukit Gundul / Bukit Botak
  3. Bukit Padang, famous jogging park of KK people
  4. Bukit Helang (at Kg. Kebagu, Sepanggar): Facebook, video
  5. Bukit Janggut (300 Metres / 984 ft): video
  6. Bukit Kopungit
  7. Bukit Tuah (660 Metres / 2,165 ft)
  8. Signal Hill
  9. Bukit Lumpugou

Kota Marudu

  1. Gunung Nombuyukong (1,603.57 Metres / 5,261 ft)
  2. Bukit Cinta
  3. Bukit Pancaran /TV
  4. Bukit Doa
  5. Bukit Lotong
  6. Bukit Tagaroh
Peak of Senambung Hill
You can see Philippines from the top of Senambung Hill, Banggi Island

Kudat

  1. Senambung Hill (529 Metres / 1,736 ft), Banggi Island

Kunak

  1. Bukit Madai, edible bird nest mountain
  2. Bukit Tongkat Ali
  3. Bukit Pidung
  4. Bukit Tisop
Pyramid Hills of Kundasang
Pyramid Hills of Kundasang

Kundasang and Ranau

  1. Mount Kinabalu (4,095 Metres / 13,435 ft), the highest mountain of Malaysia
  2. Mount Tambuyukon (2,579 Metres / 8,461 ft), the third highest mountain of Malaysia (tough!)
  3. Maragang Hill (2,232 Metres / 7,323 ft): Facebook, Video
  4. Bukit Lugas Kg Waang Ranau (1,215 Metres / 3,986 ft) (Facebook)
  5. Sosodikon Hill / Bukit Pyramid (1,465 Metres / 4,806 ft)
  6. Bukit Dompurungon
  7. Bukit Hampuan Forest Reserve
  8. Bukit Kamunsu, Sabah Tea Garden
  9. Bukit Kimondou (Kg. Kibbas): video, Facebook
  10. Tinorindak Hill
Mountain range of Mount Tambuyukon, the third highest mountain of Malaysia
Mountain range of Mount Tambuyukon, the third highest mountain of Malaysia. You can tell it is hard to climb.

Lahad Datu

  1. Mount Silam
  2. Bukit Piton: Facebook
  3. Mount Danum (1,093 Metres / 3,586 ft)

Membakut

  1. Bukit Samudera
Limestone hills on Balambangan Island
There are many unnamed hills in Sabah, like those in Balambangan Island

Papar / Kinarut

  1. Bukit Bendera
  2. Bukit Boya, Outward Bound School
  3. Kinandukan Hill / Bukit Kinandukan Kelanahan (135 Metres / 443 ft): Facebook, video
  4. Bukit Kuburan
  5. Bukit Lumagas

Pitas

  1. Morovidu Hill
  2. Piniapat Hill (141 Metres / 463 ft): Facebook
  3. Mondou Hill (Bukit Mondou) (<80 Metres)
Batu Tulug Hill in Kinabatangan
Batu Tulug Hill in Kinabatangan. Its caves are ancient burial site with 125 wooden coffins of 200 to 250 years old

Sandakan / Kinabatangan

  1. Batu Tulug, the coffin hill (ancient burial site)
  2. Bukit Leila
  3. Bukit Mawar
  4. Bukit Sim Sim
  5. Bukit Sundang
  6. Bukit Trig
  7. Mount Walker
  8. Bukit Melanta
  9. Bukit Sapa Taring

Sapulut

  1. Batu Punggul (244 Metres / 800 ft)

Semporna

  1. Bukit Tengkorak / Skull Hill (183 Metres / 597 ft)
  2. Bohey Dulang, beautiful sea view of Semporna Islands Park
  3. Bukit Kemiri
  4. Bukit Parapat: video
  5. Bukit Pokas
Bohey Dulang Island of Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Semporna
Bohey Dulang Island of Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Semporna. The sea view on top of these hills is super awesome

Sipitang

  1. Mount Lumaku (1,900 Metres / 6,234 ft)
  2. Mount Rimau / Senipung Hill (2,025 Metres / 6,644 ft), Long Pasia
  3. Gunung Muruk Miau
  4. Bukit Tampalagas
Hanging garden of Mount Trus Madi
Hanging garden of Mount Trus Madi. Can you spot the climbers?

Tambunan

  1. Mount Trus Madi (2,642 Metres / 8,668 ft), the second highest mountain of Malaysia
  2. Gunung Wakid (1,372 Metres / 4,501 ft)
  3. Gunung Sinsing (2,603 Metres / 6,768 ft) and Gunung Kaingaran (2,482 Metres / 8,143 ft)
  4. Bukit Dandab / Dandab Hill (Tambunan Viewing Point or Sinurambi)
  5. Bukit Lugas
  6. Bukit Dampasak (950 Metres / 3,117 ft)
  7. Bukit Kolindasan (1,130 Metres / 3,707 ft)
  8. Bukit Kimbolung
Gunung Wakid in Tambunan
Gunung Wakid in Tambunan

Tamparuli

  1. Ruhiang Hill / Bukit Perahu (300 Metres / 984 ft)
  2. Bukit Kusai
  3. Bukit Mayang
  4. Mara Kara Hill
  5. Malba Trig Hill
  6. Nomburungui Hill
  7. Bukit Talantang (332 Metres)
  8. Bukit Sinagang
  9. Bukit Kulintangan

Tawau

  1. Bombalai Hill (530 Metres / 1,089 ft), ancient volcano rim
  2. Mount Lucia (1,240 Metres / 4,068 ft)
  3. Mount Magdalena (1,312 Metres / 4,304 ft), the highest mountain of Tawau
  4. Bukit Gemuk (428 Metres / 1,404 ft)
  5. Bukit 38
  6. Bukit Akar
  7. Bukit Cinta (276 Metres / 906 ft)
  8. Bukit Lie Man Kui
  9. Bukit Lipan
  10. Bukit Middle
  11. Bukit Pancang Tinagat (393 Metres / 1,289 ft)
  12. Bukit Sungai Udin
  13. Bukit Tukok, Kalabakan
  14. Lion Hill
  15. Wullersdorf Peak, Balung: Facebook, video
  16. Gunung Maria
  17. Mount Mostyn (495 Metres / 1,624 ft)
  18. Bukit Batu Hitam
  19. Bukit Lika / Bukit Botak
  20. Bukit Sumundu
Bukit Tirig in Teliok. Behind is the mangrove forest

Telipok

  1. Bukit Nulu Kebayau
  2. Bukit Tirig, Kg. Lapasan
  3. Bukit Binaong
  4. Bukit Kayu Madang
  5. Bukit Malawa
  6. Bukit Payung

Tenom

  1. Bukit Layang-Layang

Telupid

  1. Bukit Doji
  2. Bukit Microwave

Tongod

  1. Bukit RISM (Gunung Tinkar) (584.2 Metres / 1,917 ft), Centre of Sabah
Bukit RISM in the Centre of Sabah. This monument is built by Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia (RISM)

Tuaran

  1. Bukit Nuluh Lapai
  2. Bukit Kapur
  3. Bukit Ketam, Tenghilan Tuaran: video
  4. Bukit Merlin
  5. Bukit Merah, Karambunai
  6. Bukit Purak Mato, Kiulu (720 Metres / 2,362 ft)
  7. Bukit Tompinangan / Gray Hill
  8. Bukit Tungkalingan
  9. The Peak of Hope

It would take you almost 3 years to conquer all of them, even if you climb a new one every week, and there are probably hundred more new mountains to be added to this list in future. For every mountain that we conquer, it’s like making a new friend and you will always want to go back again. Stay safe and happy climbing!

Photos taken in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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