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How to Climb Mount Kinabalu and How Much it Cost?

Mt. Kinabalu

Standing majestically at 4,095 Meters (13,435 feet), Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain of Malaysia. Mt. Kinabalu derives its name from the Kadazan word, Aki Nabalu, meaning ‘the revered place of the dead’. It is one of the most conquerable peaks in the world. This article will help you to reach its summit, with some info that travel agents don’t want you to know.

Mount Kinabalu, highest mountain in Malaysia

Mt. Kinabalu is the highest mountain of Borneo and Malaysia.

News (10 Dec 2016): Besides the standard Ranau trail (open on 1 Dec 2015), the second summit trail named Kota Belud Trail is open on 9 Dec 2016.

  1. The maximum number of climbers (daily quota) is 165 climbers per day.
  2. Climb Permit fee is now RM200 for foreigner; RM50 for Malaysian.
  3. Child under 16 must be accompanied by a dedicated Mountain Guide. Each Mountain Guide can only take up to 2 children (or up to 5 adult climbers).
  4. Mountain Guide who takes care of children will not guide adult climber. For example, if your group has 3 adult and a child (below 16) climbers, you must hire two mountain guides (one to take care of adult, another one for child only).
  5. The rate of mountain guide service is RM230.
  6. The rate of porter service is RM65 per day.

You may follow the Facebook of Sabah Parks for latest news and notice.

Mount Kinabalu’s specialty lies in its location at a renowned World Heritage Site – Kinabalu Park. Nature lovers will be delighted to be able to witness the many variations of flora and fauna that are to be found on the mountain at different altitudes.

1. How much does it cost?

I know you want a quick answer. The lowest climbing fee of Mt. Kinabalu is about RM916 (≈USD218) for International Tourist and RM554 for Malaysian (last updated: Oct 2019). The cost includes transportation, accommodation, meals, mountain guide, permit, insurance, and other expenses. Please download the Excel file to see the itemized budget. My calculation is based on the standard package (overnight in Laban Rata and start climbing at Timpohon Gate for single adult).

  1. The Best Time to climb Mt. Kinabalu is between March and August, which are the dry seasons of Sabah. The peak season is Apr to Jun.
  2. You can climb in other months, but try to avoid Dec and Jan, which are the wettest months, due to the North-East Monsoon
  3. Laban Rata Rest House is the accommodation 2.72 KM before the summit of Mt. Kinabalu. Most climbers overnight here before conquering Mt. Kinabalu in next morning.
  4. If you are not allowed to climb Mt. Kinabalu in bad weather, there is No Refund.

How to Book a Climb Package

Booking the one-night Accommodation at Laban Rata (a.k.a. Panalaban) is the FIRST step. You can’t climb Mt. Kinabalu if you haven’t reserved any room on the mountain. Camping on the mountain is not allowed.

A few important things to note:

  1. You must book at least 6 months in advance. The park allows only 135 climbers to climb per day, due to conservation and limited rooms, so the accommodation is always fully booked.
  2. Conquering Mt. Kinabalu requires only 2 days 1 night. (some can do it in one day but you have to be very fit)
  3. However, to maximize profit, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (management of accommodation) usually sells you 3-day-2-night accommodation (with 1 extra night at Kinabalu Park, foothill of Mt. Kinabalu).
  4. 2-day-1-night accommodation package is available, but only open 30 days before the climbing date.
  5. Gunting Lagadan Hut, Panar Laban Hut, Waras Hut, and Lemaing Hostel are next to Laban Rata, and these accommodations are Cheaper.
  6. All accommodation package is inclusive of full meals (buffet style).

You can book accommodation in Kota Kinabalu City at www.beelik.com.

There are 3 ways to book the climb package:

1. Book with Travel Agent

If you can afford, just book the tour package with licensed tour agents such as Mountkinabalu.com, Borneo Calling and Outback Venture. Though you will see a markup of price than I mentioned earlier, they will take care of everything, from transportation, registration, to the end of climb. This is the Best option.

2. Book with Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (SSL)

SSL is the management of accommodation in Kinabalu Park and Laban Rata. For booking, you can contact them at:
E-mail: info@suterasanctuarylodges.com.my
Tel: +60 88 308 914 / 308 915 / 308 916
Website: www.suterasanctuarylodges.com.my
Facebook: SuteraSanctuary
Address: Lot G15, Ground Floor, Wisma Sabah, 88000, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. (see location map)
Business Hours: 9am-6pm (Mon-Fri), 9am-4pm (Sat), close on Sun & Public Holiday

office of Sutera Sanctuary Lodges
Pic: office of Sutera Sanctuary Lodges

Online Booking is available in website of Sutera Sanctuary Lodges. You may drop by the office of SSL, which is located in ground floor of Wisma Sabah building in Kota Kinabalu city center and next to Wisma Merdeka, a popular shopping mall. Besides booking, the friendly staffs can answer all your questions on the spot. They can arrange full transport service for you too (the fees are quite high though). If you are lucky, you can find last minute cancellation by other tourists so you can snap up the vacancy. Anyway, don’t bet on this.

3. Sabah Parks

Next to Laban Rata Resthouse, Lemaing Hostel and Panalaban Hostels are new (and cheaper) accommodation available to climbers. Lemaing Hostel is only open to Malaysian climbers. You must book the accommodation directly with Sabah Parks, the management of these hostels. Please note you need to to pay other mandatory fees such as climb permit, insurance and guide fee, besides the meals and accommodation there.

All accommodations on Mount Kinabalu (Laban Rata / Panalaban)

All accommodations on Mount Kinabalu (Laban Rata / Panalaban)

A) Lemaing Hostel (for Malaysian only)

Open in 2014, this hostel has 75 bunk beds. (RM is Malaysian Ringgit (MYR).)
Accommodation & Meals: RM200
Insurance: RM7
Permit: RM50 (adult), RM30 (below 18)

Lemaing Hostel

Lemaing Hostel is near to Laban Rata Resthouse

B) Panalaban Hostels (for Malaysian and Foreigner)

Open in 2019, Panalaban Hostels (Kinotoki and Mokodou) can accommodate 50 climbers.
Accommodation & Meals: RM400
Insurance: RM7
Permit: (Malaysian rate) RM50 (adult), RM30 (below 18); (Foreigner Rate) RM200 (adult), RM80 (below 18)

Fees of Lemaing Hostel and Panalaban Hostels

Sabah Parks Contact:

You can visit Sabah Parks office located in KK Times Square (Kota Kinabalu City) to book room and make payment:
Opening Hour: 8:00AM – 5:00PM, Mon-Fri (closed on Sat, Sun & Public Holiday)
Phone: +60 88-523531 / +60 88-523572
E-mail: reservation@sabahparks.org.my, sabahparks@gmail.com
Pricing info and Booking Form: Lemaing Hostel, Panalaban Hostels

Still No Space?

You can climb the second or third highest mountains of Sabah (and Malaysia), namely, Mt. Trus Madi (2,642M) and Mt. Tambuyukon (2,579M). Though they are about half the height of Mt. Kinabalu, the climb is much more tougher.

Itinerary of the Climb

Below is a run-down of the 3-day-2-night climbing tour in brief:

Day 1

Check-in to overnight at Kinabalu Park (see location map), which is 88 KM away from Kota Kinabalu (KK). The extra night helps your body to adapt to the height so you will be less vulnerable to Altitude Sickness (acute mountain sickness) in the climb next day. Here is a list of accommodations near Kinabalu Park.

Day 2

9am: Register and pay fees (climb permit, insurance, guide, etc.) to Sabah Parks at Kinabalu Park HQ. Collect your name tag (climb permit) and packed lunch (usually consists of sandwiches, candy bar and a fruit, with a small bottle of drinking water), then meet your guide and porter (if hired). You also can arrange return transport there to transfer you between gate and park for a fee. Be there before 10:30am or they won’t allow you to climb.
9:30am: Transfer to Timpohon Gate, the starting point of the climb.
10am: Start of Climb!
4pm: Reach Laban Rata Rest House. Usually it takes 6 to 8 hours, depend on your fitness.
– Overnight at Laban Rata (or other huts)

Day 3

2am: Gather and having breakfast at Laban Rata, then head to the summit.
(The park may not allow you to climb in very bad weather)
6am: Reaching the summit of Mt. Kinabalu
7am: Descending to Laban Rata
10am: Check-out and descend to Kinabalu Park
1:30pm: Back to KK

Photo Walkthrough (with latest photos and info on new Ranau Trail)

Below are the photo walk-through of the 2-day climb in chronological order. The new Ranau summit trail (open on 1 Dec 2015) is 200 Meters longer than the old trail. They say the new trail is more challenging, but I didn’t feel much difference.

Or you can watch the video below:

Day 1: Climbing to Laban Rata

The standard trail starts from the Timpohon Gate (1,800m; 5,906 ft) which is about 4KM away from the Kinabalu Park Headquarters. Before reaching Laban Rata (3,273m; 10,738 ft), climbers will encounter a series of trail shelters (pondok)—Pondok Kandis, Pondok Ubah, Pondok Lowii, Layang-Layang, Pondok Villosa, and Pondok Paka. The climb from Timpohon Gate to Laban Rata normally takes 6 to 8 hours (for 6 KM).

Timpohon Gate
Pic: Timpohon Gate. You can buy basic supply such as snacks, drink and raincoat here.

Carson Waterfall
Pic: you will see the miniature Carson Waterfall very soon.

trail signage and map
Pic: There are signages and markers every 0.5 or 1KM along the trail, to show how far you go.

shelter next to trail
Pic: There is shelter for every 1 KM, where you can rest, refill water (untreated spring water), use the toilet and dump your trash.

Pygmy Squirrel
Pic: Cute pygmy squirrel would come to you wanting food.

trail to Mt. Kinabalu
The trail is clear and in moderate steepness most of the time. You will feel like walking on endless staircase than climbing. Just go slow and enjoy the scenic cloud forest (montane forest).

staff quarter
Pic: If you see this staff quarter, you are half way done.

pitcher plant
Pic: after 4 KM, pay attention to your left, you will see many big and bright-color Villosa pitcher plant in the shrubs. This species is endemic to Kinabalu Park of Sabah.

flora of Kinabalu Park
Along the trails, be sure to keep your eyes open for the plenteous interesting vegetation to check out. The unique ecology is what makes Kinabalu Park the UNESCO World Heritage Site, not just the Mt. Kinabalu. Kinabalu Park has the highest density of orchid species in the world.

ultrabasic rocks of Mt. Kinabalu
Pic: you will see the yellow path. These yellow rocks are 40-million-year-old ultrabasic or ultramafic rocks, and it is an interesting geology feature of Kinabalu Park.

ultramafic forest of Kinabalu Park
Pic: Ultramafic forest of Kinabalu Park.
Very few plant can adapt to the poor nutrients of ultrabasic soil, that’s why most vegetation in this area looks odd, as if you enter another planet.

trail with big boulders
Pic: when you see the trail with big dark-grey boulders with rough edges, congratulations! You are quite near to Laban Rata now. The boulders are slippery after rain so watch your steps. A walking pole will help you to balance.

Laban Rata resthouse of Mt. Kinabalu
Pic: Hooray! Laban Rata! You are now 3,272 metres above sea level. This is the accommodation where most climbers spend a night.

restaurant of Laban Rata
Pic: the restaurant of Laban Rata where you claim your buffet meals. You better reach Laban Rata before the restaurant closes at 7:30pm.

view from Laban Rata
The scenery at Laban Rata is fantastic! Just enjoy the view with a cup of hot coffee in your hand. The dense cloud is under your feet. The sunset view at Laban Rata is one of the best in Sabah.

The highest post box of Malaysia

Sending a postcard from the highest post box of Malaysia

FYI, you can send postcard from the highest post box of Malaysia, which is located next to Pendant Hut in Laban Rata.

room of Laban Rata
Pic: without heater, my room was freezing cold…

There are overnight accommodations provided for climbers on the mountain (Laban Rata Rest House, Gunting Lagadan Hut, Waras Hut and Lemaing Hostel). The rooms are humbly decorated but are comfortably equipped thick blankets, bunk beds, as well as clean drinking water.

cold temperature on Mt. Kinabalu
Pic: the temperature on the mountain can be lower than 10°C (50°F) and windy day makes it worse. It can be near freezing point near the summit so wear warm clothing.

Good Night! Sleep earlier because you need to wake up very early next day.

“Though perhaps not the highest mountain in the world, it is of immense height” (captain Alexander Dalrymple, 1769)

Day 2: Conquer Mt. Kinabalu

The climb to the summit resumes at 2am the next morning. The climb from Laban Rata to the summit normally takes 4 to 5 hours. To cut down weight, you leave unnecessary stuffs in Laban Rata. There is no water point to the summit (except Sayat-Sayat checkpoint). Carrying 1 Litre is quite enough as you won’t feel really thirsty under cold temperature.

Night view of Ranau town

In Ranau Trail, you can see the night view of Ranau town

Start of summit trail (Ranau Trail)

Summit trail (Ranau Trail)

The climb will start with steep ascend for about two hours on stairway. Then you will come to a section which is the most challenging part and requires you to hold onto a rope to move up. Just proceed slowly and cautiously.

alpine forest of Mt. Kinabalu

The sub alpine vegetation of high altitude

Ranau Trail

Beautiful scenery along Ranau Trail

Sayat-Sayat checkpoint
Pic: The Sayat-Sayat checkpoint. You need to register here so you can earn the certificate.

Rock-face trail to the summit

Rock-face trail to the summit

After Sayat-Sayat, the trail will be mainly flat rocky surface with 15 to 20 degrees of inclination.

view at 7KM
Pic: the nice view at 7th KM, where you can see Kota Belud town.

Summit trail after Sayat-Sayat

Summit trail after Sayat-Sayat. Note the Donkey Ears Peak damaged by earthquake

alpine vegetation
Pic: As you move upward to higher alpine zone, the vegetation will become thinner, so is the air. You will feel that your body is heavier and get tired easily.

South Peak of Mount Kinabalu
Pic: South Peak, the most photogenic peak of Mt. Kinabalu.

At this point, due to exhaustion, you would start to curse around and say “Why am I doing here?”. Be patient, my friend, you will be rewarded dearly later.

St. John Peak of Gunung Kinabalu
Pic: St John Peak, the 2nd highest peak (4090.7M). See the face in the peak?

Low's Peak of Mount Kinabalu

The last peak to conquer, Low’s Peak. The summit is on its tip. A daunting view to tired climbers..

Wishing Pool at the Low's Peak.

“Wishing Pool” at the Low’s Peak.

trail to the summit of Mount Kinabalu
Pic: the last rope section to drain your last energy reserve. You have come this far so you must make it!

Group photo on the summit

Group photo on the summit (medal not included)

50,000 climbers leaves their footsteps here annually. Despite the hardship, none of them shows a face of regret on the summit. You have only an hour to enjoy the moment of your sweet victory, as the guide will ask you to leave before 8am, because the mountain will be covered in dense fog shortly (poor visibility).

Bonus: If you reach the summit before 6am, you will be rewarded by the beautiful sunrise view on the highest mountain of Borneo.

More Tips and Advices

  1. Pack Light. Don’t carry more than 6 Kg of weight for the climb. Those bringing huge backpacks can hire porters (for extra fee) to carry their bags for them.
  2. The climate is cool with an average temperature range of 15°C to 24°C (59°F to 75°F) at the Kinabalu Park Headquarters and 6°C to 10°C (42°F to 50°F) on the mountain. It can even go down to freezing point in coldest months (Nov-Dec). Climbers are recommended to wear breathable cotton clothing and comfortable pair of hiking boots.
  3. Climbers are also reminded to be ready with torch lights, raincoats and warm clothes in case it rains and the temperature drops.
  4. Descending stresses your knee and muscle more than ascending. Try to descend slowly to avoid serious joint and muscle pain later.
  5. Trail can be slippery after rain. Wear comfortable trekking or hiking shoes with good grip (best if it’s waterproof).
  6. Stay with your group and Mountain Guide at all times. Never walk off trail.
  7. Don’t climb if you have ailments such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and other sickness that severely affects your fitness.
  8. Always book the tour with licensed tour agent. There have been cases tourists cheated by unlicensed agents.
  9. Mt. Kinabalu is the Sacred Mountain (resting place of the deceased) of Sabah. Please be respectful and refrain from doing anything offensive to local belief such as taking nude photo.
  10. You may check out more photos of Mt. Kinabalu in my online album

Things to Bring

  • Passport / MyKad (for registration)
  • Proof of Accommodation Booking
  • Drinking Water (in Refillable 1 Litre water bottle)
  • LED Headlamp (head torch)
  • Energy Bars / Chocolate Bars
  • Light Backpack (best if come with raincover)
  • Raincoat / Poncho (Murphy’s Law says it’ll rain if you don’t bring one)
  • Toiletries (tissue paper, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste)
  • Warm Clothing (Wind breaker, Fleece)
  • Extra clothing and socks
  • Glove
  • Towel
  • Cash
  • Camera and spare Battery
  • Medication such as painkiller, headache or altitude sickness tablet
  • Plastic bags: to store rubbish and soil clothing
  • Condom
  • Optional: walking pole, sunblock lotion, sunglass, power bank

I hope you find this guide useful. Please feel free to add your tips in Comment section to perfect this guide for everyone.

Nova Renata

Author: Nova Renata is a freelance writer and editor based in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. When not writing at her desk, she will be cuddling her cat, clocking some miles or rolling on the mats. She aspires to be a best-selling author with solid six pack abs one day. Visit her Linked In profile.


Photos taken in Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

Where to see Orangutan, Proboscis Monkey, Sunbear, Pygmy Elephant and Hornbill of Borneo

Orangutan Vs Proboscis Monkey

Does Sabah have anything extraordinary on world map? Foreigners would not know your favourite celebrity in Malaysia. But when you mention the word “Borneo”, they would reply, “Oh I know, that’s where orangutan lives!” Orangutan is a superstar in animal kingdom and is featured as much as Kangaroo and Panda in nature channels.

Superstars of Borneo: Orangutan, Proboscis Monkey, Pygmy Elephant, Sunbear and Hornbill

Superstars of Borneo: Orangutan, Proboscis Monkey, Pygmy Elephant, Sunbear and Hornbill

However, orangutan, a.k.a. Man of the Forest, isn’t the only wonder in our 140-million-year-old Borneo rainforest (Amazon is only 60 million). Come and meet the “Borneo version” of Playboy, Teddy Bear, Mini Jumbo and Love Bird, which are Proboscis Monkey, Sunbear, Pygmy Elephant and Hornbill respectively, the other four iconic wildlife rule the third largest island on earth. Allow me briefly introduce these charismatic and must-see animals of Borneo:-

1. Orangutan — Man of the Forest

say Hi to your cousin (just kidding), orangutan, is one of our closest relative, as their DNA is 97% resemble to human. If you look at their eyes and expression, you know they are thinking animal. Orangutan probably inspired the making of first King Kong movie, and you may have seen orangutan in movies such as Maurice in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and King Louie in Jungle Book.

Orangutan of Borneo

Orangutan is only found in Borneo and Sumatra

Orangutan is smarter than Chimpanzee. They know how to use tools, memorizing the fruiting season of different fruit and pass on this knowledge to their offspring. Orangutan is the only great ape of Asia. So please stop calling orangutan a monkey, that’s an insult to them lol.

2. Proboscis Monkey — Playboy of Borneo

This peculiar long-nosed monkey has an amusing nickname, i.e. Orang Belanda (means Dutch Man in Malay language) because of its big nose and beer belly (don’t be offended ok, if you are from Netherlands). Though you would think the long, pendulous nose of adult males is funny, the female monkey think it’s sexy. And strong male proboscis monkey has dozen of wives.

Male Proboscis Monkey

“Huh? Banana? No Thanks.”

Never feed Proboscis Monkey with banana. Their digestion system is meant for breaking down mangrove leaves. Anything sweet will ferment and create lot of gas in their stomach, and that could cause death.

3. Pygmy Elephant — Mini Elephant

Pygmy Elephant is the smallest elephant on earth and only a thousand of them left in Sabah, so they are critically endangered and far rarer than African elephant (with a population of 350,000+ and always reported as “in worrying status” by world media).

Pygmy elephant

Pygmy elephant is the most endangered elephant species

Pygmy Elephant looks like Asian Elephant, but both species separated from each other around three million years ago, and Pygmy Elephant evolves into a smaller subspecies that has longer tail and round baby face. Pygmy Elephants love durian and they swallow it as a whole.

4. Bornean Sun Bear — Teddy Bear of Borneo

About the size of a dog, Bornean Sun Bear is the world’s tiniest bear. The baby bear is so adorable and cuddly that some people keep it as pet illegally. For such a beautiful creature, you might imagine that they live a fairytale life in a candy house filled with cookies.

Bornean Sunbear

LOL Bear

Instead, they live in danger every day. Poachers shoot them without hesitation, for their highly priced gallbladder. And their cute baby bears would be kept as pet, but will be abandoned eventually after they grow too big to be handled. Never live in the wild since young, these bears won’t survive.

5. Hornbills — Love Birds of Borneo

Hornbills are monogamous and a symbol of fidelity. I always see them flying in pair. There are 8 species of hornbills in Borneo, each with interesting characteristics. For example, Helmeted Hornbill is called Burung Tebang Mentua (Chop Mother-in-law in Malay language) by locals because of its long eerie call that sounds like evil laughter.

Hornbills of Borneo

Hornbills of Borneo

During hatching period, female hornbill seals herself inside a tree hole, leaving a slit for feeding by her “husband”. The male can come back and forth as many as 70 times a day to feed. This goes on for months until the chick hatched. If this is not love, what it is then.

Best Place to See Them All?

You can see these “big 5” wildlife in only 2 days in Sandakan, the gateway to wildlife sanctuary of Borneo. Sepilok and Kinabatangan will be your best destinations for wildlife sighting in Borneo. For tour and accommodation, I stayed in the lodges of Nasalis Larvatus Tours which are rated as 4+ stars by TripAdvisor.

1. Sepilok

Sepilok is a a virgin forest reserve about 26 KM away from Sandakan City and highly accessible by public transport. Tourists love this place because they can see Orangutan, Sunbear and probably Hornbill in one trip. The following are three parks that are adjacent to one another in Sepilok.

1) Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC)

Founded in 1964, SORC is the most popular tourist attraction in Sandakan. Orphan orangutan is sent here for survival skill training such as climbing and food hunting. They will be released to the wild after they “graduate” from this orangutan school. The best time to see them is during the feeding time at 10am and 3pm daily. The Centre also has a hall where you can see cute baby orangutan playing in nursery.

Feeding time at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Feeding time at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

2) Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC)

Located just next to SORC, BSBCC houses and rehabiliates over 40 bears rescued from illegal zoo and pet owners. BSBCC won the Best Nature Attraction in Sabah Tourism Awards 2017 and its founder Dr. Wong is named as one of the CNN Heroes in 2017.

A sleeping sunbear high on tree

A sleeping sunbear high on a tree

The bears roam in a confined forested area for tourists to observe them from a rised platform. You will be amazed by their tree climbing skill and playful behavior. Some staffs are around to share the story of each bear. Their sad stories could make you cry, but sun bear gets far less attention than Polar Bear and Panda.

3) Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC)

RDC is a beautiful forest park with tall tropical trees, lake, nature trails and exhibition hall. You can walk on their 15-Metre high sturdy walkway to see everything at canopy level.

Canopy walkway of Rainforest Discovery Centre

Canopy walkway of Rainforest Discovery Centre

This place is also an ideal bird-watching location where you would find hornbill, kingfishers, pitta, and Bornean Bristlehead, the superstar endemic bird of Borneo. If you are a tree hugger, check out the Sepilok Giant, an estimated 800-1,000 years old Ironwood tree in the park.

Nature Lodge Sepilok

For accommodation, I spent a night in Nature Lodge Sepilok (GPS: 5.875559, 117.950068, see Location Map) in Sepilok and able to make a day trip to all 3 parks near the lodge.

Location of Nature Lodge Sepilok and its surrounding attractions

Nature Lodge Sepilok is near to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Rainforest Discovery Centre, and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Below are some photos of Nature Lodge Sepilok.

Nature Lodge Sepilok is a family friendly accommodation

Nature Lodge Sepilok is a family friendly accommodation

The lodge is constructed in smaller scale to give more privacy and tranquility to tourists. They don’t want a big lodge with hundred of noisy tourists.

Rooms of Nature Lodge Sepilok

Rooms of Nature Lodge Sepilok

The room is nice and clean with air-conditioning. It is as comfy as a 3-star hotel room. The pictures above shall give you an idea.

The open bathroom of Nature Lodge Sepilok

The open bathroom of Nature Lodge Sepilok

And the toilet and bathroom is a little surprise. It’s a backyard garden with bath and toilet area partly concealed by plant. There is no tall building around, so don’t worry about your privacy. In fact, taking bath and doing my business in semi-open area is oddly satisfying. One of my friends found bird nest in her bathroom.

Cute cats at Nature Lodge Sepilok

Cute & friendly cats at Nature Lodge Sepilok

Every time I walked around the lodge, I always ended up with cat fur all over me. The cats there are so cute and friendly.

Mango Garden Cafe of Nature Lodge Sepilok

Mango Garden Cafe of Nature Lodge Sepilok

Breakfast at Mango Garden Cafe of Nature Lodge Sepilok

Breakfast at Mango Garden Cafe of Nature Lodge Sepilok

The food in Mango Garden Cafe of Nature Lodge Sepilok is delicious and rich in variety. They even look yummy in photos. Every meal time is a happy time for me.

Delicious food in Mango Garden Cafe of Nature Lodge Sepilok

Delicious food in Mango Garden Cafe of Nature Lodge Sepilok

By the way, you can buy almost every necessity in their shop, e.g. raincoat, soft drink, instant noodle, snack, toiletries, sunblock lotion, insect repellent, drinking water.

Little shop in Nature Lodge Sepilok

Little shop in Nature Lodge Sepilok

Nature Lodge Sepilok is really a great place for a relax and leisure vacation. For booking, you can reach them at: http://www.insabah.com/nature-lodge-sepilok or Phone: +60 16-8302038

2. Kinabatangan River

Let’s keep it short, Kinabatangan River is simply the best place to see orangutan, proboscis monkey, pygmy elephant and hornbills in the wild. You need a bit of luck to see pygmy elephant and orangutan though, as they are always on the move (please note this is not a zoo).

Kinabatangan River

Kinabatangan River is the longest river of Sabah

No matter what, I can assure that you won’t be disappointed with your trip in Kinabatangan, because there are so many other amazing wildlife to look at.

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

Seeing wildlife in their natural habitat is a more exciting experience, so I visited Kinabatangan and stayed in Nature Lodge Kinabatangan (GPS: 5.494785, 118.204908, see Location Map) at Bilit Village, which is in upstream of Kinabatangan.

Tasty Soto (Beef soup) in Kinabatangan Town

We stopped at Kedai Kopi Santa of Kinabatangan Town for lunch. Their Soto (Beef soup) is one of the best in Sandakan.

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan of Kinabatangan River

Arrived Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

It took about 2 hours of road trip from Sandakan City to Bilit. The Lodge is located about 30 Metres away from the Kinabatangan River.

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan is a highly ranked accommodation in Tripadvisor

Sunset river cruise

Sunset river cruise

After we checked into our room, we started our sunset river cruise and saw a baby crocodile on the river bank right away.

Birds of Kinabatangan

Kinabatangan River is one of the best bird-watching sites in Borneo

There were many birds along the river. I saw Purple Heron (many!), Little Heron flying next to our boat, Black & Red Broadbill, Lesser Adjutant (known as Burung Botak locally, means Bald Bird), Rhinocerous Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Brahminy kite, and Oriental Darter (Snake Bird).

Long-tailed macaques in alert

Long-tailed macaques in alert

Then we saw a group of Long-tailed macaques in commotion. They stood up looking at a pile of log, probably there was a monitor lizard or crocodile hiding in there. The highlight is a few herds of proboscis monkey on the trees.

Sunset river cruise at Kinabatangan River

Sunset river cruise at Kinabatangan River

Pygmy elephants at Kinabatangan

Pygmy elephants at Kinabatangan

After the interesting river cruise, we had our buffet dinner in the lodge. We enjoyed some fresh vegetables planted in their garden.

Buffet dinner at dining hall of Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

Buffet dinner at dining hall of Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

The activity didn’t stop there. We went for a night walk in the forest around 8pm. If this adventure is too much for you, you may stay back at the lodge to join some fun activities such as local dance.

some critters in night walk

Critters we saw in night walk

With the help of our guide, we spotted a few nocturnal animals in the dark. A jewel-color kingfisher slept like a fluffy ball on a twig, so cute. A researcher put up a white sheet to attract insects with light. We went busybody there and checked out the bug. Near the end we saw a number of big flying foxes foraging on a cotton tree. It’s quite a thrilling experience.

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan is in the forest of Kinabatangan

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan is in the forest of Kinabatangan

After day long of playing, I went back to my lodge to rest. The lodge is inside the rainforest. It’s a special feeling to sleep in a forest, so peaceful and quiet, almost like a therapy.

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan at night

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan at night

They also have dormitory if you prefer backpacker style accommodation.

Reading room in Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

Reading room in Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

Room of Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

Room of Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

My room is quite spacious and comfortable. I love big space as it makes me more relaxing, so I’m really happy with my room, and it has air-conditioner.

Misty morning of Kinabatangan River

Misty morning of Kinabatangan River

The next day we waked up around 6am for a morning river cruise. Though it’s really early and I was sleepy, the sighting was very rewarding. The morning was cool and refreshing with a bit of mist on the river.

Orangutan on top of a Durian tree

We spotted an Orangutan on top of a Durian tree

We were so lucky to see an orangutan waked up from his nest high up on a durian tree. Another trophy is Storm’s stork, which has only around 200 left in the world, and Kinabatangan is their stronghold.

River cruise is the best way for wildlife sighting at Kinabatangan

River cruise is the best way for wildlife sighting at Kinabatangan

Wild Proboscis Monkey is quite common here. You can easily see about 20 of them here.

Group of wild Proboscis Monkey in Kinabatangan

Group of wild Proboscis Monkey in Kinabatangan

If you love to experience this safari trip, you may contact Nature Lodge Kinabatangan via the following channels:
Website: naturelodgekinabatangan.com
Facebook: NatureLodgeKinabatangan
Phone: +60 88-230 534
E-mail: sales@nasalislarvatustours.com

Both Nature Lodge Sepilok and Nature Lodge Kinabatangan are operated by Nasalis Larvatus Tours, a licensed travel agent of Malaysia.

Flight to Sandakan

You can fly to Sandakan City by Malaysia Airlines or AirAsia from Kota Kinabalu City (KK)(50 min flight) or Kuala Lumpur (KL)(2 hours 50 min). Flight is available every day. If you book at the good time, you can get really cheap round-trip ticket like about MYR200 for KK-Sandakan and MYR400 for KL-Sandakan flight. You can use Google Flights to check the fare prices from all airlines. Nasalis Larvatus Tours also can pick you up at Sandakan airport.

Famous Spring Noodle and Century Egg Dumpling of Sandakan

Famous Spring Noodle and Century Egg Dumpling of Sandakan

By the way, Sandakan is the second largest city of Sabah and also a foodie paradise, do try some yummy local food such as spring noodle when you visit Sandakan!

Photos taken in Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo