Transport & Accommodation

Getting there

Kinabalu National Park is about 90 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah's capital city and is easily accessible by road.

Most tourists to the park arrive on private buses with tour groups, but there are several public bus routes that travel from the bus station at Kota Kinabalu to the island's east coast. Many of these routes bypass the park. When purchasing a ticket on these buses, be sure to mention that you are only travelling to Kinabalu National Park.

The bus trip can take anything from two to four hours and costs RM10-15.

Long-distance taxis are also available for hire from Kota Kinabalu, generally near the bus station. Although, many drivers will wait until they have a full vehicle before departing. The cost is reportedly about RM250 per trip.

Large tour groups are common at the start of the trek.

Staying there

Accommodation in and around Kinabalu National Park takes a little more planning. More than 40,000 people climb the mountain each year, so the park is almost always busy and the availability of accommodation reflects this. The earlier you can book your accommodation, the better.

For this reason, many climbers opt to book their trek through a tour group months before they climb, leaving the tour group to organise all the accommodation and permits required for the trek. However, if you prefer to organise things yourself, it's still possible.

Many climbers choose to depart Kota Kinabalu early on the morning they start the climb, arriving at the park by about 10am. This allows plenty of time to complete the trek to Laban Rata (about four to six hours) before the weather inevitably closes in late in the day.

But, if you choose to stay in or near the park on the night before you climb, there are a number of options, ranging from basic to luxury. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it will give you an idea of what's available.

  • Kinabalu Pine Resort is located in the foothills near Kundasang, 10 minutes from the national park. Prices for a standard room start from RM100 (twin share) per night. Packages with breakfast and dinner included are also available.
  • Kinabalu Rose Cabin is also near Kundasang, just a short trip from the park. Similar to the Pine Resort, rooms start from RM70 per night in the normal season.

Many of the other smaller resorts and guesthouses near the national park are operated by tour companies.

  • Wildlife Mountain Lodge is run by Wildlife Expeditions, an excellent and reliable tour company.
  • There is a range of accommodation inside the park itself, all of which is operated by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges.
  • Sutera Sanctuary Lodges, which has a head office at the eastern end of Kota Kinabalu's central business district, also runs the bookings for the huts at Laban Rata on Mt Kinabalu.
Wildlife Mountain Lodge, one of the many guest houses near the park.

All climbers must stay overnight at one of the huts at Laban Rata and places are strictly limited. If you're not booking your trip through a tour operator, it's best to get your accommodation at Laban Rata organised before you do anything else, as that will ultimately determine when your climb will take place.

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