Mt. Kinabalu Climb: Budget Breakdown

Summit Plateau
South Peak is the most recognizable ‘postcard’ vista of Mt. Kinabalu

Last April’s climb up one of Southeast Asia’s highest peaks was a life-changing experience, after eleven hours worth of uphill trekking through cloud forests, alpine meadows and granite massif, battling occasional downpour, icy winds and altitude sickness. Mt. Kinabalu – my first mountain climbing experience – is an accessible peak that can be scaled by the inexperienced but persevering adventure-seeker.

Re-posting the climbing expenses from a travel forum for the benefit of those budgeting their trip for a Mt. Kinabalu climb in Sabah, Malaysia. You can save a few thousand pesos arranging the trip yourself compared to getting a packaged climb from tour operators.

A two-day climb to the UNESCO-enlisted Mt. Kinabalu (4,095 MASL at Low’s Peak summit) requires an overnight reservation, monopolized by the pricey Laban Prata managed by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges. For more information on scaling this peak, read through this comprehensive online guide.

Laban Rata & Tunku Abdul Rahman Peak
Laban Rata Guesthouse with Tunku Abdul Rahman Peaks in the background.

Book as early as possible (4 to 6 months in advance) since rooms in Laban Prata usually fill up months before your intended climbing dates. April – the peak month – was getting filled up, when I booked in December 2009! But of course, there will be occasional no-shows. Contact
Sutera Sanctuary Lodges and look for Ms. Tisnawati Maras. I booked and paid by credit card via email, and the process was smooth and simple.

Me and my climbing buddy paid RM492.00 each, inc. of five (5) meals, permit and insurance.

Booking summary as follows:

04th April 2010 – 05th April 2010

Laban Rata (Gunting Lagadan Hut) + Meals Arrangement

1 x Night Accommodation Gunting Lagadan Hut ( Non-heated dorm )
2 x Packed Lunch Balsam Café Kinabalu Park
2 x Buffet Dinner Laban Rata Resthouse
2 x Supper Breakfast ( 2.00am ) Laban Rata Resthouse
2 x Buffet Breakfast Laban Rata Resthouse ( after coming back from the peak )
2 x Buffet Lunch Balsam Kinabalu Park
2 x Climbing Permit
2 x Insurance

Other fees/expenses to be paid in cash at the park:

Entrance fee – RM 15.00
Mountain guide – RM 47.50 (Note: RM 95.00 for 2 climbers)
Certificate (optional) – RM 10.00
Round-trip bus to/from KK – RM 30.00

TOTAL EXPENSE: RM 594.50 (PHP 8,055.48) per pax

You get savings of RM 185.50 (PHP 2,513.53) compared to getting the cheapest tour package I found (i.e. River Junkie Tours).

Northern View from Low's Peak
View of Low’s Gully from the summit (Low’s Peak – 4,095 m)


On the morning of your climb, hop on the earliest (i.e. 7:00 or 7:30 AM) Kota Kinabalu-Ranau mini-bus or bus near Merdeka Field for RM 15/person. Inform the driver to drop you off outside the entrance to Kinabalu National Park. For mini-bus and bus schedules going back to Kota Kinabalu after your climb, inquire at the Sutera Sanctuary Lodges office. Last bus (Sandakan-Kota Kinabalu) at 6:30 PM.


5 Replies to “Mt. Kinabalu Climb: Budget Breakdown”

  1. hii, i’m catalina and please visit my blog and see my pictures, thanks and sorry for my inglish, i live in Chile and speak espanish

  2. Joanne says:

    hi, how do you book the accommodation? What about the permit and tour guide stuff?

  3. Joanne says:

    hi, I would like to ask for the permit is it included when i make a reservation for the accommodation? What about the tour guide? Can I get it when Im there or im supposed to book in advance? Thanks. 🙂

  4. Hi Joanne, I outlined the reservation process above. Again, as detailed above, tour guide not included in Sutera payment, but climbing permit is 🙂

  5. delacroix says:


    Can we also DIY a via ferrata climb?



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