Sunday, November 08, 2009

Kinabalu Park in Sabah UNESCO World Heritage Site

Sabah Kinabalu National Park
Kinabalu Park is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Status since the year 2000, and has been one of my favourite places to visit every time I travel to Sabah.

This park complex or locally called Taman Negara Kinabalu which was established in 1964 has an altitude of 1,563 meters (5,128 feet) is the main administrative center to climbing Mount Kinabalu.

It is also a highly popular stopover for day trippers who would like to experience seeing and being near Mount Kinabalu. The average temperature here would be around 18 to 24 degrees Celsius which can be very cooling.

Kinabalu National Park in Sabah

Kinabalu Park Entrance Fees (Based on 2009 prices)

On my many trips to Kinabalu Park, sometimes I would self drive while most of the time I would go with Mark, my Sabahan friend and personal guide.

Nothing beats going to places with a local with insider knowledge. Apart from catching the Sunrise Views of Kinabalu, once we reached the park entrance, we need to pay an entrance fee.

Please do note the park entrance fees in the picture above is from the year 2009, and have since increased.

Me and a friend looking at Mount Kinabalu

As you enter Kinabalu National Park Complex, you would be greeted by the park administration center where climbers would register and meet up there.

A short walk further and you would reach a viewing area where you can see the majestic Mount Kinabalu at the closest point without climbing it.

Kinabalu Park map guide

Facilities At Kinabalu National Park

Kinabalu National Park also has a total area of 754 square kilometers, which is much larger than the Republic of Singapore.

For the facilities found here, you can find various lodges for accommodation, 2 restaurants, an exhibition center, a mountain garden and a gallery.

There are also 8 trekking trails around the Kinabalu Park Complex where it takes about one to two hours per trail. Some of the trails end with an amazing view of Mount Kinabalu.

On a good day at the Kinabalu National Park entrance area, you can see the entire mountain without ant cloud obstructions.

But usually after 8.00 am, white clouds would come in and cover the mountain view, so if you want picture perfect views, try to get here as early as 7.00 am.

This means, you need to leave Kota Kinabalu city area by 5.00 AM, as it takes about two hours drive to reach here. I usually leave around 4.30 AM to catch the sunrise.

Kinabalu Park Liwagu Restaurant Liwagu Restaurant lounge area

Liwagu Restaurant

One of the restaurants which I had my lunch at is called the Liwagu Restaurant, located in the park. There is a common lounge area, a souvenir shop and an exhibition area that showcases all the national parks in Sabah.

The restaurant has an indoor and outdoor seating lounge area for those who prefer to be out in the open. Food is ordered by menu, while they do have special arrangements for package meals for groups.

Moths display at exhibition center

Part of the exhibition center features the types of moths, bugs and also flowers and plants found in Kinabalu Park.

Detailed information can be obtained from this place if you want to learn more about the Kinabalu National Park and its surroundings.

Liwagu Restaurant dining area

Lunch at the Liwagu Restaurant was basic as they have a buffet menu and also an A-la-carte menu serving local and western cuisine.

For me, I prefer to dine at the outdoor seating area to enjoy the cool mountain air and lush scenery. Prices here are also based on standard hotel prices.

Exploring Kinabalu National Park

One of the walking trails

Anyone who visits this park will surely be exploring this beautiful area. For me, since I was driving, I took a drive to the Timpohon Gate, which is about five minutes drive from the restaurant.

Along my drive, I made a number of stops to check out some of the park treks or trails, which were quite obvious, and with good signage.

One of the treks I took was a 700 meter trek which signs are indicated just before you enter the trek. A simple trek to a point where you can get beautiful views of Mount Kinabalu.

Sadly on that day, it was very foggy and I could not see the Mount Kinabalu at all, but this was one of the days. During other visits, I managed to get a clear view of the mountain.

Kinabalu Park - Odd 'L Shaped' branch

Along the 700 meter trek, I encountered a strange tree with a L shape branch. I also saw quite a number of plants that are only found in the park.

Moss and other flowers were also spotted along this easy trek. Some of the treks can be as long a 2 kilometers while most are between 700 meters and 1.5km.

Photo of Timpohon Gate
Timpohon Gate early in the morning
Timpohon Gate

To go to the Timpohon Gate at the Kinabalu Park, you can either take a slow long trek or simply drive there if you are self driving to the park.

Cars are allowed into the Kinabalu Park Complex as many of the places of interest are quite far apart. The Timpohon Gate is one of the main entrances to climbing Mount Kinabalu and it is here where you can see climbers coming and going with the porters.

Checkpoint Timpohon GateTimpohon Gate checkpoint notice

A group of local porters we seen heading up to Mount Kinabalu from the Timpohon Gate when I was there.

At the main gate, there is an observation platform above the entrance where you can see the surroundings.

Most of the day trippers would come all the way here to experience your closest ever view of Mount Kinabalu and to see the climbers leaving or arriving.

There are also several lodges, hostels or rooms around the Kinabalu Park. 6 of them are in the park itself while others are outside the park area by the main road.

Kinabalu Park is a great day trip for those who do not intend to climb the mountain. The flora and fauna here is also perfect for nature lovers.

You need not stay overnight here as the drive to the Kinabalu Park takes only two hours drive from the city of Kota Kinabalu.

If you leave early, say about 5.00 am, you could reach here by 7.00 am to have breakfast at this UNESCO site which is one of the most popular destinations in Sabah and also Malaysia.

Porters at Timpohon Gate
Porters seen carrying supplies from Timpohon Gate heading up to the mountain

Facts about the Kinabalu National Park (Taman Negara Kinabalu)
  • Discovered by Hugh Low (British) in 1895
  • Designated as a National Park in 1964
  • UNESCO Status in December 2000
  • Situated on the Crocker Range
  • 88 kilometers away from Kota Kinabalu town
  • 2 hour drive from KK town
  • Park Sits at 1,563 meters (5,128 feet)
  • 6 different lodges available there
  • 2 Restaurants
How To Go To Kinabalu National Park;
  • By Car - Self drive along Highway A4 towards Ranau/Poring
  • By Bus - Buses leave every morning from Kota Kinabalu North Bus Terminal in Inanam, 10km to the northeast of the city centre. Look for the buses that head to Ranau, Sandakan or Tawau as they will pass the park entrance. Fares cost about RM10 to RM15 (US$2.85 to $4.30) one way.
  • By Shared Taxi - Go to the taxi station near Jalan Padang. Per person costs about RM15 to RM20 ($4.30 to $5.70) one way. Van Taxis wait until 6-7 people before departing.
  • By Own Taxi - If you have the budget, book a taxi that costs around RM150 to RM200 ($43 - $57) for a return trip where the taxi will take you there and wait for you and send you back.
  • By Ride Hailing Service - Not recommended as it will be one way only, and no one will pick you for your journey back,
  • By Tour Company - Book a tour and get picked up to be sent with a tour guide. Cost varies for this method.
Map to Kinabalu National Park in Sabah

View Kinabalu Park, Sabah in a larger map

Conclusion

Kinabalu National Park is hands down one of the main attractions if you are visiting Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. It is recommended that you select which kind of experience you want in order to visit here. 

For fast and easy, day trips are you best option, as you leave early morning, and be back in Kota Kinabalu for dinner. 

For nature lovers, I will personally recommend you spend a night or two here, so you can fully enjoy the lush flora and fauna of this montane destination. 

If you are planning to climb Mount Kinabalu, then you would already purchase a Kinabalu Climbing Package, and everything should be arranged for you.

If you are just a leisure tourist, visiting the Kinabalu National Park in Sabah is just to the park, and not up the mountain. You can only see the mountain from the park, which is pretty beautiful. 

8 comments:

HenRy LeE ® said...

ohh this is a discovery.. i didnt get to see the L shape branch when i was there last year... :) great write up there!

Mizzsharon said...

Hey congrats on the news article =)

thenomadGourmand said...

When are we meetin up for dinner??

sent u email ;)

David Jr said...

Henry, it's one of the treks, the one closest to Timpohon Gate, 700m long.

MizzSharon, thank you very much :)

Rebecca, replied and thanks!

Regards,
David

allan Gering said...

The peaks of Mt Kinabalu are easily seen from Kinabalu lodge, where I took this photo. We'd driven inland from the coast at Sandakan, the land steadily getting higher.
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David Jr said...

Thanks Allan, the peaks from close up are really beautiful.

Regards,
David

Anonymous said...

I often listen about Kinabalu...is it Mt.Kinabalu an active volcano?

David Jr said...

Hi there, apparently it is not. Recent evidence proves differently. It reveals Mount Kinabalu as the youngest granite pluton in the world.

Regards,
David