Kinabalu Park in Sabah UNESCO World Heritage Site


Kinabalu Park in Sabah Borneo



Kinabalu Park is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Status since the year 2000 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 and is also a 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 Park Entrance Fees

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. Note the fees in the picture above.

Kinabalu Park - Writer 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

Kinabalu National Park
also has an area of 754 square kilometers which is larger than Singapore. There are various lodges, 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 1-2 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 8am, white clouds would come in and cover the mountain. So if you want picture perfect views, try to get here as early as 7am.

Liwagu Restaurant lounge area

One of the restaurants which I had lunch at was called the Liwagu Restaurant. There is a lounge area, souvenir shop and an exhibition area that showcases all the parks in Sabah. The Liwagu Restaurant has an indoor and outdoor seating lounge area.

Kinabalu Park - Moths 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.

Kinabalu Park - Liwagu Restaurant dining area

Lunch at the Liwagu Restaurant was basic as they have a buffet menu and also an Ala carte menu serving local and western cuisine. I sat at the outdoor seating to enjoy the cool mountain air and lush scenery. Prices here are based on hotel prices.

Kinabalu Park - One of the walking trails

Along my drive to the Timpohon Gate, I made a few stops to check out some of the park treks here. 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 mountain at all.

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.

Kinabalu Park - Timpohon Gate main entrance

To go to the Timpohon Gate at the Kinabalu Park, you an either take a slow long trek or drive there. Cars are allowed into the Kinabalu Park Complex as many of the places are quite far apart. The Timpohan 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.

Kinabalu Park - Timpohon Gate check point notice

Porters leave for Mount Kinabalu

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 over night here as the drive to the Kinabalu Park takes only 2 hours from the city of Kota Kinabalu. If you leave early, say about 5am, you could reach here by 7am to have breakfast at this UNESCO site which is one of the most popular destinations in Sabah and also Malaysia.

More details on the Kinabalu National Park

My other posting about the Sunrise at Mount Kinabalu

You can also visit Sabah Tourism Board for more info on Sabah

Fast 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
Getting 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 Taway 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 Tour Company - Book a tour and get picked up to be sent with a tour guide. Cost varies.
Places to stay in Kinabalu National Park (Tel - +60 88 889 086)

Sutera Sanctuary Lodges - Telephone +60-88-303917
Liwagu Suites - (RM490)
Grace Hostel - (Rm120)
Rock Hostel - (RM120)
Rajah Lodge (Premier Chalet) - (RM8,000 / US$2,500) for 6 persons
Kinabalu Lodge (Premier Chalet) - (RM3,500 / US$1,000) for 6 persons
Summit Lodge (Premier Chalet) - (RM2,275) / US$650) for 4 persons
Garden Lodge (Premier Chalet) - (RM2,275) / US$650) for 4 persons
Laban Rata - Tel +60 88 267 289 (Dorm RM320 / Room for 2 RM765)
Mesilau Nature Resort - Tel +60 88 871519 (Dorm RM13/Room RM350)

Outside the park
D-Villa Rina Ria Lodge - Tel +60 88 889282 (Dorm Style RM20)
Kinabalu Pine Resort - Tel +6088 889388 (RM100 to RM130)
Kinabalu Rose Cabin - Tel +60 88 888233 (RM70)
Magic Mountain Country Home - Tel +60 19 8214338 (RM420)
Sanctuary Borneo Travel Agency - Tel +60 88 270672
Aristo Kinabalu Resort - Tel +60 88 872719 (RM30 to RM160)
Mount Kinabalu Heritage Resort and Spa - Tel +60 88 889511 (RM280 to RM300)

Map to Kinabalu National Park in Sabah

View Kinabalu Park, Sabah in a larger map


~ David Jr

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