Kota Kinabalu Ultimate 4 days Itinerary – Hiking, Food Hunting & Island Hopping
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Trekking has been one of the activities that I look forward to. It all started from my university days where I joined an outdoor activities club where I hiked at various places in Malaysia like Gunung Stong, Chilling Waterfall, Mount Belumut and Rainbow Falls.
Upon graduation, I always tell myself that I need to keep fit and exercise but as time past, I realized that working life has made me lazier. I told myself that I need to go for at least one trek a year.
This trip was going to be exciting as our friends jio-ed us to climb Mount Kinabalu. Mount Kinabalu is one of the highest mountains in Southeast Asia at 4095m and Malaysia’s first-ever world heritage site well-known worldwide for its botanical and biological species biodiversity.
At the first thought, I was so excited as it was one of my bucket list destinations. As the trip gets nearer, I started to get a bit worried about my physical fitness, safety and the weather. In my mind, I kept telling myself that it’s okay that I did not reach the peak; I will just do my best. No matter what, there are many interesting activities and food to look forward to in Kota Kinabalu.
Finally, it was the day that we departed for our Kota Kinabalu adventure!
Getting to Kota Kinabalu
We took a flight from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu airport through Air Asia. It is a short flight of 2h30min. Upon reaching Kota Kinabalu airport, we took a taxi to our accommodation in the city of Kota Kinabalu which is about 30mins ride. We stayed in the city for a night before we start our trek adventure at Mount Kota Kinabalu.
Accommodation in Kota Kinabalu
We stayed in a budget hostel called Good View Lodge for our trip. We booked 2 rooms where we split 3 and 4 to a room.
The rooms are pretty clean with a common toilet. There is also a living room where we can play games or watch a movie.
There are many other accommodations such as hotel depending on each individual’s budget.
Here is a summary of our 4 days itinerary on what we did in Kota Kinabalu.
4 Days Ultimate Itinerary
Day 0 – 8PM Arriving Kinabalu City
We arrived and check in at Good View Lodge. We had our dinner at Todak Waterfront Hawker Centre which is a nearby food spot. After dinner, we have an early rest as we need to wake up early for the trek the next day.
Day 1 – Mount Kinabalu Climb
6AM – Pick up from our hostel and 2 hours journey to Kinabalu Park Headquarter
At Mount Kinabalu Park headquarter, we will need to sign up at the counter with our passport.
At the same time, we will be assigned guides as well as a minivan to bring us to the starting point of the climb. This is also the place where the porters will start to weigh your backpacks and help you to carry up.
This lanyard is very important for each of us where it is our identity when we climb up Kinabalu Park. We will have to punch in and out at the respective gates.
10AM – Start of the climb from Timpohon Gate
We are very happy that we have reached the start of the gate where we will need to warm up and prepare ourselves for the climb. For some of us, we have decided to hire 2 porters to carry our bags so that’s why we focus and carry ourselves up and hopefully make it to the peak. That is our wishlist as I have heard from many of my friends that this is not an easy trek.
This is our guide and we are having a briefing before we start our climb. Our starting point is on the bottom left and there are about 6 pit stops during this 6km climb to the base camp.
Though 6km doesn’t seem too far, the climb is quite challenging as there are many steps and upslopes. We have to take small steps to ensure that we are stable and do not slip. This 6km climb took us about 6 hours to reach the base camp.
Tips: It is important to have the hiking stick to have a good grip and support for the climb.
This is one of the pitstop where we can have a short break and toilet break before we continue the climb.
We were provided with sandwiches, chicken, egg and biscuit which will be our lunch and we can eat anytime during the climb or rather we ate it when our energy level got low.
Tips: Remember to eat the lunch early as some of our sandwiches turned sour but we were too hungry to care much and finished all of them! 😂
And at some point in time, we got really exhausted and feel like giving up! Luckily, we motivated each other to move forward! Guess it is important to trek with good friends where we chatted, laughed and encouraged one another along the way.
4PM – Check in to Panalaban Base Camp
Finally, we arrived at the base camp! Can’t believed we made it! Don’t get too excited as this is just the base camp and we still have a long way to the summit before we can exclaim “WE DID IT!”.
5.30PM – Buffet Dinner at Base Camp
After a tiring and long trek, we were rewarded with a buffet dinner with lots of varieties from salads to fruits to all sorts of meat. We are just spoilt for choice. I am surprised by the quality of food as it is comparable with those that we eat in a restaurant buffet. Imagine the people having to carry the ingredients up here just to whip up these awesome dishes for us! Kudos to them.
7PM – Rest & Recreation
After dinner, we all went back to our room to have a rest and recharge before the next climb up to the summit.
Note: We had a briefing at 6pm where the guides will inform us of the DOs and DON’T, what to look out for and walk us through what to expect to get up to the summit.
Day 2 – Summit Climb and Descend
2AM – Breakfast at Base Camp
Group photo at 2.30am before we start our climb. By now, some of us are having some body aches and high altitude sickness. Perseverance and determination is the only way to continue our climb.
2.30AM – Journey up to the summit (Low’s Peak at 4095M) and back to base camp
My legs got heavier and each step forward felt like I needed to put in even more effort. Moreover, it was really dark and I have no idea how much further we got to climb. The total darkness was scary as we need to be careful with every step we made so that we don’t slip. For me, I just have to pace myself and push myself. At some point where I was really panting, I just sat on some rocks to rest and drank some water before we continue heading up.
NOTE: There is a cutoff time at the last pit stop where we need to reach before 5am if you want to reach the summit. If anyone who is later than the given time, the person will have to go back down to the base camp.
After a long trek, we finally made it to the summit (Low’s Peak – 4095M). At the Low’s Peak, it is very windy and cold. Most people will just have their photos taken and slowly head back down. We decided to stay longer but we were freezing as up there!
NOTE: Do ensure that the clothes that you have are sufficient as the temperature is about 5 degrees at Low’s Peak.
The sky was getting brighter and we realized that the view was just so awesome!
NOTE: The reason why the summit is called Low’s Peak is because the first documented summit climb was by a British colonial administrator and naturalist, Sir Hugh Low. Low’s Peak is seriously not ‘low’ at all! 😂
After reaching the peak, we were all very happy and had a lot of different poses with Mount Kinabalu on our way down to the base camp.
With the sun lightening up our path, we realized that our route to the peak was pretty steep. No wonder I was panting so much; It is not just the thin air but also upward climb in the dark.
I was so relieved that we started the climb in the dark as there are many rocks and steps around. At about 8am, we are back at our base camp to take a short rest.
10AM – Breakfast and descend to Timpohon Gate
This is our breakfast after our climb. The chefs can really cook very well and we had a heavy breakfast before leaving the base camp to Timpohon Gate which is the starting point of the climb.
It was tough climbing up but climbing down was also not easy too as I already felt the aches on my wobbling legs. Nevertheless, climbing down is faster though we need to be careful as some of the path down were quite steep. We took rest in between and look forward to reaching the Timpohon gate.
And finally, we made it back with all our super shag faces. We did it! Bucket list checked! We had finally conquered another UNESCO world heritage site!
Upon completing the climb, our mountain guide handed us our certificate that we had successfully completed Mount Kinabalu climb!
2PM – Lunch @ Kinabalu Park Headquarter
We were back to the headquarter where we had our buffet lunch (again! 😆). However, we concluded that the food at the base camp were so much delicious than the headquarter.
With all the climbing and eating, in the end, TowkayNew gained 1.5kg after the trek! 😂 He really ate a lot as the food at the base camp were just too awesome! Continue our trip below to find out how TowkayNew got even fatter! 😂
4PM – Journey back to Kota Kinabalu City
After lunch, we got onto a minivan which took us back to our accommodation in town. The journey was about 2 hours drive and most of us fell asleep as we were all pretty tired. Oh, our staircase climb up to our hostel was the most torturous experience as all of us had our muscle aches kicked in. 😬
Day 3 – Island Hopping and Seafood Dinner
After a good night rest at our hostel, we are energized to continue exploring Kota Kinabalu. As we just had an intense climb, we decided to have a relaxing day by the beach so we decided to go on island hopping.
We walked from our hostel to Jesselton Point where there were many different agencies providing boats to the nearby islands. After some considerations, we decided to make a trip to Sapi Island and Manukan Island.
Tips: Check with the agency whether life jackets and snorkel gears are provided. Ours did. 😊
After getting our tickets, we had our breakfast at the nearby stalls where we saw many people queuing for breakfast. As Singaporeans, long queue means good food so here we go! 😂
Guess our instinct was correct as the breakfast was really delicious with the crispy chicken wings. Though it looked simple, but it was just so awesome especially after a few days of trekking.
Zipline and Snorkeling at Sapi Island
Upon arriving Sapi Island, we decided to go for the world’s longest island to island zipline.
Here, we took another boat to the island right across Sapi Island where the start of the zipline is. I am so glad that it was so relaxed as we are all having aches all over after the Kota Kinabalu climb.
After the zipline, we dipped into the seawater to enjoy snorkelling. Don’t expect it to be too fascinating as we can only see a few small fishes swimming around. It was nevertheless fun when you travel with friends as they are funnier than the fishes! Like always, it is the company that matters! 😉
Other than the great company, we were very blessed to have such a great weather so that we could enjoy the activities that we planned to do. 🙏
Lunch at Manukan Island
Our happy faces before we tuck in and enjoy our lunch. All of us are pretty hungry after all the activities in the morning.
After lunch, some of us dipped into the sea for more relaxing sea salt therapy. 😂 The rest of us just enjoy sitting on the beach listening to the wave as we don’t want to get wet again.
While we were about to leave Manukan Island, we were lucky to spot a monitor lizard lurking around.
And now, we were back at the city of Kota Kinabalu.
Massage at Sundance Reflexology & Wellness Center
As it was still too early for dinner, we were lucky to pass by a massage center. We were all overjoyed as we really needed a massage badly after the Kota Kinabalu climb.
Dinner at Seafood Place Restaurant
Seafood dinner is definitely something not to be missed when in Kota Kinabalu. There are many seafood restaurants in Kota Kinabalu and we settled at Seafood Place Restaurant which is near Jesselton Point.
Seafood dinner is a MUST in Kota Kinabalu as they are all so fresh and reasonably priced. We ordered all types of seafood which were expensive in Singapore. Things we ordered include:
- Squid ring
- Soft shell crab
- Tiger prawns
- Coconut dessert
- Fresh fruit juices
Day 4 – Exploring the city and Seafood Dinner (again!)
Brunch at a coffee shop
Today was also a relaxing agenda. We had done pretty much things from climbing Mount Kinabalu to island hopping over the last few days. We decided to explore Kota Kinabalu City today and enjoy this place before we bid goodbye tomorrow.
We had breakfast at this coffee shop that sells mixed meat noodles which is a pretty famous in this area.
Walking around, Exploring the City
To have a bit of local feel, we went to a day market situated by the sea which sells different items ranging from fruits to meats to clothing. It was a very huge market which you can get anything you want if you are planning to cook.
We bought some team shirt which we can wear together.
Dinner at Welcome Seafood Restuarant
Since it is our last day, we decided to spend all of our leftover money on food. 😁
Everyone says that lobster is a must-eat in Kota Kinabalu hence we decided to order a 4kg big lobster to try.
This was the first time that I tried such an enormous lobster and it was so huge that we could choose 2 cooking methods to enjoy its fresh meat.
We again ordered a huge variety of food. Seafood is really delicious and fresh in Kota Kinabalu. As this is our last meal, we had a super filling and satisfying meal before we catch our flight the next day back to Singapore.
This is a super fruitful trip with lots of exercises yet at the same time lots of delicious food. I would definitely recommend adventurous people to visit Kota Kinabalu, conquering Mount KK and then a nice relaxing island hopping and seafood meal in the city! 🎉
Hi there, understand that it has been a while since the trip but I came across your sharing and it really got me very excited for the upcoming one that I’m trying to plan!
May i ask for the entire trek at Mount Kinabalu, did you engage any external service providers? For e.g a package of some sort that covers everything.
If you did, do you mind sharing the name of the service provider or any form of contact?
Thank you 🙂
Hello..may i know how much total you guys spent for whole trips?