Mount Kinabalu in Low Budget

Mount Kinabalu, located in the eastern side of Malaysia is the highest mountain in Malaysia. The tallest peak, Low's Peak (4.095 meters above sea level) is named after the first ascender Huge Low. There are two main routes usually done by the trekker, Timpohon Gate (6 km to Laban Rata) and Mersilau (8 km to Laban Rata).

I haven't hiked for the past one year and I'm gonna do Mount Kinabalu which is pretty crazy (I didn't do any exercise as well). I did Mersilau route, the longer and more challenging route. Somehow, it is considered to be an easy hike for me because I didn't have to bring all my hiking gear like all I used to bring when I hiked, and the route is shorter. My first ten minutes hike were hell exhausted! I felt like my heart bursting out from my body. My breath was out of control and I stopped a lot. Well, that' just my first 10 minutes. I forgot that my body machine was the slow-heated type. Once I got warm, I walk really fast even I left my guide behind, haha. Mostly the trek was ascending, only the trek from third to fourth stop was a bit slope. Some parts are built from wooden stairs and the path can be really seen. The rest point has drinkable water tap and toilet. Here is my timeline:

starting point-stop 1: 9.30-10.00
stop 1- stop 2         : 10.00-10.30
stop 2- stop 3         : 10.30-11.00
stop 3- stop 4         : 11.00-11.30
stop 4- stop 5         : 11.30-12.30
stop 5- stop 6         : 12.30-13.15
stop 6- stop 7         : 13.15-13.30
stop 7- stop 8         : 13.30-14.30
stop 8- Laban Rata : 14.30-15.30

I stayed in Lemaing Hut in Laban Rata, a newly built rest house which is super cheap compares to Sutra Lodge or Laban Rata. You can call +60 88 889095 or +60 17 8380345. It consists of two rooms. Each room can be occupied by sixteen people. Hot shower is available but don't expect it to be hot. It's still cold though even with the heater. The bed was okay with a thick blanket. I took a quick freezing shower, ate my food that I've brought and fell asleep.

2 a.m, that's what my guide instructed me to wake up. I got ready, preparing my torch, jacket, and gloves. I looked outside and it was raining. I was worry a bit because my guide told me if it's raining then we couldn't go up. I went to Laban Rata Hut, people were busy taking their breakfast, chatting and waiting for the next instruction. Still, the rain hasn't stopped. I looked at the clock, almost three. At that moment, I was kindda hopeless. Kinabalu is the most expensive mountain I hiked for so far, so it'll be a real disappointment if I failed to get up there, but again I thought, safety is priority. 3.30 a.m., some of them had left to their room, some of them went outside, I think their guide allowed them to climb. My guide asked me if I want to try. There was a point where rope is used to climb because it's too steep. If you let go the rope, then you'll fall and die maybe. 

The rain nearly stop. I climbed all the stairs up until I reached the rope part. I didn't use headlamp, I had torch in my hand and it's kindda disturbing me especially the rope part. I was nervous, I stopped few times and let people pass because it's very steep, I don't really like high place. The wind blew strong, it was a struggle. Ten steps, stop, ten steps, stop. Finally after two hours I made it. Yay! I almost cried in happiness but thanks my guide interfered me, "take picture, then we go down". It broke the moment, but I didn't cry, so thanks.

Going down is much easier, the plateau rock is not slippery. The view was really nice, some hills and the city can be seen, and of course, cloud ! I could only rest for a while before going down to Timpohon Gate. I took me four and a half hour to go down from Laban Rata to Timpohon Gate. I didn't like Timpohon route because it's all stairs. So that's the end of my journey in Mount Kinabalu.

Getting There in Low Budget

Thank to my friend Jeffry who helped me book the accommodation in the new rest house, Lemaing Hut. I didn't join any tour so I did it by myself, helped by my friend Jeffry. He drove me to the registration point, two hours from the city. There are buses going to the registration point from KK. So in total I paid:
1 night accommodation : RM 100 (Lemaing Hut)
Permit                          : RM 107
Transport from Timpohon-registration point: RM 16.50 (one way)
Guide                          : RM 143 (for Mersilau)
Conservation fee          : RM 3 (they thought I'm Malaysian, non-Malaysian RM 10)

The guide can be shared up to 4 people actually, price for Timpohon Guide is cheaper than Mersilau. You may also join other people and share the guide's fee, will be cheaper. They also provide food coupon RM 150 for three times buffee meal. I didn't take that one because it's too expensive for me, so what I did was bringing food from the restaurant down there. The rest house provide water heater so bringing instant noodle, coffee sachet is also a smart idea. Booking in advance is a must, because the accommodation is limited. Good luck !

Traveled in 20-21 August 2014

If you think the post is useful, kindly share this information by clicking the logo below. You'll be directed to your facebook or twitter.


  1. thanks for the info..looks like a great hike ..and supeeer view on top for sure...cheers..

  2. Komplit banget step by step untuk ke sananya. Nice share... ^^

  3. TWO HOURS FROM LABAN RATA TO SUMMIT!?? That's impressive! :))

  4. Thanks Indah and jejakbocahilang.
    Haha, is it? Thanks Jali

  5. Hello!
    Thanks for the informational post, it gave me hope that I could climb Mt. Kinabalu on a really tiiiigghht budget. I came across your site while searching about Lemaing Hut. Would you please be able to share on how you manage to book a reservation? Did you email/call them? Can I ask for their contact details please.

    Ponyo from Cebu, Philippines

  6. HI Maiza, my friend from Kinabalu booked it for me, They don't have phone number or website yet, you have to go to the basecamp and book for it.

  7. Hello Velysia,
    Thanks for the swift reply! I tried calling them just now and they said that they're fully booke for the entire month of May :( Wanted to do a birthday climb =))
    Anyways, if it's not too much, can you/your friend recommend another cheap hostel around the area?


  8. Hello Maiza,

    In KK there are some cheap hostel, but in laban rata, only sutra lodge. Around the basecamp, you can chek

  9. HI Maiza, could you please share the number of Lemaing Hut? Thanks

  10. Hello Velysia,

    I called Lemaing Hut using +60 88-889095 and they said they're all fully booked until October?
    I can't seem to find the numbers for the other huts (Waras Hut, Panar Laban Hut,Gunting Lagadan Hut,Pendant Hut) so I haven't tried calling them yet or I guess they're all under Sutera? :(

    I'll keep calling them until I can book or else I'll book through Jungle Jack. I heard good reviews about him, price is at 630MYR so still a bit expensive for me but at least it's cheaper than spending 1k+ MYR :)


  11. Saya ke Gunung Kinabalu tahun 2005, jauh sebelum Sutera Lodge menaikkan tarif menginapnya. Nginap di Gunting Lagadsn dapat tarif 45 Ringgit. Setelah tahun 2008 tarif menginap naik 100 persen.

  12. Hey Maiza,

    Were you able to book anything for Kinabalu? I'm currently looking to book for May 23-24 weekend; Sutera isn't giving me anything and Jungle Jack is all booked up too.


  13. Hi Velysia,

    Makasih infonya !


  14. Hi Velysia,

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    I'm planning to go in November on my own and I will try to share as many costs as possible: guide, transportation, etc. I will call Lemaing Hut and hopefully will find something free. I have some questions for you:

    1) Once you booked your accommodation at this hut are you guaranteed that you will gone climb that day? I mean do you just turn up to the registration point and they will have your name or before that besides accommodation you have to register/book your climbing also?

    2) To share a guide with other people you just tell when you get to the registration point that you want to join an existing group or...?

    3) You said you bought food from the park and carried it? What are the prices like?

    4) When you get on top of the mountain do you have some time to stay there and take pictures or is the guide rushing you to go down? I like hiking but also I like taking pictures and I will have my camera with me and I like to take my time with it. Are they usually in a rush once you are up there?

    Thank you,


    1. Also do you know what "SABAH PARK RECEIPT" is as it seems you need to have one before going there? Do you obtain this through the fact you get accommodation at Lemaing Hut or how do you get it? I see that also Jungle Jack says on his fb page that you need that but he doesn't explain what it is and how you get it ?!

    2. Hi Ciprian, I'll try to answer your questions:
      1. Yes, the date you book the hut is the date you have to climb. The problem in Mount Kinabalu is the limited accommodation so the numbers of climbers accepted is based of the number of accommodation. What I did before was booking Lemaing Hut first. Next, on the day, I went to the registration point and checked my name, then completed the administration including the sabah park receipt directly on the spot.

      2. Yep, just go to registration point and find any group to share. The staffs at registration/check point can help. Better come early so it'll be easier to find group as they depart around 7/8 a.m. normally

      3. There's a small restaurant just across the street out of the park. As far as I could remember the price was not too expensive. You can also buy breads or cup noodles in town.

      4. Due to the rain, I did the summit attack late, so the guide suggested me to go down earlier. But along the way I still stop and took lots of pictures. It's okay if you want to stay longer, just let the guide know.

    3. Hi, A-DR3AM3R I also had plan to climb in November. Do you already success to book lemaing hut. can you share how to book it if you're not malaysian? I'm going to climb with my friend on November 19th-20th, 2015. let me know if you have the same schedule maybe we can share some cost. thankyou

  15. Salam kenal velysia, kami mau tanyak2 sikit, rencana kami berangkat tanggal 11 Juli bulan depan, kami harus booking guide pada tanggal tersebut mulai dari sekarang ya? maksudnya jangan sampai sana guide nya udah penuh, bisa tolong informasinya mengenai cara memsan guide yang di sana? terima kasih

    1. Halo, kalau guide sih enggak masalah. Yang penting penginapannya. Bisa book Laban Rata atau Lemaing Hut punya. Kalau sudah dapat penginapan baru dikasih izin mendaki. Guide banyak tersedia di awal pos pendakian

    2. oh ya, bagaimana cara book Laban Rata atau Lemaing Hut? bulan depan kami rencana berangkat, dan biar kami bisa pesan tiket pesawat terus... terima kasih

  16. Hi
    This is Rusty in Korea.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Now, I'm making a plan to climb Mt. Kinabalu alone in 4th MAY to 5th MAy 2017.
    I hope to arrange everything by myself, so I hope to ask something as below.

    1. How to make a reservation Lemaing Hut?
    By website or by phone?
    Pls let me know detail
    2. Could you kindly explain about procedure for climbing?

    Your response would be highly appreciated.

  17. Hi Rusty, sorry for late reply. I dont think they have website or email for booking. You can try to call +60 88-523531 or +60 17-8380345. As long you have accommodation booked you're allowed to climb by paying entrance fee and also guide.