Kinabalu Park : National Park of Malaysia – Part 1

Kinabalu Park also known as Taman Kinabalu in Malay is Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Borneo.

Overview of Kinabalu Park

• It was established as one of the first national parks of Malaysia in 1964.
• It is designated by UNESCO as world heritage site in December 2000.
• It is known for its “outstanding universal values”.
• It has an important role as one of the most important biological sites in the world.
• It has more than 4,500 species of flora and fauna.
• These include 326 bird and around 100 mammal species.
• It is situated on the west coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.
• This is spread over an area of 754 square kilometers.
• It surrounds Mount Kinabalu.
• This mountain is at an elevation of 4,095.2 meters.
• It is also the highest mountain on the island of Borneo.
• The park is one of the most popular tourist spots in Sabah and Malaysia.
• Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea.
• It is home to rich number of plants and animal species.

It has land biodiversity of flora from:
– Himalayas
– China
– Australia
– Malay Peninsula
– pan-tropical region

Summarized Facts about Kinabalu Park

• Location : Sabah, Malaysia
• Nearest city : Kota Kinabalu
• Area : 754 km²
• Established : 1964
• Governing body : Sabah Parks
• UNESCO World Heritage Site
• Official name : Kinabalu Park
• Type : Natural
• Criteria : ix, x
• Designated : 2000 (24th session)
• Reference # : 1012
• State Party : Malaysia
• Region : Asia-Pacific

Entry of Kinabalu Park

• The main entry point for visitors is the Park Headquarters.
• This is situated about 92 km on the Kota Kinabalu – east coast highway.
• This lies at an elevation 1520m above sea level.
• The administrative center is situated in the ‘Conservation Center’ building.
• The Research and Education offices and facilities is also present in the same building.

History of Kinabalu Park

• The region was designated as a national park in 1964.
• Hugh Low who was the British colonial administrator and naturalist led an expedition from Tuaran to the region in 1895.
• He also became the first recorded man to reach the peak of Mount Kinabalu.
• The highest peak of the mountain was later named after him—Low’s Peak.

Geography of Kinabalu Park

• Kinabalu Park is located on the Crocker Range on the western coast of Sabah.
• It is situated within the district of Ranau and within the West Coast Division.

Administration and Park features
• This park is administered by an organization called Sabah Parks.
• Accommodations are in the form of chalets.
• They can be found in the park, mostly around the headquarters.
• Reservations for accommodation and mountain climbing guides are processed through Sutera Sanctuary Lodges which is a private company.
• Every person who wishes to climb the mountain must be accompanied by a qualified guide.
• Sutera is now requiring hikers stay one night at their lodge near the entrance.
• The mountain summit trail begins at Timpohon.
• There is also an alternative route called the Mesilau Trail.
• A notable feature of the park is Low’s Gully.
• It is a 1.6 kilometre deep ravine that stretches to 10 kilometres on the side of the mountain peak.

• This botanical site contains a variety of flora and fauna.
• It ranges over 4 climate zones. This ranges from:
– rich lowland dipterocarp forest
– the montane oak
– rhododendron
– the coniferous forests
– the alpine meadow plants
– to the stunted bushes of summit zone

Flora in the Park

• Kinabalu is estimated to have between 5,000 to 6,000 vascular plants.
• These plants comprise of 200 families and 1000 genera.
• They make up 14 percent of the flora in the Malesia phytogeographical region.
• They make up about 2.5 percent of the flora of the Earth. There are:
– 711 documented species of orchids
– 621 species of ferns
– 27 species of Rhododendrons
– 9 species of Nepenthaceae
– 78 species of figs
– 6 species of bamboo
– 45 species of wild gingers
– 81 species of palms
– 2 species of Rafflesia
– Number of fungi, mosses, liverworth and lichens.

Best time to visit / climate

• The climate in Malaysia is tropical.
• The north-east monsoon which is from October to February deluges Borneo and the east coast in rain.
• It often causes flooding, while the west coast which includes Langkawi and Penang escape unscathed.
• The milder south-west monsoon which is from April to October reverses the pattern.

Location on Google Maps

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How to get there?

1. From Kota Kinabalu
The Kinabalu Park entrance is very easy to reach from Kota Kinabalu.

2. Minivan and bus
• Take Minivan from the Long Distance Bus Station
• It is available Near Night Market, City Center.
• The minivan going to Kinabalu Park leaves when it is full.
• It costs RM 15 one way.
• There are coaches available from Kota Kinabalu North Bus Terminal in Inanam.
• This is 10km to the northeast of city center.
• Buses and coaches leave every morning for Kinabalu Park.
• Buses heading to Ranau, Sandakan or Tawau will also pass by the park entrance.
• The journey is about 1-2 hours.
• It costs between RM 10- RM 15.
• It’s best to leave before eight.
• This will help to get a beautiful clear view of the mountain outside the left-hand side of the bus upon nearing the park.
• Take a shared taxi from Jalan Padang.
• The station is located between Merdeka Field and the mosque.
• A ride between Kota Kinabalu and the park should cost RM15-RM18 each way.
• Taxis will only depart once they are full.

3. By Taxi
Regular taxis in Kota Kinabalu offer their services for RM150-200.

4. By Self-drive
Self-drive is another option.
• There is car hire readily available at Kota Kinabalu airport.
• The distance to the park entrance is just under 100km from Kota Kinabalu centre.
• Its around 40 km.
• There is very little road signage directing you to Kinabalu Park.
From Sandakan
– You can also catch buses from Sandakan.
– This is about six hour journey.
– Some mini-vans are also available.
– The journey took 4 hours and it costs RM 30.

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