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27 Mar 2018 - 6 min read

What to do at Kinabalu Park if you don't plan on conquering Mount Kinabalu

Did you know that Kinabalu Park is not only home to Malaysia’s tallest peak, but is also its first designated World Heritage Site? Stretching over 75,000 hectares of thick rainforest and towering mountains covered in mist, the park is full of wonders that will leave you in awe.

So for all you nature lovers who aren’t prepared to do much extreme hiking, here’s what you can get up to when you visit Kinabalu Park and how to get there.

How to get to Kinabalu Park

Credit: Ame Kusanagy / Shutterstock

Traveling in a group: If you’re traveling from Kota Kinabalu in a group of three to four people or more, it may be worthwhile to rent a car. The 2-hour journey to Kinabalu Park will take you through winding roads, so your driver should be confident with driving on mountainous roads. You also have the freedom to move at your own pace.

Traveling on your own: You can hop on a minivan or share taxi bound for Ranau from Merdeka Square in town. A one-way ride costs around RM20 – be sure to inform your driver that you wish to be dropped off at Kinabalu Park. However, if you plan to go elsewhere after exploring the park or wish to return to Kota Kinabalu, it can be a challenge find your way, as public transportation is irregular and not well connected. You may even have to opt for a taxi, which is costly.

Traveling with a tour group: There are many tour operators offering day-trip packages to Kinabalu Park. Most packages include a stop at Poring Hot Springs and will cover basic entrance fees and lunch.

Pro Tip: If you tend to get motion sickness, be sure to bring along some medicine to ease it, as the roads get curvy.

What you can do at Kinabalu Park
Learn about the park’s diverse flora at the Botanical Garden

If you’re not much for hiking, but still want to see some of the park’s rare species of plants and flowers, then head to the Botanical Gardens. Open daily from 9am to 4pm, the park offers daily guided tours through the garden starting from 9am, 12pm and 3pm (for a small fee). You can also stroll along the paths on your own and read the informative signs that are scattered around. However, some of the plants are so small, you could easily overlook them without a trained eye!

Take your pick among the nature trails

Kinabalu Park has eight nature trails for you to explore, depending on your fitness level and how much time you have to spare.

Silau Silau Trail: Spanning 3 kilometers, this is one of the more popular trails. The terrain is flat and there are plenty of entry and exit points so you won’t have to complete the entire trail if you don’t want to.
Bundu Tuhan View Trail: You can get a spectacular view of Bundu Tuhan Village in the distance from the ridgetop shelter, which takes about 7 minutes to reach.
Mempening Trail: At 2.5 kilometers, it’s considered an easy trail for beginners, taking around 30 minutes to reach Silau Silau stream.
For a challenge, try Liwagu River Trail, which will take you across small streams and narrow ridges. The trail is 5.6 kilometers long and takes around two hours or more to complete.
If you’re an avid bird watcher, try Bukit Burung Trail, which leads to the top of Bukit Burung, otherwise known as Bird Hill, aptly named for being a bird-watching hotspot.
Soak your aching muscles at Poring Hot Springs

Though it’s part of the park, you’ll have to drive around an hour from Kinabalu Park HQ to get to Poring Hot Springs, where the natural sulphuric hot springs are located. Those who already paid entrance fees to Kinabalu Park won’t need to pay again, as your ticket is valid for same-day entry.

Open daily from 9am to 5pm, you can either take a dip in the public baths or pay RM15 to RM20 per hour for an enclosed bathtub. If you can’t stand the heat, then slowly wade into the Rock Pool, filled with cold water from the nearby river. There’s also a pool with a waterslide, though you’d have to pay extra for entry (check out the ‘Fees’ section below).

Be sure to bring along proper swimwear, rubber flip-flops/sandals, a towel and a change of clothes. Locker services are available at RM2 per locker.

Get wibbly-wobbly on the Canopy Walkway

Constructed from rope and planks of wood, the Canopy Walkway isn’t for the faint of heart, as it will sway. In fact, you’ll already be catching your breath before you step foot on the walkway, as it’s a good 15-minute hike up from the entrance. If you’re planning to take some photos, you’ll have to pay a fee of RM5 (yes, this includes smartphone cameras).

Pro Tip: If you’re visiting in a group, just use one camera to take all your photos so you won’t have to pay the fee more than once.

Watch endangered butterfly species flutter by at the Butterfly Farm

Step into Sabah’s first butterfly farm, which is used for research, education and preservation of Borneo’s endangered butterfly species. The farm is brimming with flowers (the butterflies’ food of choice), and if you sit still long enough, you may even invite some butterflies to land on you.

Open from 9am to 4pm (closed on Mondays), you’ll have to pay an additional fee to enter the farm. The best time to visit is in the morning or before 3pm, as that’s when the butterflies are most active.

See the world’s most expensive orchid at the Orchid Conservation Center

The world’s most expensive orchid – at around USD5,000 per plant – is the Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid, which takes up to 15 years to bloom! This rare species is endemic to Kinabalu Park – you can ask if it’s currently in bloom during your visit. But even if it’s not, you can view up to 1,200 species of orchid, all of which are found within the park. You’ll have to pay an additional fee to enter, however.

Catch the world’s largest flower in bloom at the Rafflesia Garden

Rafflesias are relatively difficult to encounter in the wild, so your best chance of seeing its large, bright red petals is here. The sensitive flower takes about a year to reach full bloom, and once it has, it only lasts for up to six days (sometimes less if it’s the rainy season). So if you’re lucky, you may be able to catch it mid-bloom during your visit!

Splash aroundKipungit Waterfall and Langanan Waterfall

Had enough of the hot springs? You can actually trek into the jungle to reach the nearest waterfalls in the area –Kipungit Waterfall and Langanan Waterfall. Kipungit is just over half a kilometer away (or 20 minutes) from the entrance to Poring Hot Springs and has facilities for picnics and swimming, including toilets and a camping ground. Langanan is a much more impressive waterfall, standing at 120 meters high, but it's a good 3 kilometers in, so most visitors are quite happy with Kipungit.

Kinabalu Park (includes same-day entry to Poring Hot Springs)

MyKad Holders: RM3 (Adult); RM1 (Below 18 years old)

Non-MyKad Holders: RM15 (Adult); RM10 (Below 18 years old)

Poring Hot Springs (includes same-day entry to Kinabalu Park)

MyKad Holders: RM3 (Adult); RM1 (Below 18 years old)

Non-MyKad Holders: RM15 (Adult); RM10 (Below 18 years old)

Slide Pool (Hourly rate): RM3 (Adult); RM1 (Adults over 55, Kids 6-18); Free (Kids under 6)

Canopy Walkway

MyKad Holders: RM3 (Adult); RM1 (Below 18 years old)

Non-MyKad Holders: RM5 (Adult); RM3 (Below 18 years old)

Butterfly Farm

MyKad Holders: RM3 (Adult); RM1.50 (Below 18 years old)

Non-MyKad Holders: RM4 (Adult); RM2 (Below 18 years old)

Orchid Conservation Center

MyKad Holders: RM5 (Adult); RM3 (Below 18 years old)

Non-MyKad Holders: RM10 (Adult); RM5 (Below 18 years old)

No trip to Sabah is complete without exploring the treasures of Kinabalu Park, so if you’re looking for a Bornean adventure, book your flights and hotel stay with Traveloka!