Great Hiking Spots in Sabah You Need to Know besides Mount Kinabalu

Mountains in Sabah

Great Hiking Spots in Sabah You Need to Know


Sabah is the third largest island in the world, well-known for its rich culture and NATURE. Sabah's rich nature has made it into Top Global's list, such as Sipadan, known as the Top 2 Dive Site in the World. The primary thing that proudly represents Sabah is Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. It is so popular that even when we typed "mountains in Sabah," "other hiking places in Sabah," the results are mostly about Mount Kinabalu.

Follow me along, and I will bring you to many other great hiking places in Sabah besides Mount Kinabalu. For those who never climbed Mount Kinabalu before, let this be your challenge. Challenge yourself to conquer all these mountains in Sabah and go for the Mount Kinabalu climb at last! Without further ado, let's begin our journey!

Length: 900 - 1000 Meters

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Bukit Tirig is located in Kampung Lapasan, Telipok, which will take about 35 minutes to ride from Kota Kinabalu. There is no entrance fee needed to pay to hike, but you can show your support to the locals by buying drinks from one of the houses after the hike.

Bukit Tirig is a great hiking place for beginner hikers, as it only takes about 20 to 30 minutes to hike to the peak. There is only one trail to the peak so that you won't get lost. On your way up, there are quite some attractions to keep you entertained. Once you're on the peak, you can spot Bukit Botak, Bukit Janggut, Nuluh Lapai, and many other mountains in Kota Kinabalu. The golden hours to hike in Sabah are always either sunrise hours or sunset hours, around 5am and 5pm.

*I would recommend driving a bigger car, as the road to get there is quite bumpy and bad.

Length: 1.5 - 2 Kilometers

Level of Difficulty: Easy - Moderate

Bukit Kopungit is a historic and iconic mountain in Kota Kinabalu. It is located at Kepayan, just 10 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu town, depending on the traffic. It is one of the locals' favorite hiking places in Kota Kinabalu. There are 2 main trails to the peak. The short trail only takes about 15 - 20 minutes hike to the peak, whereas the long trail takes about 40 - 50 minutes.

Bukit Kopungit is a mountain that is suitable for all levels of hikers. What makes it historic and iconic in Kota Kinabalu? It is the Japanese tunnels that were built during World War II. Two Japanese man-made tunnels can be found there; one is located at the long trail, and the other is upon reaching the peak. At the peak of Bukit Kopungit, you get to see the former Kota Kinabalu International Airport Terminal 2 (KKIA2), Tanjung Aru flyover, Kepayan town, and breathtaking sunset view!

*It is crowded almost every day, but it's better on weekdays.ย 

Length: 720 Meters

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Bukit Merah Karambunai is probably the easiest mountain in Kota Kinabalu, so it is the best start off for fresh hikers. It is also located at Sepanggar, about 35 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu town. Bukit Merah Karambunai is well maintained and easy to conquer. It offers some instagrammable attractions that give you to BOOM your social media!

There are two peaks in Bukit Merah Karambunai, and the total height of it is just 720m, which will take only 15 - 20 minutes to reach peak one and another 10 - 15 minutes to peak 2. Also, there are three tracks at the starting point, and each of the ways is connected to both the peaks.

Length: 1.5 Kilometers

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Bukit Botak is the most famous mountain in the Sepanggar area. It takes about 25 minutes to ride from Kota Kinabalu town, depending on the traffic. It has only one trail to the peak, which is at the side of the main road. The starting trail is not easy to find, so you should find someone that has been there before to accompany you. Also, it's not safe to go alone for a sunrise hike or during at night.

It is roughly a 35 - 45 minutes hike to the peak, depends on your physical endurance and stamina. From the peak, you were able to see the overview of Sepanggar town, Sepanggar & Gaya islands, as well as Mount Kinabalu.

*There is another trail at the peak that leads to Bukit Gentisan. If your physical allows, you can try challenging it.

Length: 690 Meters

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Bukit Janggut is the second most popular mountain in Sepanggar after Bukit Botak. It is just 6 minutes distance from Bukit Botak to Bukit Janggut. The starting point is also on the side of the road. There are 2 or 3 stalls at the starting point selling beverages and snacks at around 7am daily.
There is only one trail to the peak, easy to access, and is safe. Though it's just 690 meters long, there ain't much flat surface for you to rest until the peak. It takes about a 20 - 30 minutes hike to the peak depending on your physical endurance and stamina. Upon reaching the peak, there is another short trail leading to an attraction called "Birds Nest" before reaching the peak. However, I would prefer you to visit the "Birds Nest" when you're coming down. At the peak, there are some well-decorated platforms facing directly Mount Kinabalu. Get ready your phone and snap photos! Bukit Janggut is a perfect place to enjoy sunrise rising from behind Mount Kinabalu.
Go very early in the morning like 5am or on weekdays because it is going to be very crowded on the weekday!

Length: 0.59-1.5 Kilometers

Level of Difficulty: Easy - Moderate

Bukit Padang also is known as ๐—ง๐˜‚๐—ป ๐—™๐˜‚๐—ฎ๐—ฑ ๐—ฆ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฝ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ฃ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ธ. Anyone that lives in Kota Kinabalu must have heard about this mountain or park before. It is a park that ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—ถ๐˜๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น ๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฒ๐˜€ because of its ๐—ฏ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜€. First is the ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ. There is a marketplace at the parking lot that sells ๐—ด๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜€ and ๐˜€๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ธ๐˜€. By the way, some of them taste ๐—”๐—ช๐—˜๐—ฆ๐—ข๐— ๐—˜!

Next are the ๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜€. Bukit Padang offers different sports activities, such as ๐—ท๐—ผ๐—ด๐—ด๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด, ๐—ง๐—ฎ๐—ถ ๐—–๐—ต๐—ถ, ๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—บ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ฐ๐˜†๐—ฐ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด. For ๐—ท๐—ผ๐—ด๐—ด๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด, completing a loop will take about ๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿฌ - ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿฌ ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜‚๐˜๐—ฒ๐˜€. There are ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—น๐˜€ that leads to the peak for ๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด, counting from ๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—น ๐Ÿฎ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐Ÿฒ. It is 145-meters in height. The shortest trail is 0.59KM, and the longest will be 1.5KM. It is a great ๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ for hikers who are planning to ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ ๐— ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ž๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—น๐˜‚. However, ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜„ from the peak is ๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฒ when compare to the ๐—ผ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—บ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€ in Kota Kinabalu.

*There is a seafood restaurant in the middle.

Length: 980 Meters

Level of Difficulty: Easy - Moderate

Nuluh Lapai absolutely one of my favorite and highly recommended mountains in Sabah besides Mount Kinabalu. The view on top looks like somewhere in Thailand! It is located in Jalan Sulaman, Tuaran, just the opposite of Restaurant Makanan Laut Gayang.

There are two trails to the peak of Nuluh Lapai, the short one is 980 meters, and the long one is 1200 meters. The long trail is much relax compared to the shorter trail; the ground for the short trail is much more slippery when after rain. It takes about 25 - 35 minutes for the short trail to hike to the peak, and the long trail takes an additional 10 - 15 minutes.ย  On top, you can see Mount Kinabalu, lush mangrove swamps, and Sepanggar town.

*There is a small stall at the peak that sells beverages daily around 7am, depending on the weather.

Length: 0.87-1.5 Kilometers

Level of Difficulty: Easy - Moderate

Bukit Helang is located nearby University Malaysia Sabah (UMS), which will take about 15 minutes ride from there. The starting point is situated in a Kampung area with a big open field for parking.

There are two peaks in Bukit Helang. One is 0.87KM, and one is 1.5KM. There is only one trail to the peaks, and it will take about 30 minutes to reach the first peak and another 10 - 15 minutes to the second. Along the way up, there are few stops for you to rest. We have only gone up to the first peak. On top of Bukit Helang, you can see the wide-open west coastย and Mount Kinabalu on the other side.

*The time we went there, the trail is not well maintained; many overgrown kinds of grass.ย 

Length: 2.5 Kilometers

Level of Difficulty: Moderate - Hard

Bukit Bongol is located at Kota Belud, which will take about 1 hour 30 minutes ride from Kota Kinabalu. Three starting points lead to the peak of Bukit Bongol. The shortest trail is 2.5KM length and is called Mandap Trail. The longer trail is 3KM length and is called Pirasan Trail. The longest trail is 4KM and is called Kinasaraban Trail.

We've chosen the Mandap Trail; although it is the shortest trail, it's also the most challenging trail as well. It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to finish, and just about 2KM you'll able to see some incredible views of Kota Belud. On top of Bukit Bongol, you were able to see the majestic Mount Kinabalu, rivers, hills, and some Kota Belud town.

*There is a total of 4 peaks, and each of them is just about 10 - 15 minutes away only.

Length: 6 Kilometers

Level of Difficulty: Moderate - Hard

Aura Montoria is an extraordinary and adventurous mountain in Sabah. It is located at Kota Belud; it will take about 2 hours ride from Kota Kinabalu. It's a long ride, but it is WORTH IT! Aura Montoria is still considered a hidden gem as not many people heard about Aura Montoria because they only started in 2017.

It looks like a mountain you can only found in Sarawak, where there are wooden bridges, caves, and waterfalls! There's even a cliff that is about two stories high for you to jump into the river to prove you're the TARZAN! Also, there's a river by the campsite and little to no mosquitoes!

I have written a blog specifically about Aura Montoria. The price, inclusion, activities, and itinerary. Also, there is a video of our full experience at Aura Montoria. Watch it before you go!

*Please drive a bigger car like Hilus because the road is pretty bad.

Please stay connected with us, as part 2 will be coming soon!

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