Malaysia is home to the region’s tallest peak, Mount Kinabalu (4,095m). Located in the Kinabalu National Park in Sabah, the mountain is a popular destination with both locals and tourists.

Taking about two days to ascend and descend, the eight-kilometre climb typically starts from Timpohon Gate near the park headquarters (1,800m). Climbers usually opt to stay the night at Laban Rata (3,273m) before climbing to the summit the next morning. For an exhilarating adrenaline rush, climbers can also choose to descend Mount Kinabalu via ferrata, a route equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders, and bridges. Weak knees and a fear of heights are not an option.

Other popular climbing sites include the Lost World of Tambun, Nipah Village on Tioman Island, Taman Etnobotani in Gua Musang, Kelantan, Gunung Jerai in Kedah, Gunung Angsi in Negeri Sembilan or Gunung Ledang in Johor. For a challenging climb, try Gunung Tahan, the Peninsular’s highest peak. An experienced guide is required for this 130km return journey, which crosses over rainforest, rivers and mountain ridges.

Closer to the capital, climbers can choose to climb Batu Caves, a limestone outcrop with 8 crags and about 170 routes. Popular walls include Nyamuk Wall, Nanyang Wall, Roadshow, Comic Wall, Damai Wall, White Wall and Red Rocks.

Key Tips

  • To avoid the monsoon season, read up beforehand on the best months to climb and plan your trip accordingly.

  • Even if you’re climbing during the dry season, mountain weather is often unpredictable. Staying equipped with waterproof gear such as a rain cover for your backpack, waterproof jacket and shoes is a good idea. It gets cold up in the mountains, so remember to pack sufficient warm clothes.

  • A cheap shoe (costing less than MYR 10) used by the locals is the 'Adidas Kampung'. Made wholly from rubber, it is a great shoe for trekking through tropical rainforests as it is durable and waterproof. Local climbers have won the Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon wearing that shoe. The 'Adidas Kampung' can be found in some sundry shops, hardware stores and night markets.