Mount Kinabalu climbing package scam?

Mount Kinabalu climbing package scam?I received an email today, asking wether there is a scam going on with tour operators which deals with Mount Kinabalu climbing package. This is the quoted email:

Name of sender: Steve
Email of sender: yusi…
————————- COMMENTS ————————-

I have tried booking room in Laban Rata for my July trip. The lodge office told me that all rooms/beds are already occupied. However, when I made enquiry at those tour operators, they seem to be able to get those rooms. Is this some kind of scam? Please advise. Thanks.


This is what I replied:

Hi Steve,

Thank you for your email. No, it is not a scam. The story goes like this:

There are about 100 beds available in Laban Rata, and what happened is, some percentage of the beds have been pre-booked by the tour operators (I am not sure how many percentage). The remaining bed availability will then be managed (sell) by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (SSL) themselves. As SSL is the only operator which manages the accommodation in Laban Rata, the place will easily be filled and booked by travelers. Most of them will book directly to them, sometimes as early as 6 months in advance.

The beds that was pre-booked by the tour operator will usually be filled a little bit later, as the tour operator usually sell the accommodation in Laban Rata as a package, not individual as SSL.

That is why although there are no place available in Laban Rata from SSL, there are still some place available from tour operators.

Anyway, if you want me to help you on a package trip, please fill in this form:


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About drizad

A self employed General Practitioner who lives with his lovely family in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. He dedicates his spare time serving people with precious information on climbing the Majestic Mountain of the Borneo, Mt Kinabalu. Reachable at drizad(at)

7 thoughts on “Mount Kinabalu climbing package scam?

  1. Ily

    I went through the same experience Steve had whilst trying to make reservation for my climbing trip in July 2007. The lodge officers simply told me that tour operators/individuals will usually make block bookings in order to secure places at Laban Rata or Gunting Lagadan, and the beds are usually taken up/fully reserved at both places as early as the SSL’s telephone lines open at 9.00am! The telephones lines are always engaged and sometimes our calls are left ringing without no one attending to it. I guess it is just my luck!

  2. Dang Cheong Lee

    Is it true that sometimes when the accomodation at Laban Rata Resthouse (the dormitory bunk bed) is fully book, the management will allow reservation to be made provided there is an agreement for the people to sleep on the Laban Rata Resthouse restaurant area with mattress and sleeping bag provided.

  3. Frances

    Hey there!

    Just wanna ask you, how do you know if a tour operator is reputable ? I’m looking at tours of Borneo….apparently I cannot read any reviews abouth them…I’m planning to climb mt kinabalu on march 2013.

    Looking forward to your help.


  4. drizad Post author

    Hi Frances,
    Almost all operator for Mount Kinabalu climbing are reputable. However, I have personally email you on the issue. Hope that helps.

  5. Charlotte

    Is Journey Malaysia a reputable company to book a trip up Mount Kinabalu with?

    Thank you,


  6. magdaicez

    I tried to book 10 months ahead (for August 2018) and SSL said not available for requested date. In my opinion this is biggest acommodation scam ever. Why they book all for tour agencies, that charge over 3 times more? And what kind of service they offer? None!. The obligatory guide is a Park ranger 230per 5pax, climbing permit costs 200Myr/adult foreigner, acommodation is provided by SSL. Food to be bought at Laban Rata Resthouse. None of these highly overcharging agency does the service itself. I was so disappointed to find out I can get my acommodation indeed but for 1500MYR/person from agency. No, thank you.

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