Mount Kinabalu is NOT the highest mountain in South East Asia

Rants and raves about the height of Kinabalu were audible last year, 2007. I knew that Mount Kinabalu is not the highest mountain in South East Asia, but I did not know that Mount Kinabalu was ranked 5th on the highest point in SEA.

Dan Low is the person who was responsible for the information to be conveyed to me. LeongWK was the first person who raised this issue but I did not take it seriously, until I read a blog post by Bisean. Fortunately, we share our information together through Multiply social networking platform and I am glad to be connected to a group of people who are really concern about our World Heritage Site.

You can read the heavy discussion in Bisean blog, which some of the commenter did not really agree with the facts. They gave a very different description and definition of the countries and the borders of Asian continent and South East Asia, in which, according to their definition, Mount Kinabalu will rank differently on the highest point list of mountains in this region.

We could actually argue the facts on the border definitions, but personally for me, it is not as important as taking the responsibility to take care of the mountain.

Most importantly, our young generation must be teach to love our mountain and take care of our environment. No point having the highest mountain in South East Asia, but nothing is done to preserve the heritage.

By the way, I think it’s about time we change our Malaysian Geography syllabus, by not mentioning Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia. Our neighbouring countries may get insulted with it.

I hereby give you the 10 highest peak in South East Asia, courtesy of Dan Low…

1. Hkakabo Razi, Burma (5881m)
Hkakabo Razi

2. Puncak Jaya, Indonesia (5030m)
Puncak Jaya

3. Trikora, Indonesia (4751m)

4. Mandala, Indonesia (4701m)

5. Kinabalu, Malaysia (4095m)

6. Kerinji, Indonesia (3809m)

7. Rinjani, Indonesia (3727m)

8. Semeru, Indonesia (3677m)

9. Fansipan, Vietnam (3143m)

10. Agung, Indonesia (3142m)

P/S: Anybody could tell me how many of them are NOT volcanic mountain?

I have helped thousands of climbers of Mount Kinabalu to book their climbing spot since 2006. If you want me to help you, just fill in the form below and send it to me. Thank you very much!

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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)

82 thoughts on “Mount Kinabalu is NOT the highest mountain in South East Asia

  1. chegu carol

    I noted this too when one of my Indonesian friend told me that Mt Kinabalu is not the highest mountain in SEA. He told me that their Puncak Jaya is taller than Mt Kinabalu and even gave me sites to look at.

    But you are right, it is not about being the tallest mountain that matters. It is how we preserve the mountain the way it suppose to be for our future generation.

  2. ben

    This is very interesting. I’ve wondered for years whether Irian Jaya/Papua New Guinea is considered part of SEA, cos there’s a 16,000+ ft mountain there, a full 3K ft higher than Kinabalu. I didnt know there’s another, even higher one in Myanmar/Burma!

  3. drizad Post author

    @chegu carol: Yes, I agree with you on the preservation of the mountain. Some says that we actually “borrow” the mountain from our children. It’s up to us to take goos care of it.

    @ben: Yes, that’s the argument that I meant.

    @swordie: bah… di mana itu gunung tivung? penampang ka?

  4. Murphy

    Some years ago, many locals already knew that Mount Kinabalu is not the highest mountain in SE Asia. And most Sabahans know that its height is 4,095.2m, not 4,101m. However, I don’t know what’s wrong with the people and government in the Peninsular. 99% of them still think Mt. Kinabalu is the highest mountain with a height of 4,101m!

    I also wrote a blog about it:
    Mt. Kinabalu = 4,101M?
    Besides, I also informed MAS in Oct. But they still don’t update the height in their magazine in Dec.

    So it is not hard to understand why the people, even Malaysians, are not well-informed of the changes…

  5. drizad Post author

    Thanks Murphy for the feedback. I think that it’s our responsible to give the correct information about Mount Kinabalu to the world.

    Forget about our government on getting this one straight, as we know, it would take ages for the information to be conveyed. For them, this is a very small matter. Or, they were just ignorant.

    Unless, it’s about scandal… Then, they will open their eyes wide!


  6. nimrodjo

    This is a good information indeed…nevertheless, I’m very pround of our mt. Kinabalu and I never heard of publicize tourist info about the other mountain…do people climb up these mountain?

  7. Savera K

    Hkakabo Razi is a sacred mt and no climbers are allowed on it

    Indonesian mountains, I have been on the top of Mt Rinjani and I believe that the others are climbable… as long as they are not affected by the recent volcanic activity that has been happening during the last few years.

    Fansipan is climbable and is becoming a popular destination as more tourists are going to vietnam!

  8. ben

    Nobody allowed up Hkakabo Razi? That’s a pity, but I thought any mountain is considered sacred by the locals? Isn’t Mount Everest too?

    I bet if you add another zero to the offer, they’ll allow you to climb it.

  9. Jenifer

    Ha! Now the whole truth revealed!
    Knew Mount K wasn’t the highest in SEA, thinking it was number 2. Wa lah now is number 5!! Never mind. I’m still proud of our mountain. We always have a story to tell ….about our mountain…. today, tommorrow and even at our old age.

  10. M Kona

    This is correct if u r refering to political boundaries, but geaographicaly speaking, the burmese mountain is in the himalayas, ie south asia n the indonesian mountains is in papua, hence its not in south east asia. Even if most of indonesia is in south east asia, its region in papua is not.

  11. pali

    no doubt that kinabalu mount is the highest…
    kinabalu mount high is calculate based on above sea level….
    the Hkakabo Razi, Burma high is calculate under sea level..
    sory to say…but kinabalu mount is still the highest….
    think bout it before ur say something that is not true….

  12. drizad Post author

    @ pali:

    Unless you could give us the relevant information data on what you said, we have to admit that Mt. Kinabalu is not the highest in SEA…

  13. owen

    ok, so we have arguement on wic is the highest mount in south east asia…… there any arguement that Everest is not the tallest mount in the world??? any one with any info whether is there a mount higher than everest out there??

  14. Jenifer

    I think it’s part of Malaysian gov’t strategy to boost their image for the sake of tourism giving the title of the highest mountain in SEA to Kinabalu thus foreign tourists will be attracted to climb it. That’s why Malaysian gov’t and other related parties such as MAS didn’t respond to your inputs. I’m sorry to say that data manipulation is normal in Malaysia. Their government has manipulated many data to boost the country’s image. The recent discoveries about it are the data of poverty, export, and number of tourists came to Malaysia which have been manipulated for purposes I mentioned above.

  15. jojo

    there is already a burmese and japanese tandem that scaled mt hkakabo razi on their second attempt a few years back.

  16. Kim

    Puncak Raya (also known as the Carstenz Pyramid) has also been designated the highest peak in Oceania. Some years ago Sid Bass became the first man to climb the “7 Summits” – the tallest peak on each continent (Asia – Everest, Europe – Elbrus, Antarctica – Vinson Mastiff, N. America – McKinley, S. America – Aconcagua, Africa – Kilimanjaro, and Australia – Kosciuszko. Then a debate began about other peaks on various islands being higher (Indonesia and New Guinea). There was also a debate over which islands should be included – Indonesia is usually considered part of Asia, but for this it was considered to be part of “Oceania” – since Indonesia is not physically connected to Asia. This is a super short summary – but if you consider the 4 Indonesian mountains as being in Oceania, then Kinabalu would be the 2nd highest peak in SE Asia (according to this list) and the highest climbable peak. I guess that this means that I have too much time on my hands… Check out or search for 7 summits

  17. Noah Jackson

    I have a new image of Mount Kinabalu and Sabah’s Crocker Range. Most of the images were made during the months of September and October 2008. These are images of the community forests, images along the historical salt trail, and images of forest knowledge. Feel free to embed my own website slide show on your website or blog. Images are also available as fine art prints at sale prices. Work goes to support my not-for-profit work organization with forest communities. Comments are welcome!

  18. Adrian Lee

    This is a surprise. I knew Mt Kinabalu wasn’t as high as they said but how can you claim to be the highest mountain in SE Asia if you aren’t? And what about the legend/speculation (?) the the mountain actually grows higher due to movement of the earth’s plates? Any truth in that?

    Hkakabo Razi, Burma looks stunning.

  19. Yosri

    Mountains are generally measured from sea level, however there are infact three ways a mountain can be measured:

    * From sea level to peak
    * From base to peak
    * From the distance from the center of the earth to the peak of the mountain.

    As mountains are generally measured from sea level, Mount Everest 29,035 ft (8,850m) is considered to be king. However, there is a difference between the highest and tallest.

    What is the difference between highest and tallest?

    The peak of the highest mountain is the furthest away from sea level.

    The peak of the tallest mountain is the furthest away from the base of the mountain.

    What is the highest mountain in the world?

    At 29,035 ft (8,850m), Everest is the highest mountain in the world. Everest is 29,035 feet above sea level.

    What is the tallest mountain in the world?

    Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on Earth. Measured from top to its base below sea level, Mauna Kea beats Everest by 4,436 ft. (over 3/4 of a mile).

  20. Yosri

    Mount Kinabalu is the second tallest in Southeast Asia behind Hkakabo Razi of Myanmar (5881 m) using “geographical” boundaries where Indonesia is consider as part of Australia and Oceania, or the fourth tallest in Southeast Asia, using “political” boundaries where Indonesia is taken as Southeast Asia, behind Hkakabo Razi of Myanmar (5881 m), Puncak Jaya (4884 m) and Puncak Trikora (4750 m) of Papua, Indonesia,[1] and is therefore also the tallest in Malaysia and on the island of Borneo, which Malaysia shares with Indonesia and Brunei.


  21. shengwei

    There is another one peak higher than Mount Kinabalu, that is….——PUNCAK YUNIN IN INDONESIA(4595 m)

  22. shengwei

    I have do some correction:
    In 1997, a re-survey using satellite technology established its summit (known as Low’s Peak) height at 4,095 metres (13,435 ft) above sea level, which is some 6 metres (20 ft) less than the previously thought and hitherto published figure of 4,101 metres (13,455 ft).[1] The mountain is the second tallest in Southeast Asia behind Hkakabo Razi of Myanmar (5881 m) using “geographical” boundaries where Indonesia is consider as part of Australia and Oceania [2], or the sixth tallest in Southeast Asia, using “political” boundaries where Indonesia is taken as Southeast Asia, behind Hkakabo Razi of Myanmar (5881 m), Puncak Jaya (4884 m),Puncak Trikora (4750 m),Puncak Mandala (4700 m) and Puncak Yanin(4595 m) of Papua, Indonesia,[1] and is therefore also the tallest in Malaysia and on the island of Borneo, which Malaysia shares with Indonesia and Brunei. Mount Kinabalu is also the 20th highest peak in the world in terms of prominence.

  23. shengwei

    nevertheless…geografically, Puncak Jaya, Puncak Trikora and Puncak Mandala are all located in Irian Jaya – the Indonesian part of the island of New Guinea which is in fact part of OCEANIA!! and Hkakabo Razi is part of himalayan crockers which is situated at middle asia/south asia continent….

    Therefore geografically…Mt Kinabalu are still the highest Mt in SEA!! But because Myanmar and Indonesia are part of ASEAN/SEA countries…it means that whatever they have is included in SE Asia.

  24. Restee

    Whatever, Papua is part of Indonesia and Indonesia is part of South East Asia.
    It is not about the tallest or the shortest. It is about how we can appreciate our own heritage and land. Peace be with you!
    Greetings from your neighbor’s country to you all, kind people.

  25. Hollinaz

    Ganlang-Razi (5834 ft) in Myanmar

    Even higher than Puncak Jaya, Indonesia (5030m). 🙂

  26. Fordmin

    lol i think puncak jaya indonesia more highest than kinabalu
    so kinabalu is not the highest mountain in south east asia

  27. dooms

    Malaysia why you always feel to be the first,
    but the reality is not like that, Kinabalu the highest mountain in asia?
    and the answer is no..

    No Offence..
    This Reality

  28. Adit

    Well, everyone know how Malaysia take reputation for it’s own sake. Mt. Kinabalu are not as tall as Puncak Jaya… or other mountain…

  29. 5.11

    Those mountains are there for a reason & definitely not meant for any of your bloody hell argument about which is heightest…. why don’t any of you just climb it and make your own legend.

  30. Nilson

    Hello… wah.. now i’m certained that Kinabalu is not the highest in SEA. I’m a malaysian work in Yangon, Myanmar.. and.. wow.. Hkakabo Razi is in myanmar? Guess i will need to check with the authorities here if they can allowed me to scale that mountain… Anyone of you wanted to join? Contact me..…. who knows, God’s willing, we can make a special expedition….

    Dont waste time arguing… Arguments don’t bring you to anywhere… Let’s just scale the peaks… and make history for ourselves… VENI-VIDI-VICI… I came, I saw, I conquer ~ Julius Ceasar

  31. Borneoguyfx

    I just read somewhere that Mt. Kinabalu is the 6th highest mountain in SEA. So what !! To me it is the MOST BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAIN in the world ! Come see for yourselves. Visit our mountain in Sabah (North Borneo) Malaysia. Visit Kinabalu National Park. You’ll be impressed.

  32. ALVIN

    I live near Mt Kinabalu. Don’t argue too much. Mt Kinabalu is in fact highest in south east Asia and that
    ‘s fact. Other mountains are not in SEA geographically and we are talking about geographically.

  33. purnendu pattnaik

    There is some Confusion.

    Mount Hkakabo Razi is in Greater Himalayan Range which is Considered “South Asia” and not “South East Asia”

    “Mandala is one of the three high massifs of Western New Guinea, together with the Cartstensz and Trikora complexes. This peak used to have an ice cap, but it was last seen in 1989 and by 2003 it was totally gone. Based on the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, this peak is likely higher than Trikora, which lost its icecap in about 1960.”

    New Guinea is Definitely not South East Asia, it goes in Oceania
    Puncak Jaya and Puncak Trikora also fall in the Same Province of New Guinea and in the same range.

    So Kota Kinabalu is still the highest peak in “South East Asia”, but not the highest peak in “South East Asia Pacific”.

    As per “Political Geography”, this might not be true, but as per “Physical Geography” or physical map of world, the above statement is true.

    For details please see world physical map and detail geographical description of South East Asia.
    Wikipedia mentions “Mount Hkakabo Razi” to be highest in SEA, but then you and me edit Wikipedia.

  34. Fjp Mook

    Mt Kinabalu are really beautiful and everyone can climb on it…not like others places its so dangerous to climb and their posibilities to erupted is there…no doubt Mt.Kinabalu is the best at SEA..if its falls on No.5 only I dont care it all…

    Still many tourist attracted to come and see at their own eyes the beauty of Mt.Kinabalu…Iziau noh ih talawa om lagenda koh montok spirit komohoingan Kadazan…

  35. jad adrian

    Here are several facts about the mount Kinabalu (which located in my district) ………..

    1) STILL THE HIGHEST in South East Asia in term of PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY.
    * Three peaks in Irian Jaya, Indonesia (Puncak Jaya- 4884m, Trikora- 4751m, Mandala- 4701m) are on the same range from Papua New Guinea (Oceania).
    *While SIX more peaks in Myanmmar are on the range from Himalaya range where the Everest located.
    *So, the NINE peaks which surpassed the peak of mount Kinabalu (4095m) are not actually formed either in Indonesia and Myanmmar. Another story for mount Kinabalu which formed on the crocker range which is within the boundary of Sabah, Malaysia.

    2) But number 10 in term of POLITICAL.

    Yet, politic is changes and changes…. physical geography as well (a thousand years ago)……….

  36. jad adrian

    ….”Yes is our time to change Geography Syallabus. Don’t cheat the students again…”

    why changes?

    Apparently written ‘geographically the highest mountain in SEA’ from the geography book. Teachers have to explain this to make the facts clear….

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