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. Laska

    @Ben..Irian Jaya is in New Guinea Island, but the mountain is part of Indonesia Boundaries, as Indonesia is part as SEA, then yes Puncak Jaya is in SEA 🙂

    what make ppl thinks mt. KK is the tallest is just because Malaysia Tourism Board marketing, put it that way, so ppl from around the world would only know Mt. KK instead the other mountain which is obviously taller then mt. KK

    I think for the Indonesia Mountains above are NOT volcanic except Semeru

  2. jad adrian

    Hi Laska,

    Just to share from the right corner here, Yeah Puncak Jaya is a part of SEA because it’s situated in the irian jaya part (indonesia) but the ‘range’ OR ‘the body’ of the puncak jaya peak are belongs to the range from papua new guinea. Thats why it is also consider as the tallest mountain in Oceania. I agree with you it’s clearly in Indonesia but now we are referring to the geography term (because its all is about geography and boundaries) to clarify the right fact on this hot issue. As a conclusion, the puncak jaya are belongs to papua from ‘geography sight’. Except if someone wish to ‘cut’ its NECK (border) to separate the head (puncak jaya) from the body (range bishmark/sudirman) then we all would except that puncak jaya is belong to irian jaya.

    I hope thats help.

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  4. loveyourchaos

    i don’t understand. Hkakabo Razi is situated in a state of Burma, hence is is a part of Burma, which is a part of SE Asia. No? It even has those militants from Burma populating it to prove its origin even more LOL

    If I’m not mistaken, it’s not a matter of whether Hkakabo Razi is sacred or not, it’s because of the dense forest that’s dangerous (plus its decorated by the rebels that occupy those northern regions of Burma) and the government policy that makes it closed to outsiders. I’m sure the locals there climb it all the time.

    Also, someone else already said it but yeah, a Jap guy and a local has been official recorded for ascending that mountain already.

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  6. OrangSabah

    I know of Puncak Jaya being taller than Mount Kinabalu simply because, thanks to my parents who bought me my first atlas (Malaysian edition) in 1996, while I was in primary school in KK. The atlas clearly states (in SEA map) that Puncak Jaya is taller than Mount Kinabalu. At least now, Kinabalu is more marketed as tallest in Borneo, in which I am more incline to agree.

  7. bondan

    then malaysia tourisment’s commercial advert I saw today on discovery channel is a TOTAL LIE! They said they have the tallest peak in se asia……

  8. Ridzlam

    I think none of the mountains above is the highest in Southeast Asia, it is Bukit Timah in Singapore. LOL!

  9. JoeL

    I read that Mt.Kinabalu is already ranked at 1oth??!

    1. Hkakaborazi, 5881m, Myanmar
    2. Ganlanrazi, 5834m, Myanmar
    3. Dindawrazi, 5464m, Myanmar
    4. Sheankalarazi, 4998m, Myanmar
    5. Puncak Jaya, 4884m, Indonesia
    6. Trikora, 4751m, Indonesia
    7. Mandala, 4701m, Indonesia
    8. Pangramrazi, 4655m, Myanmar
    9. Phonnyinrazi, 4560m, Myanmar
    10. Mt. Kinabalu, 4094m, Malaysia

  10. anut

    in part of kesatuan yes! but in the geology/geographical study they said the mount in the indon n the one in myanmar is not a part of asean…just a country boundaries make it in the SEA region. for the information..only mount KK that have the facility for amateur hiking…the other need a lot of money if u want to conquer it… the point that tourism malaysia use is the geology/geographical. the research by the profesional. the range that in myanmar and indon is not from the country itself. it is from the center (himalaya for Ganlanzi..n australia or oceania plat) n Mt KK is come from croker and croker itselt was in sabah only not share with kalimantan even sarawak. we should change to ‘the highest mountain in SEA geographical region’ i guess..

  11. The Truth

    What a load of crap to say Indonesia West Guinea is not part of Asia but geographically part of Australia/Oceania.

    New Guinea is an island, just like Borneo and both are NOT connected to the Asian mainland. So how can we say that Borneo is in Asia?

    Following this reasoning, Mount KK will not be considered a place in Asia or South East Asia!

  12. tanak kampung

    Whatever, im happy to be business getting bigger because of our proud mt.kinabalu. That is mean, just to be smart and appretiate what we have.
    Aramai tiii
    tanak kampung.

  13. Olay

    In Sabah, we have Mount Kinabalu, we don’t have mount Kota Kinabalu (Mount KK). Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of Sabah.

  14. john

    as a matter of fact, kk is the tallest of geographical south east asia. why is political south east asia not being used? imagine 70 years ago, malaysia still part of england. so can we say that kk was the tallest of mountain of northern europe during the pre war period?

  15. phyca antares

    i’m not very good at linguistics. but i think we’re always have a problem to differentiate between ‘tertinggi’ and ‘paling tinggi’.

    ‘paling tinggi’ means ‘the highest’
    ‘tertinggi’ means ‘one of the most highest’

  16. werd

    The highest in South East Asia geographically but not politically? On what ground you saying Hkakabo Razi is not in South East Asia geographically, beats me. Now how do you define South East Asia geographically- based on earth plate? The is no such thing as South East Asia in strictly geographical or geological sense. There is only Asia because it sits on its own plate. Period. Everything else is political.

    “Tertinggi” and “paling tinggi” mean exactly the same.

  17. john

    werd: really? then you should really go back to your geography books.

    simple question for you, whats is oceania, australia and australiasia?

  18. Seizhin

    I find the debate to be funny.

    Myanmar wasnt considered part of South East Asia politically due to their communism politics.

    Geographically, Myanmar is in the South East Asia region.

    Indonesia, is politically considered an SEA. Hence the ASEAN, long before Myanmar enters the ASEAN.
    Geographically, Indonesia is not situated in South East Asia region.

    Depends on who’s side of view, political or geographic, there are difference.

  19. carstensz-pyramid

    Carstensz Pyramid is the highest summit of Mount Carstensz, the highest mountain in Indonesia, the highest on the island of New Guinea, and the highest of Oceania, and the 5th highest mountain in political Southeast Asia. It is also the highest point between the Himalayas and the Andes, and the highest island peak in the world.

    Carstensz Pyramid Expedition

  20. Adorna

    I was looking thru the website, trying to find info about mountains in the world, and i came across this page. I am a sabahan, i live at the foot of Mount Kinabalu, i have climbed it for 4 times so far… The mountain is very dear to me… I would definitely be proud if kinabalu is the highest in sea but even if it is not, i still love it. I would love to climb puncak jayawijaya someday.. Im sure it definitely has a breathtaking scenery and wonderful experience to be had.. I would also like to visit burma’s mountains… Each has its own beauty… I dont give a crap of whats the tallest… I just love mountains in general… And oh how i wish i could go visit everest one day….

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  23. Khairul

    According to Wikipedia, Mount Kinabalu is the 21st highest peak in South East Asia. That is after considering Mount Tambora located in Sumbawa, Indonesia with the height of 4,300m before its eruption in 1815. In other words, Mount Kinabalu is ranked 21st before 1815 and ranked 20th after the eruption.

    Below is the list provided by Wikipedia:

    1) Hkakabo Razi [1] 5,881 m (19,295 ft) Myanmar
    2) Gamlang Razi [1] 5,870 m (19,259 ft) Myanmar / China
    3) Peak 5710 [1] 5,710 m (18,734 ft) Myanmar / China
    4) Dindaw Razi [1] 5,464 m (17,927 ft) Myanmar / China
    5) Tami Razi [1] 5,101 m (16,736 ft) Myanmar / India
    6) Sheankala Razi 5,000 m (16,404 ft) Myanmar
    7) Puncak Jaya 4,884 m (16,024 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    8) Sumantri 4,870 m (15,978 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    9) Ngga Pulu 4,862 m (15,951 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    10) Carstensz East 4,820 m (15,814 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    11) Puncak Mandala 4,760 m (15,617 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    12) Puncak Trikora 4,750 m (15,584 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    13) Ngga Pilimsit 4,717 m (15,476 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    14) Madoi Razi [2] 4,616 m (15,144 ft) Myanmar
    15) Mount Yamin 4,540 m (14,895 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    16) J. P. Coen Peak 4,500 m (14,764 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    17) Valentiyn Peak 4,453 m (14,610 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    18) Phangran Razi 4,328 m (14,199 ft) Myanmar / India
    19) Mount Tambora (before 1815) 4,300 m (14,108 ft) Indonesia (Sumbawa)
    20) Phonyin Razi 4,282 m (14,049 ft) Myanmar / India
    21) MOUNT KINABALU 4,095 m (13,435 ft) Malaysia (Borneo)
    22) Ngga Nggulumbulu 4,061 m (13,323 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    23) Phongan Razi 3,606 m (11,830 ft) Myanmar/ India
    24) Antares 3,970 m (13,025 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    25) Angemuk 3,949 m (12,956 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    26) Mount Saramati 3,826 m (12,552 ft) Myanmar / India
    27) Mount Kerinci 3,805 m (12,484 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    28) Jumbul Ambera 3,785 m (12,418 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    29) Mount Kobowre 3,750 m (12,303 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    30) Mount Rinjani 3,727 m (12,228 ft) Indonesia (Lombok)
    31) Mount Semeru 3,677 m (12,064 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    32) Mount Rantemario / Latimojong 3,478 m (11,411 ft) Indonesia (Sulawesi)
    33) Mount Tanpa Nama 3,466 m (11,371 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    34) Mount Slamet 3,428 m (11,247 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    35) Bumhpa Bum 3,411 m (11,191 ft) Myanmar
    36) Mount Sumbing 3,371 m (11,060 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    37) Mount Arjuno 3,339 m (10,955 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    38) Mount Raung 3,332 m (10,932 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    39) Mount Lawu 3,265 m (10,712 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    40) Mount Lonkrumadin 3,185 m (10,449 ft) Myanmar
    41) Mount Dempo 3,173 m (10,410 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    42) Mount Welirang 3,156 m (10,354 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    43) Mount Merbabu 3,145 m (10,318 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    44) Fansipan 3,143 m (10,312 ft) Vietnam
    45) Mount Sundoro (/Sindoro) 3,136 m (10,289 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    46) Mount Leuser 3,119 m (10,233 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    47) Iyang-Argapura 3,088 m (10,131 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    48) Mol Len 3,088 m (10,131 ft) Myanmar
    49) Mount Cereme (/Ciremai) 3,078 m (10,098 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    50) Phu Si Lung 3,076 m (10,092 ft) Vietnam
    51) Mount Gandang Dewata 3,074 m (10,085 ft) Indonesia (Sulawesi)
    52) Nat Ma Taung (Mount Victoria) 3,070 m (10,072 ft) Myanmar
    53) Mount Agung 3,031 m (9,944 ft) Indonesia (Bali)
    54) Fuyul Sojol 3,030 m (9,941 ft) Indonesia (Sulawesi)
    55) Mount Binaiya 3,027 m (9,931 ft) Indonesia (Seram)
    56) Mount Pangrango 3,019 m (9,905 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    57) Buyu Balease 3,016 m (9,895 ft) Indonesia (Sulawesi)
    58) Tatamailau / Ramelau 2,986 m (9,797 ft) East Timor
    59) Phu Luong 2,985 m (9,793 ft) Vietnam
    60) Pegunungan Arfak 2,955 m (9,695 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    61) Mount Apo 2,954 m (9,692 ft) Philippines (Mindanao)
    62) Mount Dulang-dulang 2,938 m (9,639 ft) Philippines (Mindanao)
    63) Mount Merapi 2,930 m (9,613 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    64) Mount Pulag 2,922 m (9,587 ft) Philippines (Luzon)
    65) Mount Talakmau 2,919 m (9,577 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    66) Mount Marapi 2,891 m (9,485 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    67) Geureudong 2,885 m (9,465 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    68) Mount Kalatungan 2,880 m (9,449 ft) Philippines (Mindanao)
    69) Mount Singgalang 2,877 m (9,439 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    70) Moncong Lompobatang 2,874 m (9,429 ft) Indonesia (Sulawesi)
    71) Bulu Kandela 2,870 m (9,416 ft) Indonesia (Sulawesi)
    72) Mount Butak 2,868 m (9,409 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    73) Mount Patah 2,850 m (9,350 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    74) Mount Tambora 2,850 m (9,350 ft) Indonesia (Sumbawa)
    75) Phou Bia 2,819 m (9,249 ft) Laos
    76) Mount Ragang / Piapayungan 2,815 m (9,236 ft) Philippines (Mindanao)
    77) Peuët Sagoë 2,801 m (9,190 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    78) Ijen 2,799 m (9,183 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    79) Mount Tujuh 2,732 m (8,963 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    80) Phu Xai Lai Leng 2,720 m (8,924 ft) Laos / Vietnam
    81) Kennedy Peak 2,703 m (8,868 ft) Myanmar
    82) Mount Kapalatmada 2,700 m (8,858 ft) Indonesia (Buru)
    83) Sangpang Bum 2,692 m (8,832 ft) Myanmar
    84) Loi Leng 2,673 m (8,770 ft) Myanmar
    85) Mount Tagubud 2,670 m (8,760 ft) Philippines (Mindanao)
    86) Mount Papandayan 2,665 m (8,743 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    87) Mount Mekongga 2,650 m (8,694 ft) Indonesia (Sulawesi)
    88) Mount Trusmadi 2,643 m (8,671 ft) Malaysia (Borneo)
    89) Mong Ling Shan 2,641 m (8,665 ft) Myanmar
    90) Nattaung 2,623 m (8,606 ft) Myanmar
    91) Ng?c Linh 2,598 m (8,524 ft) Vietnam
    92) Mount Talang 2,597 m (8,520 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    93) Mount Halcon 2,586 m (8,484 ft) Philippines (Mindoro)
    94) Mount Tambuyukon 2,579 m (8,461 ft) Malaysia (Borneo)
    95) Doi Inthanon 2,565 m (8,415 ft) Thailand
    96) Loi Pangnao 2,563 m (8,409 ft) Myanmar
    97) Bon Irau 2,501 m (8,205 ft) Indonesia (New Guinea)
    98) Bukit Daun 2,467 m (8,094 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    99) Mayon Volcano 2,462 m (8,077 ft) Philippines (Luzon)
    100) Mount Sinabung 2,460 m (8,071 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    101) Kanlaon Volcano 2,435 m (7,989 ft) Philippines (Negros)
    102) Mount Mutis 2,427 m (7,963 ft) Indonesia (Timor)
    103) Mount Murud 2,423 m (7,949 ft) Malaysia (Borneo)
    104) Mount Malindang 2,404 m (7,887 ft) Philippines (Mindanao)
    105) Mount Mulu 2,376 m (7,795 ft) Malaysia (Borneo)
    106) Matebian 2,372 m (7,782 ft) East Timor
    107) Poco Mandasawu (Ranakah) 2,370 m (7,776 ft) Indonesia (Flores)
    108) Mount Bromo 2,329 m (7,641 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    109) Bukit Raya 2,300 m (7,546 ft) Indonesia (Borneo)
    110) Mount Matutum 2,286 m (7,500 ft) Philippines (Mindanao)
    111) Doi Pha Hom Pok 2,285 m (7,497 ft) Thailand
    112) Mount Sibayak 2,212 m (7,257 ft) Indonesia (Sumatra)
    113) Mount Salak 2,211 m (7,254 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    114) Mount Tahan 2,187 m (7,175 ft) Malaysia (Peninsular)
    115) Mount Korbu 2,183 m (7,162 ft) Malaysia (Peninsular)
    116) Mount Yong Belar 2,180 m (7,152 ft) Malaysia (Peninsular)
    117) Doi Chiang Dao 2,175 m (7,136 ft) Thailand
    118) Mount Chamah 2,171 m (7,123 ft) Malaysia (Peninsular)
    119) Mount Banahaw 2,170 m (7,119 ft) Philippines (Luzon)
    120) Galunggung 2,168 m (7,113 ft) Indonesia (Java)
    121) Phu Soi Dao 2,120 m (6,955 ft) Thailand / Laos
    122) Mount Irau 2,110 m (6,923 ft) Malaysia (Peninsular)
    123) Mount Benum 2,107 m (6,913 ft) Malaysia (Peninsular)
    124) Mount Mantalingajan 2,085 m (6,841 ft) Philippines (Palawan)
    125) Phou Khe 2,079 m (6,821 ft) Thailand / Laos
    126) Myinmoletkat Taung 2,072 m (6,798 ft) Myanmar
    127) Mount Guiting-Guiting 2,058 m (6,752 ft) Philippines (Sibuyan)
    128) Bukit Batu Lawi 2,046 m (6,713 ft) Malaysia (Peninsular)
    129) Mount Tapulao 2,037 m (6,683 ft) Philippines (Luzon)
    130) Doi Mae Tho 2,031 m (6,663 ft) Thailand
    131) Mount Isarog 2,000 m (6,562 ft) Philippines (Luzon)

    [1] Tamotsu Nakamura, Veiled Mountains in North Myanmar, Japanese Alpine News 2015
    [2] “Myanmar Trekking – Madoi Razi Expedition”. Retrieved 2016-02-18.

    Categories: Geography of Southeast Asia

    The above list was copied from Wikipedia page that was last modified on 18 February 2016, at 09:19.

    As for me…there are still tenth or maybe more than 100 peaks both in Myanmar and Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), Indonesia are still not listed in the list. If all of the peaks are taken to count, Mount Kinabalu most probably ranked much much more lower.

    For those who had conflicting on the name of the Island of Papua, here are some explanation that I hope might help us to streamline our understanding and speaking in reference to it with the same meaning..:

    Speakers align themselves with a political orientation when choosing a name for the western half of the island of New Guinea.[3] “West Papua”, which is not the official name for the western half of the island, is preferred by ethnic Papuans.[4][5].
    The region has had the official names of Netherlands New Guinea (1895–1962), West New Guinea (1962–63), West Irian (1963–73), Irian Jaya (1973–2001), and Papua (2002–2003). When the region was administratively one in Indonesia, Indonesian officials criticized activists’ use of the term “West Papua”, because they thought that the term implied that the province was not a part of Indonesia.
    The was Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid considered his short-lived use of the name “Papua” in 2002 as a concession to the West Papuans.[6]
    Since 2003, WESTERN NEW GUINEA has had two provinces: the province of West Papua on the west (of the Western New Guinea), and the province of Papua on the east (of the Western New Guinea). Officials and administrators refer to the province when they say “West Papua”; independence activists mean the whole of western New Guinea.[7].

    That EASTERN NEW GUINEA is also known as PAPUA NEW GUINEA is located in the Eastern half of the Papua (New Guinea) Island which fall under Australia Administration.

    [3] Leith, Denise (2003). The Politics of Power: Freeport in Suharto’s Indonesia. University of Hawaii Press.
    p. xxv.
    [4] “Cursed by plenty: Paying a covert visit to Papua’s fighters in the forest”. The Economist. 8 July 2010.
    Retrieved 1 April 2011.
    [5] Cribb, R.B.; Kahin, Audrey (2004). Historical Dictionary of Indonesia. Scarecrow Press. p. 313.
    [6] Rees, Stuart (2003). Passion for Peace: Exercising Power Creatively. UNSW Press. p. 150.
    [7] Ver Berkmoes, Ryan (2010). Indonesia. Lonely Planet. p. 775.

  24. Vin G

    Just a short note. Papua New Guinea (PNG) is not under Australian Administration since 1975. So, PNG is an independent state.

    Also, there have been disputes between the countries in claiming the mountains along the border such as those in Myanmar that share borders with China and India.

    But overall, yes, it’s true that Mt Kinabalu is far, far from being the highest mountain in Southeast Asia.

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