Sutera Sanctuary Lodges – the biggest rip-off merchants in Asia

No. I did not write those words. I quoted from a travelogue entry by staffyandlyddy in

They also gave a breakdown of what they had to pay those ripp-off merchants to climb the mountain (for non-Malaysian):

Dorm Room at Park Headquarters – 85RM each
Permit to Climb Mt Kinabalu – 100RM each
Insurance (even though we have our own) – 7RM each
Guide – 85RM short trek / 100RM Long Trek – shared
Taxi from Park HQ to Start Point – 85RM – shared
Room on Laban Rata (halfway point) – 208RM each (including really poor meals)
Total cost (if climbing individually on short trek) – 555RM (111 Euro) for the 2 nights.

You can read their entry here.

89 thoughts on “Sutera Sanctuary Lodges – the biggest rip-off merchants in Asia

  1. Lorna

    It’s a big blow to Sutera’s reputation, but they should have seen it coming. I have friends and acquaintances all these while who’ve experienced Suter Sanctuary Lodges’ mediocre services and cut-throat prices.

  2. bayau

    well, sutera santuary lodges increase the price again (malaysian)
    2007 – RM 30/nite
    2008 – RM 180/nite
    2009 – RM 250/nite

    that is too much. anything we can do about it? seems like some people
    really make a lot of money. but still thinking not enough. greedy isn’t?

  3. KakiAyam

    drizad, this things make my blood boil….

    but this is where the power of internet comes….

    I will start a cause to boycott the climbing of Kinabalu in my blog and in Facebook….

    or if anyone would like to take the initiative, pls let us know…

    they must be punished, Gunung Kinabalu does not belong to them!

    You don’t rip people off just because you are capable of doing so, especially when you don’t have an ounce of right to do so!

  4. bayau

    i don’t think boycott work on sutera santuary lodges. they have so much
    demand that the place is full almost everyday. weekend fully booked as early as 6 month. too many demand. Tourist may be able to pay, but sabahan
    simply can not afford that amount.

    there is no clear reason for them to increase the price. there is no significant
    profit loss with fuel hike. i am completely mad to know that they increase thee price again after increasing the price almost 500% early this year.

    i met a tourist from Quebec refuse to climb mount kinabalu because she
    really do not like why there is a significant difference in non-malaysia and
    malaysian fee (of course the laban rata fee too).

    i encourage anyone. write something in the blog. post comment to newspaper (daily express etc) or write letter to sabah tourism or sabah

    we don’t want this Sutera Santuary Lodges treat us like this.
    it is not reasonable ! at all!

  5. Tok.Ou

    Hi…just found your blog. Coincidence.(actually im goggling for NEOSTRATA product)
    Really L O V E Mount Kinabalu.

  6. KakiAyam

    Hi all,

    Could anyone compile the rise in cost like Bayau and mail to me?

    I need price comparison, but not knowing where to get the details.

    Could anyone provide the cost for the past three years for m’sian and foreigners?

    Not only for the accomodation, but also for other fees as well.

    Thank you.


  7. bayau

    for you info, i believe this happen not only in sabah
    2007 malaysian – RM30, foreigner – RM100

    in sabah, some of the taxi in kk charge foreigner in USD..
    if the meter saya RM 30.. they say 30 dolar (USD 30) .

  8. KaKiaYam

    Hi drizad,

    This is to inform you that I have started a cause in Facebook. And I have included your article and one comment from bayau. Do let me know if you are uncomfortable with the words and references used in the ’cause’ inside facebook.



  9. Sutera Sanctuary is a Blood Sucker

    GOOD!!! KAKI AYAM!!!
    i am ur supporter!!!

    1. Before 2008… the Accommodation price only
    RM3/person… then increased to RM12/Person… RM18/person… RM30/person….

    2. Start on the 18th Jan 2008, SUTERA SANCTUARY started selling new package.. Forcing climbers to buy the new package… included the meals…
    the price increase more than 6times…. from RM30/person to RM188/person….

    3. Now, they start selling at RM290/person for Gunting Langadan/non-heater room…. and RM350/person for Laban Rata… for the year of 2009….


    i am wonders…
    1. How can the Ministry Of Tourism approved this new rate?
    2. Ministry dont know? Not care about the locals? Not care about the Climbers? Not care about Tour Company?
    3. Ministry involve in C……..N???

    by the way!!!
    1. Sabah Parks is doing good work to limit the climbing permit, 146/day!
    2. Because they really doing conservation work in The World Heritage- Kinabalu Park…
    3. According to the experts… the carrying capacity of the mount kinabalu only allow 146climbers/day!!!

    1. A lot of tour and travels company cant survive with this new rate!
    2. How can a tour company requet from the guest after confirmed booking or fully paid the tour package fee???
    Eg”Sorry boss, Sutera Sanctuary increase from RM30-188… so our company need to increase another RM160/person in ur package…. i am very sorry for the inconvinient…”
    3. The locals have no more chance to climb MOunt kinabalu- The first World Heritage in Malaysia!!! because of the BURDEN accommodation package!!!

    How can a company profit but burden all the Travel Companies?
    1. SSL bring more rubbish into the park than the improvement in facilities… because selling new package with Pack lunch which is included… plastic, Tapperware, aluminium foil, plactic water Bottle with the Sutera Sanctuary Brand, 100plus tin……
    2. All the travels companies going to bankrupt because of the Selfish SuteraSanctuary!!!

    STGA(Sabah Tourist Guide Association):
    1. What is ur comment?
    2. No action taken?
    3. How can the Tourist Guide survive?

    u are welcome to Email me if got any comment… thanks!!


  10. Jee

    OMG, early of year 2008, i had a climbing trip thru agent ,it only cost me RM200++ exclude the food. I am planning another climbing on May 2009, and very surprice to get the new quote from the same agent. It is about 4 times of the price at year 2008. It is too expensive. I feel very angry with it. How come the price can simply go high without any monitoring by Sabah government and any related department. I am pretty sad on it.

  11. Lulu

    I am truly shocked! To think that climbing Kinabalu was so easy and cheap before.. I pity the high school students now, because they can’t possibly afford the cost to climb the mountain now. When I was in secondary school, we only need to pay not more than RM100 for the whole climbing trip (minus food)….
    How could SSL do this to Malaysians???!! *ssh*les!

  12. KaKiaYam

    Hi all, I suggest some of you could duplicate the comments over here and post it up to the wall in Facebook.

    Not that I want to divert the traffic from here, but i guess we could spread this message effectively and faster through facebook. But this article will always remain the main focus point, just a pity that I could not include it into the Media Box. Drizad, could you try to include this web page into the Media Link?



  13. Leong

    Not only Sutera Sanctuary sucks. Even the Mountain Torq also not doing a good job.

    Mountain Torq has now appointed xxx Travel Agent as the sale promoter.

    Here goes the story,

    My friends did pre-booked Laban Rata , and took up Mountain Torq via feratta -Low’s Peak circuit activity only ( seperated booking) , both booking were confirmed and paid in advance.

    Later when Mountain Torq appointed xxx Travel Agent as the sale operator, policy changed, they will not sell the via feratta activities seperately without accommodation. They have to take the full board package which cost Rm 860.

    Seem like the peoples are making big money out of the heritage.

  14. Jusdy J.

    i think, we should forward this matter to Dtk Masidi…since dia pun org Ranau juga bah…so we hope dia buli campur tangan juga…

  15. Sutera Sanctuary is a Blood Sucker

    HE…. Not only staying at Ranau…. But is a Minister!!! in Ministry of Tourism in Sabah!!!!!

    thanks to all supporters!!!
    i am trying to post/email to all the newspaper editor…. or reporter!!!!

    those got forum account!!! pls upload this article!!! thanks!!!!
    cari forum… travellerpoint… Backpacker…. E-sabah…… thanks thanks thanks!!!


    let me know if got any suggestion….!!!!


  16. Nora

    Yah, when I first call Mountain Torq, they ask me to call to 2 or 3 tour agents that sells the package which stays at Pendant hut and do the via ferrata. But when I say that I already have SSL, than they said not problem, I can book my via ferrata activity direct with them. So I book the Low’s Peak Circuit for me and my sayang.

    I can’t wait! I am going next month!!

    Leong, so I don’t understand why you have that experience.

  17. Qir

    My dream of getting up Mt Kinabalu during my study years (90’s) was cut short due to the expensive flight fare by MAS. Came Airasia, my dream came true May last year. Just as I was about to recall my awesome moments up in the majestic peak, I came across this horrible issue.

    What are they doing?!! Not just us Malaysian find it difficult to spend that much, I presume foreign backpackers as well will run away from Sabah. Once Mt Kinabalu is scaring off budget travellers, I bet you can say good bye to Sabah tourist attraction. Don’t think so many local rich people climb mountains. Foreign tourists rather spend & climb mountains in Indonesia which maybe way more cheaper.

  18. Leong


    It was happened on last month,
    At first they do agree can do separate booking SSL accommodation and take up Low’s peak circuit activity only.

    Later we were informed that we are not allowed to do so.

  19. Nora

    Really!!! Funny, when I talk to Mountain Torq and explain that I already have booking at SSL, than they were ok and let me book. But before that, when I speak to the agents, they say only package. I think the agents around KK are not very good!!! Maybe they are just trying to earn more money at our expense

  20. Kuna

    I just called to enquire about accommodation in Grace Hostel in Kinabalu Park, a dorm room and they quoted me RM70!Like…what on earth is happening here??It’s a dorm room and just a bed for heaven’s sake!And hostels are SUPPOSED to be cheap!How can Sabah Parks allow Sutera Sanctuary Lodge to take charge of this alone from top to bottom??This is totally unacceptable. I think we all should sign a petition about this and present to Sabah Authorities. Poor foreigners who wants to just climb the mountain and be done with it, and are faced with ridiculous amout to pay. I will have to forfeit my plans to climb via ferrata becoz of the high cost!Why is everyone capitalising on this????

  21. bayau

    anyone planning a pertition o this. Just let me know, i am all into this. Honestly, i really do not like the SSL management. The people (costumer service is nice) but the management who want to get more money is not. I really like to see some better company take over their monopoly.

  22. zii

    any idea? where can i get the price yg tak bunuh i.
    everything dah confirm for next year, only SSL kill my dreammmmmmmm

  23. azlan

    just climbed mt kinabalu through mesilau route last week. yeah..the price inreased 600%. last year i climbed through the same route… it only cost me less than RM140 (including bed, guide, permit etc). This year, i need to pay RM430 for the same things which i did last year. Gunting Lagadan Hostel which cost me only RM30 last year inreased to RM188 this year. I heard it will increase again next year. Poor to sabahan, they might have no chances to climb this mountain which i think only tourist from outside sabah who willing to pay for the price. I think, SSL should give cheaper price for malaysian.

  24. Dwen

    Having the opportunity to meet up with state/federal ministers like YB Dtk Masidi and Tan Sri Bernard in the course of my duties, I will try to bring this matter of importance to all Sabahans with them and discuss with them.

  25. Dwen

    Can ask them the questions and highlight the problem for Sabahans esp with Dtk Masidi as he’s currentlyTourism minister but can’t promise I will get a ‘straight’ answer from him. Seems there are ‘certain quarters’ with ‘political connections and interests’ behind the scenes on this..

  26. Dwen

    Ok the story i heard from was Sabah Parks (S.P.) were fed up with handling the rising amount no. of complaints for years from various quarters about all aspect of the management of the mountain and parks i.e. room booking problems, toilet not clean lar etc.
    As such S.P. took the easy way out (instead of improving their services n hiring more manpower) by washing their hands clean of the matter and decided to tender out to the highest bidder the management of the parks-which ended up being won by Sutera’s (Dtk Ong) group along with the right to do as it pleases with the condition also that any expenses i.e renovations to be borne by the group. So how did they win the rights eventually from the govt? well il leave that for you to figure out lar. 🙂

    And that in a nutshell is how this predicament came about to affect all Sabahans. Which is why if u go to Sabah Parks and complain to them u wont get anywhere cos the stopped to care from the day they tendered it out.

  27. akhwan

    hi all,

    i got 4 quotations from 4 different tour operators for 2009 climb..

    mesilau route: average cost is around rm1500 ~ rm1600

    timpohon route: average cost is around rm1200~rm1300

    these quotes are for 3D2N package+ transportation from KK>Park>KK

    pheww…and it doesnt include the flight ticket yet and etc……

    how to dooooo???

  28. bayau

    do you know how much i pay early this year (as for 16 jan 2008), climb mount kinabalu plus transport from kk-kinabalu park only cost me RM180. it is 2D1N package. but of course it is cheap because i went on my own. if using travel agent (depend on which agent) about RM450. 3D2N is around RM700++ last time. Increase in RM500, the travel
    agent do not make much money but just to cover up the cost of SSL. 3D2N is a package they force you to buy. As you know, they make it as a package. On what the
    custumer service tell me, you can only book the gunting lagadan or laban rata within
    1 month (last minute). if not you have to buy the package 2N (stay in kinabalu park and gunting lagadan/laban rata).

    You know rich people like, really good at making money. and sometime make people suffer. it is true, when someone make some much money. someone else will lose as much. and when someone win some will lose. in this case, i am on the lose
    side. and i don’t really like it.

    Now, going on my own. estimated cost is RM500. I think i am going to shift my interest to mount trus madi. The cost is less than RM300 (calculated early this year RM280). It is not the tallest mountain but the forest is much beautiful than what mount kinabalu has.

  29. akhwan


    may i know, the estimated cost of rm500 is for 2D1N right?..

    and, what do you mean ” going on my own”…

    does it mean:

    1. transportation KK>PARK>KK by your own..
    2. ??
    3. ??

    if it means that we can cut the budget, i would like to try on my own…

    thx bayau..

  30. bayau

    if you go without travel agent. you can save a lot of money. and yes it includes transportation. but, maybe not good for you. transportation from kk to kinabalu park is only RM15 one way. but you have to use public transportation to kundasang or ranau.

    it maybe not very comfortable but it works for me. if you really want to see how it is, then
    that is it. But you can’t book the 1N stay if you book earlier than 1 month. it is fine if you go
    with few friend (1, 2, 3 or 4) because most of the time, the place already fully book within 2 month (big travel company prebook) from the climb date.

  31. Jee

    I have few quotations from travel agent for the 3days2nights package, all is above RM750. It is a quite standard price for next year climbing package? My booking date is May 09. Anyone of you get a cheaper quotation? I am from West Malaysia.

  32. Ranau_Girl

    Hi Jee,

    You already got the price for May 09? Wow! Last week when I called the SSL, they informed me the package is not open yet. And have to wait till next month to book the climb.. Very interesting. But then I managed to get the price before May 09 climb for 2D1N:-
    RM290/- Without heater
    RM330/- With heater
    And this price is going to be increased for May09 package. So, don’t be suprised if you get higher price or more than 100% increasement from the price you get now!

  33. Jee

    Hi Ranau_Girl,

    The price you stated is just room rate at Laban rata only,right? Not included the climbing fee and etc climbing charges.
    SSL do send me a rate 2009 last month and the room rate same as you stated. But SSL do not mention the price is only valid until April.
    Very dissapointed with SSL, everything going without oriented.
    My quotation actually from travel agent, not direct from SSL.

  34. cs

    What the hell they are doing? Try to cheat as much as possible and provide the same thing? It kills many malaysian dream. Hope government will do something to prevent such stupid thing happen again. Hw come the price can increase and increase from RM30 to RM188 =.=” really no idea..

  35. minileong

    i also planning to go at July nest year
    just got the quotation from travel agent that 3D2N pakages cost 800 per person
    gosh!! i remember when i visit to kinabalu in 2007, just cost me 300++
    what happend to SSL??
    JEE , i also need your help too…could you send your travel agent e-mail to me?

  36. cs

    i think we should just cancel the trip =.=” go for island..anyway, anyone can tell me that RM290/- Without heater it per room or per person??really frustrated with the price..or we can find more ppl for a room??bayau..i need ur help..any suggestion for me?

  37. bayau

    cs, you will be surprise everything is expensive in sabah. 1 year ago, i can buy meal for RM3.00
    now the average price is RM4.50, go to mamak and you will be amazed if they say RM6.00, the inflation rate in sabah seems the highest in malaysia.

    The cheapest way is to go on your own without a travel agent.

    RM290 is per person. this price i think the travel agent already make up the price.(a common practice for bussiness).

    in one very small room there is 4 bed. and each bed is RM188/person (before 2009 for malaysian) and RM250(non malaysian) the same room with better condition you can get for RM18/night + breakfast in kota kinabalu.

    by 2009 SSL will increase the price to RM250/bed for malaysian. you only stay there from 4pm to 2am about 10hours. (Actually the charge come with buffet meal).

    still.that is too expensive!

  38. cs

    thanks,bayau..thanks for ur the way,”…..and RM250(non malaysian) the same room with better condition you can get for RM18/night + breakfast in kota kinabalu.”,i m not so understand bout this statement..””can get RM18/night+breakfast””..

  39. bayau

    RM18/night + breakfast, you can find some backpacker lodge in kota kinabalu with this price. RM18/night i paid/person earlier this year. I am not sure what is the price after the fuel price hike. but you can definitely can find a price less than RM30 per night.

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