Kinabalu National Park is located some 2 hours from Kota Kinabalu. The journey takes on meandering mountain road with spectacular views of the Crocker Range. Most people get here by packaged tours operated by travel agents based in Kota Kinabalu. You may also rent a car from the city which will set you back anywhere between RM70-100 per day of charter (I opted for this one).
I have read about taking the express bus from downtown Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan or Tawau which will pass by the park entrance where you can tell the bus driver to stop. I am not sure how the return trip can be arranged. You may discuss with the bus driver on the bus timing from Tawau or Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu which can stop at the national park to pick you up.
This is probably the most spectacular national park in Malaysia. The star attraction, without a doubt, goes to the famed granite-clad Mount Kinabalu which officially stands at 4,092 metres above sea level (though previously thought to have an elevation of 4,101 metres). Mount Kinabalu is actually still growing by about a few centimetres every year. In all, the Crocker Range is considered to be an active mountain system, although the possibility of earthquake or volcanic eruption is very remote.
There are plenty of things to see and do here. Hundreds or even thousands of avid or recreational mountain climbers scale the majestic peaks every year. The climbing is so popular that advanced reservation is needed for the permits, local guides, porters, and most importantly, the overnight lodging at Laban Rata. While it is entirely possible to scale this massive mountain within a day, most people will opt to stay overnight at Laban Rata and continue their journey the very next morning to see the awe-inspiring sunset.
Even if you are not climbing, there are definitely plenty of activities to do in Kinabalu National Park. The park headquarters boast quite a number of short hiking trails to enjoy the variety of plant species of the park. The biodiversity of this park is so impressive that Kinabalu National Park was accorded the UNESCO World Heritage Site status a while back.
Other than that, you can get to the charming highland town of Kundasang, some 5 minutes away from the park HQ. You can opt to stroll along the many roadside stalls selling fresh vegetables and fruits locally grown around the rolling hills of this cool mountain town. For a change, you can get to Mesilau Nature Park, some 30 minutes away through partially paved roads. At 2,000 metres above sea level, Mesilau showcases a superb collection of mountain forest trees, wild ferns, etc.
Due to the active geothermal activity of this ever-growing mountain range, the existence of hot springs around the national park is a given. The most popular one is the Poring Hot Springs, some 30 minutes outside of Kundasang.
I guess I could write on and on about this beautiful national park. Nonetheless, the complete travel articles around Kinabalu National Park are available at my different website. See below:
Kundasang Golf Resort
Breathtaking vista of Mt Kinabalu. See why this is the best-kept secret place in Borneo!
Mesilau Nature Park
At 2,000 meter above sea-level, this is a great place to see temperate lush green forests and equally majestic view of Mt Kinabalu's jagged peaks.
A small highland town renowned for fresh vegetables and unostentatious old-world's charm.
Kinabalu Park Headquarters
The main center for the park administration, along with good vista of Mt Kinabalu, decent selection of mountain lodges and exciting biodiversity.
Kundasang Dairy Farm
See why this vantage point is dubbed the Switzerland of Malaysia by yours truly!
Poring Hot Springs
A geological wonder of the still-active Crocker Mountain Range of Borneo.
My favourite national park in Malaysia!