Mount Santubong


Santubong: A Beachside Mountain to Climb in Sarawak

Mountain Stats
Natural Form and History
Climbing Experience & Itinerary
Support Facilities
Safety & Accessibility
Special Tips
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Quick Answers

Q:How do you climb Mount Santubong?
A:Mount Santubong has 4 trail options that differ by starting at various entry points, some of which require an admission fee. However, all 4 trails merge at the first View Point. There’s no permit required to climb Santubong and the entire hike shouldn’t take more than 8 hours in total. The climb can be challenging with steep vertical climbs across rope ladders and dense jungle using tree roots as stepping stones.
Q:What is Santubong National Park like?
A:With no overnight accommodation available, the Santubong National Park is great for a day visit. Santubong is located on the Damai Peninsula, 35km north of Kuching. Gunung Santubong provides a spectacular backdrop for many local hotel resorts, fishing villages, and the Sarawak Cultural Village. The main popular activities here are hiking up Mount Santubong and taking a dip in the waterfall.

Climbing Mount Santubong Malaysia - Mountain Stats

810m (2,658ft)
Climbing Height
800m (2,624ft)
  • #1 Best Day-hike For Beach Holidaymakers
Other names
  • Gunung Santubong

Climbing Mount Santubong Malaysia - Natural Form and History

Natural Mount Santubong Malaysia - Natural history

Mount Santubong is presumed to have risen from the sea by a collision between the continental and oceanic crusts. It is composed mostly of sandstone which dates back to upper Cretaceous to early Eocene period, that is, 70 to 60 million years ago. Other layers of intrusive rock dating back to 35 million years ago are also to be found on the mountain. Sandstone being brittle in nature led to formation of cracks and large portions breaking off, explaining the presence of large and smooth rocks on the waterbeds of the rivers found on the mountain. Severe rains during the interglacial periods caused several avalanches which also account for the presence of large rocks on the mountain.

Natural Mount Santubong Malaysia - Climbing history

Mount Santubong is said to have mythical origins and a popular legend has it that the mountain was formed out of the body of a Princess who got into a fight with her sister over a Prince and was punished by their father for the misdemeanor. The mountain in popular imagination is said to resemble a woman lying down when looked at from some angles. In any case the mountain has seen human habitation from the 7th century but came into focus when the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace climbed it in 1855 as part of his research in Sarawak. It is now part of a notified National Park and extremely popular with visitors.

Natural Mount Santubong Malaysia - Current status

Mount Santubong is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sarawak. Climbing the mountain is a daytime activity with a moderate level of difficulty. Lying just 35km from the capital of Sarawak, Kuching City, it is accessible and has additional attractions around it like the Damai Beach and the Sarawak Cultural Village.

Climbing Mount Santubong Malaysia - Climbing Experience & Itinerary

Climbing Mount Santubong Malaysia - Climbing Experience

The trail to the summit of Mount Santubong is a clearly laid out one with clear sign boards and rest stops. It is very popular among travelers looking to spend sometime in the tropical rainforests, but don’t have 2 or more days to spare for the taller mountains in the region. And while it is not a technical climb, the trek will still test your stamina and any exposure to rock climbing will stand you in good stead.

Climbing Mount Santubong Malaysia - Trail options

Number of options

There are 4 different entry points to start the trek to the summit of Mount Santubong but all merge at about 2/3rd of the trail at View Point 1, so essentially what you get are different views of the forest and little difference in the trek time or difficulty, whichever trail you choose. As all the trails merge after a point, there is really no distinction between each and your choice of trail wholly depends on which parts of the jungle you wish to see and whether you want to make use of the small differences in time and distance. Upto the intersection of the trails, the terrain is not too steep and involves some scenic stretches with river crossings and a waterfall. From there onward there are several rock faces and tall boulders to deal with, which you will need to surmount with the help of ropes and ladders.

These steeper and more difficult sections happen after the trails merge so unless you are planning to skip the summit and just make it a jungle trek, there is no avoiding those sections. Most visitors opt to start at one point and descend through one of the others so that you get a greater experience of the forest with its many little surprises in the form of brooks and waterfalls.

Time to complete
1 day

This entry point would require you to pay a fee for the trek but you get to cross a suspension bridge and enjoy the waterfall on the route.

Number of days
Day 1

Reach your entry point and register for entry (at some points you may be required to pay a fee). Depending on which of the routes you decide to take for the first section, you’ll see different types of trees, e.g. a local tree rengas sudu which has a milky sap that turns black on contact with the air and is highly irritant, or a “bird durian” tree which has spiky soccer-ball sized fruit similar to its infamous cousin the smelly durian. Most of this section is through lush rainforest with a few boardwalks and bridges to cross. At one point there is a descent to a creek with a slim waterfall.


Reach View Point 1 where the trails merge. The path ahead will become more difficult, and you will need to rely on ropes and exposed tree roots as foot and hand holds. This section is all uphill with several tall boulders and sheer rock faces with ropes and ladders to help you on your way. As you get up higher, the vegetation will start becoming thinner, with smaller trees. There are some rest stops on the way which you will undoubtedly need to use as the strain of the climb can hugely affect your lungs as well as your legs. Along the way, there will be a number of viewing points where you can rest while taking in views of the landscape below.


The final stretch is almost perpendicular rock surface and it will take every ounce of energy to scramble your way to the top with the help of the many vertical rope ladders. When you reach the summit though, there is a flat space offering (if you’re lucky enough to not have any clouds) spectacular views of Kuching City, the South China Sea and the Sarawak Cultural village.


Start to descend. Try and take a different trail down for the last section of the descent, and if you’re in the mood for a swim, opt for the option that brings you to the waterfall with a cool bathing pool nestled among magnificent trees all around.


Arrive back at base, and start your journey back to Kuching.

This is the first of the possible entry points and offers a tree covered trail that is not too steep but on this route you miss the waterfall that is a highlight of the trek from the other starting points. However, going both ways on this trail allows you to complete the trek in a shorter while as compared to the others.

This point serves as the starting point to a circuitous route to a jungle trek that does not involve going up to the summit. But the trail joins the other trails at a later point so you can enjoy the jungle trail as you go up.

This entry point from the opposite side of the mountain is perhaps the longest route to the summit.

Climbing Mount Santubong Malaysia - Support facilities

Guides and porters

Guides are not required
Porters are not required

Trail facilities

Trail head - Registration kiosk
Trail head - Toilets / Bathrooms
Trail - Rest stop shelters, such as huts, pavilions, etc.
Trail - Built-in hand-holds, guide-ropes, and hazard markings at technically difficult sections
Trail - Publicly displayed trail maps

Food & water

Trail head - Food
Trail head - Potable water
Trail - Food & potable water only available from guide / porters

Network connectivity

Trail head - Network signal
Trail - Network signal

Climbing Mount Santubong Malaysia - Safety & Accessibility


Daytime temperatures hover in the range of 27 to 30 degrees Celsius for most of the year. The dry season between June and August is the best season to climb Mount Santubong. Try to start the climb as early as you can in the morning so that you can get back to the base before the afternoon thunderstorms that tend to happen throughout the year. Check the local weather conditions before embarking on the trek and be sufficiently prepared with raincoats or ponchos as well as shoes with good grip for the slippery surfaces.

Climbing safety

Slips and falls:  Though not a very tall mountain, Mount Santubong is not exactly a beginner’s climb with its sheer rock surfaces that require you to climb over rope ladders. There is always the danger of slipping and falling or sustaining minor injuries on this trail. Be sure to have some level of training before embarking on the climb and carry basic medical supplies.

Personal safety

Mount Santubong is considered a safe trail, and many visitors take this trek by themselves at all times of the year.

Permits, Fees, and Regulations

You don’t need a permit for the trek but you need to register yourself in the visitor’s log at the entry points to the trail, where you’ll be given a registration slip.

Emergency contacts

Police & Ambulance: 999

Fire: 994

Getting there and away

Kuching International Airport is the entry point to the state of Sarawak in Malaysia and is about 11km from Kuching City center. From Kuching City, it is easy to get a cab or a minivan or bus to Santubong. Some hotels operate tour buses too. It is only 45 minutes to Santubong from Kuching City.

Money Matters

Leaving your car at the Green Paradise Seafood Restaurant will cost you a car park fee of RM5 and there’s an RM8 admission fee from this entry point per person.

Climbing Mount Santubong Malaysia - Special Tips

Tips for amateur climbers

Though the height of the mountain is not intimidating this is not exactly a beginner’s trek because of the steep boulders that require you to have at least a basic exposure to rock climbing. If you would rather not make the entire trek, opt for the jungle trek circuit that will give you a nice experience of the rainforest and waterfall in the area.

In earlier 2019, a climber from Cyprus was lost for a couple of days on Santubong and had to be rescued. So please stick to the trail.

Tips for advanced climbers

Mount Santubong sits close to several nearby attractions like the Damai Beach and the Sarawak Cultural village. Try to make your trek as early as possible in the morning so you can take full advantage of all that Santubong has to offer.

You can also try to combine two or more of the trails so you get to experience as much of the mountain as possible.

Tips for women

Mount Santubong is a safe trail for women travelling solo or in groups. Even so, it’s best to follow basic safety precautions like keeping others informed of your proposed trek time and expected arrival back at lodgings.

Tips for responsible / safety-conscious climbers

Santobong is sitting in a biodiversity hotspot that is under stress. Please leave only footprints, and take only photos. Extra karma points if you can bring a bag and take some rubbish back out of the forest.

Tips for trail runners

There have been trail runs in the past but it’s best to check if there will be any runs taking place when you visit.

Tips for nature lovers

There’s a whole jungle you can walk through and you’ll find several brooks and waterfalls along the way.

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