• Elevation: 2,586 m (8,484 ft)
    • Prominence: 688 m
    • Ribu category: Spesial
    • Province: Sabah (Malaysia)
    • Range: Banjaran Trus Madi
    • Division: Bahagian Pedalaman
    • Google Earth: kml
    • Rating: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes) Add your rating
    • Other names: Sinowitan Sinsing


Bagging It!

Gunung Sinsing is part of the large Trusmadi range and lies around 8 kilometres north-east of the slightly higher parent peak Trusmadi. Depending on how you classify mountains as being separate from one another, Sinsing is the third-highest peak in Sabah and Borneo and indeed Malaysia as a whole. The trailhead is completely different to the Trusmadi trailheads and Sinsing is usually hiked in conjunction with another high peak, Gunung Kaingaran (2,468m – lower than the 2,482m on the summit sign), which lies around 3 kilometres to the north-east of Sinsing and has a prominence of less than 300 metres. Unlike Gunung Sinsing, Gunung Kaingaran does not have a view at the top due to vegetation, but Malaysian hikers are keen to visit it as some count it as the fifth highest peak in Malaysia.

The trek to both peaks usually takes 3 days in total, or 2 days if you only want to bag Gunung Sinsing, with one night either at Kampung Nupakan or in the nearby town of Tambunan before Day 1.

Day 1 (4 hours):

From Kampung Nupakan (885m), you will almost certainly have 4WD transport arranged to take you around 7 kilometres along an old logging road to the official trailhead (1,359m). This journey usually takes around 30 minutes via jambu plantations. The trailhead has a shelter with wooden seats and also a toilet on the other side of the track.

The trail initially leads through forest before joining the old logging road (1,409m) and following it over a couple of minor streams (1,511m and 1,525m) before reaching a pool of water on the right (1,525m) which is where the real forest entrance is. The trail leads via a couple of streams (1,587m and 1,737m) and gets progressively steeper before reaching a ridge (1,920m). After continuing along the ridge for around a kilometre you will see a roped section in front of you which looks quite challenging (2,013m). This is actually not part of the main trail and is simply an optional extra as in good weather at the top of the rope is a good viewpoint. The main trail leads down to the right.

Eventually, after around 4 hours in total from the trailhead, you will be at Erick Basecamp (2,289m) which is rather spacious and impressive and is constructed of tarpaulin and wood. There are lots of sleeping areas for large groups of hikers and a couple of separate areas for cooking and toilet facilities. No tents needed. Gas and cooking utensils are provided here which is incredibly useful. The team from Kampung Nupakan who constructed this should be congratulated on their efforts. There is a stream just beyond Erick Basecamp (2,297m).

If you started early you will have plenty of time to relax and get to sleep early for a very early start on Day 2. Note that by Malaysian standards this spot can get quite cold at night so pack extra layers.

Day 2 (10 hours for Sinsing and Kaingaran; 7-8 hours for Sinsing only and back to the trailhead):

If the weather is fine or if you are intent on reaching both Sinsing and Kaingaran peaks then a pre-dawn start with headlamps is desirable and probably essential if you want to make it back here before dark. Those hiking Sinsing only can start a little later if required although as Sinsing is the best place for views it is recommended that you try to reach the top for sunrise.

It’s only around 90 minutes from the Basecamp to the top of Sinsing. View begin to open out once you have reached the summit ridge (2,425m) where there are many large pitcher plants. The slightly higher Trusmadi is visible on the right side of the trail and Kinabalu in the distance to the left. The view towards Kinabalu is especially good beyond a fixed ladder (2,524m) and the view of both the shapely little summit of Sinsing itself and Kinabalu beyond is perhaps best at around 2,568m, just a few minutes before the peak itself.

Take real care on the summit as it is a very small area with steep drops on either side. Although the summit sign states that the elevation is 2,603m it has been properly surveyed as being 2,586m which ties in with GPS readings and still means it is Malaysia’s third-highest, just beating Sabah’s Gunung Tambuyukon at around 2,579m.

For those wishing to hike to Gunung Kaingaran, the descent starts here and it takes most groups a further 3 hours to get there. Then another 3 hours back before descending to Erick Basecamp for a second night. Not including breaks. It’s quite a long day.

Those only doing Sinsing will be back down at Erick Basecamp before lunch and back at the trailhead by late afternoon or earlier where hopefully your 4WD will be waiting for you to take you back to Kampung Nupakan.

Day 3 (4 hours):

Those hikers who did Kaingaran and spent a second night at Erick Basecamp will have a fairly easy third day descending back to the trailhead and Kampung Nupakan.

Bagging information by Dan Quinn (August 2023)

Featured Guides

If you are a reliable local guide and would like to be featured on this page to increase your bookings, or a tourist who would like to support the development of a local guide business, please email with the following information: Mountain name, guide name, guide location, guide contact details, and at least one English language review from a previous hiker who was pleased with the guiding services. An example is given below for reference. We have a maximum quota of 3 featured guides for each mountain page on the site. The fee for this is £20 (British pounds sterling, typically via the Wise app or PayPal) for a period of 1 year and helps to pay towards the ongoing development of the Gunung Bagging project.

  • Name and location: Pak Budi, Surabaya, East Java.
  • Contact details: +62812xxxxxxxx,, 
  • Review from previous client: “Budi was a brilliant guide for our September 2023 trek up Gunung X and I would definitely recommend him to other tourists“, John, USA.


    • Getting there: The nearest airport is at Kota Kinabalu. It’s around 2 hours and 75 kilometres from there to the town of Tambunan, and then a further 30 minutes and 20 kilometres to Kampung Nupakan.
    • Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Sinsing information pack can be downloaded here.
    • Permits: Required from Tambunan, and your guide will almost certainly sort this out on your behalf.
    • Water sources: The Last Water Point is at Erick Basecamp.

Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):



3 thoughts on “Sinsing”

  1. After coming down from Gunung Lucia’s wonderful Hostel Lintagu, I knew I had quite a journey ahead of me the same day, driving round to Tambunan and getting prepared for the Sinsing hike. I spotted a red leaf monkey near Tawau Hills Park HQ, had a few drinks in the canteen, that tasted like luxuries after a few days in the jungle, showered and then jumped in the car.

    There are two ways, the much longer route back north towards Sandakan and then inland, or the shorter route (shorter by around 100km or so) inland from the Tawau area towards Keningau, making a circuit instead of doubling back on myself. This section of road is notorious and being one of Sabah’s worst main roads, and Sabah itself is notorious in Malaysia for having a lot of bad roads. You will see the ‘Tanah Runtuh (landslide’ signs on what feels like hundreds of occasions, short sections of reasonable surfaced road followed by potholed gravel or what looks like asphalt melted into mini craters, like something out of a science-fiction film.

    The road is actually atrocious and I felt guilty about taking a non-4WD vehicle over it. The ultra-pricey Maliau Basin is located along this road, and considering the eye-watering sums visitors are paying to get there it is quite appalling that the infrastructure is so neglected. There are also a couple of police checkpoints so have your licence ready.

    But one of the great benefits, should you be lucky, is that there is an area around 1-2 hours inland from Tawau where there are many elephant crossing areas, with signs, and you have a moderate chance of seeing a Borneo Pygmy Elephant near the road or actually crossing it. And I got lucky. It was at the side of the road but I didn’t get a photos as I was driving. Quite an amazing experience.

    After a very exhausting journey of 6 hours, absolutely knackered, I staggered into McDonalds in Keningau to chomp on cheeseburgers and live up to whatever negative stereotype foreigners have of being unwashed, dazed and strange! Then a few beers for later and on up to Tambunan on what seemed like incredible roads after the trauma from Tawau!

    Nupakan village, the starting point and home of the guides and trail-creators for Sinsing, is only 30 minutes or so from Tambunan, and the views to the mountain range, with swirling mist in the late afternoon was stunning. The guide had told me to let him know when I got there. It would be a basic rest in the village as there are no hotels or shops, so you need to be prepared before heading up there.

    From the end of the good quality road near Kaingaran school, you need a left turn over a river and up an incredibly steep road that suddenly turns into gravel. It remains steep for 5 minutes or around 2km and I could easily imagine cars not having the power to make it unless they turn from side to side to lessen the gradient faced by the engine. It was almost dark once I got up there, and there was no guide, no humans, and no phone signal. Just a dog strolling around outside the Balai Desa building where hikers usually unroll their sleeping bags the night before the trek. Not ideal to consider having to drive back down to find signal and put the car through this after such a long day! So after waiting 20 minutes I decided to head into Tambunan, find a hotel and just head up to Nupakan the following morning, ready for an early start. This was quite an experience as thick mist now covered the road, and it was impossible to see more than 5 metres ahead. Added to that, there were water buffaloes strolling around on the road in this thick mist! However, it turned out to be a good idea to head down as Tambunan has plenty of hotels and mid-week you are not likely to need to book in advance. I had a room with 3 beds in it, not so I could try to have some kind of debauched threesome, but so I could properly unpack my bags, tidy everything, rearrange my suitcase, and get sorted out. That always benefits from more space than what a single room tends to offer.

    The next morning I left my car outside Sekolah Kaingaran (the school) on a proper road surface so it didn’t need to head all the way up to Nupakan. It’s an idea, see what you feel is best according to your vehicle. I think if I had had 2 more passengers in my car it would have been impossible. My guide Jack’s brother arrived to pick me up in a 4WD. Very friendly chap, and with long flowing hair like his brother.

    It turned out we could manage Sinsing in just 2 days and 1 night (quite comfortably) and that gave me a bonus day for afterwards. I thought about Kaingaran too, but more money, no view, a lot further, and a peak which whilst quite high is not very prominent. If it had a prominence of 500m or more I probably would have gone for it as it would have felt a bit more separate and not just a lower bump along the ridge that takes many hours to get to!

    The 4WD journey to the trailhead and the hike up to Erick Basecamp were uneventful. The basecamp itself was great and even had a thermometer. And do, much like for Magdalena, we had the afternoon and evening to relax, drink coffee and snacks. There’s enough bedspace up there for 38 hikers. It was constructed in 2022.

    The plan was a very early start on Day 2 to get to the top of Sinsing for sunrise and the spectacular view. Sadly it rained continuously until 7am when we finally left, no headtorches needed. We were at the top in a little over an hour and whilst the views were good for an hour or so up there, the weather was not on our side that day. Your guide will probably tell you the names of the impressive pitchers plants up on the summit ridge.

    My GPS read 2,579m at the top, exactly the figure I did not want it to read as Tambuyukon (the original 3rd highest mountain in Malaysia) is 2,579m! The summit sign and hiking certificate you will probably get upon completion (they love certificates for hiking in Sabah) both state 2,603m but a more recent survey has brought that down to 2,586m which is just about reasonable according to my GPS and the error margin. So it probably still is the winner, but not by as much as was originally suggested.

    We were back down in under 1 hour to Basecamp Erick, a site which is named after my guide Jack’s brother. He is one of 8! There was an inquisitve squirrel at camp and something like a Malay blackbird looking for food, probably sick after an entire night of solid rainfall. No babi hutan here, with the same issue as in Tawau with the swine flu having finished a lot of them off.

    After a quick drink we set off down, only 3 hours back to the trailhead. Jack told me there was a Rafflesia in Nupakan village but not blooming currently. He also spoke of how Gunung Sinsing’s full name is actually ‘Sinowitan Sinsing’, which sounds almost Javanese, and ‘Gakou’ is another name for Kaingaran. In the Briggs book on Malaysia, Sinsing is labelled on a map in the Trusmadi section as ‘Pinesowitan Sin Sin’ (2,560m). By the time we got down it was raining heavily again, more than to be expected in July, especially after an entire previous night of heavy rainfall.

    I was presented with my certificate and then drove to Kundasang, at the foot of Kinabalu. The journey was rainy throughout, and upon checking I found that a major storm from the nearby Philippines was causing all this and would be creating bad weather for the next few days in Sabah. I started to worry about how this would affect plans for Nungkok and Tambuyukon, but thankfully both still went ahead.

    Sinsing was fun, and would have been even better with fine weather. Definitely worth doing in addition to Trusmadi, the parent peak. My only gripe is that the price was quite astronomical for a single hiker, in a way that cannot be justified. If I wasn’t writing for Gunung Bagging, I probably wouldn’t have considered doing the hike unless I could manage to find at least 5 others to shoulder some of the cost. There were no other hikers there at the same time, whether that was because of the forecast, or being midweek ,or the expense, I am not sure, but it is quite popular with groups from across Malaysia who tend to visit at the weekend to check out the ‘new 3rd highest mountain’ in their country.

    Amazingly, the Sabah group organizer ‘Oobah Adventure’ quoted me an even higher price… 2000 ringgit (430 US dollars!), admittedly including Kaingaran, but just ridiculous. When I replied that it was very expensive, their staff replied ‘Kamu ni foreigner’ which is about the nastiest message someone in the tourism industry can send to a client and displays what felt like a dislike for non-local people, kind of strange when they use English to try to promote everything and especially considering I had told them I would be happy to promote their services and even gave them a contact for a hike in Kalimantan that they might start offering to customers. It was quite bad. Their quote for Magdalena was RM1400, and I did it myself for RM686, with very litle hassle, so bear that in mind! And I won’t even tell you the price for Tambuyukon, it was comical. My advice is to book direct, forget these middlemen who just increase the price tag by a large amount with no obvious benefit for you (especially when you are also being encouraged to hold their banner at the top to promote their company that has charged you much much more than if you had booked direct with the Park or local guides!)

  2. A Gunung Bagging trip to Gunung Sinsing is likely to happen 11-13th July 2023. If you are interested in joining please reply to this message ASAP or contact via the contact page. Thanks, Dan.

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