Proboscis monkey in Borneo

Best of Borneo

Trip code
BOB001

Sabah contains geological wonders, wildlife sanctuaries, and rainforests yet to be explored by man; Sarawak adds indigneous longhouse stays, street-food culture, and eccentric colonial history.

Covering the highlights of both states, with a fine balance of scenery, wildlife, and indigenous culture, this itinerary is a tasting menu of Borneo’s delights.

Pricing

Price based on 3* accommodation
From
3,000
pp
Price based on 4* accommodation
From
3,300
pp

Key facts

14 days / 13 nights
Stay with the Iban tribe to learn about longhouse life, and visit a fishing village to experience life by the water
Go on a cycle tour into rural Kuching, trek through the jungle to swim in a lake, and spend two days touring vast caves and canopy walks in Mulu National Park
Visit the Semenggoh Orangutan Centre, spot nocturnal creatures on a night hike in Sepilok, visit the Sepilok sun bear and orangutan conservation centres, go on a wildlife cruise and a night safari on the Kinabatangan River, and watch the wildlife that congregates at Kelenanap Oxbow Lake
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MAP LEFT MAP RIGHT DAY 1-2, 5 KUCHING DAY 9-10 KINABATANGAN RIVER DAY 8 SEPILOK DAY 3-4 BATANG AI & SIMANGGANG DAY 6-7 MULU NP DAY 11-14 GAYA ISLAND
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DAY 1-2, 5 KUCHING DAY 9-10 KINABATANGAN RIVER DAY 8 SEPILOK DAY 3-4 BATANG AI & SIMANGGANG DAY 6-7 MULU NP DAY 11-14 GAYA ISLAND

Transfers will be by car (mainly on bumpy roads) and boat, with three internal flights. There’s one heavy transport day where getting from Kinabatangan to Gaya Island requires a boat, car, plane, car and another boat, but we promise it’s worth it!

What's great

This itinerary really showcases the many faces of Borneo, including its human culture, natural diversity and famous wildlife

It includes both of Malaysian Borneo’s orangutan sanctuaries, giving you the best chance of a sighting

It’s great for active types, with tough hikes and no “down” days

Things to consider

Wildlife experiences are unpredictable by nature, so sightings are never guaranteed (though you’ve got an excellent chance)

You’ll need a good level of fitness, especially for the challenging Mulu hike

Even if you travel in the “dry” season, always expect rain in a rainforest

Some accommodation is pretty basic — but in the jungle that’s part of the fun!

The experience

Have other ideas? Great! Bring them to us, and we’ll craft an itinerary that suits you.

Day 1-2

Kuching

Borneo is best-known for its orangutans, but Kuching is all about the humble mog. No-one knows how the city got its name (kucing is Malay for cat), but as you explore its backstreets by bike, you’ll see that the locals have enthusiastically embraced the theme! Along the way, learn about the city’s colonial history, dating back to when this was an independent kingdom ruled by the “White Rajahs”. Then, cross the Sarawak River with your bikes and compare city life with the laid-back, rural streets and wooden houses of a traditional Malay Village. Kuching is renowned for is street food, from crimson Sarawak laksa to rainbow-coloured layer cake, so be sure to hit the market before you leave.

Streets of Kuching

Highlights

Cycle through the streets of the “City of Cats” on the lookout for feline murals and statues

Contrast city life with a traditional Malay village on the opposite side of the Sarawak River

Sample a smorgasbord of street food in the culinary capital of Malaysian Borneo

Aerial view of Kuching

Day 3-4

Batang Ai

There was a time when the name Borneo was synonymous with fearsome headhunting tribes. Those days have passed, but the Iban people have retained many of their (less fearsome) practices. Indeed, their traditional way of life preserves a sense of community that most developed societies lost long ago. Travelling by boat, you’ll head deep into the forest to meet them, joining in with the locals as they feed livestock, weave mats and baskets, or gather food in the jungle. The Iban still live in huge longhouses where up to 30 families sleep under one roof, and spending the night here is one of our absolute highlights of life in Borneo. Just be sure to bring your earplugs!

Iban Longhouse in Batang Ai

Highlights

See the rainforest from the river on a boat ride deep into Batang Ai National Park

Spend a night with the Iban tribe in a traditional longhouse

Learn all about life in the jungle, including traditional handicrafts, shooting blowpipe darts, and maybe having a go at Iban dancing

Longboats on lake at Batang Ai

The finer detail

  • Breakfast every day
  • Six lunches: two in Batang Ai; one in Kuching; one in Mulu; two at your lodge on the Kinabatangan River
  • Three dinners: one in your Batang Ai longhouse; two in your lodge on the Kinabatangan River
  • One full-day experience: explore Mulu's caves by boat and walk the canopy walkway
  • Five half-day experiences: cycling tour of Kuching; two orangutan rehabilitation centres; the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre; walk through Mulu's Lang & Deer caves
  • Overnight stay at an Iban longhouse in Batang Ai, including cultural activities
  • Two night stay on the Kinabatangan River, including wildlife spotting activities
  • All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
  • All internal transport & accommodation

Day 1:
Car transfer from Kuching Airport to Hotel (30 mins)

Day 3:
Car and boat transfer from Kuching to Batang Ai (4.5 hour drive & 1 hour boat)

Day 4:
Car and boat transfer from Batang Ai to Simanggang (1 hour boat & 1.5 hour drive)

Day 5:
Car transfer from Simanggang to Kuching (3 hour 40 min drive, with sightseeing break)

Day 6:
Car transfer from Kuching to Kuching airport (30 min)
Flight from Kuching to Mulu (1 hour 35 min)
Car transfer from Mulu airport to Mulu National Park (5 min)

Day 8:
Car transfer from Mulu to Mulu airport (5 min)
Flight from Mulu to Sandakan (40 mins)
Car transfer from Sandakan airport to Sepilok (25 mins)

Day 9:
Car and boat transfer from Sepilok to Kinabatangan (30 min drive & 2 hour boat)

Day 11:
Car and boat transfer from Kinabatangan to Sandakan airport (1.5 hour boat & 30 min drive)
Flight from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalau (50 mins)
Car and boat transfer from Kota Kinabalu airport to Gaya Island (25 min drive & 20 min boat)

Day 14:
Car and boat transfer from Gaya Island to Kota Kinabalu airport (20 min boat & 25 min drive)

  • International flights
  • Meals not mentioned
  • Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
  • Tips for guides & porters
  • Tourist taxes & any National Park fees