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Borneo Trip

Silecroft, United...
Level Contributor
111 posts
82 reviews
43 helpful votes
Borneo Trip

My husband & I are planning a trip to Borneo late 2022 (hopefully!!!) and am busy putting together an itinerary. Our main focus is wildlife and nature and we will be travelling around the Sabah area before a few days relaxing somewhere (maybe Gaya Island Resort). I just have a few questions if anybody can help:

Any recommendations for good local tour operators?

Nice beach hotel recommendations.

Is it worth having an overnight in KL, or just getting a connecting flight (taking into account we won't have much time to explore as most time will be reserved for Borneo).

Any absolute don't miss places/exerperiences!

We are quite happy to do most of the leg work ourselves having travelled around Uganda & Rwanda independently....would just like some local knowledge.

Thank you

4 replies to this topic
Conwy, United...
Destination Expert
for Penang Island, Sarawak, George Town
Level Contributor
5,944 posts
90 reviews
109 helpful votes
1. Re: Borneo Trip

Have you considered Sarawak? Worth some research.

Edited: April 21, 2021, 4:31 pm
United Kingdom
Destination Expert
for Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan
Level Contributor
1,685 posts
3 reviews
9 helpful votes
2. Re: Borneo Trip


Welcome to the forum - as far as good local tour operators, there are many, however, they simply oversee your accommodation booking and provide private transfers from one accommodation to the next, all wildlife guides are provided by your accommodation.

There is a list of operators on Sabah's Tourism website here: https://www.sabahtourism.com/tour-travel-agents/.

Prices vary quite a bit, from the more expensive, such as Borneo Eco Tours, to the mid range, such as Pulau Sipadan Resort & Tours Sdn Bhd (PSR) , and the cheaper end such as Asia Green Travels, additionally, some tour operators own / run there own accommodations, (Borneo Eco Tours own Borneo Rainforest Lodge), (PSR own and operate several lodges including Sepilok Nature Resort, Lankayan Island Dive Resort), and Asia Green Travels own and operate Sukau Natural Bilit Resort in Kinabatangan.

Its pretty normal in Sabah for accommodation providers to house there own transfer companies / booking agencies in house.

Overnighting in KL is a good idea if you happen to get good flights via KL from the UK, but do look into more inexpensive options too, such as via Brunei, with Royal Brunei (LHR > BKI), its a good flight (no alcohol on board though), and it includes a leg stretch in Dubai, a very short layover, and then another (usually very short) stop in Brunei).

Absolute / Dont miss experiences very much depends on how deep your pockets are, i would recommend Lankayan Island, Gaya Island Resort, Sepilok Nature Resort, Tabin Wildlife Resort, Danum Valley, and also the Kinabatangan River resorts. Danum Valley is your atypical Primary Rainforest that you see on TV and is arguably one of the best experiences, but the best resort at Danum Valley is very expensive (Borneo Rainforest Lodge).

You don't mention how long the trip is, so i can't really comment on how much you can get done, travel within Sabah is pretty easy, and usually you would want travel around spending 2 / 3 days per location.

As for nice beach hotels, that depends what you want, busy ? boutique ? clear warm water ? snorkelling ? Within Kota Kinabalu, the beaches off the mainland are not really "tropical paradise", for this, you would want to look towards the Tunku Rahman National Park (TARP) islands, such as Gaya Island, or off the east coast, from Semporna, or Lankayan Island.

Hope this helps.

Edited: April 22, 2021, 1:54 am
Mui Ne, Vietnam
Destination Expert
for Mana Pools National Park, Marco Island
Level Contributor
2,109 posts
54 reviews
64 helpful votes
3. Re: Borneo Trip

I usually plan / book tours myself, but when visiting Sabah we have used Borneo Eco Tours on a couple of occasions and been very happy with the service they provide. Whilst they have 'off the shelf' tour packages, they will happily work to tailor these to your specific needs.

I am a keen photographer, and my wife and I like to see animals in the wild, so whilst happy to visit Sepilok and contribute to the excellent work they dontherr, it was the Danum Valley (Borneo Rainforest Lodge) which we especially enjoyed and where are looking to return once circumstances permit. Again, whilst BRL offer a package of activities for your stay, but if you have specific interest (snakes are mine) they will assign a guide to help you.

We also enjoyed wildlife viewing by boat from Sukau Lodge on the Kinabatangan river (but you quickly realise how limited in extent the forest is, clinging to the banks for the river with oil palm all around), and also our visit to Tabin. Gamantong caves are well worth a visit just before sunset to see the bats leaving (and birds predating on them). We were also fortunate to have an excellent Orangutan encounter close to Gomantong.

Edited: April 22, 2021, 5:36 pm
London, United...
Destination Expert
for Salta, Bolivia
Level Contributor
6,885 posts
329 reviews
177 helpful votes
4. Re: Borneo Trip

Much as I have enjoyed our visits to Borneo over many years I do feel that if your main focus is for "wildlife and nature", after Uganda and Rwanda, you may be disappointed!

We enjoyed our time in Sepilok/Sandakan but it was depressing to see the devastation of the forests by the palm oil industry one the drive there from KK. Kinbangtan river is worth considering but see also the comments in #3 above re forest coverage.

Like #1 above, I would consider Sarawak, there are lots of options available from Kuching.

We also enjoyed our time in the Kelabit highlands which was much more unspooled but that was more about people than wildlife. Mulu Np and Gunung Mulu, hiking to The Pinnacles etc was a great experience BUT even 20 years ago it was heartbreaking to see the rainforest devastation cause palm oil and the hunt for rare timber. Some of the best hikes we have done have been around the base of Mount Kinabalu - not for wildlife but great for forest scenery and easy to get to from KK.

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