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Borneo | Sabah Tour

Jungles, mountains and tropical islands; a varied selection of Borneo's landscape and wildlife highlights on this fabulous tour of Malaysia's Sabah State

'The Land Below the Wind'

Presenting our 9-day Borneo Sabah tour – ‘The Land Below the Wind’. The evocative name for this far-flung Malaysian state is derived from its fortuitously sheltered position just south of the Philippines’ typhoon belt. Sabah covers the northern part of Borneo and contains some of the Island’s most spectacular landscapes and most readily accessible flora and fauna.

This varied tour will take you from a tranquil, coral-fringed island in the South China Sea to the steamy rainforests of the interior with their spectacular jungle flora and fauna. Beginning in the state capital Kota Kinabalu (formerly known during colonial times as Jesselton) we’ll spend a day exploring underwater and forest eco-systems on Dinawan Island; take a nature hike in spectacular, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kinabalu National Park; and visit the famous Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, rescue and rehabilitation centre. We’ll also stay in cottages on an organic tea plantation and a rainforest eco-lodge where we’ll join dawn and dusk wildlife spotting boat trips up the Kinabatangan River, as well as having an opportunity to join an exciting night hike through the jungle.

For those with a few more days to spare (and intending to squeeze your money’s worth out of that airfare), a slightly longer, 2-week Borneo Adventure, takes in both Sarawak and Sabah states. This begins in historic Kuching Town and features Bako National Park and World Heritage Gunung Mulu before arriving in Kota Kinabalu.

Additional add-on options include a wildlife lodge in eastern Sabah’s fabulous Danum Valley or, for the energetic, a 3-day, 2-night ascent of Mount Kinabalu. More relaxed activities in the form of snorkelling or scuba-diving options are on offer with a beach stay on the delightful China Sea Manukan Island.

Borneo Sabah Tour: an unforgettable journey!

Since airfares are fluctuating wildly at present, as well as varying considerably from period to period, our ‘with flight’ prices, below, are approximate only.

Includes: Flights: Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu. Meals: B x 8, L x 5, D x 6

(Many thanks to Erica Halvorsen for allowing us to use some of her great photos.)



Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.

Malaysia, Kota KInabalu, waterfront hawker market

Day 1 - Kota Kinabalu - arrival and time to explore

Our tour begins in Kota Kinabalu, colonial-period Jesselton, today the thriving, state capital of Sabah.  Check in to our boutique-style hotel with time to relax before meeting your tour leader and a stroll down to the waterfront for perhaps a sundowner before a local-style, welcome dinner.

Overnight: Kota Kinabalu Transport: Walk,  Meals: D, 

A quite cove on the island

Day 2 - Dinawan - a pristine island in the South China Sea

A short boat trip to secluded and beautifully preserved Pulau Dinawan for a day on the island organised in conjunction with a local conservation project. Discover the underwater flora and fauna on a guided snorkelling tour as well as the dry land offerings on a hike around the jungle-clad island. Barbeque lunch and late afternoon return to Kota Kinabalu with an evening at leisure to perhaps check out the town’s vibrant night market.

Overnight: Kota Kinabalu Transport: Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

Malaysia, view from Sabah Tea

Day 3 - Mount Kinabalu National Park and plantation cottages

Time to head into the interior with a scenic drive to Kinabalu National Park for a hike along one of the Park’s nature trails. After lunch continue east with a stop to check-out (blooming permitting) the famous Rafflesia flowers as well as the moving Kundasang Memorial to the Allied POWs who died during WW2’s infamous Sandakan Death Marches. Overnight in cosy cottages at the Sabah Tea Plantation.

Overnight: Tea Plantation Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

Self guided Borneo Tour

Day 4 - East to Sepilok and a scenic lakeside lodge

Admire the stupendous early morning views over Mount Kinabalu from the plantation’s perfectly placed restaurant followed by some tasting opportunities and the chance to learn about the plantation’s organic tea production.  From here we drive to Sepilok for a stay at a scenic, lakeside lodge. Afternoon arrival and free time to explore the resort’s very own botanical gardens or relax on their well-situated terrace?

Overnight: Sepilok Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

Malaysia, Borneo, Sabah tour orangutan

Day 5 - Sepilok - the famous Orangutan Sanctuary and Rainforest Discovery Centre

Morning visit to the famous Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary and rehabilitation project as well as the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Time to relax and escape the midday sun before an afternoon stroll to the fascinating Rainforest Discovery Centre to roam their trails and extensive canopy walkways.

Overnight: Sepilok Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

Malaysia, Borneo, Kinabatangan

Day 6 - Gomantong Caves and the Kinabatangan River

Morning departure for the nearby Gomantong Caves*, famous for their edible swiftlet nests. Discover the unique ecosystem of the limestone caves and, with luck, spot some of the wild orangutans that inhabit the area. On to Kinabatangan where we’ll check in to our beautifully located, riverside eco-lodge. A sunset boat trip on the jungle-lined Kinabatangan River and a night trek to discover the nocturnal wildlife complete our day’s activities.*(Please note at the time of writing the actual caves were closed due to walkway repairs although, as the entrance area affords good wildlife possibilities, we will continue to include the site as a stop.)

Overnight: Kinabatangan Transport: Minibus, Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

Malaysia, Kinabatangan sunset

Day 7 - Kinabatangan - river trip and nature hike

Today’s programme includes a dawn river cruise and morning jungle hike as well as some time to explore the area or sit back and admire the views from your balcony. Proboscis monkeys, langurs, orangutans, crocodiles and pygmy elephants are just a few of the possible wildlife sightings you may make, whilst rare bird species found here include the lesser adjutant, Storm’s stork, pitas, broadbills and several species of hornbill.

Overnight: Kinabatangan Transport: Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

Conservation and Tourism in Borneo

Day 8 - Morning in Kinabatangan and return flight from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu

Some free time in the morning at your resort before an afternoon transfer to nearby Sandakan Airport for a return flight to Kota Kinabalu and our farewell dinner.

Overnight: Kota Kinabalu Transport: Minibus, Plane,  Meals: B, D, 

Malaysia, Borneo, Manukan beach

Day 9 - Kota Kinabalu - Morning to explore and afternoon departure

The morning is at leisure to explore Kota Kinabalu and perhaps visit one of the town’s museums or markets before either an afternoon departure or transfer to the ferry for a few days on Manukan Island.

Additional nights in Kota Kinabalu are available before or after your tour.

Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

Print Itinerary


The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.

Malaysia, Borneo lizard

Just a few of the many highlights

Jagged mountain peaks, jungle-lined rivers, mist-shrouded rainforest and rich wildlife make for a memorable tour of this exotic and evocative island

  • Check out the spectacular views of Borneo's highest mountain at Mount Kinabalu National Park
  • Visit the world famous Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary
  • Jungle hiking through pristine tropical rainforest
  • Travel up the Kinabatangan River into the interior on wildlife spotting expeditions
  • Stay in a secluded jungle eco-lodge on the Kinabatangan River
  • Sample the rich and varied local food in restaurants, markets and street stalls

Air Departures (UK) *From

  • 4 May 24 2,145 GBP
  • 1 June 24 2,145 GBP
  • 29 June 24 2,145 GBP
  • 28 July 24 2,195 GBP
  • 31 August 24 2,145 GBP
  • 28 September 24 2,145 GBP
  • 26 October 24 2,195 GBP
  • 30 November 24 2,195 GBP
  • 21 December 24 2,195 GBP
  • 18 January 25 2,195 GBP
  • 15 February 25 2,195 GBP
  • 15 March 25 2,195 GBP

Land Departures

  • 5 May 24 1,595 GBP
  • 2 June 24 1,595 GBP
  • 30 June 24 1,595 GBP
  • 29 July 24 1,595 GBP
  • 1 September 24 1,595 GBP
  • 29 September 24 1,595 GBP
  • 27 October 24 1,625 GBP
  • 1 December 24 1,625 GBP
  • 22 December 24 1,625 GBP
  • 19 January 25 1,675 GBP
  • 16 February 25 1,675 GBP
  • 16 March 25 1,675 GBP

Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed

*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Kota Kinabalu

*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.

We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...

Jesselton Hotel Kota Kinabalu

Jesselton Hotel Kota Kinabalu view

  • Small, boutique-style accommodation in central Kota Kinabalu
  • Stay in a beautifully restored colonial period building
  • Welcoming friendly hotel with in-house bar, cafe, restaurant
Malaysia, Sabah Tea

Malaysia Sabah Tea view

  • Overnight stay in an organic tea plantation
  • Magificent views over the Crocker Ranges and Mt Kinabalu
  • Accommodation in cozy plantation cottages
Nature Lodge Sepilok

Nature Lodge Sepilok view

  • Chalet-style accommodation in a garden setting
  • Short walk to the Rainforest Discovery Centre
  • In-house restaurant and bar
Bilit Adventure Lodge

Bilit Adventure Lodge view

  • The river on one side - the jungle on the other
  • Isolated location but good in-house bar and restaurant
  • Individual, chalet-style accommodation
Malaysia, Manukan Island Resort, Sabah

Manukan Island Resort Sabah view

  • Manukan Island - in the South China Sea
  • A stunning and beautifully preserved, tropical island
  • Located in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.

*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.

Visa Info & Notes

Please note that the Malaysian government has seen fit to introduce a Malaysia Digital Arrival Card, (MDAC), system as of 1st January 2024. This form needs to be submitted online at least 3 days prior to arrival. (We would expect a few possible teething problems so we’d say it’s best to save proof of submission such as a photo or screenshot of the submitted form just in case.)

We apologise for the inconvenience incurred but will bite our tongues and refrain from further comment.

Finally, also note that you may come across references to a daily ‘tourism tax’ of 10 RM, payable by visitors to Malaysia, but this has already been included in the cost of your tour and will be paid by your tour leader.

Visas: No visa in advance is required. A free 60-day visa is issued on arrival at any international airport. As usual, a minimum of 6 months validity from the date of arrival and at least 1 blank page in your passport is required.

The standard arrival and departure point for this tour is Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

Meals: Breakfasts are generally hotel buffets with lunch and dinners based on local food. Your tour leader will usually order a selection of dishes, local-style, while a number of meals are not included, which allows you to ‘do your own thing’ or take a break if you’re feeling ‘riced out’.

With its kaleidoscopic population, Malaysian cuisine is one of the most varied and richest anywhere on the planet and includes all the various, regional Indian and Chinese dishes, the unique Chinese/Malay Nonya cuisine as well as traditional Malay food alongside Thai and Indonesian influences. Dishes are generally mild with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on offer.

Accommodation: all choices fall into the comfortable 3* range and are en-suite and air-conditioned. We have posted a selection of sample accommodation on the lefthand hotel tab but please note that as we try and avoid the larger hotels, availability, in high season particularly, means we use several options in each destination. 

Activities: note that no activities are compulsory and that any, including trekking, can be tailored for any fitness level or alternatives suggested. 

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