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West Malaysia and Borneo Tour

Combine the rich culture, heritage and cuisine of the Malay Peninsula with the tropical flora, fauna and landscapes of Borneo's Sabah State

A comprehensive 16-day West Malaysia and Borneo tour

A 2-week+ comprehensive Malaysia and Borneo tour combining the wonderful and varied heritage sites of Peninsula (or West) Malaysia’s historic towns with the exotic flora, fauna and awe-inspiring landscapes of the jungles of Borneo.

From the contemporary capital of Kuala Lumpur, with its spectacular mix of old and new and vibrant street life of Chinatown, we’ll travel to the twin, UNESCO-listed, Straights settlements of Melaka (former Malacca) and George Town (capital of Penang Island).

In Malacca, we’ll visit the remains of the 16th-century Portuguese fort A Famosa as well as Dutch-period buildings and the well-preserved shophouses of Jonker Walk, while George Town is famous for its British colonial architecture along with what is certainly the most extensive and best-restored Chinatown in Southeast Asia. We’ll also take a hike through the lush rainforest of Penang Hill and check out the varied cuisine that the island is justifiably renowned for, with both a street food tour and a hands-on Malay cookery class.

From here we take a domestic flight to Kota Kinabalu – the capital of Malaysia’s Sabah State on Borneo Island – and embark on the jungle and wildlife part of our tour. Sites include a marine protection scheme on picturesque Dinawan island, overnight in plantation cottages at Sabah Tea, a hike in World Heritage Kinabalu National Park, a visit to the famous orangutan rehabilitation centre at Sepilok and a stay in a nature lodge on the forest-lined Kinabatangan River.

In addition to heritage walks and street-food tours, activities on our Malaysia and Borneo tour include an exploration of historic Malacca by rickshaw, a ride on Penang Hill’s old funicular railway, guided snorkelling tour of Dinawan’s reefs, birdwatching on the Rainforest Discovery Centre’s canopy walkway and dawn and dusk wildlife spotting boat trips up the Kinabatangan.

Also note that for those with a few more days to spare, we offer extensions to either Borneo’s fabulous Danum Valley or some quality beach time on the South China Sea’s Manukan Island.

Includes: Flights: Penang-Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan-Kota Kinabalu. Meals: B x 15, L x 7, D x 8

Malaysia

Itinerary

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

Chinatown street art

Day 1 - Kuala Lumpur - arrival and orientation tour

Our tour starts with a lunchtime check-in to our small, boutique-style hotel situated in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. Time to relax after your flight before stretching your legs with a brief orientation tour followed by a local-style welcome dinner.

Airport transfers are included with the flights package

Overnight: Kuala Lumpur Transport: Walk,  Meals: D, 

Malaysia, Batu Caves

Day 2 - Kuala Lumpur - Batu Caves and city sights

Morning walking tour of some of the city’s famous sites including bustling Little India and the splendid colonial-period architecture of Merdeka Square. In the afternoon we’ll take the local train to the spectacular Batu Caves – a huge and highly prestigious limestone cave temple complex – before an evening food tour of the Kampung Baru district.

Overnight: Kuala Lumpur Transport: Train, Walk,  Meals: B, D, 

Malacca back street

Day 3 - Malacca - the UNESCO World Heritage Town

Morning departure for the coast and Melaka (Malacca) with an afternoon orientation tour by rickshaw of the historic, UNESCO-listed city. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed town displays Portuguese, Dutch and British influences and we’ll allow you time in the late afternoon and evening to explore at your leisure.

Overnight: Melaka (Malacca) Transport: Minibus, Walk, Tuk Tuk,  Meals: B, 

The Malay Peninsula

Day 4 - North by train to Penang

A return drive to Kuala Lumpur to catch the Butterworth express train to northern Malaysia. Late afternoon arrival and transfer by ferry to our heritage-style hotel in UNESCO-listed George Town’s jetty quarter. The evening is free for you to explore the area or perhaps check out one of the town’s famous street food, hawker markets.

Overnight: George Town Transport: Train, Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, 

Day 5 - Penang - George Town Heritage Walking Tour

Penang’s capital George Town reveals a bewildering mix of Malay, Indian and Chinese cultures; Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Hindu religions. Our walking tour of this well-preserved town takes in exotic temples, Chinese architecture, colourful Little India and impressive British colonial-period buildings. The afternoon is free to explore the fascinating and friendly town at your leisure, check out the local markets or museums while an optional visit to the historic Cheong Fatt Tse ‘blue mansion’ can be arranged.

Overnight: George Town Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

Penang Hill railway

Day 6 - Penang Hill - ride the funicular up and hike down

Our day trip to Penang Hill involves an ascent by way of the old funicular railway with a return on foot through the lush rainforest of the Moon Gate trail, to the island’s Botanic Gardens. Spectacular views guaranteed while fauna includes dusky langurs and over 100 bird species.

Overnight: George Town Transport: Minibus, Train, Walk,  Meals: B, 

What to see and do in Kuala Lumpur

Day 7 - Penang - spice garden tour and cookery class

A food-orientated morning with a visit to the island’s Tropical Spice Garden. An explanation and tour of the garden’s myriad herbs and spices are followed by a hands-on cookery lesson where you’ll prepare your own lunch. Short afternoon hike to unspoilt Monkey Beach in nearby Penang National Park.

Overnight: George Town Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

Malaysia, Borneo Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu

Day 8 - Flight from Penang to Borneo

Transfer to Penang Airport for a flight to Kota Kinabalu, capital of Malaysia’s Sabah State on the island of Borneo. Check in to our centrally located hotel, meet your Borneo tour leader and a late afternoon stroll down to the waterfront for perhaps a sundowner before a local-style, welcome dinner.

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

Malaysia, Borneo, Dinawan Island

Day 9 - Pulau Dinawan - an eco-project on a tropical island

A short boat trip takes us to the tropical island Pulau Dinawan where we’ll visit a conservation project involved in protecting the unspoilt island as well as its surrounding coral reefs. A guided snorkelling tour, nature hike around the island and barbecue lunch are on the menu with a late afternoon return to KK.

Overnight: Kota KInabalu Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, L, 

Mount Kinabalu

Day 10 - Kinabalu - the National Park and Tea Plantation

Time to head into the interior where our first stop will be World Heritage Kinabalu National Park for a hike through the forest at the foot of the 4,000m mountain. Continuing east we’ll stop at the moving Kundasang Memorial in remembrance of Allied POWs who died during WW2’s infamous Sandakan Death March and, blooming permitting, the island’s celebrated Rafflesia flowers. Overnight in cottages at the Sabah Tea Plantation.

Overnight: Sabah Tea Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

Malaysia Borneo tours orangutan

Day 11 - East to Sepilok and a scenic lakeside lodge

A chance to admire the stupendous views over Mount Kinabalu from the perfectly placed restaurant before a brief tour of the organic tea plantation itself. From here we continue to Sepilok for a stay at a scenic lodge. Afternoon arrival and free time to explore the resort’s very own botanical gardens or perhaps relax on their well-situated terrace.

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

Malaysia, Borneo Adventure. Hornbill, Erica Halvorsen

Day 12 - Sepilok - the famous Orangutan Sanctuary and Rainforest Discovery Centre

Morning visit to the famous Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary Rehabilitation Centre and the adjacent Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Project. After some time to relax and escape the midday heat, we’ll visit the nearby Rainforest Discovery Centre to explore the forest trails and extensive canopy walkways.

Overnight: Sepilok Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

Malaysia, Kinabatangan sunset

Day 13 - Gomantong Caves and the Kinabatangan River

Departure for the nearby Gomantong Caves* where we’ll discover the unique ecosystem of the limestone caves including the edible swiftlet nests and, with luck, spot some of the wild orangutans that inhabit the area. On to the Kinabatangan Wildlife Corridor for a stay at a beautifully located, riverside eco-lodge. A sunset boat trip on the jungle-lined river and a night trek to spot some of 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, early morning mist

Day 14 - Kinabatangan - river trip and nature hike

Today’s itinerary features a sunrise river cruise and morning jungle hike with some time at leisure to explore the area or sit back and admire the views from your balcony. Proboscis monkeys, langurs, crocodiles, Borneo pygmy elephants and of course orangutans, are just a few of the potential wildlife sightings, whilst rare bird species include Storm’s stork, pitas, broadbills, the lesser adjutant and several species of hornbill.

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

Malaysia, Kota KInabalu, waterfront hawker market

Day 15 - Morning in Kinabatangan and return flight from Sandakan

Some time at leisure at Kinabatangan before a transfer to Sandakan Airport (depending upon airline schedules) for a short return flight across the island to Kota Kinabalu. Evening farewell dinner. (Note, anyone wishing to take up our Danum Valley extension would depart by road in the morning.)

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

Malaysia, Borneo, Manukan beach

Day 16 - Kota Kinabalu - departure or island extension

Morning is at leisure to explore Kota Kinabalu and perhaps visit one of its museums or markets before either a transfer to KK Airport (depending upon your departure time) or, for those with a few days to spare, a transfer to the ferry for a few days on Manukan Island.

Overnight: Departure Transport: Taxi,  Meals: B, 

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Details

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

Malaysia and Borneo tour

Just a few of the many highlights

Combine the rich and varied cultural, historical heritage and vibrant street life and celebrated cuisine of West Malaysia with Borneo's natural heritage, spectacular landscapes and unique wildlife

  • Explore fascinating KL and the World Heritage Straights settllements of Malacca and Penang's George Town
  • Varied destinations include Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Dinawan Island, an organic tea plantation and Penang's Chinatown
  • Sample some of the best and most varied cuisine Asia has to offer with guided food tours, street markets and a Malay cookery class
  • Discover Borneo's unique flora and fauna in UNESCO-listed Kinabalu National Park, Sepilok and the Kinabatangan River
  • Travel by local train, funicular railway, by boat on the Malacca River and dawn and on dusk wildlife boat trips on the KInabatangan
  • Optional extensions includea rainforest lodge in the Danum Valley, an ascent of Mt Kinabalu or a few days R and R on a tropical island

Air Departures (UK) *From

  • 22 June 24 3,650 GBP
  • 21 July 24 3,850 GBP
  • 24 August 24 3,850 GBP
  • 21 September 24 3,850 GBP
  • 19 October 24 3,890 GBP
  • 23 November 24 3,890 GBP
  • 14 December 24 3,990 GBP
  • 11 January 25 3,895 GBP
  • 8 February 25 3,895 GBP
  • 8 March 25 3,895 GBP
  • 29 March 25 3,895 GBP

Land Departures

  • 23 June 24 2,750 GBP
  • 22 July 24 2,750 GBP
  • 25 August 24 2,750 GBP
  • 22 September 24 2,750 GBP
  • 20 October 24 2,790 GBP
  • 24 November 24 2,790 GBP
  • 15 December 24 2,790 GBP
  • 12 January 25 2,835 GBP
  • 9 February 25 2,835 GBP
  • 9 March 25 2,835 GBP
  • 30 March 25 2,835 GBP

Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed

*As fares are fluctuating wildly at present all ‘with flight’ prices are approximate.

*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Kuala Lumpur.

*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...

Tiang Jing Kuala Lumpur

Tiang Jing Kuala Lumpur view

  • Lovingly-designed, boutique-style, heritage hotel
  • Great location in the heart of KL's Chinatown
  • In-house cafe/coffee shop and restaurant
Rosa Malacca

Rosa Malacca view

  • Carefully-designed and decorated boutique-style hotel
  • Well appointed rooms and particularly helpful staff
  • Quiet location a short walk from the historic centre
Royale Chulan Penang

Royale Chulan, Penang view

  • Great location in the heart of World Heritage George Town
  • Well-appointed with in-house bar, restaurant, spa and pool
  • Comfy 4* rooms with modern amenties and heritage-style decor
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

*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 point for this tour is Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the departure port 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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Extensions

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