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Self-guided Borneo Tour

Discover Borneo's wonderful tropical flora, fauna and magnificent landscapes

An 11-day self-guided tour of Malaysia's Sabah State

On our 11-day self-guided Borneo tour you’ll discover the exotic flora and fauna of the island’s rainforest, as well as some of its spectacular and varied landscapes.

This exploration of Malaysia’s Sabah State, covering the northern reaches of Borneo Island, takes you from the capital, Kota Kinabalu (formerly Jesselton), via Sandakan, the famous Kinabatangan Wildlife Corridor and Sepilok with its iconic orangutans to finish on an unspoilt tropical island in the South China Sea.

Inclusive activities include sunrise and sunset boat trips wildlife spotting along the Kinabatangan River, a jungle trek and even an exciting night hike to check out some of the rainforest’s nocturnal residents. Among a wide range of options are; a fascinating day spent at a marine conservation project on Dinawan Island, the canopy walkway and nature hikes of the Rainforest Discovery Centre, snorkelling and boat trips in the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Marine Park and of course visits to the renowned Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and lesser-known Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Project.

Inclusive transport includes all road transfers pertaining to the itinerary by private vehicle, return flights from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan and return journeys by speedboat to Manukan Island. Our accommodation selection is; a 4* downtown hotel in Kota Kinabalu, chalets at the riverside Myne Lodge in Kinabatangan, deluxe rooms in the well-located Sepilok Jungle Resort and beach villas at the Manukan Island Resort.

In addition to transport, accommodation and certain activities you’ll also receive a professionally compiled PDF mini-guide with details and info on our suggestions for additional, optional activities as well as recommended local cafes and restaurants. On arrival at your Kota Kinabalu hotel, you’ll be met by one of our local guides for a briefing and questions session before a local-style introductory dinner.

Note this self-guided Borneo tour is ideal for couples, small groups and families and departure dates, as well as itinerary and activities, are entirely flexible so don’t hesitate to contact us a for a chat.

Finally, also note that this tour is offered as either ‘land only’, from Kota Kinabalu to Kota Kinabalu or inclusive of return international flights from the UK.

Malaysia

Itinerary

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

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Day 1 - Arrival in Kota Kinabalu

Lunchtime check-in to your downtown Kota Kinabalu hotel and time at leisure to explore the town before a late afternoon briefing with our All Points East guide followed by a visit to the waterfront market and a welcome, local-style dinner. Overnight in the 4* Horizon Hotel or similar.

Airport transfers can be arranged on request

Overnight: Kota Kinabalu Meals: D, 

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Day 2 - Kota Kinabalu - a day on Dinawan Island?

A day at leisure in Kota Kinabalu; explore the town’s markets and excellent museum or:

Spend a day with a marine conservation project on nearby Dinuwan Island.
Take a day tour of the surrounding countryside and villages with a community tourism scheme.
Join a morning, walking heritage tour of old Jesselton town.

Overnight: Kota Kinabalu Meals: B, 

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Day 3 - Into the interior and the jungle-lined Kinabatangan

Morning flight to Sandakan and transfer by road to Bilit district on the Kinabatangan River, home to some of Borneo’s most plentiful and accessible wildlife. Late afternoon boat trip on the river and overnight in a riverside chalet lodge.

Overnight: Kinabatangan Transport: Taxi, Plane, Boat,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 4 - Kinabatangan - jungle hike and boat trip

Early morning boat trip followed by an exciting jungle hike. Some time at leisure in the afternoon before another, dusk trip along the Kinabatangan River. Regular sightings include crocodiles, proboscis monkeys, macaques, langurs and hornbills and, with luck, gibbons, ornagutans and the unique Borneo pygmy elephants.

Option: grab some bicycles and explore the area’s lanes and nearby village.

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

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Day 5 - Transfer to Sepilok

Morning departure by road for Sepilok and check in to the Sepilok Jungle Resort. An excellent afternoon option is the nearby Rainforest Discovery Centre to hike along their extensive nature trails and canopy walkways.

Overnight: Sepilok Transport: Taxi,  Meals: B, 

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Day 6 - Sepilok - Orangutan Rehabilitation Center

A day at Sepilok. Both the famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the lesser-known but equally fascinating  Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Project are a short walk from your resort. Perhaps time your morning visit for orangutan feeding time with some afternoon relaxation in the resort’s gardens or pool side?

Overnight: Sepilok Meals: B, 

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Day 7 - Flight from Sandakan and boat to Manukan

Morning transfer to nearby Sandakan Airport for the short but scenic flight to Kota Kinabalu followed by a boat transfer to Manukan Island. Afternoon at leisure on the unspoilt island.

Overnight: Manukan Island Transport: Taxi, Plane, Boat,  Meals: B, 

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Day 8 - Manukan Island - at leisure

At leisure on Manukan Island. Apart from chilling in the friendly, low-key resort a range of options include; snorkelling on some of the area’s lively coral reefs, scuba diving in the national marine park and exploring the island’s tropical flora and fauna (which even includes a resident Komodo dragon),

Overnight: Manukan Island Meals: B, 

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Day 9 - Manukan Island - check out the National Marine Park

At leisure on Manukan Island.

Overnight: Manukan Island Meals: B, 

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Day 10 - Transfer to Kota Kinabalu

Morning at leisure on the island and lunchtime transfer by boat to Kota Kinabalu. A transfer to the airport can be arranged or an extra night’s accommodation in town of you prefer. End of tour.

Transport: Taxi, Boat,  Meals: B, 

Print Itinerary

Details

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

Malaysia, Borneo, Manukan beach

Just a few of the many highlights

Combine unspoilt tropical islands, turquoise waters and vibrant reefs with jungle hikes, riverboat trips and the fantastic flora and fauna of Borneo's rainforest interior.

  • All your Borneo accommodation and travel selected and reserved in advance
  • 2-day stay in a riverside lodge on the Kinabtangan River
  • Sepilok: Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Sun Bears and Rainforest Discovery Centre
  • Guide briefing, professionally writen PDF mini-guide and local contact details provided
  • Inclusive of 2 domestic flights plus boat and road transfers
  • Recommended optional activities that you can book in advance or on the ground

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...

Myne Resort Kinabatangan view

  • Comfy wooden chalets in a tropical garden setting
  • All rooms come with private balconies overlooking the river
  • In-house bar and restaurant with riverside terrace

Sepilok Jungle Resort Sabah view

  • Set in its own botanical gardens!
  • Swimming pool and restaurant with lakeside terrace
  • Well-appointed rooms with air-con, WiFi and cable TV

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

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. 

Meals: 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.

Breakfast is included throughout as well as certain meals during lodge stays. Our complimentary PDF mini-guides offers a selection of recommended local style eateries and cafes.

Accommodation: all choices fall into the comfortable 3-4* 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 inclusive  activities can be tailored for any fitness level or alternatives suggested. 

Further info: detailed descriptions and photos can be found on the corresponding page of our travel blog.

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