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Exploring Borneo

Family Wildlife Adventure

A family holiday in Borneo can create lifelong memories. With jungles, rainforests, unusual animals, and a rich cultural tradition of distinctive garb, energetic dance, and chilling legends, Borneo offers an adventure for families of all ages. This twelve-day trip takes in a bit of traditional culture in a way that’s fun for all and then focuses on wildlife viewing. We’ve tried to minimize domestic travel but where it can’t be avoided, there’s variety in the schedule and interesting views out the window.

Look for turtles laying eggs on Selingan Island, watch young orangutans play in the nursery at Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, and visit two of Borneo’s rainforests. A trip down the Kinabatangan River is an opportunity to see monkeys, crocodiles, flying lemurs, colorful birds, pygmy elephants, orangutans, and more. At Tabin Wildlife Reserve, everyone can clomp through the mud in Wellies (no need to bring your own, they’ll loan you a pair), shower under a waterfall, marvel at stick insects and other unique critters, and experience an open-air safari drive. On Gaya Island, you’ll have time to get a taste of Borneo’s underwater life. Snorkel or dive in the South China Sea to see a variety of marine life.

Please remember this is a sample itinerary to inspire you and we are happy to modify it to suit your plans and preferences. We can add or remove days, look at different places to stay, and include other options. If you’d like to learn more about a family holiday in Borneo, give us a call at UK 020 7112 0019 or email to start planning your holiday.

Your Itinerary

Day 1 - Kota Kinabalu

Welcome to Borneo! You’ll arrive at Kota Kinabalu International Airport this afternoon or evening. Your driver will meet you and transport you to your comfortable seaside accommodation. Relax and settle in.

Day 2 - Cultural & City Tour

This morning your guide will collect you for a trip to Mari Mari Cultural Village. Here you’ll learn about five of Borneo’s native tribes with chances to taste local treats, join a dance, and see the different styles of longhouse people have lived in. After lunch you’ll get a tour of Kota Kinabalu with stops at the City Mosque, a Buddhist temple, the Sabah Museum, and more.


Day 3 - Soak up the sun

Your resort is a family favorite with its own nature reserve, a kids’ activity centre, an area much-loved by the older kids crowd, multiple swimming pools, horse stables, and a long stretch of beach. We’ve planned nothing for you today so you have a day to take it easy.

Day 4 - Turtle Island

This morning you’ll fly to Sandakan and transfer by boat to Selingan Island. You’ll have the afternoon to snorkel and relax. After dinner, rangers will look out for the evening’s highlights. Perhaps a turtle will come ashore to lay eggs or it will be time to release young turtles into the sea. Watching baby turtles take their first swim is a memorable experience for all ages.


Day 5 - Orangutans and sun bears

After breakfast you’ll return to Sandakan and head for Sepilok in time for the morning feeding at the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. After seeing the young ones play in the nursery, walk to the Sun Bear Conservation Centre. After lunch transfer to the jetty for a ride down the Kinabatangan River to Sukau. Look for proboscis monkeys and crocodiles along the way.


Day 6 - Kinabatangan River

Join an early morning river cruise to look for wildlife, take a guided walk along the Hornbill Boardwalk, and in the afternoon attend a talk on orangutans or relax by the pool or river. Take a late afternoon river cruise to spot monkeys, birds, crocodiles, and more.

Day 7 - Overland to Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Transfer by van to Lahad Datu and on to Tabin Wildlife Reserve. In the afternoon, trek to Lipad mud volcano on a family-friendly path. Look for bubbles in the mud and watch the forest for bearded pigs and other wildlife. After dinner, you’ll have a night safari to look for birds, insects, and other nocturnal animals.

Day 8 - Explore Tabin

Listen for gibbons this morning and if you hear them, take a quick walk to see them in the nearby trees. Today you’ll visit a bird watching tower, walk to a waterfall for a refreshing dip, and experience a rainforest foot soak, a Tabin specialty. Enjoy a dusk drive to look for leopard cats, flying lemurs and squirrels, and other animals active in the twilight hours. After dinner, there’s a night walk for those still eager to spot more wildlife.

Day 9 - Travel to Gaya Island

Relax this morning before your transfer to Lahad Datu for an afternoon flight to Kota Kinabalu. Upon arrival at the airport you’ll be collected and transferred to the jetty for a short boat ride to Gaya Island and your seafront hotel.

Days 10-11 - Relax by the beach

Round out your wildlife adventure with a guided walk through the rainforest, kayaking trip in the mangroves, or snorkelling trip. We haven’t booked anything for you so it’s your choice how best to enjoy these days in the South China Sea.

Day 12 - Bid Farewell

Transfer back to Kota Kinabalu today for your ride to the international airport and flight homeward. Safe travels!


This itinerary costs from £2,260 per person based on two adults sharing excluding peak seasons of July-August, Christmas and New Year, and Chinese New Year’s. The price includes all transfers and domestic travel but not international flights.

International flights tend to cost between £700 and £900 return – do ask us for advice. Alternatively we can book the flights for you but a booking fee may apply.

What's included?

  • Prices start from £2,260 per person
  • Accommodation on B&B basis
  • Full board on days 4-8
  • Transfers in an air-conditioned vehicle or by boat as mentioned
  • Local taxes excluding Malaysia Tourism Tax
  • Entrance fees
  • All excursions and activities mentioned in the itinerary
  • Internal flights
  • All trips are ATOL protected or ABTA bonded to ensure you are fully covered
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Kota Kinabalu
An easy city to see on foot, Kota Kinabalu is the gateway to Sabah. Hop a ferry to the islands, relax by the beach north of the city, tuck into a meal at the night market, and settle into the easy pace of Sabahan life. More
Tip of Borneo
Empty beaches, clear water, and fantastic villas perfect for those looking to get away from it all. The Tip of Borneo is a quiet place for a self-drive holiday from Kota Kinabalu. A longhouse homestay, traditional villages, and a jungle home to proboscis monkeys are easy day visits. Snorkel, dive, kayak, trek, bicycle, or simply sit by the water. More
Mount Kinabalu
The highest mountain in Southeast Asia offers more than an incredible hike. With multiple mountain environments and climate zones, Kinabalu Park hosts more than 300 bird species and 5,000 flowering plants including the large rafflesia. For those up for the challenge, climbing Mount Kinabalu is an unforgettable overnight hike to see the sunrise at 4,095 meters. More
Considered by many one of the top dive sites in the world, Sipadan Island has coral-covered walls dropping well below recreational limits. Sharks, turtles, and schools of fish that number in the thousands are routinely seen by divers and snorkelers. Only 120 visitors are allowed per day so we recommend staying on nearby Mabul and diving its macro-rich waters on your non-Sipadan days. More
Danum Valley
The largest piece of preserved virgin rainforest in Malaysia sits within the Danum Valley Conservation Area. This remote jungle hosts a magnificent array of wildlife from the largest in the region to some of the smallest. Sun bears, orangutans, clouded leopards, wild cattle, Sumatran rhino, horned frogs, flying frogs, flying squirrels, the list goes on. Previously only accessible to researchers, campers, and those with a very high budget, we've found a lodge that gets you close to the action without the hefty price tag. More
Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Bornean gibbons, pygmy elephants, clouded leopards, proboscis monkeys, orangutans, and a few of the nearly extinct Sumatran rhinoceros are protected within the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. A stay here will have you trekking to a mud volcano and a waterfall, looking for birds and nocturnal creatures on night walks and drives, and if you're lucky, getting a peek at some of Borneo's incredible wildlife. More
Kinabatangan River
A trip down the Kinabatangan River to Sukau is an almost guaranteed way to see proboscis monkeys in the wild. These unique monkeys are endemic to Borneo and line the protected river corridor. Wild orangutans, pygmy elephants, silver leaf langurs, macaques, crocodiles, kingfishers, hornbills, owls, civets, and an array of other wildlife can be spotted in the region. Fireflies light up near Abai and the Gomantong Caves boast a bat population in the millions. Nearby Sepilok is the home to an Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and Sun Bear Conservation Centre, both worth a visit. More
The nation of Brunei Darussalam sits between the two states of Malaysian Borneo. Its capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan, reveals the country's wealth with lavish mosques, gold towers, and carefully groomed outdoor spaces. People are friendly and when the sun sets the country's name, abode of peace, makes perfect sense. More
Built along the Sarawak River, Kuching makes a lovely base for exploring western Borneo. Architecturally interesting with Malay, Chinese, Indian, Muslim, British, and other influences apparent, the city is pleasant to walk around and easy to navigate. Nearby Bako National Park and Semenggoh Nature Reserve are great places to see wild proboscis monkeys and semi-wild orangutans. Each can be visited on a day trip from Kuching although spending a night in Bako is well worth it. More
Mulu National Park
The caves of Mulu are some of the largest in the world and the only ways to get there are on foot or by plane. This remote rainforest is full of walking trails and caves, the latter of which can only be visited with a guide for safety reasons. For the adventurous, serious trekking options exist and for the comfort-seekers, a lovely little resort sits just outside the National Park. More
Batang Ai
Traditional culture is alive and well in Batang Ai where the Iban people still live in communal longhouses. No longer feared headhunters, the Iban have incorporated touches of modernity into their traditional way of life. Trek through the park in search of wild orangutans, walk through the canopy looking for birds, sit down with an Iban chief to learn about their culture, or just look out over the many waters for which the region is named.
Caves of Niah
With evidence of human habitation dating back more than 40,000 years, the Niah caves are a fascinating and beautiful area that can be explored on a day visit from Miri. See etchings on the wall of Painted Cave, traditional ladders for those collecting the nests of swiftlets, and huge caverns as you walk the boards and visit the small museum.
Maliau Basin
The "lost world" of Sabah, the Maliau Basin is a naturally enclosed basin drained by tributaries of the Maliau River. A multi-day trek in this dense rainforest is a challenging and rewarding way to get up close and personal with an extremely wide array of plants and animals. More

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