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Exploring Borneo

The Grand Tour

If you’re looking for the ultimate holiday in Borneo, this grand tour will give you a taste of everything with a few luxurious stays. Wildlife, traditional culture, nature, beaches, and a little time to see the cities. It starts in the west in Kuching and ends on Gaya Island near Kota Kinabalu in the east. In between you’ll visit national parks, wildlife conservation centres, ancient rainforest, caves, beaches, traditional villages and longhouses, glide down a river looking for wild orangutans, and try your hand at a few traditional activities. By the end of these three weeks, you’ll have a real understanding of Borneo’s warm and friendly people, rich lands, and its myriad flora and fauna.

Please remember this is a sample itinerary to inspire you and we are happy to modify it to suit your plans. We can add or remove days, look at different places to stay, include additional or remove some of these destinations. To start planning your holiday, give us a call at UK 020 7112 0019 or email

Your Itinerary


Day 1 - Selamat Datang

Welcome to Borneo! Your flight arrives today at Kuching International Airport where your private driver will greet you. Check in to your historical hotel along the river and perhaps go out for a walk to see this vibrant, multicultural city.


Day 2 - Bako National Park

Get your first glimpse of some of Borneo’s endemic animals in Bako National Park. You’ll be collected after breakfast and driven to the port. Bako is home to wild proboscis monkeys, bearded pigs, flying lemurs, and loads of other wildlife. To maximize your chances of seeing animals, you’ll stay overnight and enjoy a night walk with your guide.

Day 3 - Bako to Kuching

Enjoy a morning walk in Bako to look for more wildlife. There’s time to explore the trails in search of pitcher plants and take in a few hilltop views of the South China Sea before transferring back to Kuching. The rest of the day is yours to relax and explore.


Day 4 - Orangutans of Semenggoh

This morning your guide will take you to Semenggoh Nature Reserve in time for the morning feeding. If you’re lucky, some of the semi-wild orangutans in the area will pay a visit to the feeding platforms. Stay the night in Kuching and consider visiting some of the museums or go for a stroll along the Sarawak River.


Day 5 - Mulu National Park

Your driver will deliver you to Kuching International Airport this morning for your flight to Mulu. After checking in to your hotel, the afternoon is yours at leisure. Consider heading into the park for a self-guided walk along the trails. Grab a seat outside Deer Cave at dusk to look for bats setting out on their nightly hunt.


Day 6 - Caves of Mulu

Wear comfortable shoes and bring your torch today. In the morning you’ll head upriver to a Penan settlement to learn about their previously nomadic lifestyle. Continue to Wind and Clearwater Caves to marvel at one of the largest cave systems in the world. After lunch, venture back down the river for a walk into Deer and Lang Caves. Marvel at the stalagmites, stalactites, and mountains of black snow.

Day 7 - Fly to Kota Kinabalu

The morning is yours at leisure to walk in the national park or relax at your resort. In the afternoon, you’ll be taken to the airport for a flight to Kota Kinabalu where you’ll be collected and taken to your downtown hotel. Consider a walk to the night market for a truly local dining experience.

Day 8 - Mari Mari Cultural Village

This morning your guide and driver will take you to Mari Mari Cultural Village where you’ll learn about five of Borneo’s indigenous tribes. See the different styles of longhouse, dress, and learn about the old practices of headhunters. The afternoon will be at your leisure.


Day 9 - Kiulu Farmstay

Get a taste for countryside living by heading to the Kiulu Valley. Your driver and guide will deliver you to your rustic ecolodge where you’ll meet the local team. Spend the afternoon walking, learning, and trying your hand at traditional activities.


Day 10 - Mount Kinabalu Park

This morning you’ll head up into the cooler air around Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain of Southeast Asia. Visit the Natural History Gallery and Mountain Garden. Your guide will be on the lookout for tiny orchids, pitcher plants, and other unique flora. If you’re lucky, perhaps you’ll be able to see a rafflesia in bloom. Return to Kota Kinabalu for the night.

Day 11 - Orangutans & Sun Bears

You’ll be collected for your early morning flight to Sandakan today. Upon arrival, your guide will transfer you to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in time for the morning feeding. After a visit to the Sun Bear Conservation Centre, you’ll head down the Kinabatangan River and check into your riverside lodge. Look for crocodiles and monkeys along the way.


Day 12 - Kinabatangan River Wildlife Spotting

Rise early for a morning river cruise to look for wildlife and birds with your guide. If you wish, join an easy walk behind the lodge, attend a talk about orangutans, or relax by the pool until your afternoon wildlife-spotting river cruise. The area here is rich with animals and if you’re very lucky, you may even spot Borneo pygmy elephants.

Day 13 - Overland to Tabin

Head south to Lahad Datu and then to Tabin Wildlife Reserve today. In the afternoon, walk to the Lipad mud volcano and after dinner, enjoy a night walk to look for nocturnal critters of all shapes and sizes. The area is home to an incredible array of birds, mammals, and insects so keep your eyes open at all times!

Day 14 - Tabin Exploration

A bird walk, dip under a waterfall, a dusk wildlife spotting drive, and perhaps another night walk are on today’s schedule. You’ll also have a bit of time to relax by the river.


Day 15 - Danum Valley

The morning will be a bumpy ride as you return to Lahad Datu then head for Danum Valley. This ancient primary rainforest is teeming with life, if you can spot it through the trees! You’ll have time in the afternoon to stretch your legs with a walk on some of the nature trails.


Day 16 - Ancient Rainforest

Spend today exploring the nature trails of Danum Valley. Look for animals, ancient burial coffins, and trek to a waterfall for a dip in the rock pools. For those not afraid of heights, take an afternoon stroll on the canopy walkway.


Day 17 - Head for the islands

After a morning walk, you’ll return to Lahad Datu for your flight to Kota Kinabalu. You’ll be transferred from the airport to Jesselton Jetty to catch your ferry across to Gaya Island. Relax and settle in to your seaside resort.


Days 18-20 - Soak up the sun

There’s nothing scheduled for you these final days while you’re on Gaya Island. Consider snorkeling, spending time on the beach, arranging a spa treatment, or otherwise taking it easy. Perhaps start thinking about where your next trip will take you.

Day 21 - Bon voyage

Enjoy the resort until the time comes for your ferry to Kota Kinabalu and transfer to the airport for your flight homeward. Safe travels!


This itinerary costs from £4,320 per person B&B and is based on two people sharing excluding peak season surcharges such as July-August, Christmas and New Year, and Chinese New Year. The price includes all transfers and domestic travel but not international flights.

International flights tend to cost between £700 and £900 per person 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 £4,320 per person
  • Accommodation on B&B basis
  • Full board on days 2, 9, 11-16
  • Transfers in an air-conditioned vehicle or by boat as mentioned
  • Local taxes except Malaysia Tourism Tax (only collected locally)
  • 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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