10 days with Intrepid Travel Rating:
Day 1 Kuching
Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia. Kuching, meaning 'cat' in Malay, is arguably the most vibrant city in Malaysian Borneo. It was home to the infamous White Raja of Sarawak, whose mysterious rule in this remote corner of the world sparked the imagination of many people who dreamt of becoming royalty. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive early, why not check out this cosmopolitan hub rich in architecture, where the waterfront houses coexist with curious shops and local vegetable, spice and fish markets. This city of skyscrapers sitting near lush green jungle is easily walkable, so perhaps after your briefing, head out with your new crew on foot and try to stake out some local dishes like Sarawak laksa or kolok mee (Malaysian dry noodles).
Day 2 Kuching
Head out and about in Kuching this morning with a half-day heritage walk. You’ll visit Chinatown, the Chinese museum and temple, the Brooke Memorial, India Street, local markets, the Floating Mosque, Darul Hana bridge and stroll along the waterfront. Be sure to have a cap, water bottle and sunblock handy, as Kuching can get super hot and steamy. You’ll finish up at a local restaurant with the option to tuck into a tasty laksa with your group. The afternoon is all yours to do as you please, so perhaps head to the Sarawak Cultural Village or the Urang Sarawak Museum to learn about the cultural and political heritage of different ethnicities within Malaysia’s state of Sarawak.
Day 3 Sarikei
Take a private minivan transfer from Kuching to Sarakei (approximately 6 hours), with a lunch stop on your way. Sarakei is a pineapple-obsessed town located on the Rajang River, and here you will have a local experience staying in a traditional longhouse. On arrival, meet your host at Ruman Nyuka Longhouse – a long building constructed in 1955 from belian hard wood, a rare timber native to Borneo. This type of homestay experience feels like you’re in the real heart of Malaysia. Have a walk around the local village, then in the evening, enjoy a typical longhouse meal, where you and your host will sit on the floor with dishes laid out in front of you. You’ll get chatting about local stories and heritage, with a cultural show to top off the evening.
Day 4 Sarikei
Start the day with a local breakfast and then head off on a nature hike. It’ll take around 1.5 hours to walk from the longhouse along lush trails which lead to the secluded Munsoh Waterfall. Along the way, you’ll pass wild fruit trees, herbs and native plants which your group leader will be able to point out for you. Cross small streams by balancing on bamboo bridges, or if you’re up for it, just wade through the water! Once you’ve hit the waterfall, take a swim in its pools, and enjoy a traditional lunch cooked in bamboo. Trek back to the longhouse for a chilled-out afternoon and evening.
Day 5 Kota Kinabalu
Say goodbye to your longhouse hosts and continue on your Borneo adventure to Sibu (approximately 1.5 hours). You’ll have a bit of time to explore the markets in Sibu town in the afternoon, before heading to the airport for an evening flight bound for Kota Kinabalu. Your flight may arrive in late, so it’s best to have some dinner beforehand.
Day 6 Sepilok
Enjoy a pretty relaxed morning in Kota Kinabalu, or KK as it’s colloquially known, perhaps having a stroll along the waterfront, or walking up Signal Hill for a bird’s eye view across the skyline. You’ll be boarding another flight off to Sepilok in the afternoon, so be ready for the 1-hour private minivan transfer and 40-minute flight later on in the day. Once touched down, transfer to your resort and spend some time relaxing with a good book – you are on holiday, after all.
Day 7 Kinabatangan River
This morning, visit the gentle giants of the jungle at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. The centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. From the viewing platform, you can watch and photograph these charming creatures as they swing into view. Human contact must be kept to a minimum and it's essential that you follow the instructions of the park, as directed by your leader. Also included is the nursery where you can view young orangutans as they learn how to climb on a specially constructed jungle gym. The viewing area is behind one-way glass so as to not disturb the animals. To see more of Borneo’s creatures there’s the option to visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center. Here, rescued sun bears that have spent many years mistreated and locked away in cages are cared for, with hopes of rehabilitation and reintroduction into the wild. After getting your animal fix, continue by road to Bilit Village, near the banks of the Kinabatangan River. Check in to your jungle lodge and take an afternoon safari cruise along the river, getting your first taste of the verdant forest that you’ll find yourself in.
Day 8 Kinabatangan River
Get ready for a cruisy day as you have two boat trips booked in for today. Travel along the Kinabatangan River, where you’ll be able to search for wildlife such as macaques, orangutan, proboscis monkeys and, if you’re lucky, even pygmy elephants. By exploring the river at different times of the day, you’ll see a range of wildlife, with sunset being an ideal time for viewing. In between the safari cruises and at night, enjoy the comforts and relaxed vibe at your jungle lodge.
Day 9 Sandakan
Today, return to Sandakan by private vehicle, and en route, stop by the Sandakan War Memorial. This monument commemorates the British and Australian Prisoners Of War (POWs) and town citizens who lost their lives in this region during the Second World War, most in, or as a result of the Sandakan and Ranau Death Marches. Continue on to Sandakan to check in to your centrally located hotel for the night. Why not gather your travel pals together for a night at one of the rooftop bars or restaurants?
Day 10 Sandakan
With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave at any time after breakfast.
All This Included
The depths of Borneo are laden with rugged wilderness, fascinating sites and seriously welcoming people, so meander your way through the lush countryside on a ten-day tribes and wildlife tour of Sarawak and Sabah. Visit vibrant Kuching, learning the cultural heritage and tasting the regional specialties, and head all the way to the natural wonder of the Kinabatangan River and the waterfront splendour of Sandakan. Throw in some market tours, jungle safari, and a typical homestay experience, and you’ve got a true taste of what Malaysia’s Borneo is really like, and gosh, it’s delightful.
Hotel (5 nights)
Lodge (2 nights)
Longhouse homestay (2 nights)
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.