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I am totally captivated by Asia. Having lived in Singapore, Nepal, South Korea, and Hong Kong, travelled extensively across all of our destinations in Asia, and worked in luxury travel for many years, curating exceptional trips comes naturally to me.
- from $5,092 PP
- 10 Nights
- Mar - Oct
- 12hrs from London / 21hrs from NYC
With exotic wildlife at every turn, stunning beaches, fantastic accommodation, and generous hospitality, Borneo makes for the ultimate family adventure. You’ll get to see exactly why on this magical 10-night family trip, which can be adapted to suit either younger explorers or families with teenage or adult children. The itinerary begins in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur where you’ll gain an introduction into Malaysian culture and cuisine whilst getting acclimated to the steamy tropical temperatures. You’ll then head into the jungle, traveling through Borneo’s big-hitting highlights of Sepilok, the Kinabatangan River, and the sprawling Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Finish your trip in style at the luxurious Shangri-La Rasa Ria resort, where you’ll have three nights (extendable) to relax on the beach or – for active families – engage in yet more adrenaline-fuelled adventures.
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At a Glance
- 10 nights in 4 or 5-star accommodation
- Daily breakfast in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu
- Full-board meals in Sepilok, Kinabatangan and Tabin
- Private arrival and departure airport transfers
- Private Kuala Lumpur city tour
- Shared transfers and wildlife activities Sepilok through to Tabin
- Shared rafting and cycling tours from Kota Kinabalu
- Domestic flights as described in economy class
- 24/7 support from our dedicated staff
- Flexible, personalized itinerary based on your interests
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Kuala Lumpur: Arrival into Kuala Lumpur International Airport
You’ll be met in the arrivals hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport by a private driver, who will then lead you to a private vehicle and transfer you to your downtown hotel.
KL is defined by its colorful culture and friendly locals. It’s home to colonial architecture, towering skyscrapers, minarets, Mughal domes, and a wealth of cultural attractions. While there is a reverence for ancient culture, it’s balanced with a plugged-in modern world and a contemporary art scene.
Day 2 Kuala Lumpur: Walking tour of KL
Embark on a fabulous half-day walking tour of Kuala Lumpur to experience the city’s history and ethnic heritage. Led by your private guide, you’ll begin with a visit to Masjid Jamek, also known as Friday Mosque, one of the oldest buildings in the city, set gracefully on the banks of two rivers. Wander around the mosque grounds, learning about Islam in Malaysia and the Arabesque influences in its design. Around the mosque, you’ll find a network of vibrant streets, home to garland makers, chai cafes, and textile stalls. Stop for a cup of traditional tea and Indian snacks, savoring the sweet flavors while discovering more about the Indian-Malay community and their beliefs.
Continue to the colonial heart of old Kuala Lumpur, where your guide will point out a variety of architectural treasures, each of which tells a story of the city from the late 1800s to the mid-1930s. Nearby there is a great viewpoint looking back at the Masjid Jamek, where you’ll get a great photo shot capturing the blend of the old and new architecture of Kuala Lumpur. Wander into the Central Market, a vital hub of commerce for the city’s artisan community. Browse the stalls of local designers and craftsmen while enjoying the buzz of the marketplace. Learn about the history of this market and how it has transitioned over the years from a wet market into its modern-day commerce center.
Your final destination will be KL’s Chinatown, where you’ll explore the vibrant market, ancestral shrines, and heritage shophouses of the city’s Chinese-Malay residents. This area is also the birthplace of many of Malaysia’s signature culinary dishes, thus making it the perfect place to refuel. Pull up a chair at a popular restaurant and savor a plate of Hokkien mee noodles alongside the locals.
Return to the hotel for a chance to freshen up or continue exploring the capital independently. For family fun we would recommend a trip to the KL Bird Park which houses around 200 species of tropical birds, and sits surrounded by KL’s lush botanical gardens – an oasis right in the heart of the city center.
Day 3 Sepilok: Fly to Sepilok; Afternoon visit to the Rainforest Discovery Center
This morning you’ll be transferred back to KL Airport and then board a 2-hour flight across the South China Sea to Sandakan, over on the eastern coast of Malaysian Borneo. At Sandakan, you’ll be met by a new guide and transferred to your lodge in nearby Sepilok.
In the afternoon you’ll be taken to visit the Rainforest Discovery Center which will serve as an ideal warm-up for your jungle adventures to come. The center offers a series of educational exhibits and galleries, a plant discovery garden, and a 363m canopy walkway from which you may be able to see red giant flying squirrels emerge from their nests.
Day 4 Kinabatangan River: Visit Sepilok Orangutan Centre, then wildlife cruise into the Kinabatangan
After breakfast, you’ll visit the world-famous Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. Renowned throughout the world for its work caring for and releasing infant orang-utans, the center gives you a guaranteed sighting of baby apes as you arrive in time for the morning feeding time. Complete your visit with a call into the Sun Bear Rehabilitation Centre, located just next door, which continues the same care and protection work for Sabah’s threatened endemic bear species.
After your visit to Sepilok, you’ll be transferred to a jetty in nearby Sandakan, where you’ll board a speedboat into the lush, muddy waters of the Kinabatangan River. The Kinabatangan – Malaysian Borneo’s most renowned wildlife destination – snakes through the teeming jungles of inner Sabah. Staying at a comfortable riverfront lodge, you’ll take boat safaris up and down the river catching sight of proboscis monkeys, wild orangs, hornbills, pygmy elephants, and crocodiles.
Day 5 Kinabatangan River: Full day wildlife tours on the Kinabatangan
Today you’ll take morning and afternoon cruises along the Kinabatangan River, looking out for the abundant flora and fauna all along the water’s edge. You’ll also be taken for a short hike along the lodge’s boardwalk forest trail, and have the option of joining additional tours locally such as an after-dark night walk or cruise, or a side trip to the guano-filled Gomantong Caves, a short drive away.
Day 6 Tabin Reserve: Shared road transfer to Tabin; Afternoon forest walk
After an early breakfast, you’ll join a shared road transfer out of the Kinabatangan area to the small coastal town of Lahad Datu. A change of vehicle in Lahad Datu then takes you back into the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. All told your journey time will be around 4-5 hours today, arriving at the lodge in time for a late lunch.
The rainforests of the Tabin Reserve are co-managed by the Wildlife Department of Sabah (taking care of the animals) and the Sabah Forestry Department (overseeing the trees). You’ll find a mix of primary and secondary jungle here, and with a thinner treeline in places, sightings in Tabin are arguably the most productive of any forested area in Sabah. Leaf monkeys are commonly sighted, as are orang-utan and hornbills. Clouded leopards are occasionally seen. Wild pygmy elephants can sometimes be heard crashing through the trees nearby.
In the afternoon you’ll join a guided walk on the ‘Elephant Trail’, leading to the active Lipad ‘mud’ volcano which continuously produces a nutrient-rich clay-like soil, effectively setting up a mineral and salt buffet for wildlife all around the forest. Your guide will help identify the many footprints left in the clearing, and if you’re feeling adventurous you might also like to take a dip in the mud bath which is believed to be excellent for the complexion!
Trek back to the lodge on this trail which is especially productive for wildlife sightings. Later in the evening, after dinner, you’ll join a night drive around the lodge looking for nocturnal animals such as deer, wild cats, civets, and snakes.
Day 7 Tabin Reserve: Morning and afternoon jungle activities
Early this morning you’ll join a birding walk along another trail surrounding the lodge. The forests immediately around Tabin are home to over 300 species of tropical bird, and with your guide, you’ll hopefully pick out a few of the most exciting species.
Return to the lodge for breakfast, after which you’ll join a jeep drive into the core area of Tabin, rich in wildlife viewings, then trek through a particularly lush patch of forest to the Lipad waterfall, known for its extraordinary diversity of plants and animals. If you wish, enjoy a dip in the natural pool and shower provided by the falls before your trek, and then drive back to the lodge for lunch.
The afternoon is then free to relax. We recommend trying out the lodge’s natural foot soak – perfect for tired feet after your adventures thus far. Later you’ll be taken on a dusk drive, and then another drive after dinner, to observe more wildlife activity at these changing times of day.
Day 8 Kota Kinabalu: Fly to KK and transfer across to your beach hotel
You have the option of joining a final early morning trail walk before you check out and take a shared transfer back to Lahad Datu. From Lahad Datu, you’ll take a short domestic flight back to Kota Kinabalu, where you’ll be met by a private driver and transferred to a luxurious beach resort just outside the city. The rest of the day is at leisure to settle in and relax.
The provincial capital of Sabah, on the northeastern tip of Borneo, ‘KK’ is a historic and highly multicultural port city. Its influences range from colonial British to indigenous Malay, with a heavy dose of ‘Baju’ (sea-faring southeast Asian) and Chinese for good measure. A stay in the city provides eclectic shopping and dining, with nearby access to the underwater wonderland Tunkul Adbdul Marine Park and the jungles and the soaring peak of Mount Kinabalu National Park.
Day 9 Kota Kinabalu: Kiulu rafting adventure
Today you’ll join an enthralling white water rafting adventure on the Kiulu River, just over an hours’ drive from your KK hotel. On arrival at the rafting center, you’ll be given some light refreshments and an initial briefing, then be taken up to the starting point at Pukak. Gear up and then get into the rapids, enjoying a run of around 1.5-2 hours, or 10-15 km depending on water level. Once you’re done rafting you’ll enjoy lunch back at the center, then be returned to KK. You’ll be back in the hotel around 3pm and will have the rest of the day at leisure.
Day 10 Kota Kinabalu: Dusan villages cycling tour
After breakfast, you’ll be picked up and again transferred for around 90 minutes into the lush countryside surrounding KK. Today you’ll be taken a guiding cycling tour through rural ‘Dusan’ (indigenous Bornean) villages, using established gravel tracks that pass through gentle forest scenery and across up to four exciting rope bridges. You’ll cycle for around 1.5 hours, not including a stop at a Dusan home in Tombung village where you’ll learn more about local lifestyles, including an introduction to village farming and an attempt at rubber-tapping. Lunch will be provided at a riverside spot before you’re transferred back to the city, arriving around 2.30pm.
Day 11 Kota Kinabalu: Departure day
Sadly your adventures in Borneo must come to an end. At the appropriate time, you’ll be transferred privately back to Kota Kinabalu International Airport in good time to check-in for your onward flight. Please speak to your consultant should need any assistance with onward flights or travel arrangements.
What's not Included
- As we have clients from all over the world. Our itineraries do not include flights. If you would like us to include flights in your trip, we are happy to do so. Please speak to your travel specialist at the planning stage to include them
- We strongly advise all guests to purchase comprehensive travel insurance
- Gratuities for local guides
- Visas if required
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