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Malaysia forum

Borneo then the beach?

Posted by amz155 on 2/3/2011 at 08:14

I'm trying to brainstorm itineraries for a 3-4 week trip for September. Would love to have a trip that includes nature/wildlife, culture, and a beach relaxation/snorkelling. I'm thinking Borneo plus some beach time. Would it be feasible to travel from Borneo to Perhentian Besar? OR would we be better off just travelling to Tioman Islands as they are closer to Borneo.

As for Borneo, how much time would we need to visit Sepilok, Mulu and maybe Niah caves? Would Kota Kinabalu/Mt Kinabalu be worth a visit if we are NOT planning on climbing Mt Kinabalu? I just don't think we are fit enough to make it to the top. Last year we climbed Merapi on Java and found it VERY HARD.

Lastly, in Sabah or Sarawak, what could we do to satisfy our desire to see local cutlure? Maybe a multiple day trek to see Iban longhouses?

Thanks for all advice!

#1 amz155 has been a member since 30/8/2006. Posts: 111

Posted by amz155 on 2/3/2011 at 08:24

Sorry I should have added that we are also interested in seeing Bako Park.

I know we are already short-listing too much.

Maybe more feasible to do Kuching, Bako, (maybe Semengoh instead of Sepilok), then Mulu, maybe Headhunter trail, then on to KK? But is it worth going to KK if we can't climb Mt Kinabalu? Should we then head back to Kuching and onto a beach?

#2 amz155 has been a member since 30/8/2006. Posts: 111

Posted by Nokka on 2/3/2011 at 16:11

Can't comment on Sabah, as haven't been. In Sarawak we enjoyed Kuching for a few days, including a morning out to the Orang Utang Centre. We went to Baku for the day, which is good. Many stay overnight in the fairly rudimentary accommodation - some longer. We did a trek there, saw the Proboscis monkeys, plus various others and a nasty looking pit viper.

Highlight of the trip was 2 nights at an Iban Longhouse. We organised this through Borneo Adventures and it was a fantastic experience. We travelled as a 2, with a guide, though its possible others may have booked also. You stay in a sort of annexe to the longhouse. The room is very simple, but the jungle around, the Iban themselves and the whole thing was fabulous.

We also stayed near Kuching at the beach - accommodation was treehouses in the jungle, but also right next to the beach. Nice for a few days. Can't remember the name, but can look it up if you're interested.

In Kuching make sure you go to Top Spot, a large number of stalls cooking mainly seafood, on top of a multi storey carpark. Its in the centre of town. There are also lots of other good places to eat.

#3 Nokka has been a member since 6/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 259
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Posted by amz155 on 3/3/2011 at 09:28

Thanks! An Iban/longhouse overnight trek would be a great idea!

Hmmm, maybe Kuching, nearby Orgngutan centre, Bako, fly to Mulu and back, beaches around Kuching (though this is something I'll have to look up....what is the name of beach in the area?) then maybe fly out and onto either Perhentians or Tiomans.

Would Perhentians or Tiomans be better for sunbathing, swimming from the beach, and snorkelling (either from beach or we could do a day tour too)? We are not divers so needn't have good dive spots. Weather must be good into late Septmber.

#4 amz155 has been a member since 30/8/2006. Posts: 111

Posted by idreamofdurian on 3/3/2011 at 10:06 TF writer

Perhentians/Tioman are both good for snorkeling and sunbathing. Weather patterns are similar, and there is usually rain on both by September.

It's not a place to spend a few days, but Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park near Kota Kinabalu has pretty beaches and good snorkeling and is certainly worth a day trip.

I visited Kinabalu Park even though I didn't plan to climb the mountain. The scenery is pretty, but there was more nature/wildlife at Bako Park near Kuching.

Borneo is an amazing place and you can easy spend 4 weeks there. If you take a few domestic flights (very affordable with AirAsia), you could see all the highlights of Malaysian Borneo in that time span. A few days in/around Kuching, Miri (cave trip & long house), then fly to Kota Kinabalu, overland to Sandakan (sepilok and river safari), maybe some beaches around there.

Both Tioman and Perhentians are a good ways from Kuala Lumpur (where I imagine you'll have an international flights to/from?). If this were my trip, I'd focus on spending the whole time in Borneo. The tourist info. centers in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu were extremely helpful when I was there and I'm sure they can recommend some beaches. For R&R you could also just check into a rainforest resort like the places in Damai (near Kuching).

#5 idreamofdurian has been a member since 5/9/2008. Location: Singapore. Posts: 576
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Posted by amz155 on 3/3/2011 at 20:10

Thanks so much for your response, that helps a lot!

Grr, I thought I had done enough weather research to presume that Perhentians/Tiomans would NOT be rainy in late September. I'd rather not take a chance tho. We are going through this loooong Canadian winter with no trip this year as we've had to delay it until September so we really want to see a beach at some point :)

I like the 4 week idea you gave. Coming from Canada we could fly anywhere really, if we end up just in Borneo and start at Kuching I guess we'd take an international flight to a SEA'n hub that could easily get us to Kuching: HK? KL? Singapore? I'd have to figure that out.

So Kuching (from Kuching we could visit Semmengoh and Bako), then fly to Miri where we can visit Mulu Park and look into doing an overnight Iban longhouse trek. Then over to Kota Kinabalu for a few days and we can visit TARM Park. Then over to Sandakan. I'm not familiar with Sandakan though I've heard of Sepilok. I love the idea of a river safari!

Could you provide more tips on the river safari option and also beaches in the area?

Lastly, where would we fly out of from Sandakan?

Thanks so much! Your suggestions have been really helpful.

#6 amz155 has been a member since 30/8/2006. Posts: 111

Posted by idreamofdurian on 3/3/2011 at 22:52 TF writer

September is the start of the rainy season for Malaysia's east coast... you could get lucky and have perfect weather, but odds are there will be some rain by late Sept.

There are flights from Hong Kong to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu through Malaysia Airlines. If you fly to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur then you can get the budget flights through and airlines like Air Asia.

Sandakan is the town nearest to Sepilok (orang utan center). It has a small airport with regular flights to Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, and Tawau. I *loved* the river safari which departs from Sandakan to the jungle camp where you stay. I saw 7 primate species in one afternoon.

Uncle Tan's is the pioneer of this and a bit rustic (, or there are newer options like Nature Lodge ( which are also more comfortable.

I'm Canadian too -- born and raised in Manitoba, but I've been in Asia almost 5 years.

#7 idreamofdurian has been a member since 5/9/2008. Location: Singapore. Posts: 576
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