CNN Travel Picks Top Borneo Destinations

CNN Travel describes Malaysian Borneo as a 20 vacations in one, and named Mount Kinabalu, Sipadan, Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, Kinabatangan River, Kuching Cat Museum and a number of other places as destinations that should give tourists a taste of what Borneo has to offer.

Other in the list are places to experience rainforest and national parks as well as islands off Kota Kinabalu.

Swimsuits In Borneo

The search for South African Swimsuit Model 2013 reached the coast of Borneo last month where the contestants took part in a photo-shoot at Gaya Island, off Kota Kinabalu. Hmm … how could everyone in Borneo — save for the host at Gaya Island Resort — not aware of this?

Nevermind, to cut the long story short, it was Cape Town model Careen Truter who emerged the winner of the inaugural SA Swimsuit model search.

Other videos of the swimsuit photoshoot in Borneo:

Read all about the competition here.

If You Only Have 7 Days In Borneo, Where Would You Go?

There is a new discussion going on over at TripAdvisor regarding a question posted by tanewman of England. She says she only has seven nights to be spent in Borneo during which she wants to see orang utans, sea turtles, experience culture, relax and sunbath.

Malaysian Borneo’s Sabah could be the best option to do all these. Of course, I’m saying this because firstly, I’m from Sabah, and secondly, I haven’t had the opportunity to explore the neighbouring Sarawak, or Indonesia’s Kalimantan, to be able to suggest other options. That is a disclaimer, by the way :)

So here is an itinerary which might fit this requirement. I would say there are three areas to visit to see all those — Kota Kinabalu, Kudat and Sandakan.

Day 1 — Go to Bavanggazo in Kudat to see the Rungus Longhouse in Kampung Tinangol, about 140km from Kota Kinabalu or about two hours of driving away. Return to Kota Kinabalu in the afternoon.

Kota Kinabalu - Rungus Longhouse in Bavanggazo, Kudat

Kota Kinabalu – Rungus Longhouse in Bavanggazo, Kudat

While in Kudat, why not go further north to the Tip of Borneo, about an hour away from Bavanggazo?

Day 2 – Visit the Monsopiad Cultural Centre in Penampang. Located about 20km from Kota Kinabalu, the centre is named after the legendary headhunter Monsopiad. Here you will be able to see a glimpse of Sabah’s headhunting past… there is a skull house that houses these trophies. After the visit, fly to Sandakan in the afternoon.

Monsopiad Cultural Centre, 25km from Kota Kinabalu, named after the legendary headhunter

Monsopiad Cultural Centre, 25km from Kota Kinabalu, named after the legendary headhunter

Day 3 – In Sandakan, visit the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, about 25km from the east coast town. It is the biggest such facility in the world. However, to make the trip fruitful, visitors need to be there during the feeding time at 10 am or 3 pm. After the feeding time, visitors will be able to watch a movie about the rehabilitation works done at the centre.

This can be followed by a visit to the adjacent Rainforest Rediscovery Centre nearby.

Sandakan is 40 minutes of flight from Kota Kinabalu

Sandakan is 40 minutes of flight from Kota Kinabalu

Day 4 — Still in Sandakan, visitors can proceed by boat to Langkayan Island or to Turtle Island see sea turtles and relax and sunbath.

Day 5 – Still at Langkayan or Turtle Island – more relaxation and sunbathing.

Day 6 — Take the 8.15am flight back to Kota Kinabalu (it’s a 40-minute flight), arriving by 9 am. At noon, proceed to one of the nearby islands at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park for more sunbathing and relaxing.

Day 7 – Fly out of Sabah to via several direct flights available (source: Wikipedia) namely to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei on Royal Brunei Airlines; Angeles, Philippines (Clark) located 2 hours north of Manila on AirAsia, Hong Kong on Dragonair, Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia; Jakarta, Indonesia on AirAsia; Shenzhen, China on AirAsia; Manila, Philippines on Cebu Pacific Airlines and Malaysia Airlines; Seoul, Korea on Asiana Airlines, EastarJet, Jin Air, Korean Air and Malaysia Airlines; Singapore on AirAsia, Silkair; Taipei, Taiwan on Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia (Taoyuan), Mandarin Airlines (Songshan); Tarakan, Indonesia on MASWings; and Balikpapan, Indonesia on MASWings.

Top 5 Malaysian Borneo Destinations

Hmmm… not sure why Sarawak’s Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is picked over Sabah’s Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre as one of the top five places to visit in Malaysian Borneo — if the purpose of travel is to see the primate in their natural habitat, that is.

But of course, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is more accessible than Sepilok. It is located 25km from Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak that is served by the Kuching International Airport, as opposed to Sepilok, which is about the same distance away in Sandakan, the former capital city of Sabah in the state’s east coast and served “only” by a domestic airport.

By Julielangford (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Orang Utan photo by Julielangford (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Nevermind about that. The more Orang Utan rehab centre the better as far as I am concerned.

Anyway, back to the top five places to visit in Malaysian Borneo, says the other places on the list are Nanga Delok in Sarawak as well as Tunku Abdul Rahman Park off Kota Kinabalu, Kinabalu National Park and Maliau Basin — the last three of which are in Sabah.

Hop over to to read more information about these five places including where to stay and eat. I’m sure there are many other places of interest in Sabah and Sarawak but if you only have a week to spare, these five places should give you a glimpse of what Borneo has to offer. You may need more time if you really want to experience the “Lost World” Maliau Basin though.

What is the Best Time of the Year to Visit Borneo?

Well, it depends. Borneo is an island with lots of rain. If hopping on a 4WD ride and experiencing the muddy road in the interior of Borneo is your idea of adventure, then perhaps you may want to come here between December and February or between June and July.

If culture is what you are here for, then perhaps May and June is the best time, as these would be the months the natives of the two Malaysian states — Sabah and Sarawak — are celebrating their best-known festivals: Harvest Festival or Tadau Kaamatan. It was during these celebrations that visitors to Borneo are able to truly appreciate the culture of the native people in the two states

Imbak Waterfall located in the Imbak Canyon Conservation Area in the heart of Sabah. The road condition to this area during rainy season can be quite perilous during rainy season. Ideal for a 4WD adventure

Imbak Waterfall located in the Imbak Canyon Conservation Area in the heart of Sabah. The road condition to this area during rainy season can be quite perilous, which what makes it appealing to 4WD adventurers

In any case, there is a discussion over at Fodor’s on the best time of the year to visit this part of the world that include Indonesia and Malaysian Borneo. Perhaps you may want to add to the discussion so that visitors would have a fruitful trip.

If I Can Quit My Job, I’ll Quit and Spend the Rest of My Life Travelling Across Borneo

Life is short really and because of that you might not have much time to live your dream, that is, if travelling the whole of Borneo without having to worry about coming to work 9 to 5 is the kind of life you have been dreaming of.

As for myself, if I can quit my job, I’ll quit, pack my things and hit the road in a leisurely travel around Borneo, going to as many places as I can.

Imagine spending the night somewhere deep in the jungle of Borneo without having to worry about getting that presentation pack done or completing those reports from countless of meetings or following up a decision that requires the nod of a multiple agencies or sections or departments.

If I can quit my job, I’ll quit and escape into the countryside, partying with the native one fine Saturday night or hopping for a ride off the beaten tracks.

Things to See or Do in Borneo: The Tip of Borneo

So you are in Borneo after travelling half way — or quarter way — around the globe. What better way to commemorate your trip than to visiting the northern most of the world’s third largest island and take a postcard picture of yourself at The Tip of Borneo.

Tip of Borneo landmark

The Tip of Borneo, located at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, is about 180km or about three hours’ drive from Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah.

The Tip of Borneo… “Rhein II” wannabe

Rhein II, the world’s most expensive photograph

In case you are wondering what to do at The Tip of Borneo other than being there, well, if you have plenty of time to kill, there are chalets available for you to spend the night by the beach.

The beach all by yourself

From here, you will be able to reach several attractions only seen in the northern part of Sabah, notable of which are the Rungus traditional longhouse located in Kampung Tinangol, about 30km away.

Sandy beach and crystal clear water at The Tip of Borneo

Rocky promontory… the tip end of Borneo

A lone island at the Tip of Borneo

This is where the Tip of Borneo is…

How to reach The Tip of Borneo from the United States? :) Well, get on a flight which will either take you to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) or Singapore (SIN). From there, take a flight to Kota Kinabalu (BKI), rent a car, switch on your GPS and find Tanjung Simpang Mengayau.

14 Things To Do In Borneo In Three Weeks

Borneo, the world’s third largest island, is divided among Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. I would like to think, however, that the best of Borneo can be found in the two Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.

If you have three weeks of backpacking in Borneo, where should you go? Where should you start?

I guess you can start the tour from Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of the Malaysian state of Sabah. You can access Kota Kinabalu either from Malaysia’s KL International Airport or Singapore’s Changi Airport. Budget carrier AirAsia also flies to Kota Kinabalu from these two airports.

Here are 14 things you can do in Borneo but first a brief disclaimer. This is neither a definitive nor a comprehensive guide as it only touches on tourist attractions in Sabah. Please check with Sabah Tourism or local tour agents for a more information.

This blog has no business relations with tour agents mention in this entry.

Without further ado, here are the 14 things you can do in Borneo

Assuming that you start your tour in Kota Kinabalu, you can check these out:

1. Explore the city on your arrival, go to the museum, night market, Gaya Street Sunday bazaar or laze on the seafront.

2. Visit Monsopiad Cultural Village for a unique cultural experience. Located 20 minutes from Kota Kinabalu, the village is a traditional as well as a historical site maintained by the descendants of the feared and legendary Kadazan head-hunter warrior Monsopiad. His trophies of 42 skulls and a thigh bone are still kept at the village, in a hut called the House of Skulls.

3. Visit Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, about 15-20 minutes by speed boat ride. The park is a cluster of five islands — Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug. You can dive, snorkel and learn how to scuba dive there. You can also do seawalking in Pulau Sapi where you’d get to walk on the sea bed as though you are walking on land.

From Kota Kinabalu you can plan your trip to:

Mt Kinabalu

Mt Kinabalu

4. Climb Mt Kinabalu (requires 2 days minimum). Mt Kinabalu is Borneo and Malaysia’s highest mountain.

The 4,092.5-metre mountain is used to be the highest mountain in Southeast Asia until someone pointed out that the Hkakabo Razi, at 5,881m in northern Myanmar or Burma, is the tallest mountain in the region. Myanmar is of course a Southeast Asian country.

So we now say Mt Kinabalu is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. The mountain is the central piece of the Kinabalu National Park, a World Heritage Site, located about an hour’s drive from Kota Kinabalu.

5. Take a bath at Poring Hot Spring after the climb. The hot spring is located 40 minutes drive from the Kinabalu National Park.

You can also plan your trip (after climbing Mt Kinabalu or even before) to:

6. Klias Proboscis Monkey Cruise , a 2-in-1 excursion, where you are taken on a boat along the Klias River (two hours drive from Kota Kinabalu) to see proboscis monkey and then as night sets in, treat yourself with spectacular display of nature’s own neon lights — thousands of fireflies lighting up trees by the river. More info here.

Proboscis monkey... photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, via Wikipedia

Proboscis monkey... photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, via Wikipedia

By now, you would have spent about eight days of your trip. Now it’s time to take a flight to Sandakan (or six hours by land) to experience Borneo’s wildlife adventure. Sandakan can take you approximately five days to cover. Things to do in Sandakan:

7. Visit the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. To many tourists, going here is among the main reasons — to some, the only reason — why they come to Borneo. Make sure you reach this centre by 9.45am in time for the orang utan feeding time at 10am. The orang utan are fed again at 3pm.

Why must you come during feeding time? Because that’s the time you’d get to see these men of the forest emerging from their jungle habitat.

There will be a video show after that and it is recommended that you go and watch it. It is enlightening, to me at least. More info here.

8. After seeing the orang utan, you can proceed to the Rainforest Rediscovery Centre not too far from Sepilok. It is dubbed as the most accessible rainforest in Sabah. More info here.

9. Visit Selingan Turtle Island and see marine life, turtles lying eggs and so on. You can also contribute to the conservation of this planet’s turtles by helping to release young turtles to the ocean.

10. Explore Sabah largest limestone and bird nests cave called Gomantung Cave.

11. Join Oxbow lake cruise for another wildlife excursion.

For more information about what you can do in Sandakan, the available tour packages and so on, refer here.

From Sandakan, you can access either Semporna or Lahad Datu, both about two hours by land:

12. Ah, time flies. It going into the third week already. If you are a diver, diving in Sipadan is a must.

You haven’t seen anything yet if you haven’t dive in Sipadan. Maybe that’s an exaggeration and coming from a non-diver, you need not take my word for it. But you should really take Jacques Cousteau’s word seriously.

13. If you are not a diver, and want to see Sabah’s own version of the Amazon rainforest, you should really come to Danum Valley Conservation Area in Lahad Datu. There’s a jungle lodge there.

It is an ancient jungle, minus T-Rex and co, of course. There is also an ancient burial ground which is not really a burial ground but rather a place where the dead in their timber coffin are stashed away in caves.

14. I guess, by now you have seen most of the major attractions Sabah has to offer. By now your three weeks is almost over. You can now return to Kota Kinabalu to catch your flight back.

However, if you still have a day to spare, you can make a quick dash to the northern part of Sabah to the village of Tinangol where you can see the traditional longhouse community.

That’s three weeks for you… and you still haven’t discovered the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Well, you can come back later for another three weeks of experiencing Borneo from Sarawak, the Land of the Hornbills. Lots of amazing things there… limestone landscape, people, world’s biggest cave and so on.

Borneo – Nowhere Is the New Somewhere

To the people of Borneo, being in Borneo is being somewhere. To many people around the world though, Borneo is a complete middle-of-nowhere — a place you can get lost into.

Which isn’t exactly a bad thing if travel to a remote location on the earth is what you have been looking for.

The Single Minded Women website recently posted an entry suggesting “middle-of-nowhere” places where you can go. It lists Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan, Sabah, as one of the places.

Proclaiming that nowhere is the new somewhere, writer Allison Neves also listed several other rewarding places to visit despite their remoteness, namely Mission Beach, Australia – The Sanctuary Yoga Retreat and Eco-Lodge; Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica – Lapa Rios Ecolodge; Amazon Basin, Peru – Cayman Lodge Amazonie; and Maputaland, South Africa – Rocktail Bay Lodge.

WWF To Organise 13-Day United States – Borneo Trip

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is organising a 13-day trip to Borneo from the United States in May.

The trip, planned for May 29 – June 13, covers Borneo’s premier nature and conservation sites in the state of Sabah, the northern part of the world’s third largest island.

The trip will start in Kota Kinabalu before going to Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary, Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Gomanting Caves, Danum Valley, Mabul and Sipadan Islands and back to Kota Kinabalu before returning to the United States on June 13.

More information can be obtained from WWF travel page.