Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.
This document contains essential information that you need to prepare for, as well as information you will need during your holiday with us.
We ask that you read it carefully and that you take the document with you on your holiday. It contains information on visas, vaccinations, spending money, etc, as well as a detailed, day by day itinerary of your trip.
International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
Please note that visa requirements can and do change. It is essential that you confirm requirements with the nearest relevant embassy or check with your travel agent before you travel. At the time of writing, Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not require a visa for Malaysia. All other nationalities should check with the Malaysian High Commission, Embassy or Consulate in their country for up-to-date visa information
Many governments publish up-to-date travel advice for countries around the world. Information is gleaned from both local and international sources as well as ‘friendly’ governments, and the notices are often on the cautious side. Sometimes there will be conflicting information. For example, the Australian, UK and Canadian governments may agree on the nature of the advice; however, frequently they do not. And sometimes the views expressed by a particular government can be coloured by political considerations. We will monitor these travel advisories closely and may alter itineraries or cancel trips as a result. However, it is also your responsibility to stay informed and form a balanced view. We recommend that you visit the websites or contact the departments listed below. Unless otherwise stated, it is not normally the intention of the relevant government travel advice to dissuade you from travelling. Rather, it is to inform you of where and when you should exercise caution to avoid problems. Please also note that, as a responsible tour operator, we maintain constant links with our ground operators and your safety - at all times - is our paramount concern. You can check your government's latest travel advice at one of the links below:
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
U.S. Department of State New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended
Vaccinations may be required for this trip. Please consult your doctor or a travel health specialist. The choice of vaccinations can depend on a range of issues including the specific destination, the duration of the trip, your personal health and of course what vaccines you have had before.
Routine Background Vaccines: We strongly endorse current public health recommendations that all travellers should be up-to-date with their routine vaccines such as tetanus, diphtheria, measles/mumps/rubella, polio and influenza, and paediatric vaccinations for children.
Travel Vaccinations: While the food and water-borne diseases such as hepatitis A and typhoid will apply to most of our travellers, other travel vaccines such as hepatitis B, rabies, meningitis, Japanese encephalitis and cholera may apply to select travellers, especially long-term travel. Travel health experts can advise on what is required and also what is not required!
It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return. To find out which, if any, vaccinations are mandatory or recommended for your destination contact your local doctor, immunisation centre or medical centre for up-to-date information. If you need to arrange vaccinations or a supply of preventative medicine (e.g. malaria tablets), you should contact your doctor at least two months before you depart. Some inoculations require more than one visit and can take several weeks to administer the full course.
For travellers from Australia and New Zealand, we recommend the Travel Doctor-TMVC clinics (see www.traveldoctor.com.au or phone 1300 658 844 for an appointment in Australia). Travellers from countries other than Australia and New Zealand should contact similar organisations or their travel doctor for advice. General health and vaccination information is available to all travellers at www.traveldoctor.com.au/travelreport. Some vaccines require more than one dose, so arrange for your visit at least 4-6 weeks before you travel.
You should be issued with an International Certificate of Vaccination booklet that records each vaccination. Always carry this with you on your travels; it could provide essential information for doctors in the event that you fall ill whilst travelling.
Malaria: There is no vaccination against malaria, which is transmitted by mosquito bites and is a risk in the tropical areas. Protection against mosquito bites is essential and where the risk is considered high, anti-malarial medications are recommended. Anti-malarial medications should be discussed with experts as there are different medications available and not all medications suit all people or all destinations. We prefer that trekkers to altitude try to avoid the use of mefloquine (Lariam) if possible.
We recommend that you photocopy the main pages of your passport, your airline ticket, itinerary, insurance policy, traveller’s cheques and credit card. Keep one set of photocopies with you, separate from the originals. Leave one set of copies at home with family or friends. It is also worth taking some extra passport photos with you in case of additional visas, permits or other unforeseen paperwork.
Please note that the Mount Kinabalu climb requires a good level of fitness, and we recommend that you build up your walking stamina before departure. Specialist equipment is not required; however, you must have comfortable, strong shoes with good grip and be prepared for a steep climb. The final section involves climbing steep exposed rock - if the weather is wet or your tour leader feels your fitness is not sufficient you will not be allowed to summit.
Remember - the lighter you travel the better! You may be buying things as you go, so you should not bring too much from home. Many people find a backpack the most suitable type of luggage for our holidays. Medium-sized suitcases can also be used; however, you should avoid the large, bulky cases that are difficult to carry. The lockable suitcases on wheels are the best types to use. Be aware that some hotels in Asia are not over-endowed with lifts (elevators) and there may be occasions when you need to carry your luggage up stairs or along railway platforms, etc.
When packing, consider cultural differences which may mean that some attire that we wear at home is not appropriate in Asia and may be offensive to the local people. Beachwear in towns is not appropriate, nor is 'short' shorts, particularly for women. Light cotton pants are a better option. When visiting sites of religious significance, modest clothing should be worn. Sandals, thongs, flip-flops or jandals are appropriate footwear in the tropics.
Please refer to the specific country section for climate details. When you pack your clothing, consider the climate at the time of year you are travelling and any specific requirements for your trip as at certain times of the year some of the items suggested in the list that follow may not be necessary. Bear in mind that the weather will vary significantly from place to place. The majority of time the weather is warm in South East Asia; however, it may be distinctly cold up in the highlands. If there are specific requirements for a trip, these will be noted in the separate country section, or in the Trip Notes relating to that trip. Please note that in the last few years, the world’s weather pattern has gone somewhat awry. The effects of ‘El Nino’ and ‘La Nina’ are very real and this has resulted in unseasonable droughts followed by unseasonable deluges. Be prepared for the unexpected!
Laundry facilities are available in some destinations.
Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday.
It is a good idea to take a small medical kit with you, and you should consider packing the following items:
Antibiotics, Lip-balm, moisturiser, sunscreen, headache tablets, antiseptic (e.g. Betadine), anti-diarrhoea tablets (for changes in diet and water), laxatives, band-aids/moleskin/dressing strips for blisters, small scissors/tweezers. Note that moleskin is particularly good for blisters and can be obtained from any pharmacy.
It is also recommended to carry a letter from your doctor explaining any less common prescribed medications that you may be carrying.
Diarrhoea Stomach upsets are not uncommon when travelling through new destinations (usually a 24 - 48 hour 'bug') and this may cause diarrhoea, leading to dehydration. Should you develop a stomach upset you should eat only in moderation and drink plenty of fluids. It is a good idea to carry a couple of sachets of rehydrants with you (such as Gastrolite). We also suggest that you carry one of the common anti-diarrhoea tablets such as Imodium.
Sunstroke It can be quite easy to get sun burnt when you are not accustomed to the sun in new climates. You should take sensible precautions such as wearing a hat and using a good UV sunscreen. Finally, drink plenty of fluids - preferably water.
Water In general, water is not safe to drink in the areas through which we travel. Bottled Water is widely available and most travellers prefer to drink this. Your guide can assist you in regards to the relative safety of tap water and the availability of bottled water on each tour. When walking, or in hot conditions, you must make a conscious effort to maintain your hydration, drinking as much water/tea as possible to offset fluid loss.
The unit of currency is the Malaysian ringgit (RM). There are 100 sen in a ringgit and coins come in 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 sen denominations. There is also a new 1 ringgit coin. Notes are available in 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 ringgit denominations.
Check out www.xe.com for current exchange rates.
Money is safest carried in the form of traveller's cheques; however cash is certainly the easiest for exchange purposes. However the easiest way of obtaining local funds is to use your debit or credit card and draw money from the numerous ATMs available. Please ensure that your card uses a 4-digit pin number. If you do not have a 4-digit pin number, please ask your bank for one before you travel. In Malaysia, exchanging most major foreign currencies such as Australian dollars, US dollars, Canadian dollars, euros, English pounds and Swiss francs is not difficult. If you are taking cash, (US dollars suggested) all notes must be new and not marked or torn. If notes are torn, crumpled, nicked or old it may be difficult to exchange them. If you are taking traveller's cheques, American Express and Thomas Cook are the most widely accepted, and in more remote areas, these may be the only types that are recognised. Please note that it can at times be difficult to change traveller's cheques and the whole process can be time-consuming. Credit cards like Visa and MasterCard are accepted for purchases in many places too. We would suggest you still carry spare cash as a back-up.
You will need to take money with you to cover sightseeing, entrance fees, meals and drinks. Other costs to consider are drinking water, tips, laundry, souvenirs, additional activities during free time and possible delays. It is much better to come with more than you would expect to spend and to end the trip with a surplus, rather than being caught short! It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies that could happen en route. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the source and be reimbursed later by your insurance company. How Much Money? In our trip notes we have suggested an appropriate allowance for additional meals. This does not include alcoholic drinks, e.g. beer. In addition to this you should carry sufficient funds for optional activities, additional sightseeing, shopping and tips. As a guideline we suggest that you allow $US15-20 per day (or maybe less!) in Asia would allow you to eat and drink reasonably well. Emergency Funds In the unlikely event of an emergency of a personal nature or unforseen changes to the Gecko's schedule, we recommend you have access to an additional US$300 to cover any costs that may arise as a result of these events.
In our brochure we have suggested an appropriate allowance for additional meals (US$150). This is for FOOD ONLY and does not include drinks and snacks. As a result of customer feedback we recommend you allow a figure of between US$70 and US$100 for your DRINK and SNACK requirements, additional to the amount suggested in the brochure for meals. Use a higher figure particularly if you are travelling during the hot season when you will require more fluids.
In addition you should carry sufficient funds for extra sightseeing and optional activities.
Shopping is a personal thing that, again, varies enormously. On average, people spend anywhere between US$50 and US$200 on souvenirs, art, tailor-made clothes etc.
There are no departure taxes to be paid locally on departure from Malaysian airports. Please check with your travel agent for the latest information.
Porters are available for the climb of Mount Kinabalu. Your tour leader will arrange this for you on arrival at the park. You should expect to pay approx RM7 per kilo for the round-trip.
If you are happy with the services on your trip it is customary in the tourism industry to tip local guides and drivers. This is not compulsory but while it might not be customary to you it is of great significance to the people that will take care of you during your travels. The following amounts are based on local considerations and are a guideline only: Local guides US$2-US$3 (equivalent) per day Drivers – US$1-US$2 (equivalent) per day depending on the length of time they are with the group and how involved they are within the group Your group leader – you can also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout the trip. The amount is based on personal preference. A guideline would be US$3-US$5 (equivalent) per day per person. In total we advise you budget around US$5-US$10 per day throughout your trip.
If you have not pre-booked an arrival transfer, taxis are the most convenient way to travel into town and the fare should be RM35 (approximately US$12). Please refer to your tour itinerary for the joining hotel's name and address.
Make sure you are at the hotel for your pre-departure briefing at 6:00pm on the first evening. You can check the notice board in the foyer of the joining hotel for details of this meeting and any further messages from your tour leader. Please bring your passport and travel insurance documents to the briefing.
Generally, your room will be available from around midday as Check In and Out times are midday according to hotel policy. Sometimes it may be available mid-morning but this is in no way guaranteed. If your flight is scheduled to arrive in the early morning you may have to wait until a room becomes available. Alternatively you can book one night's 'pre-tour accommodation' which will ensure that your room is ready whenever you arrive. Please refer to the 'Additional Services' panel in the pricing page of our brochure. When arriving early after an overnight rail journey, it is not always possible to check into your hotel immediately. Please be patient and wait for your tour guide’s instructions. Normally the leader will arrange a day room for guests to share if it is not possible for all rooms to be ready at once. Rooms must generally be vacated by 12.00 noon unless you have made prior arrangements with the hotel reception. If you want to keep your room for longer you may have to pay an additional charge. Please ensure that you settle all bills (eg mini-bar, phone calls) when you check out. If you are sharing a room with someone who is checking out before you make sure they pay their bills at reception or you collect some money to cover their bills as you will be asked to pay upon check out.
Please ask first if you want to take someone's photograph. This is just a normal courtesy and if you are refused permission please abide by that person's wishes. At certain ancient sites, and in most museums, photography (video or still) may be forbidden, or may incur an extra charge for camera-use. Do not take photos of buildings, structures and personnel of potential military significance (including airports, bridges, and police stations).
Travelling with us can provide you with some really rewarding travel experiences. Our tours visit countries where travel modes and lifestyles are often not as sophisticated as our own. There is also a laid-back attitude amongst workers and there will often seem to be huge amounts of red tape and bureaucracy when doing the simplest things. You will enjoy your trip much more if you slip into the rhythm of local life and are prepared to take things as they come.
In most countries even the smallest quantity of an illegal substance is considered a very serious offence and can carry lengthy jail terms. Avoid any contact with illegal drugs. Don’t put yourself and others at risk and never carry bags or luggage for other people. Any person found to be carrying or using illegal drugs will be asked to leave the trip immediately without the right to any refund.
Malaysia is an inexpensive country by Western standards, but is not as cheap as a lot of other Asian countries. The bigger cities will be more expensive. To give you an idea of costs, a litre of water will cost around RM1, a large bottle of Tiger Beer will cost RM8, a street snack, such as a satay stick will cost RM0.50 and a restaurant meal will set you back around RM6 to RM10.
Malaysia is liberal Muslim country as many Malaysian women do not wear headscarves. However, Malaysia is very conservative when compared with standards you may be accustomed to at home and you should dress accordingly. As a general guideline, shoulders, cleavage and knees should be covered when travelling in Borneo except when on the beach. Wearing skimpy clothing is considered disrespectful to local culture at many of the small local communities we visit. It is essential that we 'cover up' for our homestay.
You need to bring your main piece of luggage as well as a small to medium backpack for overnight trips (30-35 litres/8-9 gallons) for walks to Mount Kinabalu. In this you will need to carry a change of clothes, torch (and/or head torch for trekking), toiletries, warm clothes and any other essentials. While climbing Mount Kinabalu, it is important to note that temperatures can drop to below freezing, make sure you pack several layers that can be added/removed as you ascend/descend. A water proof jacket is essential. While trekking, we leave our main piece of luggage at a central point and return following the trek.
You will also need to bring strong walking shoes, personal first-aid kit, sun screen and lip-balm, insect repellent, sandals, torch/flashlight (preferably head-torch), binoculars, clothing and toiletries, and strong plastic bags (in which to pack your extra clothing, etc. whilst on trek in case of rain). Warm clothing (including gloves and a warm hat or balaclava) are essential for the Mount Kinabalu climb.
Please remember that our tours are of an adventurous nature. Our style of travelling means that it is more desirable to carry a backpack and a daypack on our tours. A sleeping bag is not required for this trip. We strongly recommend that you bring inner sleeping sheets for this tour. For light sleepers, we strongly recommend that you bring earplugs and eye-patches.
Due to the style of accommodation on our trips it might not always be possible to book you in a single room throughout the trip. If you book a single supplement it will not apply to nights in homestays, village huts, mountain huts, rainforest lodges and Iban longhouse. If you are unsure of where a single supplement will apply, please check with your travel agent before booking. Please note that Borneo is a developing region whose infrastructure, values, customs and standards may differ from what you expect in your homeland. Expect poor road conditions and be prepared for some inconveniences such as restaurants and tourist sites being closed from time to time. Sometimes the transportation may be altered or the itinerary may be changed due to circumstances beyond our control.
This is an 'adventure' trip and we hope to expose you to all aspects of the local culture. Please be open-minded. On this trip you may link up with passengers on other tours.
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
The locals have finally settled on calling it KK, after previous name-changes included Deasoka (below the coconut tree), Singgah Mata (pleasing to the eye) and Api-Api (fire!).
Meet the rellies today at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. They’ll tug on your heartstrings then spend half an hour picking their noses. They’d fit right in at home.
Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
Stay with a local family for the night. We’ll take a dusk cruise up the Kinabatangan River and if you’re lucky you might spot a wild orangutan or an elephant.
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Time for a few stats: Mesilau has 4500 species of plants, 289 species of birds and 290 types of butterflies. Numbers are for nerds but that’s pretty darn impressive.
Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
No joke – this is a really hard climb. It’ll take a few days to trek up to 4095 metres, but it’s worth it to reach the highest point in South East Asia. Views stretch from the jungles of Sabah on one side to the South China Sea on the other. Soak your bones at the Poring Hot Springs when you get way down.
Meals included: 3 breakfasts
They know their stuff on the KK food front. You pick the biggest, fattest, tastiest looking bit of seafood and they’ll cook it to your liking.
Trip ends after breakfast
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact us. We are here to help you!
4 October 2013
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