Classic Borneo Trip Notes

  • Trip code : ITMKB
  • Trip length : 10 Days
  • Trip starts in : Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
  • Trip ends in : Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
  • Maximum group size : 16
  • Ages : Min 15
  • Meals : 9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
  • Accommodation : Chalet (2 nts), Cottage (1 nt), Hotel (4 nts), Jungle Lodge (2 nts)
  • Transport: Boat, Plane, Van
  • Transfer: Free airport arrival transfer



Kota Kinabalu

Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia.

Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.

Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

You'll be met on arrival at Kota Kinabalu airport and transferred to your hotel. Please advise flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to departure if you wish to have this transfer provided. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.

Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is an intriguing city between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea. Having survived World War II bombings, 'KK' (as it's commonly known) now has a charm that can only be found in a frontier town.

Accommodation: Horizon Hotel or similar (1 nt)


Mt Kinabalu

Leaving Kota Kinabalu behind, head for the beautiful Kinabalu National Park in private mini van (approx 3 hours).

You will stop off enroute for lunch at a local home at Dusun Village. The Dusun people are some of the most friendly and hospitable people in Sabah. This is a great way to sample the local foods with a home cooked lunch and you will get a little insight into what it is like to live in a rural village.

After lunch you will travel onto Kinabalu National Park where you will have the afternoon to stretch your legs and take in the mountain views or many of the numerous walking trails - keeping an eye out for birds, snakes and the odd little leech. There is plenty to see and do here. The Mountain Botanic Garden is an excellent showcase of the diverse plant life on the mountain, as flora from all over the park has been replanted here.

Late in the afternoon we travel by private bus to Sabah Tea Plantation. (approx 30 mins)

Tonight we stay amongst the grounds of a tea garden.

Accommodation: Sabah Tea Garden Cottage or similar (1 nt)


Kinabatangan River

Rising early, we catch a glimpse of the sunrise while taking a morning walk through the tea plantation.

Then it is time for a tour of the tea factory itself, concluding in some tea sampling.

We then head to Kinabatangan River in private mini van (approx 5 hours)Our jungle lodge alongside the Kinabatangan River gives us great opportunity to relax and take in the surrounds. The Kinabatangan River is the 2nd longest river in Malaysia at 560 kms from its source at Mt Trus Madi to the Sulu Sea and is also a protected forest reserve which contains some of Borneo's highest concentrations of wildlife.In the late afternoon we will take a river cruise and hopefully spot some of the local wildlife - wild elephants are rarely seen but we will hopefully find crocodiles, macaques, wild orangutan and proboscis monkeys, as well as hornbills or kingfishers - just some of the many types of animals and birds found in this area.We will return to our jungle lodge for dinner.On the following day you may be woken up by the calling of the Borneo Gibbon or Hornbill or both, breaking the silence around the resort. We head out on an early morning cruise down the Kinabatangan River. Search for more wildlife and birds today including Proboscis Monkey, Borneo Gibbon, Long Tail Macaques and Pig Tail Macaques.In the afternoon there is an option to take a walk to Ox Bow lakes. The Oxbow lakes are an unusual and unique landscape feature of the Kinabatangan. It is a crescent-shaped lake which is lying alongside a winding river. These lakes are formed through erosion and deposits of soil changing the river’s course over time. In the evening we get our last chance to take as many photos as we can on a final river cruise. We spend one more night in our lovely accommodation right in the heart of the jungle.

Accommodation: Jungle Lodge (2 nts)



In our private minivan we stop to visit an intricate system of caves known as Gomantong Caves. The caves are renowned for their valuable edible swiftlet nests, which are harvested for bird's nest soup. Birds' nest collection is an ancient tradition, but nowadays locals must have licenses to climb to the roof of the caves, and collect the nests and penalties are imposed on unlicensed collectors. We then travel towards Sandakan approximately 2.5 hours stopping at Sandakan War memorial along the way.

Get some insight into the city's past at the emotive War Memorial, built on the site of a Japanese POW camp. This site also marks the starting point of the tragic Sandakan Death Marches, on which 2,400 POWs were forced to walk through the jungles of Borneo. By the end of the march, only 6 Australians survived, and only because they had escaped.

Sandakan was once the capital of British North Borneo and traditionally has strong trading ties with Hong Kong. The Cantonese influence is evident in the lively harbourside market, the many Chinese temples and the local cuisine.

Accommodation: Sandakan Waterfront Hotel or similar (1 nt)


Sandakan/Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

Hop in our private transfer for a short journey to the Sepliok Orangutan Sanctuary. (approx 1 hour)

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. To aid the orangutans adapt to the wild, a supplementary diet of bananas and milk is laid out on feeding platforms twice a day. From the viewing platform, you can watch and photograph these charming creatures as they swing into view on ropes and vines. We're not permitted to hinder the orangutans as human contact must be kept to a minimum and it's essential that we follow the instructions of the park, as directed by your leader. There's also a short film about the orangutan rehabilitation process to watch in the reserve's interpretation centre.A new section has now opened up at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre which is the outdoor nursery where young orangutans will be cared for from being born in captivity or when their mothers have been killed. These youngsters have not had the chance of a natural upbringing and don’t have the skills to be able to survive in the wild. The aim of the nursery is to train these your Orangutans to climb and be normal Orangutans so that they can be reintroduced to the wild. Included in our entrance ticket you will have the chance to view these young Orangutans as they learn how to climb on a specially constructed jungle gym. The viewing area is behind one-way glass so as not to disturb the Orangutans.

Visit the newly opened Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center. This is a wonderful new center taking care of rescued Sun Bears that have spent many years mistreated and locked away in cages. Borneo Sun Bear Conservation center is giving a better life to these bears by caring for them with the hope of reintroducing them back into the wild. They are doing great work at promoting Sun Bear conservation in Borneo through animal welfare, conservation, rehabilitation, research and education - to put a stop to these cruel practices. There is plenty of time for an optional visit to see these very cute bears!

Visit the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary where you can watch up close the amazing bachelor proboscis lazing and feeding - an experience that can only be found in Borneo. The sanctuary is a protected forest reserve inhabited by several groups of wild proboscis monkeys.

Accommodation: Sandakan Waterfront Hotel or similar (1 nt)


Manukan Island

Transfer to Sandakan airport and fly to Kota Kinabalu. The maximum luggage allowance for this flight is 15kg maximum, Intrepid won't cover the cost of luggage that exceeds this weight.

Located just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, (20mins by boat) Manukan Island is one of the larger islands located within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park. We spend two days here, with the first day free for activities. Take the chance to walk along the 1.5km beach at low tide, go swimming, or simply kick back and relax. Today we explore the island and take a snorkelling trip - be sure to look out for tropical fish and colourful coral. We stay here for one more night before heading back to Kota Kinabalu.

Please note that we use twin share accommodation at Manukan: some chalets have 1 twin share room with ensuite bathroom whilst others have 2 bedroom chalets with a lounge room - these chalets have 1 bedroom with an ensuite bathroom and the other bedroom’s bathroom is located off the lounge room. Due to the limited chalets on Manukan Island we acknowledge that we are unable to provide exactly the same room for each passenger however we hope you understand that we allocate rooms as fairly as possible and we choose to stay on this Island for it's unique and beautiful environment. Please see important notes section below for further information.

Accommodation: Manukan Island Resort or similar (2 nts)


Kota Kinabalu

Say goodbye to our island getaway as we head back to our hotel in Kota Kinabalu via boat and mini van. (approx 40 mins)

There is the chance to take an optional visit to Mari Mari Cultural Village to see how indigenous ethnic groups of Borneo used to live. It's a great chance to see what the culture and lifestyle would have been like years gone by seeing first hand how the tribes would cook their meals, starting fire with bamboo and using a blow pipe to hunt. It's a fun, interactive and educational experience.

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.

Accommodation: Horizon Hotel or similar (1 nt)


  • Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
  • Mt Kinabalu - Guided walk around lower trails
  • Poring Hot Springs - Canopy Walk
  • Sandakan - War Memorial
  • Sepilok - Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
  • Sukau - Gomantong Caves
  • Tea Factory Tour
  • Tea Garden - Sunrise Morning Walk
  • Tea Sampling
  • Tunku Abdul National Marine Park - Snorkeling Trip


  • Kota Kinabalu - Sabah Museum - MYR15
  • Kota Kinabalu - Monosopiad Cultural Village - MYR155
  • Sepilok - Rainforest Discovery Centre - MYR15
  • Bornean Sun Bear Centre - MYR30
  • Mari Mari Cultural Village - MYR155

not-included1International flights, 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.



Our Plus tours allow you to immerse yourself within a destination or culture whilst travelling and sleeping in comfort. They are packed with highlights to ensure you get the most out of your valuable time away yet are also slower paced allowing you time to savour the culture, traditions and sights of your destination – the perfect balance.

On some trips we’ll push you out of your comfort zone to ensure an authentic experience, on other trips you will stay in amazing places where there is no ‘roughing it’ involved. There is plenty of choice so you can select a trip with as much activity or as little as you wish. Our small groups ensure a more intimate experience and that the impact on the local environment and community is kept to a minimum. Extra Comfort tours offer rich and rewarding adventures and are stress-free, safe and, most importantly, fun!

Style Facts

  • Innovative itineraries offering authentic travel encounters
  • A mix of active adventure, culture, wildlife, sightseeing and relaxation
  • Well appointed, quality hotels in central locations
  • Arrival transfers, transport (mostly private) and accommodation included
  • Many meals and adventure activities also included
  • Fully trained and experienced local leaders


Discovery tours are all about exploring & experiencing the world with like-minded people, dipping your toe beneath the usual tourist surface & discovering the real essence of a region. They are genuinely innovative, exciting & imaginative tours that offer that little bit more to travellers.

This tour is operated by our partners Intrepid.


A necessary bugbear of adventure travel, visas can appear complicated, costly and confusing to apply for. Imaginative Traveller recommend applying for visas with a professional visa service who can guide you though the process and take care of lodging and collecting your passport with multiple embassies, so we have teamed up with The Visa Machine.

The Visa Machine ‘live and breathe’ visas and have the expertise to provide current and accurate information and arrange the correct visas for your trip, quickly and at a good price.

Please click here for more information.


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.


Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
You will need to take cash to cover all additional expenses not included in your tour cost. These include food, drinks, optional sightseeing, tips, laundry, souvenirs and possible delays. If in doubt, bring more than you think you will need. It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the time; providing your claim falls within the scope of your policy, your insurance company will make reimbursement later

travel-insuranceYou must have extensive travel insurance as a condition of booking with us, and without evidence of a valid policy you won’t be allowed to start your trip. Please click here for more information.


Responsible tourism is at the heart of Imaginative Traveller. For 20 years we have taken customers to places around the world in social and environmentally responsible manner, ensuring everyone involved respects and maintains the natural and often delicate balance of the destination.

As travellers ourselves we are well aware of the impact that tourism can have and whilst economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, it should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment. It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit. We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.

We believe giving something back is essential. We therefore work with our customers and the people we visit to ensure the benefits go directly to contribute to local cultures and environmental conservation. This is not only good the communities we visit but it also gives our travellers more enriched adventures.

For further information about responsible travel please click here.


Please note for various nationalities in particular Australian, UK, Irish, New Zealand and United States, different increased Government travel warnings are currently in place for Eastern Sabah. We ask all of our travellers to familiarise themselves with their own Government Travel Advisories and to check that these Government warnings do not affect the level of coverage that is offered to them by their Travel Insurance provider. Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and your insurance must cover you for all activities and areas visited as part of this tour. Please contact your Travel Insurance provider to ensure you have adequate cover for travel to Eastern Sabah.

We ask all of our travellers to monitor their own Government travel advisories, some of these are listed below

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
US Department of State
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade
Ireland Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade

The safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a major priority of Intrepid. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. Intrepid makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources including The level of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) travel advisory. For any Intrepid Travel operated trip if this advisory is at Level 4 'Do Not Travel' then Intrepid will either cancel a trip or reroute the itinerary to avoid the areas concerned. We however also acknowledge that many of our travellers come from many different countries whose own Government travel warnings may differ to the Australian Government. We ask you to familiarise yourself with your relevant Government travel advisories at time of booking and continue to monitor these advisories prior to your trip.

There is a strict 15kg luggage maximum on this trip due to internal flight. Excess luggage is to be paid by the traveller.

Due to limited number of rooms at Manukan Island Resort, we use two different chalet types to accommodate our groups: single story villas and double storey villas. The double storey villas have one twin-bedded room with an ensuite bathroom and a lounge room (these chalets are used to accommodation either 2 single travellers or a couple). The single storey villas are a 2 bedroom chalet with a shared lounge room – one of the bedrooms has an ensuite bathroom and the second bedroom does not have an ensuite but instead can make use of a bathroom located off the shared lounge room (these chalets are used to accommodate either a couple plus 2 single travellers or 2 couples). The tour leader may also be sharing one of the villas with group members (in his/her own room).

With any shared accommodation facilities which do not have individual locks on room doors such as this, we highly recommend that clients use the safety deposit boxes provided at reception to ensure the safety of their valuables. Room types will be allocated as fairly as possible.

This is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan business hours are shortened, including opening hours at all popular tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you definitely need to expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month of Ramadan is a fantastic month to travel in Muslim countries as it offers a chance to witness this fascinating Islamic event and the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken.

An important 15-day festival for the Malaysian Chinese, based on the lunar calendar in January or February. This can be a busy time and some transport delays, shop closures and reduced opening hours at some sites may be expected, but there are also many fabulous festivals and rituals to observe during this time, so it's a great time to travel. Although we make all reasonable efforts to avoid disruption a flexible approach from the traveller is appreciated.

At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.


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