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Borneo in Malaysia
Written by Siddhi on June 8, 2020 Share on

Things To Do In Borneo On A Vacation To Malaysia

Far past the urban hub of Penang and Kuala Lumpur lies the Malaysian island of Borneo, home to antiquated jungles, tropical reefs, deep caves and the absolute rarest, most fascinating natural life in Asia. Borneo splits between the three countries. Malaysian Sabah and Sarawak covers approximately one-quarter. Indonesian Kalimantan spreads across most of the rest. Brunei Darussalam, one of the world’s least-visited countries, is sandwiched between Sarawak. With iconic mountains to climb (Kinabalu), Cantonese-influenced harbour towns to discover (Sandakan) and national parks to explore (Kinabalu, Mulu, Tanjung Puting), there’s so much this place holds for its visitors. But with so much to take in, it’s be tricky to know where to start. Check out the top things to do in Borneo!

See rare orangutans at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Rare Orungutans in Borneo
Image Credits: Google Images

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC), on the island of Sabah, is one of the last remaining places you’ll find the orangutan. The centre was founded in the 60s to rehabilitate orphaned and injured orangutans before returning them to the wild forests of Borneo. Now home to between 60 and 80 orangutans, the reserve draws researchers and travellers alike, keen to catch a glimpse of the enigmatic, rare creatures in their natural habitat. You can watch and photograph them as they swing from ropes and vines, but it’s important not to interrupt them. An outdoor nursery has recently opened, where young orangutans born into captivity or who have lost their mothers are cared for. A visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is truly special, and educational, too. We can guarantee that you will leave with a renewed respect for animals and the world that we live in.

Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary at Labuk Bay

On Peregrine’s Untamed Borneo trip, you’ll also visit the nearby Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, where you’ll see the famous monkeys. They are found only on the island of Borneo and feed with different family or groups. You might even cast eyes on a hornbill or two, on this island!

Stretch your legs in Kinabalu National Park

Mount Kinabalu in Borneo
Image Credits: Google Images

Mt Kinabalu – the tallest mountain in Malaysia (and the 20th tallest in the world) forms the centrepiece of the incredible Kinabalu National Park. This World Heritage is about an hour’s drive from Kota Kinabalu. Many visitors climb the peak for adventure as well as to see its spectacular biodiversity like orchids and pitcher plants. The trails around the base of the mountain offers up their blood-pumping adventure and exotic flora and fauna.

One of the park’s most famous attractions is the parasitic Rafflesia plant, which is considered the world’s largest bloom. These fleshy, bright red flowers have a pungent smell (they’re often referred to as ‘corpse flowers’), which only gets worse after they wilt. Although they sound hard to miss, they’re quite rare, and you’ll only stumble across one if you’re lucky. Although perhaps ‘fortunate’ isn’t the exact right word to use.

Snorkel and relax on Manukan Island

Found just 20 minutes off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, Manukan is one of the larger islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park. Here, you can relax on the 1.5km-long beach (lovely for a stroll at low tide), kick back with a drink and a book, and wander along a jungle trail to a beautiful sunset lookout. During the day, don your swimmers for a spot of snorkelling or even scuba diving; the reefs surrounding the island are teeming with technicolour tropical fish. If you look up ‘paradise’ in the dictionary, you may well find a picture of Manukan Island.

Go caving in Mulu National Park

Mulu National Park in Borneo
Image Credits: Google Images

In the state of Sarawak, you’ll find Gunung Mulu National Park, famous for its biodiversity and especially its dramatic tropical karst landscape – of limestone peaks and pinnacles, rugged cliffs and peat swamps. Mulu is also home to one of the world’s most impressive caves. The bat-filled Deer Cave leads to a hidden valley and waterfall known as the Garden of Eden. You can reach both by following a scenic jungle plank-walk through the park. You can also visit Wind Cave and Clearwater Cave; spanning more than 100 kilometres, the latter is the longest cave in Asia. You’ll see all on Peregrine’s small group Borneo Adventure tour.

Bird-watch as you cruise along the Kinabatangan River

Kinabatangan River is one of the longest in Malaysia, and the protected forest reserve surrounding it has some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Borneo. We’re talking crocodiles, long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques, wild orangutans, proboscis monkeys. Also, you can spot elephants occasionally, plus a wide array of exotic birdlife. The best way to take it in, of course, is by river cruise.

If you travel with Peregrine, knowledgeable leaders know where to point out the birds you’d like to see, from Storm’s storks and Bornean falconets to a variety of eagles, hornbills and kingfishers. Imagine how beautiful it is to stay in a nature lodge and wake up to the sounds of the jungle!

Explore Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu in Borneo
Image Credits: Google Images

Situated between the Bornean jungle and the South China Sea, the capital of Sabah, known as ‘KK’ locally. There’s plenty to explore here for tourists. There’s amazing food all around this place, which you mightn’t expect considering how far into ‘the middle of nowhere’ its located. Plus you can visit shops, museums and the Monsopiad Cultural Village – once home to an infamous headhunter. Kota Kinabalu is a key part of any Borneo travel itinerary.

Reasons outnumbered for you to kick-start your bookings to Borneo. We at Pickyourtrail make sure our best travel experience is put into planning your vacation with lots of excitement. Start planning your trip to Malaysia by customising your itinerary online with the top highlights and attractions of Borneo. First-time travellers? Don’t worry, check out our guides page for more help in planning your trip! Happy Travelling with your family and loved ones!

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