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Help with itinerary to Borneo/Brunei

Los Angeles...
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Help with itinerary to Borneo/Brunei
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This is my first trip to Borneo. I am looking for itinerary suggestions for Borneo and Brunei for one week or more in May 2023. I would like to visit a longhouse and see orangutans and hornbills, and other wild animals. I am also interested in going to the suspension bridge.

I have made plans for visiting Kuala Lumpur and Penang. I've been to Kuala Lumpur before about 15 years ago, but never to Penang or Borneo. Should I fly from Penang to Borneo? Or go to Singapore, which is also on my itinerary to Kuching and start there? I fly out of KLIA to return back to the states.

20 replies to this topic
Conwy, United...
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1. Re: Help with itinerary to Borneo/Brunei
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Borneo is BIG - the size of France.

Sarawak - from Kuching to Miri (look on a map) is over 1000k

No train service - bus or air plane.

With just one week you are better off staying in and around Kuching otherwise you will spend all your time in taxis and airports/planes.

Brunei - most people do not visit due to strict Islamic law and customs. Read between the lines.

Los Angeles...
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2. Re: Help with itinerary to Borneo/Brunei
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Thanks for your response.

I have looked at a map that's why I am asking for suggestions. I have also read guide books. None of that tells me about on-the-ground experiences. That's what I am looking for.

Do I visit the north, or stay in the south? Is one better than the other?

I have more than a week to explore. But I am looking for suggestions first. Then I can narrow down my choices.

I have read about Brunei's strict Islamic laws. I want to visit for a brief period of time.

I have been to other Islamic countries. I just returned from Senegal where 97% of the population in Muslim. That didn't bother me.

Greater Melbourne...
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3. Re: Help with itinerary to Borneo/Brunei
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One week is not much time to see Borneo and Brunei. In fact it is very little indeed You cauld easily spend a mont in Malaysian Borneo and not see all there is to see.

From your limited information it seems that your main interest is wildlife viewing. If that is the case, then in my view the best area in Malaysian Borneo for wildlife viewing is eastern Sabah. There are a number of destinations there that are very popular. at Sepilok, near Sandakan, you can see orang-utans, sun bears and proboscis monkeys. Along the Kinabatangan River you can view a range of wildlife including pigmy elephants and . At Danum Valley you can see a variety of animals in the wild. However, Danum Valley is more remote and you need to allow three days if you were to go there. Given your limited time I don't think that is an option for you unless you made that your main destination.

If you want to restrict yourself to Sarawak then you can see orangutans at Semingoh which is on the outskirts of Kuching. However, for a variety of wildlife you should go to Bako National Park. You can stay in park accommodation overnight which is the recommended way of visiting Bako. I would also suggest you consider including Mulu National Park in your itinerary. Mulu is at the northern end of Sarawak but you can fly direct from Kuching to Mulu.

I have visited Brunei and could provide information on that destination but what you need to consider is how you are going to include that in your itinerary. Mulu is close to Brunei but there is no easy way of getting directly from Mulu to Brunei. You can fly from Mulu to Kota Kinabalu and from there you can get a bus to Brunei or even fly. However, what you then need to consider is how you are going to leave Borneo. If you are aiming to get back to Singapore then there are direct flights from Brunei to Singapore with Royal Brunei. There are other possibilities but time is not on your side. I suggest that you investigate these possibilities and then come back with your thinking, then, on your itinerary.

Los Angeles...
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4. Re: Help with itinerary to Borneo/Brunei
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Aussietravelman - Thanks so much for your response. I have a month total for my entire trip. I could shave off a few days in KL and Penang to devote more time to Borneo, which is my main reason for traveling to Malaysia.

I have looked into Sepilok and a cruise along the Kinabatangan River. As well as other offerings.

Would you recommend booking tours before I get to Borneo, or waiting until I get there and book through hotels?

I am still in the research stages of planning. But I have already purchased plane tickets to KL and Penang.

Greater Melbourne...
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5. Re: Help with itinerary to Borneo/Brunei
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I'm not sure what you are meaning by "tours" in the context of travelling in Borneo. I have taken two ten-day tours, one in Sarawak and the other in Sabah. I have also travelled independently in both Sarawak and Sabah as well as in Brunei. I have not taken any day tours but it is possible to take day tours in some places. However, it is more common to hire a guide/driver than to join a day tour, although I have not done this myself. My question, though, is what do you mean by "tour" in this context?

Along the Kinabatangan River what usually happens is that travellers stay at one of the lodges along the river. and the lodges provide accommodation, meals and wildlife spotting boat trips along the river each morning and evening. Usually, you pay an all-inclusive daily rate. There are other types of accommodation such as homesteads, but what I have described is the most common.

Before you seeded to alter the amount of time you spend in peninsula Malaysia I suggest you work out what you want to do in Borneo and how you are going to get from place to place.

Los Angeles...
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6. Re: Help with itinerary to Borneo/Brunei
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Aussieman - That is what I am referring to as tours.

Staying in one of the lodges and taking tours they have posted on their website.

There are several, starting from 12 hour tours to 7 days. That seems like the most appealing to me. Now I just have to decide which one I want to embark on.

As I mentioned earlier, reading something in a guidebook and on a website is not the same as getting first-hand experience.

Thanks for your help.

Greater Melbourne...
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7. Re: Help with itinerary to Borneo/Brunei
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Can you lease post a link to the tours on the lodge's website so that I can se to what you are referring.

The two 10 ay tours that I took were booked with tour companies.

I understand why you mean by the difference between first-hand experience and information from a guidebook.

Los Angeles...
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8. Re: Help with itinerary to Borneo/Brunei
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Here are two that I looked at.

https://www.borneoecotours.com/tours/popular.php

https://www.audleytravel.com/us/borneo/tours

Greater Melbourne...
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9. Re: Help with itinerary to Borneo/Brunei
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OK. I understand, now. These are two travel agents that put together individualised tours based on some standard itineraries. The lodges on whose websites you found the links to the itineraries are lodges that are used by the travel companies. The tours that i have taken were small group tours that followed set itineraries. I prefer small group torus because I am a single traveller and they provide good company along the way. However, I know that some people like to take individualised tours and some like to travel on their own without any set itinerary. I have travelled on my own quite a bit in Borneo as well as taking the two tours. I think that you should decide which style of travel you would prefer in Borneo. That will help to focus in on your range of options. What you also should think about is the standard of travel you prefer. Some people like to travel in luxury others are quite comfortable staying in more modest accommodation and some even like to get "off the beaten track" and are quite happy to accept very basic accommodation in order to do so.

Los Angeles...
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10. Re: Help with itinerary to Borneo/Brunei
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Thanks for the feedback.

I am also a solo traveler.

I am thinking about booking the lodging separately, and book tours from there. Some lodges have tours and meals included.

I lean toward mid-range to luxury. I am not beyond budget lodging, but I draw the line at dormitory and shared bathrooms. I am too senior for that.🤔

I am now looking at flights and routing.

I am looking at PEN>Kota Kinabalu>Sandakan. I will try to fit Brunei or Singapore into my plans if time allows.

I don't see any need to do any more that a 3D2N riverboat tour along the Kinabatangan River. I mainly want to see the Orangartans and probiscus monkey. I have been on several African safaris.

My goal is to do the canopy walk, visit a long house, visit an orangutan sanctuary and see feedings, do some shopping, and eat good food. I'd like to add some relaxation time into my interary too.

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