Borneo holiday highlights

Mystical Borneo is a treasure trove of natural and cultural delights from the impenetrable forests home to rare and indigenous animals and the towering summit of Mount Kinabalu to the various tribes that maintain strong spiritual links with the rainforest.  Perfect for an exotic beach holiday, Malaysian Borneo offers inspiring sightseeing, diverse scenery and heavenly unspoilt beaches.

All our fabulous Borneo resorts, including Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, are located in the northern state of Sabah, within an easy distance of the capital Kota Kinabalu. Affectionately known as KK, the city acts as a gateway to the region’s magnificent scenery and is a foodie’s paradise boasting a seemingly endless choice of restaurants and hawker stalls. The paradisiacal islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, including Palau Gaya which is home to our luxury beachfront property Gaya Island Resort, can be reached from the city in just 20 minutes via a speedboat transfer.

The highly intelligent orangutan is Borneo’s most eminent species and, either on trek into the jungle or a visit to Borneo’s various sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres, you are sure to come eye to doleful eye with one of these endearing yet endangered creatures. In the past 50 years the number of orang-utans in the wild has declined alarmingly due to the loss of habitat caused by illegal logging and the conversion of land to agricultural use, hunting, and human conflict.

Historic Sandakan, once the capital of British Northern Borneo, is a gateway to a selection of Sabah’s natural wonders and eco-tourism destinations.  From here Kuoni guests can visit The Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, located on the edge of a rainforest reserve, which was founded with the aim of returning orphaned, injured or mistreated animals back into the wild. Although not allowed to meet the youngest orphans, visitors may be fortunate enough to view older apes that have released into the centre’s jungle as they return for their daily supplementary feed of milk, sugarcane and bananas. Guests at Shangri La’s Rasa Ria Resort can explore the resort’s own nature reserve home to rehabilitated orangutans.

Shadowed by the revered Mount Kinabalu, one of South East Asia’s highest mountains, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinabalu Park boasts an incredible bio-diversity. Here naturalists can attempt to spot thousands of varieties of flora and half of all Malaysia’s bird, mammal and amphibian species – it may take a while though. Adventure seekers descend on the park to climb Kinabalu, bathe in the Poring Hot Springs, explore the tropical rainforest, trek to the Langanan and Kipungit waterfalls and visit the nearby butterfly farm to witness just some of the 850 varieties that flutter throughout the forest.

While there are countless incredible settings to view Borneo’s world famous wildlife throughout Sabah nowhere comes close to the rainforests that line the banks of the lower Kinabatangan River. This ‘mini Amazon’ is thought to be one of only two places on earth where 10 species of primate are found, including the endemic orangutans and proboscis monkeys. Other creatures to look out for in this extraordinary habitat are pygmy elephants, sun bears, the Sumatran rhino and clouded leopards.

Borneo key facts

Currency

Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)

Flying time to destination

14-15 hours

Borneo good to know

Etiquette

A tourist tax applies to all hotels in Borneo and is only payable locally.