Wonders of Borneo, Malaysia Trip Notes

Trip Overview


Welcome to a remarkable 8-day adventure that takes you on a captivating journey through the heart of Borneo and Malaysia. This extraordinary odyssey promises a symphony of natural wonders, exotic wildlife encounters, and immersive cultural experiences that will leave you spellbound. Our meticulously crafted itinerary invites you to explore the vibrant city of Kota Kinabalu, venture into the wilds of Sandakan, navigate the picturesque Kinabatangan River, and bask in the pristine beauty of Selingan Island. Each destination offers a unique facet of this magnificent region, where lush rainforests, azure waters, and indigenous cultures converge.

Prepare to be entranced by the mesmerizing landscapes, wildlife-rich jungles, and the warm hospitality of the local communities. Whether you’re an adventurer, a nature enthusiast, or a cultural explorer, this 8-day tour with Travel Talk promises an array of activities and experiences that will immerse you in the natural and cultural wonders of Borneo and Malaysia.

Duration : 8 Days

Destination : Borneo / Malaysia

Start/Ends in : Kota Kinabalu / Kota Kinabalu

Group Size : 12-42 People

Age Req. : 18+

Trip Theme : Classic, Overland

Hotels : 5 & 4 Star

Departs : All Year Round

Why you will love this tour

  • * Dive deep into the heart of Borneo’s pristine wilderness, where lush rainforests teem with exotic wildlife, and the symphony of nature surrounds you at every turn.
  • * Explore Kota Kinabalu, a vibrant city nestled between the South China Sea and the mighty Mount Kinabalu, where modernity meets traditional Bornean charm.
  • * Embark on an adventure in Sandakan, the gateway to the wilds of Borneo, where encounters with orangutans, proboscis monkeys, and sun bears await in the renowned Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.
  • * Navigate the picturesque Kinabatangan River, one of Southeast Asia’s best places for wildlife viewing, as you spot rare bird species, elusive pygmy elephants, and other fascinating creatures.

  • * Experience the utmost comfort throughout your 8-day adventure with our carefully selected accommodations, ensuring you rest and rejuvenate in style after thrilling days of exploration.

  • * Enjoy the convenience of seamless transportation as we handle all the logistics, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in the wonders of Borneo and Malaysia without the hassle of planning or navigating.

Arrival Details

The group welcome meeting with your guide and other travelers is held around 18:30 at the hotel lobby on Day 1 of your tour unless otherwise notified.

Meeting and Finishing Point:

Mercure Kota City Centre – Kota Kinabalu

Address :  41, Jalan Gaya, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Phone : +60 154-876 18810

Emergency Number: +44 203 14 99 200


Sandakan: Situated on the eastern coast of Sabah, Malaysia, Sandakan is not only a gateway to the diverse wildlife of the Kinabatangan River but also holds historical significance dating back to World War II.

Kinabatangan River: The Kinabatangan River meanders through Borneo’s lush rainforests, offering a unique opportunity to observe diverse wildlife in their natural habitat, making it a popular destination for eco-tourism.

Selingan Island: A sanctuary for sea turtles, Selingan Island, or Turtle Island, provides a remarkable experience for visitors as they witness the nesting and hatching of these gentle creatures.

Mari Mari Cultural Village: Mari Mari Cultural Village offers an immersive experience, allowing visitors to delve into the rich traditions and diverse cultures of the indigenous tribes of Sabah, Malaysia, through interactive and educational activities.

Nabalu Market: Nabalu Market, is a vibrant marketplace where travelers can shop for local handicrafts, fresh produce, and unique souvenirs while enjoying breathtaking mountain views.

Mount Kinabalu: Standing majestically in Sabah, Malaysia, Mount Kinabalu invites trekkers and climbers to conquer its challenging trails and witness awe-inspiring vistas from its summit.

Poring Hot Springs: The springs offer a relaxing natural retreat where visitors can soak in rejuvenating hot springs, explore lush botanical gardens, and even experience a canopy walkway in the surrounding rainforest.


Please note that the itinerary may be subject to small changes depending on the conditions during the tour. Alternative accommodation of similar standards may be used depending on the group size and hotel availability.

Greetings, Malaysia! Upon your arrival at Kota Kinabalu Airport, you will receive a warm meet-and-greet by our guide in the arrival hall. From there, we’ll smoothly transition to your designated vehicle for a convenient transfer to your hotel. Once at the hotel, you’ll complete the check-in process, and the remainder of the day is yours to unwind and enjoy at your own pace. Rest well for the night, as you anticipate the adventures that lie ahead.

  • Accommodation
    Mercure Kota City Centre – 4 Star

Enjoy your morning meal (packaged for convenience). Our team will pick you up from the hotel to catch an early flight to Sandakan. Upon arrival, a representative will greet you at the arrivals hall, and you’ll embark on a scenic 2.5-hour drive through the charming countryside adorned with villages.

A brief boat transfer will then take you to the Borneo Nature Lodge or a similar accommodation. Get oriented, savor a satisfying lunch, and complete the check-in process. Bask by the riverside, embracing the tranquil atmosphere, before setting off at 4:00 PM on a boat journey up the Kinabatangan River, the longest river in Sabah. This expedition offers a chance to witness the vibrant wildlife and diverse bird species that inhabit the untouched rainforest surroundings.

  • Accommodation
    Borneo Nature Lodge or Borneo Natural Sukau
  • Meals Included

Awaken to the harmonious melodies of birds, insects, and creatures of the wild. Begin your day at 6:00 AM with a morning cruise up the Kinabatangan River, extending your journey to the Kelenanap Ox-Bow Lake. Here, indulge in bird watching and the search for various wildlife species. Conditions permitting, embark on a brief jungle stroll, immersing yourself in the untamed beauty of Borneo’s wilderness. Afterward, return to the lodge for a satisfying breakfast.

The rest of the day is yours to explore the surroundings or venture into the nearby village at your own pace. As the afternoon mellows, embark on another boat cruise at 4:00 PM, meandering along the river’s gentle currents.

  • Accommodation
    Borneo Nature Lodge or Borneo Natural Sukau
  • Meals Included
  • Included Activities
    River Cruise

Following an early breakfast at the resort, set out from Sukau at 6:30 AM to catch the scheduled 9:30 AM boat bound for Selingan Island. Upon arrival, proceed with registration at the Turtle Island Parks HQ and complete the check-in process.

The afternoon presents a leisurely opportunity to unwind at your own pace. Embrace activities like swimming and snorkeling, immersing yourself in the island’s natural beauty. As evening approaches, ensure you have your essentials, as the ranger will call you after dinner for the remarkable experience of observing turtle nesting. Witness the transfer of the precious eggs to the hatchery.

A helpful note: When packing for your overnight stay on Turtle Island, remember to bring only essentials, as there are no porters available on the island to assist with luggage.

  • Accommodation
    Selingan Island Lodge
  • Meals Included
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Included Activities
    Visit to Selingan Island

Set off at 6:30 AM after your check-out, enjoying a wholesome breakfast. Thereafter, embark on a boat journey back to the mainland of Sandakan. A drive of approximately thirty minutes takes you to the renowned Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre, a sanctuary for orphaned and injured orangutans.

By 2:00 PM, post-lunch, prepare for a captivating city tour that uncovers the iconic landmarks of Sandakan. The exploration might encompass the bustling Central Market, where an astonishing array of fresh seafood and agricultural products await. Continue to the distinctive Sim-Sim Water Village.

  • Accommodation
    Sabah Hotel – 4 Star
  • Meals Included
  • Included Activities
    Visit to Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre
  • Sandakan City Tour

Savor a delightful breakfast to start your day. At the scheduled time, we’ll arrange your transfer from Sandakan Airport to Kota Kinabalu. Upon your arrival at Kota Kinabalu Airport, our team will be ready to take you to your hotel, ensuring a seamless check-in experience.

By 6:00 PM, your evening adventure begins as the sun sets. Immerse yourself in the vibrant ambiance of the colorful night market, a treasure trove of trinkets and souvenirs waiting to be discovered. Observe the city’s nightlife come to life as it sparkles in all its glory. Following this, relish a delectable dinner that awaits you.

  • Accommodation
    Mercure Kota City Centre – 4 Star
  • Meals Included
  • Included Activities
    Kota Kinablu Night Tour

In the morning, we embark on a voyage to the Mari Mari Cultural Village, nestled in a secluded forest enclave in Kionsom, Inanam, just 25 minutes from the city. Upon our arrival, we’ll be guided through a diverse array of traditional homes representing Sabahan ethnic communities including the Dusun, Rungus, Lundayeh, Bajau, and Murut. Our friendly village guide will provide a comprehensive introduction to each house, revealing customs, and ceremonial practices that acquaint us with the distinct culture of each tribe.

By 1:00 PM, we’ll ensure your seamless return to your Kota Kinabalu hotel. The afternoon invites you to leisurely explore or unwind, setting the stage for a restful overnight stay.

  • Accommodation
    Mercure Kota City Centre – 4 Star
  • Meals Included

Start your day with a hearty breakfast. Enjoy your free time at your own pace until it’s time for your departure transfer to Kota Kinabalu Airport, approximately 3 hours before your estimated time of departure. 

As your journey through the captivating landscapes of Malaysia and Borneo comes to an end, take with you a treasure trove of memories until your next trip!

  • Meals Included

Inclusions & Exclusions

The tour price covers the following services:

Accomodation : 5 and 4 star hotels & Lodges.

Airport Transfer : Airport transfers for the included domestic flights on the tour

Flights : Flight from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan, Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu.

Meals : 7 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch & 1 Dinner.

Transportation : A/C Vehicles

Guide : Services of experienced Travel Talk local guides licenced by the Ministry of Tourism

Sightseeing :

Kinabatangan River
Kelenanap Ox-Bow Lake
Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre

Sandakan Central Market
Sim-Sim Water Village
Kota Kinabalu Night Market
Mari Mari Cultural Village

What is NOT included in the tour price?

  • Any flights not mentioned above
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not stated above
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips & gestures
  • Entrance fees to the sights and museums
  • Optional activities
  • Other services not stated in the itinerary

Hotels & Accommodation

Solo travelers will be roomed with another solo traveler of the same gender in a twin or triple room or can upgrade to a solo room by paying for the single supplement. You may choose the solo room option when booking online or contact us to arrange a private room. Your tour leader will allocate rooms upon arrival at the starting hotel in accordance with the rooming lists, last minute changes may not be guaranteed.

Mercure Kota City Centre  – KOTA KINABALU – 4 STAR

A stylish hotel with a rooftop pool, fitness center and an on-site restaurant & bar. All rooms are equipped with tea/ coffee maker, minibar and ironing facilities.


A charming lodge nestled along the banks of the Kinabatangan River is a haven for nature & wildlife lovers. The cabins of the lodge are equipped with tea/coffee maker & ironing facilities.


A cozy & pacific accommodation in the heart of Selingan Island. The accommodation facilities include an on-site cafeteria & souvenir shop. All rooms are air-conditioned.


A holiday resort nestled in the middle of a tropical rainforest in the Sabah region. Hotel facilities include a fitness center, an outdoor swimming pool and an on-site restaurant.


A charming lodge with breathtaking views, located in the world-famous Kinabulu National Park. All wooden cabins in the resort include satellite tv, wifi access and tea/ coffee maker.


Please note that entrance fees to sights and optional activities are not included in the tour price.

Passport & Visas


Most travelers don’t need a visa to go to Malaysia for trips that last less than three months, as long as they’re going for tourism or business reasons. This rule applies to citizens from countries like Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and South Africa.

But, if you’re going to the island of Borneo, keep in mind that the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak might have extra rules for entry or visas because they have their own immigration controls. It’s a good idea to check your government’s advice for the latest info on traveling in eastern Malaysia before you go. Also, when you arrive in Sabah or Sarawak, even if it’s on a domestic flight from mainland Malaysia, you’ll need your passport.

To find out which countries need visas or not to travel to Malaysia, you can visit the official Malaysian government website for the complete list.

This information is provided as a guidance, we strongly advise that you check with the consulate or embassy as this information can change at any time and with little notice. It is your responsibility to make sure that all the required travel documents are ready when travelling.

Travel Advice

We are closely monitoring the latest travel updates to Singapore, Malaysia, and Borneo and following the advice of the UK Foreign Office (FCDO). For the latest travel advice from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, please visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/vietnam, https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/malaysia.

We recommend all travellers to check their Government National Travel Advisory prior to their departure:

Australia – https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

Canada – https://travel.gc.ca/

New Zealand – https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

USA – https://travel.state.gov/

Travel Insurance

All passengers travelling with Travel Talk are required to have personal travel insurance before participating in any of our tours. Your guide will collect your travel insurance details on the first day of your trip. It is your responsibility to make sure you have an adequate and suitable travel insurance for you in place, you may read more at https://www.traveltalktours.com/travel-insurance

Health & Safety

The health and safety of our passengers, staff and communities visited is of utmost priority. As we monitor and comply with the official advice from the UK Foreign Office, as well as World Health Organization and government authorities regularly, we have implemented several policies and precautions on our tours for your wellbeing. You may find our Safe Travels Protocols at https://www.traveltalktours.com/safe-travels

Travel Talk Adventures has received the Safe Travels stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which allows travellers to recognise companies around the world that have adopted health and hygiene global standardised protocols – so consumers canexperience ‘Safe Travels’.

Please make sure to regularly check your Government’s travel advice before travelling and be well-informed of any requirements. Your tour guide will also notify you of the regulations and protocols to follow throughout your trip with us.

Please note that if any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary or possess a potential risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to remove them from all or part of a trip.

Please consult with your doctor for the latest medical travel information and any vaccinations you may need. We recommend that you bring any personal medical requirements and medications with you as these may be difficult to obtain while on tour.


Malaysia‘s weather is typically characterized by a tropical climate with high humidity and temperatures throughout the year. However, there are some regional variations in weather patterns due to the country’s geographical diversity. Malaysia experiences two main monsoon seasons, which can affect the best time to visit different parts of the country.

In the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, including destinations like Kota Bharu, Terengganu, and the Perhentian Islands, the wet season prevails from November to February due to the northeast monsoon. Conversely, the ideal time to explore this region is during the dry season, which spans from March to October. This period offers sunny weather, making it perfect for engaging in beach activities and water sports. Meanwhile, in Borneo, renowned for its lush rainforests, diverse wildlife, and Mt. Kinabalu, the climate remains consistently tropical with rainfall year-round. However, the prime time to visit Borneo is during the drier months, extending from April to September, allowing for more enjoyable trekking and outdoor adventures. It’s worth noting that Borneo can still experience occasional rain showers throughout the year, so it’s wise to be prepared for such conditions.

Money Matters

The official currency of Malaysia is the Malaysian Ringgit, abbreviated as MYR or represented by the symbol “RM.” Currency exchange services are widely available throughout Malaysia, including at banks, money changers, and airports. When exchanging currency or using ATMs, be aware of any fees or commissions that may apply, both from the currency exchange service provider and your own bank or card issuer. Malaysia has a well-established network of ATMs, and you can easily withdraw Malaysian Ringgit using your debit or credit card. Credit cards are widely accepted in Malaysia, and you can use them for most transactions, including shopping, dining, and hotel payments. While it’s advisable to have some Malaysian Ringgit in cash for small purchases or in case you visit places that do not accept cards, it’s generally safe to rely on electronic payments in Malaysia.

Please remember that everyone has different spending habits, some prefer to spend more on souvenirs, some on experiences and others on a night out! Make sure to budget your trip to your spending habits for shopping, drinking, and tipping.

Tipping practices in Malaysia, Borneo, and Singapore vary, but they share some common customs. In Malaysia, a 10% service charge is often included in restaurant bills, and additional tipping is appreciated but not mandatory. Similar practices apply in Borneo. In Singapore, tipping is less common, with service charges included in many restaurant bills, and additional tips are generally not expected for services like taxis or public transportation. However, it’s customary to leave small tips for hotel staff. Overall, while tipping is appreciated for good service, it’s not obligatory, and the amount you choose to tip can vary based on your discretion and satisfaction with the service.

Eating & Drinking

Malaysian cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors and influences from Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Javanese, and Sumatran culinary traditions. This diversity results in a rich and complex cuisine with a wide range of flavors and dishes. Here are five of the most traditional and iconic dishes in Malaysian cuisine:

Nasi Lemak: Nasi Lemak is often considered Malaysia’s national dish. It features fragrant coconut rice served with a variety of accompaniments, including sambal (spicy chili paste), fried crispy anchovies, roasted peanuts, boiled or fried egg, cucumber slices, and a choice of rendang (spicy meat stew), fried chicken, or other proteins. It’s typically served on a banana leaf and is a beloved breakfast option.

Roti Canai: Roti Canai is a popular Malaysian breakfast dish of Indian origin. It consists of thin, flaky, and crispy flatbreads served with dhal (lentil curry) or other curries. It’s often enjoyed with a side of pickles or sambal.

Char Kway Teow: Similar to the Singaporean version, Malaysian Char Kway Teow is a stir-fried noodle dish made with flat rice noodles, prawns, Chinese sausage, eggs, bean sprouts, and a savory soy sauce. It’s cooked in a hot wok to achieve a smoky flavor.

Hainanese Chicken Rice: Hainanese Chicken Rice, though with Chinese origins, is widely enjoyed in Malaysia. It features poached chicken served with fragrant rice cooked in chicken broth, accompanied by chili sauce and ginger paste. It’s a beloved dish at hawker centers and restaurants.

Essentials to Bring & Internet

-Face mask/cover and hand sanitiser enough for your personal use throughout the trip – See more at https://www.traveltalktours.com/safe-travels/

-Travel Documents: Passport, Visa (if required), flight or transport ticket (and photocopies)

-Travel Talk Tour Voucher (printed or digital)Travel Insurance Policy (and photocopy)

-Personal medical kit and medicine

-Money (cash, credit card, travellers’ cheques)

-Power Adapter

-Reusable water bottle

-Ear plugs and eye mask

-Sun protection – hat, sunglasses, sunscreen

-Comfortable, closed walking shoes

-Wind/water proof jacket

-Warm clothes, hat, and gloves for cold weather

-Sandals, swimwear, shorts for warm weather

Internet Access

Internet access in Malaysia is relatively good, especially in urban areas of Peninsular Malaysia. The country has a reasonably developed internet infrastructure with a range of broadband options available. However, the quality and speed of internet can vary, with urban centers enjoying faster and more reliable connections compared to rural areas. Mobile internet is widely accessible, and 4G coverage is generally available across the country. In Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak), internet access can be less consistent, especially in remote and rural regions, where infrastructure development may lag behind. In cities and major towns, you can expect better internet connectivity, but it may still not be as fast or reliable as in some parts of Peninsular Malaysia.

Culture, Religion, and Traditions

Malaysia’s culture is a vibrant tapestry woven from the diverse threads of its multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. The country’s cultural mosaic is primarily influenced by three main ethnic groups: Malays, Chinese, and Indians, each contributing their own customs, traditions, and languages. This rich tapestry is further enriched by the presence of indigenous tribes in East Malaysia (Borneo). Religion plays a crucial role in Malaysian culture, with Islam being the predominant faith, followed by Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and indigenous belief systems. These diverse religious communities coexist harmoniously, and religious festivals, such as Eid al-Fitr, Diwali, Chinese New Year, and Christmas, are celebrated with great enthusiasm and are often national holidays. Malaysian culture is characterized by its traditional arts, music, dance, and culinary delights, making it a melting pot of flavors and traditions. The country’s commitment to preserving its cultural heritage is evident in the various cultural festivals, museums, and heritage sites that showcase the richness of its cultural diversity.

Etiquette and How to Dress

In both Singapore and Malaysia, etiquette and dressing appropriately are important aspects of local culture and are generally expected to be respected by both locals and visitors. When it comes to clothing, it’s advisable to dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites and in more conservative areas. In Singapore, where diverse cultures coexist, there is a greater degree of flexibility in dress, but revealing clothing should be avoided out of respect for local customs. In Malaysia, dressing modestly is particularly important, especially in rural and religious areas, where covering shoulders and knees is recommended. It’s a good practice to carry a sarong or shawl that can be used as a cover-up when needed. In both countries, when entering someone’s home or a place of worship, it’s customary to remove your shoes. When dining, it’s polite to wait for the host to start the meal before eating, and using your right hand for giving and receiving items or gestures is considered more respectful. Being mindful of local customs and showing respect for the cultural norms of these countries will generally be appreciated by the locals.

Solo Travellers

We have many solo travellers joining our tours. Solo travellers will be roomed with another traveller of the same gender. If you would like a private solo room, please contact us. You may see out solo travels page for more details.

Rules to Follow

We are committed to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. We do not tolerate any form of violence (physical or verbal), bullying or harassment involving customers, partners, Travel Talk staff or locals. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a passenger are forbidden.

We will not tolerate any illegal activity, including but not limited to: use and possession of illegal drugs, trespassing, and disrupting public order. If you consume alcohol, please ensure that you drink responsibly and follow the local laws and regulations.

You must follow the advice of your tour leader and local officials regarding health and safety measures. We operate all tours under Safe Travels protocols for the wellbeing of our passengers, staff and communities visited. Please ensure that you have read the https://www.traveltalktours.com/safe-travels/ and are fully prepared for your trip.

If someone is acting inappropriately regarding these matters, please notify your tour leader immediately or contact us on the emergency contact number provided below.

Your tour leader has the right to remove from the group anyone not abiding by these rules, with no right of compensation or refund. See more at https://www.traveltalktours.com/booking-terms/

Please remember that our travellers come from different parts of the world and will have various needs and preferences. Be understanding and patient with your fellow travellers, and always strive to be on time.

Responsible Travel

We believe that travel is a force for good and show our support through various initiatives and charity organizations, as well as keeping the principals of responsible and sustainable travel at the core of our ethos. These values are engrained in our business culture and the design of our trips just the same. Together with you, we strive to make a positive impact on local people and economies, respecting the local culture, environment, social fabric and customs; encouraging respectful and meaningful cross-cultural exchange. Read more at https://www.traveltalktours.com/responsible-travel/

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Monday - Friday: 09:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday: Closed
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