Travel into azure seas, towering mountaintops and lush green rainforests as you enter Borneo. This fascinating area is part of both Indonesia and Malaysia. Explore Kuching, Mulu National Park and Kota Kinabalu on this six-day itinerary. If you are feeling up for a challenge, add an additional day to climb Malaysia’s highest peak - Mt. Kinabalu. There’s plenty of time for both relaxation and adventure as you trek through incredible scenery and relax in natural hot springs.
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Fly into charming Kuching, a quaint city resting along the banks of the Sarawak River on the northwestern part of Borneo. This ancient city was created by Sultans. Connect through Kuala Lumpur. We recommend staying at the Pullman Kuching Hotel, offering stunning views of the Sarawak River.
Step into the tropical rainforest and visit the Semengogh Oraguntan Rehabilitation Center. Orangutans are extremely endangered. Watch the highly-intelligent creatures play in their natural habitat. Time permitting, enjoy a rare cultural experience and pay a visit to the Sarawak Cultural Village. The area is known as a “living museum.” View traditional life as the village and its 150 inhabitants continue life as if time were stood still.
Travel to Mulu National Park, the UNESCO World Heritage site that will take your breath away with its natural beauty. Caves and karsts populate the area that is actually a mountainous equatorial rainforest. Take an adventurous trek through the beautiful natural area and visit the caves. The Lang Cave is a show cave that is part of the Deer Caves. The area earned its name from the local deer who used to come and lick the salt off the walls of the caves.
Continue trekking today, getting plenty of exercise and fresh air. You will visit two unique caves today. The Clearwater Cave is Asia’s longest cave at nearly 70 miles long. There’s a beautiful 1.5-hour nature trail around the cave. Stop at the Wind Cave on your way. The cave is named for the cool breezes passing through the cave’s narrow crevasses.
Visit the picturesque national park at Mt Kinabalu. The towering mountain sits at 13,435 feet. This is the highest peak in the Crocker Range and in the Malay Archipelago. Check out the quiet side of the mountain known as Mesilau. Spend the day either climbing or hiking in the serene nature. There are several amazing, luxurious hotel options in the area. We recommend either the Bunga Raya Island Resort, Gayana Eco Resort, Shangri-La Rasa Ria, Shangri-La Tanjung Aru or the Pendant Hut at Laban Rata.
Note: You may add a day here to climb Mt. Kinabalu. You have to option to cross via ferrata. If you choose to continue on and not stop, drive to Poring Hot Springs. Relax in the therapeutic warm waters. Next, enjoy a canopy walk to see life among the trees. After your exhilarating tour, stop at the Australian War Memorial. This memorial commemorates the infamous Sandakan Death March. You have either the option to continue exploring Malaysia, or begin your journey home.
Your overnight accommodation on Mount Kinabalu, Laban Rata Rest House, is a simply furnished mountain lodge situated at 10,791 feet above sea level. The Pendant Hut includes a dormitory-style bunk bed room as well as a private room, which accommodates up to four and which can be reserved for you. The lodge is not heated, however Pendant Hut does provide state-of-the-art sleeping bags to go on top of your basic beds. There is a communal lounge area, library, toilets and shared bathroom facilities in the rest house, and the Laban Rata canteen, where dinner is served, is a short walk away.
Surrounded by 400 acres of lush tropical vegetation, some of which is in a nature reserve, the Shangri-La Rasa Ria is set on a beach looking out onto Dalit Bay. The resort’s 490 rooms, all featuring traditional Malaysian decor, complimentary broadband Internet access and cable television, are divided between the freshly renovated Garden Wing and the new Ocean Wing. Visitors should note that the Rasa Ria resort also operates an adjoining nature reserve and orangutan rehabilitation center. Some of the wildlife inhabiting the reserve include the icon of Sabah, the orangutan, as well as various hornbill bird species, peacocks, bear cats, wild rabbits, iguanas and more. A highlight of the resort’s recreational offerings is the tandem 18-hole Dalit Bay Golf Club & Spa. Dining options include Tepi Laut Makan Street, conjuring the delectable world of Malaysian street food stalls; Kozan for Japanese teppan-yaki (hot-plate grilled dishes); Naan, which serves northern Indian cuisine; and several terrace bar/lounge options. The Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort is a 40-minute drive from Kota Kinabalu International Airport and about 30 minutes north of Kota Kinabalu town.
Located just 10 minutes from the center of Kota Kinabalu, the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort’s 492 rooms are divided between two wings – the Kinabalu Wing, with views of the ocean and Mt. Kinabalu, and the Tanjung Wing, with views of the South China Sea. All rooms come with complimentary broadband Internet access and satellite television. Dining options include Café Tatu for breakfast and dinner, where a variety of open cooking stations offer Mongolian, Tandoori, Asian noodles, dim sum, pasta, and more; Coco Joe’s Bar & Grill, a beach barbecue restaurant; Peppino for Italian and Mediterranean in a chic setting; and Shang Palace for gourmet, traditional Chinese. There are also three bar/lounge options. The property’s CHI Spa comprises five individual Island Villas, three Couples’ Villas and an open Yoga Pavilion, all located on Pulau Bayu, the resort’s private island, and there is also a state-of-the-art health club with juice bar and sauna. The Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort is a 10-minute drive from Kota Kinabalu Airport.
Set on a coral reef island off the coast of Borneo, Gayana Eco-Resort is equal parts a luxury resort and a marine conservation site. Each of the 44 villas is set over water, with a balcony overlooking either the jungle behind the resort, a lagoon, mangroves, or the sea. On a clear day, one can see Mt. Kinabalu on the distant horizon. Going green doesn’t necessarily mean roughing it, so count on luxe in-room amenities like a 32-inch flat-screen TV and complimentary wireless Internet. Besides the spa, which uses all-natural ingredients, the resort offers its lush surroundings as its main feature. With every activity, guests are encouraged to learn about the environment. before diving the island’s vibrant reefs, for example, guests are briefed on responsible dive practices. There’s also the onsite Marine Ecology Research Center, which focuses on propagating endangered giant clams and coral reef conservation. Of course, not everything has to be a lesson –guests can simply kick back with a cocktail and fresh seafood from the hotel’s own organic fish farm, or enjoy a wood-fired pizza pool-side. The resort is accessible by ferry from the Kota Kinabalu Ferry Terminal, just a few minutes from downtown Kota Kinabalu.