Plush white beaches, meandering rivers, heavily-forested jungles, staggering peaks, and lush rainforests await you when you leave the beaten path and travel to the island of Malaysian Borneo. Borneo has a unique indigenous culture, as do the remote parts of Sarawak and Sabah, which have yet to become tourist Meccas. It is also one of the only places on Earth where tigers, rhinos, orangutans, and elephants live together. Its incredible biodiveresity makes it the premier wildlife destination in Asia. Dive into the untamed wilderness on this 8-day classic itinerary.This itinerary is an example. It’s designed to inspire you and provide you with thoughtfully curated ideas. You can choose to do this exact itinerary or completely personalize it. All trips are 100% bespoke.
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. Fly into the capital of Malaysian-Borneo, Kota Kinabalu, the main gateway into the island. This growing city is home to about half a million residents and has been an inportant transportation hub since it was known as Jesselton under British colonial rule. Upon arrival, you will be met at the airport and privately transferred to your luxury beach-side hotel, Shangri-La Rasa Ria. Situated just out of the city, the resort is a haven with a 1.8-mile long stretch of private beach, 64-acre forest reserve, and 18-hole golf course. Spend the rest of your day settling in and enjoying your resort.
After an early breakfast, travel 2 hours to the Kinabalu National Park. The scenic road passes through changing elevation and terrain, offering beautiful views of the valley below. Stop at various lookout points along the way and capture a picture of Mt. Kinabalu from afar. Upon arrival around the base of the mountain, take to the trails. This rugged island is primarily mountainous with dense swathes of rainforest. Stop by the handicraft markets in nearby Kundasang, made by local tribes, on your way to lunch in a local village. Continue onward to Poring to take to the treetops on a swaying Canopy Walk. Spot waterfalls, rare birds, and if you're lucky, the even rarer rafflesia flower. Those who want to maximize their experience at Mt. Kinabalu can opt for a scenic helicopter flight to watch the sun rise over the mountain.
Take an early flight to the historical city of Sandakan. Drive out to the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary where captive orangutans are reintroduced into the wild. There are only as few as 54,000 Bornean Orangutans, a species endemic to the island, left in the wild. Observe these great primates at their feeding stations in the rainforest and learn more about the important rehabilitation efforts. Head next door to the Sun Bear Conservation Center for a private tour of the facility prior to public hours with Dr. Wong, the founder of the center. Over 30 sun bears live within the facility. Have lunch back in Sandakan before taking to the Kinabatangan River by boat. A 2.5 hour cruise on the meandering river takes you through a corridor of lush forests and wetlands. Your lodge is perched on a bend in the river between two protected areas. In this hub of biodiversity lives over 50 types of mammals including the Borneo pygmy elephant, the bearded pig, proboscis monkeys, and orangutans, as well as over 200 types of birds. After settling in, go on an afternoon river safari led by the lodge’s expert naturalist guide.
Make the most of your time in this corner of Borneo, going on expert-led expeditions through the surrounding wilderness by boat and on foot. See historic limestone caves, orangutan habitats, meet the local tribal villages, and learn about everyday life in rural Borneo. Your day will also be interspersed wtih time to relax and enjoy the jungle ambiance. Don't miss the nighttime guidede walk to spot nocturnal creatures.
Leave the Kinabatangan River region and travel four hours overland to Lahad Datu. After lunch in town, continue to Danum Valley Conservation Area. This very special forest is considered one of the world's most complex ecosystem, a Class-1 Forest Reserve, and boasts all ten of Sabah's primate species, making it the premier wildlife destination on Borneo. Rare animals include the pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhino, clouded leopard, marbled cats, sun bears, and orangutans. Settle into your chalet at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge situated within the reserve on the banks of the Danum River. This award-winning lodge compromises on neither luxury and comfort nor wildlife experience. Your guide will give you an introduction to the rainforest and the trails surrounding the lodge which you can do at your leisure or with a naturalist. After dinner, go on a guided night safari or walk.
Spend this morning at the Danum Valley Field Center and FACE Foundation and meet the researchers. You will also have the opportunity to plant a tree. In the afternoon, go for a walk on the Canopy Bridge, suspended above the treetops. From this vantage point, you can more easily spot colorful birds, lizards, and if you are lucky, orangutans swinging by. There are multiple viewing platforms, all designed and engineered to be 'tree-friendly.'
Wake up to the call of gibbons and start your day with a guided trek to Coffin Cliff, an ancient burial site, and a nearby view point. Descend to the Jacuzzi Pool for a dip in the cool waters, followed by a riverside picnic lunch. In the afternoon, head out for another trek in search for more wildlife. As the day winds down, return to the lodge for cocktails at sunset. Tonight, enjoy a special private dinner with one of the Field Center researchers who will personally take you on a night walk, your final jungle trek.
After breakfast, say goodbye to the animals and forest as you drive back to Lahad Datu. Take a flight to Kota Kinabalu where you can connect to your flight onward.
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.
With colorful and exoctic wildlife on the doorstep, a stay at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge on the Kinabatangan River is an escape into Borneo’s verdant jungle, where the ecological balance is respected and sustained. Intrepid guests will enjoy early morning and late night boat tours on the river, looking out for the local inhabitants including pygmy elephants, monkeys and tropical birds. During the day, the 1,500-foot-long Hornbill Boardwalk is the place to spot friendly orangutans. For guests seeking a little relaxation, massages are available at the foot spa or Gomantong Hall is a cozy spot to curl up with a book from the mini-library, or a board game with a refreshing cup of tea, inside or out on the sundeck. For those feeling industrious, there are batik painting workshops and engaging slideshow presentations. The spacious twin and double bedrooms are clad with warm wood and decorated with simple, elegant local charm. After a day of unwinding or exploring nature, the lodge’s on-site restaurant - The Melapi - serves up delicious local fare, accompanied by an extensive wine list.
Situated in ultimate seclusion, 60 miles from the nearest town, the beautifully-designed Borneo Rainforest Lodge denotes understated elegance. The hotel’s 31 eco-friendly chalets feature high ceilings, dark wood panels and incandescent draping lights, all made from locally-sourced, recyclable material. The chalets use ceiling fans rather than air conditioners and have outdoor tubs, decks and patios boasting panoramic views of the million-year-old rainforest: drenched in the vivacity of the surrounding tropics, there is perhaps no better place to experience undisturbed nature. Guests will be living amongst nature’s finest trees and flora which douse the rainforest in exotic, vibrant color: the Danum Valley provides a home to many rare and endangered animals including the Clouded Leopard, Orangutan, the Proboscis Monkey and around 300 species of bird. Further, the lodge provides an outstanding spa with luxurious treatments which guests may enjoy after an exhilarating jungle trek.
Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
An Asia-focused magazine brought to you by Remote Lands – a platform for adventure, luxury, and authenticity from experts and explorers around the continent.
Starting in 2021, Meridian Adventure plans to host an eastern fleet of 4 vessels exploring Coral Wonderland of Raja Ampat.
Here is a small selection of the kind words our guests have said about us, as well as features by journalists and travel writers.