TIME – gmt + 8 hrs

FLIGHT – There are no direct flights to Borneo from the U.K. The best way to get there from the U.K. is to take a14 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur and from there get a 1 hour flight to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo.  

CURRENCY – Malay Ringit

VISA’S –Not required for U.K. citizens

TEMPERATURE –No lower than 20C but not usually hotter than 32C. Humidity is between 85% and 95%.

CLIMATE – Hot and humid all year. Strong winds and frequent showers affect the east coast during the north-east monsoon which blows from December to March. The west coast is generally dry and sunny during this period, but receives its share of rainfall between July and October. Whenever rain falls it is heavy and but short-lived.   

LANGUAGE – Bahsa Maly and English is widely spoken.

OFFICIAL RELIGION : The official religion is Islam, although Muslims are now out numbered by Christians and Buddists. 

HEALTH – Malaysia, including Sabah is one of the cleanest and healthiest South East Asia countries. Standards are very high but it is still best to drink bottled water. Immunisation: No injections are officially required but you would be wise to be up to date with hepatitis A and B, diphtheria, tetanus, polio and typhoid. For people staying in the jungle areas, it is a good idea to have a Rabies injection. Anti- leech socks can be bought in Kota Kinabalu. 

FOOD -  The food is an ethnic mix of Malay, Indonesian, Chinese, Indian and Philapino,  and is absolutely delicious.

Borneo  is  at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean and is the world’s third largest Island (after Greenland and New Guinea). It lies between the South China Sea and the Salu Sea. Most of Borneo is in the Indonesian state of Kilimantan. Sabah is in Malaysia (30% of Borneo) and sharing 3%  of the island of Borneo is the independent state of Brunei. No alcohol is to be taken into the State of Bruneii and no alcohol is to be drunk there either.

There are no direct flights to Borneo, but the easiest way to reach Borneo from the U.K. is via Kula Lumpar (KL). This is a 14 hour flight from the U.K. From KL you can then take a flight to  Kota Kinabalu, which is another 1 hour flight. The runway at KK’s airport runs right along the edge of the sea – on landing it looks like you are going to crash into the sea.  Malaysian airlines usually have the best deals.  Flights are also available via Hong Kong and Bangkok.

K.K. is a fast developing city with lots of modern buildings springing up.

Borneo has something for everyone. It is a paradise for adventure seekers, wildlife lovers, beach bums, & culture vultures alike.


SABAH  - means ‘Land Below the Wind’. It is called this because it lies safely south of the area’s typhoon belt. It is a land of lush rain forests and holiday-heaven beaches.  Sabah is on the west coast of Borneo over-looking the South China Sea. It was once known as North Borneo until it gained it’s independence in 1963 and then it reverted back to Sabah. 

Sabah is Borneo’s natural paradise – a land of majestic mountains and lush tropical rainforest. The flora, fauna and wildlife in Sabah is stunning. It is home to the endearing and endangered Orang Utan, which can be seen in the sanctuary at Sepilok on the outskirts of Sandakan.  At this rehabilitation centre, captive animals are retrained for life in the jungle.

The state capitol of  Sabah is Kota Kinabalu (K.K.). It was known as Jessletown until 1963. K.K. has a very relaxed way of life and is a good base to explore Sabah from.  We stopped at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort just outside Kota Kinabalu and a 40 minute drive from the airport. Having it’s own nature reserve, the Rasa Ria overlooks the Panti Dalit Bay The beach was beautiful but as it was a conservation area there were too many sand-flies on the beach and they were not allowed to spray the area to get rid of them because being eco-friendly they would not use  insecticides. Also most days there were too many jelly fish for us to swim in the sea. In the Rasa Ria nature reserve was a small orang- utan sanctuary.

SABAH has an 800-900 mile coastline with superb beaches. Most adventures and expeditions are best done with the aid of a local guide and ground operator.

Off the northern coastline is Sipidan island which is one of the top 5 dive centres in the world.

 Kinabalu National Park is one of Sabah’s major attractions, with medieval jungle, hot springs and Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountains in South East Asia. The climb via the scenic trail requires no special abilities but is physically strenuous and reaching the summit gives you a real feeling of achievement.

 Mount Kinabalu  Without doubt, any adventure-seeker heading to Sabah must put the ascent of Mount Kinabalu at the top of their ‘to do’ list.  It is 13,500ft summit. Every year 100’s of athletes from around the world congregate at the foot of Mount Kinabalu. The  super human record to the top is 2 hours 40 minutes record.

The trek to the top is usually a two day walk, stopping at 10,700feet in the Laban Rata mountain hut (a spacious hut where trekkers stop before tackling the summit.)  Some times the trek to the  top is abandoned because the steep path turns into a  waterfall. The jungle here can get cold at night. Make sure you have warm gear, waterproofs, a head torch and an emergency blanket as these items are essential. You can hire sleeping bags at Laban Rata.

 We spoke to some 20-30 year olds who had already climbed the mountain and they said that they were absolutely exhausted, and although they were used to doing lots of strenuous walking, the walk to the top was really hard. However they were glad they had done it as the views from the top were spectacular.  

The forest surrounding Mount Kinabalu can look mysterious and misty. Natives used to think the mist was smoke and that dragons and spirits inhabited the mountains. It is a botanist’s mecca. Here you can see worms as long as your arms, frogs as tiny as a fingernail and plants that feast on insects. 

 PORING HOT SPRINGS  These are a must for those suffering from aching muscles after a Mount Kinabalu descent. Poring Hot Springs are hot mineral baths temperature-graduated from pool to pool. Not only famous for it’s sulphur baths, poring has a unique walkway built high up in the forest canopy.  There is a cabin and hostel accommodation at Poring.  

We took an easier option to Climbing Mount Kinabalu and that was a  guided trail walk in the five acre mountain garden followed by  lunch in the Sutera Sanctuary Lodge.


Kinabalu has 1,200 species of orchid, and many of them grow here, so if you do not have the energy to climb Mount Kinabalu, a wonderful alternative is to take a guided  walk in the Mount Kinabalu Rainforest Botanical Park following the Silau Silau Trail. Here you can see the richest and most remarkable plants in the world. You may even see the largest flower in the world , the Rafflesia . This flower is very difficult to find as it can take over 15 months to bud but only blooms for 7 days. The Park posts a notice as to whether the plant is in bloom or bud. Besides the orchids garden there are 9 species of pitcher plants in the garden.

For this amazing walk you will need a pair of heavy waterproof walking shoes as a lot of the time you will be walking through slushy mud. A waterproof  hat and coat is also advisable, after all, this is a rainforest.

An hour flight from Kota Kinabalu airport takes you to Sandakan on the east coast of Sabah over looking Salu Sea.


Sepilock Orang Utan Sactuary

 A short drive from Sandakan is the Sepilock Orang Utan Sanctuary, a 43-square-mile rehabilitation preserve of lowland rainforest established in 1964 to rehabilitate orphaned or wounded animals. They are protected from logging, allowed to roam free, and infants are trained to live in the wild again. Orang-utans are the largest tree-dwelling apes. They are shy, rare, astoundingly gentle and solitary.

The Orang utan only exists in the wilds of Borneo and a small number also live in Sumatra.  The word ‘orang utan’ is Malay for ‘man of the forest’. There is a possibility of this beautiful primate being extinct in 15 years time. Over the last 20 years much of their habitat has been destroyed and palm oil trees have been planted in the forests place. In Sabah, almost 90% of the lowland forest was lost between 1975 and 1995.

The most important reason for the destruction of the rainforest has been the spread of palm-oil plantations in Borneo and Sumatra. One in 10 products in Britain’s supermarket includes palm oil, but it is usually labelled vegetable oil. Margarine, ice cream, pastry, chocolate, crisps and chips all contain palm oil as does beauty products such as mascara and body wash.   

 On visiting the sanctuary I was looking forward to giving these remarkable orang-utans a cuddle but as they are going to be rehabilitated back into the forest this was not permitted as the keepers were trying to make them have as little physical contact with humans as possible. We walked into the jungle for about 15minutes (The path wasn’t muddy as a wooden walkway had been built to led us up to the feeding station) The only item you were allowed to take with you to the viewing platform was a camera. The reason for this is that the orang-utans would snatch bags, hats etc. from you if they had the chance. Also you were not allowed to feed the orang-utans and the only food they were allowed was bananas. This was so that they would get bored with this diet and start foraging for themselves for more interesting food in the jungle.  A lot of orang-utans had been ill treated, some kept in cages as pets. It is actually illegal to do this, but a lot of people living in far out villages didn’t realise that this was the case. Anyone now found keeping them as pets are now in big trouble from the authorities.

 PUG GIH JIH CHINESE TEMPLE  - This beautiful Chinese Buddist Temple overlooks Sandakan Bay and harbour. Facining the sea and backing onto the mountains this is considered good feng shui. The original temple was destroyed during WW11.  The current ornate temple was built on stilts.

 AGNES NEWTON KEITH HOUSE  - An interesting stop is Agnes Newton Keiths house.  This

House overlooks Sandakan Bay. This American lady was married to a British Colonial administrator in 1940’s Borneo. Caught up by World War 11, she and her young son spent three years in Sandakan’s death camp.  Her story became a best seller and later the film “Three Came Home” was released starring Claudette Colbert playing Mrs. Keith.   

 Sandakan Bay is one of the finest harbours in the world (26miles).  From the Sandakan jetty you can take a 2 hour drive along the Kinabatangan River, passing mangrove swamp, wetland andrainforest habitats and watch for wildlife along the banks.

We took a walk around Sandakan’s water village. The house here are built on stilts.


North Borneo suffered badly at the hands of the Japanese in World War 11 and Sandakan was totally demolished.   

Our day trip in Sandakan included a  trip to SANDAKAN MEMORIAL GARDENS. We were told very bluntly by our guide that if anyone on our coach was Japanese they would not be welcome here, and could possibly be liable to be attacked. This garden was built on the old prison of war camp and is a memorial to Australian, British and local civilians who died at Sandakan POW camp and on the death marches. In 1942-1943 the Japanese brought about 2,700 Australian and British POW’s to this camp. Over  1000 sick and weak POW’s were forced on three death marches under brutal physical conditions. In 1945 they moved POW’s 260 kilometer’s into the small settlement at Ranau. On the three marches 2,400 died and the remainder died. Only 6 people  survived, (all Australians). They had escaped into the jungle and had been hidden by the local people until the end of the war.

Throughout the Pacific campaign of World War11 more than 6,000 Indonesian civilians slave labourers and Allied prisoners were killed.

There are 2 other memorial beside Sandakan Memorial Park, one on the foothills of Mount Kinabalu and another in Kandasan.

 If you are a keen cyclist, an interesting trip  would be to cycle the ‘death route’ from Sandakan to Ranau. 


25 miles north of Sandakan is The Turtle Island Park. From July to October, the Green and Hawksbillturtles come ashore and lay their eggs. The turtle hatchery has been set up since 1966.

SIPADAN ISLAND – For the true diving enthusist’s. This is oneofthe world’d best dive site and is off the east coast of Sabah.

KINABATANGAN RIVER  - Experience the pristine rainforest and a plethora of animals like the Clouded Leopard , Asian Elephant, Crocodile’s, Civet Cats etc. etc. Th emost amazing spectacle is the bizarre Proboscis Monkey, found nowhere else in the world except Borneo. You may even sight an Orang Utan

SABAHS WHITE WATER RIVERS – The best time to sample these rivers are from August to January. The Papar River flows through a rustic rainforest setting and provides some of the best rafting in

Sabah - the region.

Hotels and guestrooms – There are all standards of rooms for as little as £8 per night to 5* luxury hotels.





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