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One week itinerary for Borneo with youngsters


From its tropical islands to the wonderful wildlife, it will be simple to spend weeks exploring Borneo with youngsters – but when, like most of us, you’re restricted in time, you possibly can nonetheless see a few of the space’s highlights in seven days with this itinerary for Borneo with youngsters.

Two orangutans eating fruit at the Sepilok Orangutan rehabiliation centre in Sabah, Mayalsia - one of the essential stops on my one week itinerary of Borneo with kids

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Most guests to Malaysian Borneo will spend their time in Sabah, one in every of two states making up east Malaysia together with Sarawak, and this one week itinerary for Borneo for households focuses on that a part of Borneo.

Flying in to Kota Kinabalu, you’ll spend many of the week round Sandakan and Kinabatangan, and even with simply seven days in Borneo with youngsters, you possibly can see some unforgettable sights.

Our journey was organized with Intrepid Journey, which has two completely different Borneo household journey itineraries accessible, visiting most of the similar locations we noticed on our journey – these are 9-10 days lengthy relying which possibility you select, so that they’re nice in case you have a little bit longer to spend or favor another person to deal with the practicalities.

However for inspiration, or when you’re planning to exploring independently in your Borneo household vacation, right here’s what to suit into your one week itinerary in Sabah.

Day 1 – Kota Kinabalu

Arrive in Kota Kinabalu – until you’re visiting from one other close by nation, you’re prone to journey by way of Kuala Lumpur, with common worldwide flights touchdown there.

View across Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia - the starting point for one week in Borneo with kids

Connecting flights from Kuala Lumpur take round 2 1/2 hours – ours landed simply earlier than lunch time native time. Keep in mind you’re prone to be jetlagged, so it’s value planning a low-key day with time for a nap if wanted.

Issues to do in Kota Kinabalu with youngsters

For those who’re feeling filled with vitality and fancy trying out a few of the finest issues to do in Kota Kinabalu for households, there are a string of choices.

For one thing pretty relaxed, take a stroll across the native handicraft market on the waterfront for just a few souvenirs, or head out to discover Chinatown.

You may also uncover extra of the world’s historical past with a go to to the Sabah Museum, with every part from animal skeletons to data on Sabah’s tradition and politics.

The place to eat in Kota Kinabalu with youngsters

Begin your journey in fashion with a drink on the rooftop bar at Sky Blu Bar, watching the sundown over the water. You’ll be able to seize meals and ice lotions right here too, though it’s pricier than most locations within the metropolis.

As an alternative plan dinner on the fish market: there are a string of stalls all promoting recent fish and seafood – simply decide what you need, and allow them to understand how you’d prefer it cooked (there are indicators exhibiting the completely different choices and sauces), plus tables to eat at.

You’ll discover a string of locations to eat alongside Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens – we headed to the memorably named Glam Station 3.

The place to remain in Kota Kinabalu

You received’t spend a lot time at this resort, however persist with someplace comparatively central so you possibly can stroll to the fish market and the waterfront – we stayed at Horizon Lodge Kota Kinabalu.

Double bed in our room at Horizon Hotel in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia - my tips for a one week itinerary in Borneo with kids

Day 2 – Ara Dinawan Island

Whilst you’ll discover numerous snorkelling journeys from Kota Kinabalu, the snorkelling nearer to the town isn’t at all times that nice – as an alternative, spend your first full day and second evening on Ara Dinawan island for a tropical escape. Day journeys are additionally an possibility, however staying in a single day is difficult to beat.

From Kota Kinabalu, it’s round a 30-minute drive to the jetty. Ara Dinawan tented camp has a ship which takes company out to the island, which takes round 10-Quarter-hour – look out for crocodiles on the banks as you go!

Little boat preparing to set off to Ara Dinawan island near Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia - one of the great places to visit in Borneo with kids

The villa tents are undoubtedly on the luxurious finish of glamping with correct beds, their very own bathe and bathroom, and a fan to maintain the warmth down. The main target is on sustainability, so there are restricted hours for the electrical energy (and air conditioning) because of this.

However that is someplace to sit back and chill out, unplug and benefit from the island. You’ll be able to study extra concerning the native marine life from marine biologists earlier than heading out to snorkel.

The water across the reef right here is extremely clear, and the corals are teeming with brightly colored reef fish. Look out for the ocean urchins, however in any other case it’s simple for youths with no sturdy currents (and life vests offered).

View of the turquoise sea and beach at Ara Dinawan island near Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia - one of the great places to visit in Borneo with kids

You may also borrow kayaks to paddle across the island or chill out in one of many beachside hammocks. There are swings too, together with some within the water, and many loungers dotted round – an excellent place for a nap when you’re nonetheless feeling jetlagged!

Try my video of a day at Ara Dinawan Tented Camp

The place to remain

Keep at Ara Dinawan Tented Camp – the 14 tented villas sleep as much as six and a keep contains meals.

There’s a buffet offered for lunch and dinner, together with vegetarian choices and a few child-friendly dishes, in addition to breakfast the next morning, plus drink making amenities within the tents.

Day 3 – Sandakan and Sepilok

Tempting although it’s to remain, it’s time to go away Ara Dinawan after breakfast for the boat journey again to the mainland and Kota Kinabalu, to journey to Sandakan.

Inner flights take round 45 minutes or when you’d favor to scale back the variety of flights you are taking, you can also make the drive in round 6 1/2 hours hours – break it up by stopping at Poring Sizzling Springs for a cover stroll and swim within the springs.

OPTIONAL: You probably have longer, cease at Kinabalu Nationwide Park, the place you possibly can go to native villages to study extra about completely different cultures in Sabah, style native meals, or stroll via Mount Kinabalu Botanical Backyard. You’ll additionally get a view of Mount Kinabalu (though climbing it’s a main journey, so that you’ll want two additional days and older skilled teenagers if you wish to attempt)

From Sandakan airport, it’s solely round 20 minutes to Sepilok for the primary of your wildlife experiences. Within the late afternoon, head to the Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre to stroll the Rainforest Skywalk, 620m above the bottom for some wonderful views of the forest and an opportunity to identify a few of its inhabitants.

Treetop canopy walkway in the Sepilok rainforest discovery centre - one of the best places to spot Borneo wildlife with kids

Set off round 4pm to have probability to discover earlier than nightfall falls and you may see the rainforest animals beginning to wake for the evening – preserve an eye fixed out for large flying squirrels gliding from tree to tree within the twilight.

Try my video of a rainforest cover stroll

Comply with it with a guided evening stroll, with one of many Rainforest Discovery Middle consultants serving to you to identify the forest’s nocturnal creatures – and cease you getting misplaced at midnight rainforest!

For those who’re fortunate, you may spot a Western tarsier – tarsiers have been round for 45 million years and these small mammals are very shy. With out our information, we’d haven’t any probability of discovering one, clinging to a department with its lengthy spindly fingers, it’s enormous eyes glinting within the weak torch gentle.

TOP TIP: You’ll want insect repellent for a lot of your one week in Borneo with youngsters, particularly while you’re by the Kinabatangan river, however I’d advocate making use of it VERY liberally for the evening stroll. This Boots Repel Most roll-on is appropriate for youths aged 2+.

Put on lengthy sleeves and lengthy trousers as effectively, ideally with lengthy socks below them – you’re unlikely to come across leeches however there’s a chance when you’re strolling via the undergrowth to see tarsiers, so overlaying up may even preserve them away.

Leech socks are another choice, and so they’re important if you’re planning any longer jungle hikes in Borneo with youngsters, however they’re probably not required right here – ensure you have first rate strolling sneakers or sturdy trainers although.

The place to remain in Sepilok

We stayed on the beautiful Borneo Sepilok Rainforest Resort for a style of luxurious – these jungle lodges have 4 poster beds with mosquito nets, air conditioning and there’s additionally a small pool close to the restaurant.

Two beds with mosquito nets in our room at Sepilok Rainforest Lodge in Sabah, Malaysia - one of the family-friendly places we stayed at during one week in Borneo with kids

As an added child-friendly bonus, there are western dishes on the menu, in addition to ice lotions – very effectively deserved after a stroll within the humid rainforest!

Day 4 – Sepilok and Kinabatangan

Tempting although it’s to spend one other evening at Borneo Sepilok Rainforest Resort (that is going to be a working theme via many of the journey – we at all times needed longer!), it’s time to maneuver on as soon as extra.

Nonetheless, not earlier than visiting one of many highlights of any journey to Borneo with youngsters – a go to to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre close by.

After an introductory video (in a really welcome air-conditioned room!) and discuss from a consultant of Orangutan Attraction UK to study extra about their work serving to these fantastic nice apes, you possibly can head over to the nursery to see a few of the infants and youthful orangutans taking part in.

Two young orangutans playing on the ropes in their nursery at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, Malaysia - one of the unmissable places to visit during a one week itinerary in Borneo with kids

There’s a technique glass within the room trying on to the nursery space, so the infants can act naturally with out feeling like they’re below commentary and it’s incredible watching them collectively.

The youngest orangutans, lots of whom are orphaned, are teamed up with a barely older buddy who helps train them the abilities they’ll want as an grownup within the wild.

There are ropes and a complete string of kit to swing, chill out and monkey round with, and aside from the orange fur, you would virtually be watching any group of little ones in a playground.

As they become older, they’re moved to areas open to the forest, the place they’ll head out into the wild. Some by no means return, others pop again each few days, whereas some females come again for longer intervals once they’re pregnant.

Meals is put out on the similar instances every single day (10am and 3pm for the adults, half-hour earlier within the out of doors nursery) so you may even see orangutans coming again to take advantage of it. It’s at all times the identical meals, with the intention that the apes will get bored and need to forage for themselves fairly than keep on the centre, however it’s not unusual to see a pair pop again for a simple snack.

We have been fortunate sufficient to see a pair strolling alongside the handrails on the picket walkway, joined by a 3rd one on the feeding platform itself.

Two orangutans walk along the wooden handrail at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre - one of the fantastic sights during our trip to Borneo with kids

Relying in your timings, you possibly can attempt to get there early to beat any crowds – or if, like us, you’ve stayed to look at the infants when a few of the larger teams moved on, dangle across the feeding platform a bit longer and await the numbers to skinny, so you need to get an excellent view.

There’s an opportunity to undertake an orangutan, to help the work the centre does (or to purchase your personal fluffy one to take residence) however earlier than you permit, head throughout the street to the Bornean Solar Bear Conservation Middle.

Dwelling to a different of Borneo’s native wildlife, rescued solar bears – who’ve typically been stored captive for years – are given a brand new residence right here, with the purpose of ultimately reintroducing them again to their pure habitat.

To learn extra about recognizing Borneo wildlife with youngsters, try this publish

Small black Borneo sun bear at the sanctuary in Sepilok - one of the great places to see local wildlife on a one week itinerary in Borneo with kids

There’s data to learn as you discover, as most of the bears shall be hiding within the undergrowth however you may as well spot them prowling round.

Don’t be shocked to see orangutans right here as effectively – there’s nothing to cease the adults swinging via the timber from the centre over the street, and we really noticed a mom and child sitting proper by the walkways.

Try my video of a go to to the Sepilok Orangutan sanctuary with youngsters

However that’s not the final of the wildlife you possibly can count on to see at this time – transfer on to the Kinabatangan River, for a day river cruise, the primary of a sequence of cruises throughout your time right here.

View of the Kinabatangan river early in the morning from a boat cruise - one of the unmissable places to visit in Sabah, Malaysia during a one week itinerary in Borneo with kids

Alongside the banks of the river, you possibly can spot varied completely different macaques, proboscis monkeys, birds galore together with hornbills, in addition to crocodiles and much more orangutans (when you’re very fortunate).

Barely 10 minutes into our first cruise, we have been even fortunate sufficient to see a household of pygmy elephants play combating within the water and wading up the financial institution.

The place to remain by the Kinabatangan River

Keep at Borneo Pure Sukau Bilit Resort, one of many riverside lodges which arranges boat journeys alongside the Kinabatangan river.

The picket lodges have mosquito nets across the beds, some with little balconies overlooking the little lake – there’s air-con too, so that you’re not fully roughing it, though you received’t discover five-star luxurious right here.

Beds with red and gold mosquito nets in our wooden lodge at Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort by Kinabatangan river in Sabah, Malaysia - my one week itinerary for Borneo with kids

All meals are buffet-style with the menu altering every single day – some scrumptious Malaysian dishes, together with vegetarian choices, and there’s often one thing for even the pickiest youngsters.

Day 5 – Kinabatangan

With a full day at Kinabatangan, you possibly can see the river at completely different factors of the day – head out for dawn with the mists over the tranquil river, and the animals simply waking up for the day.

After lunch, one other afternoon cruise exploring one other a part of the river – we headed down a little bit tributary to an oxbow lake, coated in purple lake hyacinths, in addition to recognizing extra wildlife settling down for the evening.

We noticed a number of troops of proboscis monkeys, one along with his harem, one other bachelor group, all with their backs to the river as predators usually tend to method from land at evening.

Elsewhere, we noticed households of macaques taking part in down by the water – chasing one another, somersaulting into the water and customarily having numerous enjoyable.

Then after dinner, an evening cruise, to see a really completely different facet to the Kinabatangan river. Torches illuminate child crocodiles sliding noiselessly into the river, owls within the timber and when you’re fortunate (once more), an opportunity to identify a gradual loris within the timber.

Just like a western tarsier, with its massive eyes and small furry physique, it’s one other shy nocturnal mammal however a tremendous expertise when you do spy one excessive up within the timber.

Try my video of cruising alongside the Kinabatangan River with youngsters

The place to remain

A second evening at Borneo Pure Sukau Bilit Resort, to pack in as many various cruises as you possibly can earlier than it’s important to transfer on as soon as once more.

View from the little balcony of our lodge at Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort by the Kinabatangan river in Sabah, Malaysia - one of the places to stay for families during a one week itinerary in Borneo with kids

Day 6 – Sandakan

There’s time to slot in one closing wildlife expertise on the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, which helps defend one other of Borneo’s distinctive primates.

Whilst you’ll in all probability have noticed some within the timber alongside the Kinabatangan river already, attending to see them shut up is incredible.

Proboscis monkey sitting in a tree at Labuk Bay Sanctuary in Borneo - among the most unusual Borneo wildlife to see with kids

With their enormous noses – which wobble as they eat, and which can be utilized as snorkels once they swim – and their equally massive bellies (within the proboscis monkey world, the larger your nostril and tummy, the higher), they’re oddly endearing.

There are 4 feeding instances all through the day – two at Platform A and two at Platform B, the place we noticed them consuming.

Try my video of a go to to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey sanctuary with youngsters

You’re additionally prone to see silverleaf monkeys – count on a sudden thunder of paws as they race throughout the picket viewing platforms, in addition to recognizing them lined up on the wall close to the bogs!

Relying while you go to, you possibly can typically see their infants. In contrast to the adults, that are largely a silvery gray color, the infants are a vivid orange till they’re round six months outdated.

Grey silverleaf monkey with an orange baby silverleaf monkey at the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary during one week in Borneo with kids

From right here, journey on to Sandakan for some downtime earlier than the tip of your journey – the English Tea Home is a stunning place for lunch, trying down throughout manicured lawns in the direction of the ocean.

Head to the floating village for dinner at one of many seafood eating places.

The place to remain in Sandakan

Sabah resort is an efficient location for each the floating village and the airport the next day, plus just a few mod cons to finish your journey.

There’s a stunning pool, together with a water slide, shallower areas for youthful youngsters and solar loungers.

View down to the pool at Sabah hotel at Sandakan - our final stop of a one week itinerary in Borneo with kids

Day 7 – depart Sandakan

Relying when your flight leaves, there’s a final little bit of time to benefit from the pool and the solar earlier than you end your week in Borneo with youngsters.

You’ll be able to fly direct from Sandakan to Kuala Lumpur for worldwide flights onwards – in case you have an extended switch, I’d advocate reserving a lounge. If you wish to slot in some extra exploring, you would additionally make your means again in the direction of Kota Kinabalu to catch a flight to Kuala Lumpur from there.

Received extra time to spend in Borneo with youngsters?

For those who’ve bought longer than only a seven-day itinerary for Borneo with youngsters, you would additionally embrace a go to to Turtle Island Marine Park from Sandakan – a brief speedboat trip away from the mainland – particularly when you’re travelling between July and October, when the seas are calmest.

There’s swimming and snorkelling to get pleasure from through the day, however it’s the evening time which is the large draw, when inexperienced turtles come ashore to put their eggs on the seashore within the moonlight. You may also see hatchlings being launched into the ocean too. You’ll want to remain in a single day, and lodging is proscribed so be sure that to prebook this effectively prematurely.

For extra inspiration about visiting Southeast Asia with youngsters, try my itinerary for Cambodia and itinerary for Burma (Myanmar)

Disclosure: My journey was organised with Intrepid Journey – I used to be not obligated to jot down this publish, however beloved our one week in Borneo a lot, I needed to share our household journey. All opinions are my very own (and my daughter’s). This publish incorporates affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I could obtain a small fee

Photographs copyright MummyTravels

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