Friday, July 22, 2016

Double-Barrelled Travel: Things to do in Borneo – The perfect one week itinerary


We just returned from a blissful week in Borneo. We weren’t really sure what we expect travelling to the Malaysian part of the region – we didn’t really have many expectations at all – but we were delighted in the things to do in Borneo.

Our days were filled with exploring the rich culture of the rural people, island hopping from one white sandy beach to another, searching for orang-utans in the green and tropical jungle, and trekking up mountains.

Keeping in mind I’m now nearly four months pregnant, we tried not to overdo it and went to bed early most nights, having packed in quite a lot during the days. We also took a week off work and really enjoyed spending some quality time with each other.

Things to do in Borneo

A did map out a rough plan of things to do before we left, and we loosely followed it throughout our week long stay. It turned out to be a really good itinerary, so I thought I’d share our details on things to do in Borneo with those of you wanting to explore this picturesque and idyllic part of south east Asia for yourself.


Day one – Sarawak Cultural Village

We flew into Kuching in the late afternoon, so the rest of the day was simply spent checking in and then relaxing by our hotel’s pool. The next morning, we got up reasonably early and  caught a taxi out to the Sarawak Cultural Village.

We spent roughly two hours exploring the village, where the people from the Sarawak region live when they’re not entertaining tourists. Each hut represented a different area of the region, and explained how those particular people went about their daily lives. Some of the tribes are nomadic, dismantling their huts and moving every few months, whereas others stayed put.

Many of these villagers still hunt with blow guns and practise traditional handicrafts like wood carving. Music and dancing is prevalent too, and at the end of our exploration we watching a 45-minute stage show where performers from different regions showed off their area’s traditional music and dance.

Nearby beach

Although the restaurant on site looked appealing, we crossed the road from the centre and ate at the inexpensive food court next to the beach. We then snuck into the resort’s pool area next door and had a swim before heading back on the shuttle bus.
What you need to know:

Where: Sarawak Cultural Village is about 35km from Kuching, and takes roughly 50 minutes to get there. It’s in a beautiful setting, at the bottom of mountain foothills and close to a beach.

When to go: The village is open from 9am – 5pm every day, with the performances on twice daily, one at 11:30am and the second at 4pm.

Cost: MYR60 per person (AUS$20) which is quite expensive for things to do in Borneo, in my opinion, although I think the show makes it worthwhile.

How to get there: Our taxi cost MYR65 (AUS$22) to get there, and we bargained the driver down a little although we probably could’ve got it cheaper. The shuttle bus on the way back was MYR12 (AUS$4) per person one way and drops you and picks you up from the Grand Margherita Hotel in central Kuching.


Day two – Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, longhouses and hot springs

The next day we decided to hire a car to get around. It frustrated us that there’s no metered taxis in Kuching, and Uber wasn’t available either. Because car rental was cheap, we opted to go for that instead (more details below).

Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

We drove out to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre for our first stop, keen to see orang-utans in the wild. The centre didn’t disappoint. Although the area is a wildlife park, so the apes are free to wander as they please, the keepers feed them twice a day, so they know to come to certain spots at certain times for food.

Because it wasn’t fruit season, meaning there wasn’t that much fruit growing on the trees in the wild, there were quite a few orang-utans about. We saw six altogether, including a mum and her baby, and a huge, 18-year-old male.

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