Did you know that Borneo is the third biggest island in the world and the biggest island in Asia? Or that the Borneo rainforest is one of the oldest in the world and one of the few remaining natural habitats for the Bornean Orangutans?
I didn’t. All this information was new and exciting to me. And that’s exactly why I love traveling: while traveling you never stop learning and when your journey is complete you are so much richer with all the knowledge and experience you have acquired on the road.
Another important fact about Borneo if you intend on exploring it in depth: it is divided politically among 3 countries: Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, so check these countries’ visa requirements beforehand.
Initially we planned to visit all three countries however our plans have changed and we only had a chance to explore Sabah (Northern part of Malaysian Borneo) and Brunei and that’s what I am going to talk about in the next sections.
Unfortunately we had a very short stay in Sabah, about 12 days. And in those 12 days we squeezed in a short 2-day trip to Brunei.
What did we have time to do in Sabah?
- Kota Kinabalu, our arrival destination. Lonely planet description didn’t impress us with its main attractions and since we were short on time we used it only as a transportation hub.
- Famous Sipadan Island, one of the best dive sites in the world!
- Sepilok Orangutan sanctuary, wonderful place. So recommend it!
- Observing wild life up-close by visiting muddy Kinabatangan River. While it is possible to just book a tour from Sandakan or Kota Kinabalu we did it independently and loved it!
- Sandakan. We used it as a transportation hub again since we didn’t get interested in the sights the city has to offer. We also stayed at the very edge of the city, close to the airport from where we had our flight out to Chiang Mai, Thailand so we didn’t get a chance to see the city at all.
What is still on our to-do list in Borneo?
- Climb Mount Kinabalu, 4095 m (13 435 feet). We considered this hike very seriously however opted to skip due to few reasons. First, the hike is not the easiest one, around 2 days with the last part being very steep and challenging. We thought it would be too much of an effort to do with an 11 moth old baby. Second, we didn’t find any information whether the baby would be allowed. Third, foreigners are required to pay for climb-permit, insurance and a group guide so it is not a cheap hike at all. On top of that the official Mount Kinabalu site reported a break in trail without any further follow-up whether the hike was reopened or not. Considering all these factors we decided not to waste our time and money and come back later in life.
- Poring Hot springs. We love hotsprings and if we were to climb Mount Kinabalu we would definitely stop there after the hike. Located in the Kinabalu National Park, is easily accessible by a minivan that runs from headquarters of the park. Besides the hotsprings there are also walking trails, a tropical garden, a butterfly farm and a 41m-high canopy walkway.
- Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park (TAR National Park). The park comprises 5 wonderful islands and is located at a short distance from Kota Kinabalu. Easily accessible by ferry. The park also offers excellent dive sites. Had to skip it due to our limited stay.
Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Bring your baby abroad: Traveling Borneo with a baby.