An Insider's Borneo

Experience unique travel opportunities and lesser-known gems on our Insider's Borneo holiday, which takes you to a truly remote tribal community and the peak of SE Asia's highest mountain, finishing on a blissful tropical island.

At a glance
  • Visit the excavation site of a 40,000 year old human
  • See cave paintings of ancient spiritual beliefs
  • Fly in a light aircraft to reach a remote tribe
  • Stay in a longhouse-style homestay
  • Trek through the jungle to an ancient village
  • Journey downriver on a wooden boat
  • Witness sunrise atop SE Asia’s highest mountain
  • Relax on tropical Gaya Island
Itinerary
Price & Hotels

Miri - 2 nights

Miri - the second largest city in Sarawak after Kuching - transformed from a sleepy town in the jungle after an oil boom in the 1900s, not to mention the timber boom which followed. The city itself has no inherent attractions for tourists, but it does make an excellent base for exploring the nearby national parks of Mulu, Lambir Hills, and Niah, where archaeologists unearthed a 40,000 year old (give or take) human skull, which is the oldest known evidence of human existence in South-East Asia. You’ll visit the cave where it was found, witness ancient cave paintings, and trek through the rainforest on the lookout for its more lively residents. Your arrival day will be at leisure.

Day 1 - Arrive Miri

Includes:

On arrival in Borneo, you'll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your hotel.

Welcome to Selective Asia! This level of personal service (such as private transfers, private tours etc) is what you can expect throughout your trip. A few services (eg some boat cruises & wildlife experiences) will be shared, but we'll always make sure you're aware of these.

Day 2 - Explore Niah National Park & Caves

Includes:

Head into Niah National Park on a drive through scenery that ranges from palm oil plantations to Iban longhouses. Once you're in the park, set off on foot along a boardwalk through the rainforest, looking for the colourful birds, lizards and unusual insects which make the forest their home. Pause to explore the Great Cave, a vast limestone cavern over a mile long, where the ancient skull was discovered in 1958. Next stop is the smaller but equally significant Painted Cave, where you can see ancient wall paintings which primarily depict a boat journey of the dead into the afterlife. Head back to Park Headquarters for lunch, before the trip back to Miri, where the rest of your day is at leisure.

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Kelabit Highlands - 2 nights

The Kelabit Highlands are ranged around a remote, picturesque mountain valley, home to the extremely hospitable Kelabit tribespeople, who were once head-hunters. You'll get here in a small Twin Otter aircraft, flying relatively low over extensive palm oil plantations, snaking rivers, and jungle-covered mountains dotted with remote villages, and your stay will include trekking through the jungle, visiting highly remote villages, and travelling along the river in a traditional longtail boat.

Day 3 - Fly to the Kelabit Highlands & mingle with the locals

Includes:

Climb aboard your light aircraft for the short flight to Bario, entry point for the Kelabit Highlands, where you'll be met and escorted to Ngimat Ayu House, a longhouse-style homestay and your base for the next few nights. After a warm welcome, you'll be served a home cooked lunch, before setting out to explore the local area. Visit a nearby tribal longhouse for a fascinating insight into life in this remote region, and be prepared to get involved in a spot of traditional dancing and games! Return to Ngimat Ayu House in time for dinner, and a good night's sleep in preparation for your trekking day tomorrow.

Day 4 - Pa' Lungan Trek & Boat

Includes:

Pass along forest-lined footpaths and shaded jungle trails on today's undulating four hour trek. Your destination is the remote village of Pa’ Lungan, where a traditional way of life continues, without cars or roads and with limited electricity. Expect another friendly welcome and a much appreciated home cooked lunch (and a rest!) on arrival, before visiting the community's two ancient megaliths. Head down to Dhapur River to board a wooden longtail boat for the journey downstream to Pa’Umor, a small village which is the main salt producer for the region. The jungle grows down to the riverbanks, so keep your eyes open for wildlife along the way. Your driver will be waiting at Pa’Umor for the short drive back to Ngimat Ayu House in time for a BBQ dinner.

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Kota Kinabalu - 2 nights

Head to the coast and Kota Kinabalu, the regional capital, which has excellent amenities, superb beaches, and National Parks within easy reach.

Day 5 - Prayer Mountain sunrise trek, fly to Kota Kinabalu

Includes:

Brace yourself for a 4am wake-up call - we promise it'll be worth it! After a light breakfast, set out on a pre-dawn hike to the summit of Prayer Mountain. This is a challenging 45-60 minute trek which is steep in places, but you will be rewarded with panoramic views across the rolling hills of the Bario Valley as the sun rises. Don’t forget your camera! Return to your homestay for breakfast, after which it'll be time to bid farewell to your hosts and fly back to Miri, and onwards to Kota Kinabalu. The rest of your day will be at leisure to recover from that early morning!

Day 6 - Discover the countryside by bike

Includes:

Spend the morning cycling around the beautiful countryside outside KK, starting at Kiulu Town. Observe daily life outside the city, riding past paddy fields, banana and rubber plantations, and crossing several suspension bridges. Stop at Kampong Tombung to meet members of the Dansun community (the largest ethnic group in Sabah), before enjoying lunch served at the riverside. Once you've been returned to your hotel, the rest of your day will be at leisure.

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Kinabalu National Park - 2 nights

Head inland to the world-famous Kinabalu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site where you'll find South-East Asia's highest mountain peak. This immense National Park is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife and plants, including 1,000 species of orchid. Its tropical lowlands gradually shift into alpine meadows, and the landscape is dominated by the jagged granite peaks of Mount Kinabalu, which rears up over 13,000 feet. There are many walking trails criss-crossing the park, ranging from gentle strolls to all day treks, and with the pleasant climate and huge array of flora and fauna this is the perfect place to experience the great outdoors. Following the journey from KK, which takes you through a rural landscape dotted with villages before winding through the Crocker Range of mountains, your first day here is at leisure.

Day 7 - Drive to Kinabalu National Park

Includes:

Drive to Kinabalu National Park - a UNESCO World Heritage site. The rest of your day will be at leisure to relax in preparation for tomorrow...

Day 8 - Mount Kinabalu Climb

Includes:

Today you'll trek up Mount Kinabalu with an experienced National Park guide, starting at Timpohon Gate at the base of the mountain and heading up through different vegetation zones as they transition from mossy forest with oak and chestnut trees, all the way through to alpine terrain at over 3,000 metres. The initial climb to Laban Rata will take 4-5 hours, with a packed lunch on the way. You'll stop at Laban Rata Guesthouse, where the rest of your afternoon is at leisure. Your focus should be on acclimatising and relaxing for the climb ahead, but there are a few short trails you can take to enjoy views of the mountain.

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Gaya Island - 3 nights

Gaya Island lies within Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park - 19 square miles of protected ocean just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. The Park's unique coral reefs support a multitude of marine species, and its five tropical islands are home to birds, mammals and reptiles. Along with being the perfect habitat, this warm section of the South China Sea is ideal for snorkelling and island-hopping. Gaya's beaches are amongst the best in Borneo, and the island’s nature trails are a fine opportunity to stretch your legs in the jungle. After a day spent climbing Mount Kinabalu, you’ll You'll get there by boat from Kota Kinabalu, and spend a blissful couple of days at leisure in the lap of tropical luxury.

Day 9 - Summit Mount Kinabalu, boat to Gaya Island

Includes:

The big day! At 2am, you'll rise and commence your climb to the summit of Mount Kinabalu, using the moon and torchlight to help you along the trail. The climb will take around three hours, depending on your fitness and preferred pace, so you should reach the summit in plenty of time to witness sunrise, and uninterrupted views in all directions. After a break to soak it all in, head back down to the guesthouse in time for a very well earned breakfast, before the final descent for lunch and the onward journey by car and shared speedboat to Gaya Island.

Days 10 & 11 - Relax on Gaya Island

Includes:

Your days will be at leisure to explore the underwater world, venture along the nature trails, and simply kick back and relax.

Day 12 - Boat to the mainland, depart Kota Kinabalu

Includes:

Depart by shared speedboat to the mainland where you will be met and driven to the airport.

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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 person 3 - 4 5 - 6
First Class £2,256US$2,956 £2,175US$2,850 £2,169US$2,843

Miri Marriot Resort

Located a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Miri city centre, the Miri Marriot is beautifully set around a superb swimming pool... See more

Homestays

Homestays have been operating in various parts of Asia since travellers started to seek a more authentic travel experience in less-visited regions....

Jesselton Hotel

Located on historic Gaya Street in the heart of Kota Kinabalu, the Jesselton provides an elegant, comfortable and superbly convenient base from which to explore Sabah's state capital... See more

Kinabalu National Park

There are several accommodation options within Kinabalu National Park, all brilliant for clients wishing to explore this fascinating region at the pace it deserves... See more

Gaya Island Resort

Gaya Island Resort is set on the picturesque shores of Pulau Gaya, the largest island in marine conservation... See more
Superior £2,311US$3,028 £2,230US$2,922 £2,223US$2,913

Miri Marriot Resort

Located a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Miri city centre, the Miri Marriot is beautifully set around a superb swimming pool... See more

Homestays

Homestays have been operating in various parts of Asia since travellers started to seek a more authentic travel experience in less-visited regions....

Hyatt Regency

The newly refurbished Hyatt Regency has become a serious player in Kota Kinabalu's hotel market, offering high quality accommodation and facilities in a prime location facing the waterfront... See more

Kinabalu National Park

There are several accommodation options within Kinabalu National Park, all brilliant for clients wishing to explore this fascinating region at the pace it deserves... See more

Gaya Island Resort

Gaya Island Resort is set on the picturesque shores of Pulau Gaya, the largest island in marine conservation... See more
Deluxe £2,487US$3,259 £2,384US$3,124 £2,369US$3,105

Miri Marriot Resort

Located a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Miri city centre, the Miri Marriot is beautifully set around a superb swimming pool... See more

Homestays

Homestays have been operating in various parts of Asia since travellers started to seek a more authentic travel experience in less-visited regions....

Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa

Shangri La Tanjung Aru Resort is absolutely stunning, easily holding its own against its sister property, the Rasa Ria… See more

Kinabalu National Park

There are several accommodation options within Kinabalu National Park, all brilliant for clients wishing to explore this fascinating region at the pace it deserves... See more

Bunga Raya Resort

For anyone who enjoys absolute relaxation as much as underwater adventure, the Bunga Raya Resort is a hidden cluster of luxury private villas, mounted on wooden stilts and terraced up into the wooded hillside. Connected by leafy shaded walkways... See more

Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions

  • Not enough wildlife spotting? Top of the list for many is a night or two in Danum Valley, staying at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. There are some excellent treks in the vicinity, and the lodge boasts its very own rainforest canopy walk. The area has a well deserved reputation for being one of the best places to view Borneo's wildlife.
  • A visit to the famous caves at Mulu can be easily added to this itinerary. The caves are located within Gunung Mulu, Sarawak’s largest National Park and home to a record breaking cave. We recommend spending two days exploring four outstanding caves and rainforest.

  • At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.
    Whilst many clients are happy with of our recommended itineraries in the current form (and at the price quoted), there are those that wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination or even start from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

    The important stuff

    *Please note: During certain activities in Borneo you may share your local guide with other guests of the lodge(s).

    Please note: During high season periods such as Easter, Christmas, July and August, hotels in Borneo levy a surcharge, and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.

    Inclusive:

    • English speaking, local guide
    • All accommodation listed
    • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
    • Any domestic flights listed
    • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
    • All meals listed
    • International flight reconfirmation.

    Exclusive:

    • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights from the UK
    • Entry visas
    • International airport departure taxes
    • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
    • Drinks, other than water on activity days
    • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
    • Travel insurance
    • All other services not listed in 'inclusive'

    Please note

    All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.

     

    Extras

    Flights

    We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.

    Visa

    You may require a visa to enter Borneo. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.

    Passport

    Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.

    Insurance

    You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

    Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

    You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

    Booking Procedure

    Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

    Travelling Responsibly

    We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

    Make it yours!

    Call us on 01273 670 001

    Get in touch

    Martin G – Borneo tailor-made specialist

    'This trip affords the more inquisitive traveller the perfect opportunity to escape the crowds and get under the skin of the REAL Borneo!'

    Martin GBorneo tailor-made specialist

    Speak to Martin G on 01273 670 001

    Make it yours!

    Call us on 01273 670 001

    Get in touch

    Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

    This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

    Your own private guides & drivers

    You'll typically have your own private guides & drivers throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.