This 14-day journey takes you deep into the heart of Malaysian Borneo. You will learn about some of the indigenous cultures that have inhabited the island for centuries, immersing in their traditions with local homestays. Simultaneously, you'll have a chance to get close to nature with jungle camp stays, excursions into national parks, and wildlife-watching safaris. In the end, you'll leave with an understanding of what makes Borneo—the third largest island in the entire world—so incredibly unique.

Highlights

  • Stay with a local family at a traditional Bidayuh Longhouse
  • See the process of making sago using centuries-old techniques
  • Walk into the belly of Deer Cave, one of the largest caves in the world
  • Learn how tap trees for rubber in Kiulu
  • Support orangutan conservation at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival to Kuching Kuching
Day 2 Bidayuh Homestay Kampung Sadir
Day 3 Bidayuh Cultural Exchange Kampung Sadir
Day 4 Melanau Cultural Village Mukah
Day 5 Boat Tour & Melanau Craft Workshop Mukah
Day 6 Flight to Miri Miri
Day 7 Miri to Gunung Mulu National Park Mulu
Day 8 Melinau River & Caving Adventure Mulu
Day 9 Mulu to Kiulu Kiulu
Day 10 Kiulu Exploration Day Kiulu
Day 11 Kiulu to Kinabatangan River Pekan Kota Kinabatangan
Day 12 River & Jungle Safari Pekan Kota Kinabatangan
Day 13 Kirabatangan to Sepilok Sandakan
Day 14 Depart from Sandakan  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival to Kuching

View of Kuching Waterfront
View of Kuching Waterfront

Welcome to Kuching! A representative will be waiting to greet you and help you transfer to your accommodation in the city center.

Spend the rest of the day resting or exploring on your own. As the capital and largest city of Sarawak State, Kuching is an exciting city. For a first evening, there is nothing better than taking a stroll along the Waterfront. You'll be able to see many of the city's landmarks, including its beautiful Floating Mosque. You can also dive straight into the local cuisine and try delicious foods like Sarawak Laksa and Kolo Mee.

Day 2: Bidayuh Homestay

Traditional Bidayuh Longhouse
Traditional Bidayuh Longhouse

Begin the morning with a visit to the Semenggoh Orangutan Centre. Observe these great apes—the only ones in Asia—as they swing down from the treetops to feast on fruit during feeding time. Native to Borneo and Sumatra, orangutans are one of Malaysian Borneo's most important species, so it is a great privilege to see them in person!

After the orangutan centre, you'll proceed to Kampung Sadir, where you will check in at a Bidayuh homestay. Your hosts will prepare a traditional Bidayuh lunch with ingredients that are grown locally or sourced from the jungle.

After lunch, you'll visit a Bidayuh Longhouse, where the community will welcome a cultural exchange, teaching you the significance of bamboo in their lifestyle. You will also get to see the school and the mat weaver's house. Locals welcome respectful and thoughtful questions from guests. 

Once back at the lodge, you can rest until diner, and then decide if you would like to join a night walk in search of fireflies and other nocturnal creatures.

Day 3: Bidayuh Cultural Exchange

Wooden hornbill on top of a traditional Bidayuh house
Wooden hornbill on top of a traditional Bidayuh house

Spend the whole day together with your host family. This is an opportunity to learn about the every day life of the Bidayuh people.

You can help the family out in their farm, and learn how to cook the traditional Bidayuh way. You can also do some treks around the village, taking in your surroundings.

Day 4: Melanau Cultural Village

Melanau Tall House
Melanau Tall House

After breakfast, you will head back to Kuching to catch a short flight to Mukah.

Upon arrival, you will head to a nearby Melanau cultural village, where you will learn about the history and customs of this indigenous community.

Your accommodation will be in a traditional Melanau Tall House, constructed with original materials that have been used by the community for centuries. Your meals will also include only traditional ingredients. Take time to walk around the village, learn about the culture, and interact with the locals, who are usually happy to share their heritage with the world.

Day 5: Boat Tour & Melanau Craft Workshop

Sago is still made with traditional tools such as these
Sago is still made with traditional tools such as these

Wake up to a traditional Melanau breakfast before doing a boat tour through the Sungai Misan stream.

You will stop at a traditional sago baking house, where you can taste this local staple and learn more about how it's made. This starch is quite important to Malay culture, and many indigenous communities continue making it with traditional tools and techniques.

You'll also visit an ancient burial pole—a place of utmost significance.

Return to the guest house for some delicious lunch, and then spend the afternoon taking part in a local craft demonstration. This is your chance to learn from the Melanau people themselves, who often hold workshops to keep their traditions alive.

In the evening, you can relax on the veranda and enjoy the sunset.

Day 6: Flight to Miri

The Grand Old Lady was the city's first oil rig well
The Grand Old Lady was the city's first oil rig well

Spend the morning learning more about the Melanau people at Sapan Puloh, the local heritage museum.

After lunch at the guesthouse, you'll head to the Mukah Airport to catch a flight to the northwest city of Miri. Upon arrival, you'll be taken to your accommodation. The rest of the day is free to spend at your leisure. If you want to explore some of the city, head to Pasar Raya Market for delicious local fare and handicrafts. You can also go see the Grand Old Lady—a vestige of the region's oil history, and one of the city's most important landmarks. 

Day 7: Miri to Gunung Mulu National Park

Limestone pinnacles at Gunung Mulu National Park
Limestone pinnacles at Gunung Mulu National Park

After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport to take a short flight to Mulu. Check in at your accommodation and rest before meeting back up with the group. You'll start a hike through the thick and ancient forest on your way to Gunung Mulu National Park. Full of natural beauty, the park is famous for its towering limestone pinnacles and deep bat caves. 

You'll be visiting the famous Deer Cave, one of the largest caves in the world! The cave received its name because deer used it as shelter during storms or for the night. Walk through the immense cave and learn about the unique ecology that lies within. Stop by the incredible Garden of Eden, a patch where a hole in the cave wall lets in direct sunlight, allowing for vegetation to flourish.

After you come out, you'll head over to neighboring Lang Cave. Albeit smaller, this cave is also well-worth seeing and is full of interesting animals and insects.

Once you exit the caves, you can relax at the Bat Observatory. If the weather permits, you'll experience the evening exodus of millions of bats in search of their evening grub. Return along the pathway—guided by torchlight—back to your accommodation.

Day 8: Melinau River & Caving Adventure

The Melinau River
The Melinau River

This exciting day starts right after breakfast, as you hop aboard a longboat that lies waiting in the Melinau River.

Make your way up the river, enjoying the fluvial landscape. Along the way, you'll visit the Penang Longhouse of Batu Bangan. Learn about the history and culture of this tribe, which was nomadic until fairly recently.

After the visit, you'll continue up the rapids towards the entrance of a cave. In the company of your guide, you'll explore the cave system from your longboat, getting deep within places you could never see on foot. 

Once you've exited the caves, you'll have time to enjoy a refreshing swim in the river and a picnic lunch on the riverbank. Then, you'll head back to your accommodation in Mulu via longboat.

Day 9: Mulu to Kiulu

You'll find beautiful nature in your walk around the farmstay
You'll find beautiful nature in your walk around the farmstay

Enjoy a free morning in Mulu before boarding a flight to Kota Kinabalu. Upon arrival, you'll travel by road for about an hour through the countryside of Sabah state. On the way, you'll make a short stop at the Tamparuli Suspension Bridge, as well as the local market. Finally, you'll arrive at a farm stay in Kiulu.

Take advantage of your time here to try your hand at some cultural activities like rice planting. You'll also get the chance to learn how to tap rubber from trees.

After lunch, walk around the village with your guide, who will teach you about the local way of life. During the walk, you will have stunning views of the surrounding valley, with its lush paddy fields and hanging bridges. If the weather is good, you can cool down by taking a dip in the river.

In the evening, you'll share dinner with your hosts.

Day 10: Kiulu Exploration Day

Take the day to learn about life in Kiulu
Take the day to learn about life in Kiulu

Today, you'll spend the whole day learning about your hosts' culture by participating in various activities. You can learn traditional games, do craft workshops, and/or explore the village surroundings. It's also possible go with a guide to the local school, where children are always curious to see foreigners. Throughout your walk, you'll learn about the products that the local tribesmen produce here.

If weather permits, you can swim and play in the nearby river. If you feel like you need some rest, take the day off to relax at the farm stay.

Day 11: Kiulu to Kinabatangan River

Search for wildlife on a river safari
Search for wildlife on a river safari

It is time to go east towards the Kinabatangan River. The journey by car will take a few hours, but you get to sit back and take in the beautiful views. 

On arrival at the Bukit Garam Jetty on the Kinabatangan, you'll switch to a boat that will take you to your jungle lodge. After checking-in, you'll get to enjoy an afternoon river or Oxbow Lake cruise. During the boat safari, your guide will explain more about the delicate ecosystem of the Kinabatangan. Be on the lookout for crocodiles!

Dinner will be served at the lodge, featuring local, sustainably-sourced cuisine. Then, you can go on a night cruise to search for nocturnal creatures and fireflies.

Day 12: River & Jungle Safari

Elephants are some of the species that can be found around the Kinabatangan
Elephants are some of the species that can be found around the Kinabatangan

Rise and shine for an early morning cruise on the Kinabatangan River or Oxbow Lake. Dawn is the ideal time to spot birds, as this is when they are the busiest.

You'll have a local, sustainably-sourced breakfast before beginning a jungle trek to observe unique insects and wildlife. Your local guide will highlight plants and how the communities of the Kinabatangan River have used them for centuries.

In the afternoon, you'll go on another river cruise in search of wildlife, followed by an evening walk around the property.

Day 13: Kirabatangan to Sepilok

You can see orangutans at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
You can see orangutans at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

It is time to say goodbye to your gracious hosts. You'll take a boat back to the jetty, and then travel by land to Sepilok.

You'll arrive at your accommodation in the early afternoon. After checking in, you are free to spend the day at your leisure. We highly recommend visiting the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, which is only a few minutes’ walk from your accommodation. The center is one of the most renowned in the area for their conservation work. It is a great opportunity to see the great apes and support rehabilitation efforts.

Day 14: Depart from Sandakan

Sandakan waterfront
Sandakan waterfront

It is time to say goodbye to Malaysian Borneo. A representative will accompany you to the airport and help you with check-in procedures. We hope you had an amazing time in Borneo!

Map

Map of Culture & Nature in Malaysian Borneo: From Kuching to Sandakan - 14 Days
Map of Culture & Nature in Malaysian Borneo: From Kuching to Sandakan - 14 Days