In just five days, you can experience Malaysian Borneo's highlights on wildlife tours and island trips. Take a boat ride along the Kinabatangan River deep into the rainforest to witness orangutans, proboscis monkeys, and other wildlife in their natural habitat. After a few nature tours with naturalist guides, you'll transfer to Lankayan Island to enjoy white-sand beaches and snorkeling trips to coral reefs.


  • Go on safari cruises along Borneo's rivers
  • See orangutans, proboscis monkeys, and other wildlife
  • Relax on beaches and snorkel the reefs at Lankayan

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Sandakan, Boat Trip to River Lodge Kinabatangan
Day 2 Kinabatangan River Cruise & Forest Walk Kinabatangan
Day 3 Transfer to Lankayan Island, Optional Activities Lankayan Island
Day 4 Morning Snorkel Tour, Free Afternoon on Lankayan Lankayan Island
Day 5 Return to Sandakan, Orangutan Conservation Tour, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Sandakan, Boat Trip to River Lodge

Take a boat tour and spot local wildlife, like proboscis monkeys

Welcome to Malaysia! Your destination is Borneo, the world's third-largest island, shared by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. Borneo boasts a rich colonial history and cultural diversity, but this five-day adventure focuses on its other highlights: wildlife and offshore islands. You'll arrive in Sandakan, a city on Borneo's northeast coast in East Malaysia. A driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the port on the Kinabatangan River. There, board a boat for the two-hour ride deep into the rainforest and the Sukau Rainforest Lodge, where you'll spend the next two nights. 

This eco-friendly retreat sits on the river and offers immersive wildlife experiences and nature activities. In fact, after settling in, you can head right back out on an afternoon river cruise to spot the region's famous primate residents, like orangutans and proboscis monkeys. Later in the evening, back at the lodge, you'll enjoy a scrumptious dinner amid river views, followed by a slide presentation by a local naturalist showcasing the various other animals in the area.

Day 2: Kinabatangan River Cruise & Forest Walk

See hornbills and other colorful birds in the jungles around the Kinabatangan River

Get ready for a full-day wildlife experience to discover the rich biodiversity and famous animal species that have inhabited Borneo for millennia. In the morning, hop in a boat and join a naturalist guide for a river cruise to spot the region's fantastic menagerie of exotic wildlife.

Keep an eye toward the tree line, where you'll spot orangutans and proboscis monkeys swinging from branch to branch. On the river's edge, you'll see crocodiles—part of a long line of ancient reptiles—sunning themselves on the banks. A bonus is seeing exotic birds flitting about, like hornbills, kingfishers, and barbets.

Back on land, you'll venture into the rainforest on a network of wooden boardwalks. As you hike, your naturalist guide will impart knowledge about the lives and social behavior of the forest's orangutans. Later, when the day turns into evening, embark on another enchanting river cruise to marvel at the wonders of Borneo's wildlife as the sun sets over the forest. Back at the lodge, you'll enjoy dinner and have the evening free to relax.

Day 3: Transfer to Lankayan Island, Optional Activities

Welcome to Lankayan, an island paradise in the Sulu Sea

This morning you'll trade the rainforest for tropical isles as you leave the ecolodge on a boat ride back up Kinabatangan River to Sandakan. There, you'll transfer by vehicle to a jetty and board a speedboat for a thrilling two-hour ride north across the azure waters of the Sulu Sea to Lankayan. This remote tropical paradise covers just one square kilometer and is fringed by powdery white-sand beaches fronting turquoise and crystalline waters.

Upon arrival, check into your cozy overwater bungalow at the Lankayan's sole resort and spend the rest of the day on island time, relaxing as you see fit. If you like, head out on a brisk hike—you can walk around the entire island in a mere 20-30 minutes. Or, do some sunbathing and/or swimming before enjoying dinner back at the resort.

Plan your trip to Malaysia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 4: Morning Snorkel Tour, Free Afternoon on Lankayan

Discover exotic marine life around Lankayan's flourishing coral reefs
Besides its unspoiled beaches and crystal-clear waters, Lankayan is famous for the healthy coral reefs fringing its shores. And what better way to experience this exotic underwater world than on a snorkeling tour? In the morning, you'll snorkel through some of the best reef locales around Lankayan on a one-hour excursion to spot exotic marine life like sea turtles, rays, eels, and tropical fish. After the tour, you'll return to the resort, where a delicious lunch awaits, and you'll have the rest of the day free. If you like, spend the afternoon enjoying more water activities, like kayaking and paddleboarding.

Day 5: Return to Sandakan, Orangutan Conservation Tour, Depart

Departure from Lankayan Island to Sandakan Airport (With Sepilok & Sunbear Visit)
Witness rescued orangutans in their natural environment at a conservation center

It's time for the return journey home—but the adventure isn't over yet. After breakfast, you'll hop in a speedboat for the two-hour ride south from Lankayan to Sandakan. Once there, you'll hop in a car and transfer a few miles west of the city to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

The last wildlife adventure begins with a video detailing the plight of orangutans in Borneo and their rehabilitation efforts. Then, along with a guide, head out on a 10-minute hike across boardwalks in the rainforest, arriving at an orangutan community in time to witness a feeding. Afterward, you'll visit the nursery to see young primates at play before finishing up at a conservation center to learn about the Bornean sun bear. Growing to just under 5 feet (1.5 m), these are the world's smallest bears.

At that point, it will be time for lunch at a nearby café, after which you'll transfer to the airport in time to catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Wildlife & Islands of Borneo - 5 Days
Map of Wildlife & Islands of Borneo - 5 Days