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Borneo Tour Itineraries » 21 Day Borneo Tour

21 Day Tour - The Sultanates of Borneo

Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah

Tour Code: BTS 21

This tour takes you on a 21 day journey through three of the four regions making up the island of Borneo - Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah, all of which originally comprised the Sultanate of Brunei.

The Sultanate of Brunei, during its golden age from the 15th century to the 17th century, ruled a large part of northern Borneo. In 1703 (some sources indicate 1658), the Sultanate of Sulu (founded in 1457) received North Borneo from the Sultan of Brunei, after Sulu sent aid against a rebellion in Brunei. Subsequently HM Sultan Jamalul Ahlam Kiram (1863–1881), the 29th reigning Sultan of Sulu, leased North Borneo in 1878, to Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent, representing the British North Borneo Company in what is now the Malaysian state of Sabah. The company also exerted control on inland territories that were inhabited by numerous tribes. In the 19th century, coastal areas ruled by the Sultanate in the west of the island, were gradually taken by the dynasty of James Brooke. The Brooke dynasty ruled Sarawak for a hundred years and became famous as the "White Rajahs".

The North Borneo Federation, also known as Kalimantan Utara or North Kalimantan was a proposed political entity which would have comprised the British Colonies of Sarawak, British North Borneo (Sabah) and the protectorate of Brunei. The proposed federation was originally proposed by A. M. Azahari and was particularly favoured by the Brunei People's Party, which he led. This was seen as an alternative to joining the Federation of Malaysia, which was seen as an unnatural and unfavourable union by some. Before the Brunei People’s Party electoral success, a military wing had emerged, the North Kalimantan National Army (Malay abbreviation TNKU, Tentera Nasional Kalimantan Utara), which saw itself as an anti-colonialist liberation party. After the Brunei Revolt, the idea was put to rest. Currently, there still remain groups of people who favour the creation of such an independent state and desire separation from the rest of Malaysia (Source - Wikipedia)

This tour works best with departures on Thursday, Friday, Sunday or Monday. Thursday and Sunday departures will have a slightly varied itinerary in Kota Kinabalu (same tours, different order)

Day 1

Take your flight to South-East Asia and on to Kuching in magical, mystical Borneo. Kuching, the capital of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak, can be accessed by flights from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and other towns and cities in Borneo. Flights to Kuching from Kuala Lumpur arrive throughout the day.

You will be met at the airport and transferred to the Pullman Kuching which lies on the crest of a hill, close to the Sarawak River in the middle of the town - depending on arrival time, have the remainder of the day at leisure or get some rest.

Kuching City and Sarawak River

Day 2

Morning tour of the sights of Kuching City - purported to be the cleanest city in Malaysia. Discover the charms of the city, as well as spending some time uncovering the past and pondering the future at the world famous Sarawak Museum, completed in 1891, which is definitely one of the best museums in the whole of South-East Asia. In the city centre, see buildings dating back to the time of the white Rajahs, ancient Chinese temples and colourful markets displaying the produce which first brought the traders to Borneo. At the conclusion of the tour, you will return to the hotel. Afternoon at your leisure to look for local handicrafts and artefacts in the traders' street known as Main Bazaar near the Sarawak River waterfront.

Overnight at the Pullman Kuching [Breakfast included]

Day 3

View of Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort

Travel by coach to Batang Ai in the South-East of Sarawak. You will pass through paddy fields, pepper gardens, oil palm plantation estates and small villages, arriving at the Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort in the early afternoon. There will be a stop for lunch en route.

Spend the remainder of the afternoon at your leisure absorbing your surroundings. Be sure not to miss the sunset over the lake while staying at Batang Ai. [Breakfast included]


Day 4

Guiding the Longboat through the rapids Guiding the Longboat through the rapids
Take a full day trip up the Ai River to the Batang Ai National Park. You will be taken by long boat from the resort in the morning to the Ai River, then up the rapids to Batang Ai National Park, where you will spend some time hiking through the park looking for wildlife. If time permits, you might be able to stop at local native longhouse. Enjoy your lunch on the river bank. After lunch, enjoy a bit of the atmosphere in the longhouse, taking the opportunity to observe the day to day life of the villagers. You will also be offered locally made handicrafts to buy. Return to Batang Ai Resort in the late afternoon. [Breakfast and Lunch included]


Day 5

Batang Ai Canopy Walkway Batang Ai Canopy Walkway

Spend the morning at leisure around the resort. There is an interesting rainforest trail you can walk - see the front desk for directions, and also a canopy walkway. Return to Kuching by coach in the early afternoon, arriving at Pullman Kuching about 18.00 hrs. [Breakfast included]


Day 6

Morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Miri and connect with a flight to Mulu National Park where Mulu Caves is situated. You will be met on arrival and transferred to Mulu Marriott Resort and Spa.

Note that depending on your day of travel, we might be able to take advantage of the direct flight from Kuching to Mulu. You will be advised at time of booking.

Gunung Mulu is the jewel in the crown of Sarawak's national parks network. The park contains the largest limestone cave system in the world. The park is now a recognised World Heritage listed area.

Mulu Caves

Mulu's system of caves is truly spectacular and justifiably famous. The world's largest natural chamber (Sarawak Chamber), the world's largest cave passage (Deer Cave) and the longest cave in South-East Asia (Clearwater Cave) are all found at Mulu.

Tour the Deer and Lang's Caves and canopy walkway on your first afternoon and evening in Mulu National Park.

The canopy walkway must be booked in advance and spaces are limited. It is possible that places for the various afternoon tours will be full at the time of booking. We will arrange your canopy walkway tour for the following afternoon, or even on the morning of the third day. You will have plenty of opportunity to include the tour at some time during your stay.

[Breakfast and dinner included]


Day 7

Mulu Rainforest

Morning tour the Wind and Clearwater Caves and enjoy a picnic lunch and perhaps a swim in the mountain stream. The remainder of the afternoon can be spent at your leisure. There is plenty to see and do above ground, without having to venture into the caves.

The park contains 15 different types of forest - including mixed dipterocarp, heath, peat swamp, moss forest and montane vegetation - and thousands of species of ferns, fungi, mosses and flowering plants, including 170 species of wild orchid and 10 species of pitcher plant. Mulu's wildlife is as rich as its flora, and is inhabited by an impressive variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects and other invertebrates. Spend the night at Mulu Resort and Spa [Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included]


Day 8

Early afternoon flight to the oil town of Miri (depending on flight schedules, which differ from day to day, this could possibly happen in the morning).

You will be met on arrival and transferred to the Miri Marriott Resort and Spa. After checking in, spend the remainder of the afternoon at leisure - Relax by the pool (the hotel boasts the largest swimming pool in Sarawak), or do a bit of exploring in the town on your own. [Breakfast included]

Day 9

The Grand Old Lady on Canada Hill
The Grand Old Lady on Canada Hill
A morning tour of the town. Visit the native market. As you walk among the stalls, you will be introduced to a variety of edible plants from the jungle displayed at this colourful market. A few streets further towards the city centre, discover the fish market and the Chinese Temple.

Continue to Canada Hill, a limestone ridge overlooking Miri town. There, pay a respectful visit to the "Grand Old Lady", which is the first oil well which was spudded by Shell far back in August 1910. Driving down to the seashore, share the secrets of success of the industrialists of Miri, as your guide points out at their magnificent villas.

You will be then change vehicles, and transfer overland to Bandar Seri Begawan - the capital of Brunei. The trip takes about 2 1/2 hrs from Miri, including the border crossing. (Note that it may be necessary for some nationalities to obtain visas to enter Brunei prior to starting arriving in Borneo. Please ask us for advice).

In Brunei, you will overnight at the opulent Empire Hotel and Country Club - currently the only 6 star hotel in the whole of Borneo. Arrive there in the late afternoon. (Breakfast included)

View of Empire Hotel Main Atrium and Saltwater Pool
View of the main atrium and pool



Day 10

Today you will be taken on a full day tour to Brunei's most famous National Park at Ulu Temburong.

Your journey begins with an exciting river cruise from Bandar Seri Begawan to Bangar. Beginning the River Cruise takes you on the Brunei River passing through the famous Water Village known as the “Venice of the East” by the early Europeans who visited the region. The ferry cuts through dense Mangrove Forest and Nipah Palm.

You will be met by a local guide at Bangar Jetty and transfered overland to Sumbiling Eco Village for Morning Tea. Sumbiling Eco Village is an Eco tourism project where local community of Temburong is involved, especially those from Kampong Sumbiling Lama and Batang Duri. It is situated by a calm, beautiful bank of Temburong River, surrounded by rainforest and local exotic fruit trees. Facilities available are traditional Iban huts, a jungle herbs trail, camp site, modern clean toilets and changing rooms.

Embark on a local Iban open motorized sampan called “Temuai” for an adventure boat ride to Ulu Temburong National Park. At the Park, register and join a guided jungle walk on timber boardwalks, with more than 1200 steps to the Canopy Walkway. Along the way, please make plenty of stops to enjoy the environment. Be sure to drink lot of water to hydrate yourself. Before you know it, you will have already reached the base of the Canopy Walkway. Climb about 300 steps to the top of the tower for a birds eye view of the Rainforest canopy.

When you finish drinking in the scenery, retreat to Sumbiling Eco Village for lunch. Relax or take a dip by the Temburong River (subject to river condition). Nearing the end of your Eco-adventure, travel overland back to Bangar town, where a ferry will be waiting to bring you on an exciting river cruise back to Bandar Seri Begawan with fond memories of Temburong.

Note: It is advisable to bring a change of clothes, and to wear comfortable walking shoes

Enjoy a Steamboat dinner beside the Brunei River. Bring your own wine, beer etc. if you would like something alcoholic with your meal.

Return to the Empire Hotel and Country Club for the night. [includes breakfast, lunch, bottled water, afternoon tea and dinner]


Day 11

Today you will be taken on a full day tour of the sights which the capital of Brunei has to offer. This tour will introduce you to the nation, its history and the significant cultural, leadership and religious influences.

The tour is designed to give interested visitors an insight into the unique, intriguing and remarkable qualities that give Brunei its national character, and also make living here so different to Brunei's adjoining neighbours of Sabah and Sarawak.

Brunei is a country without equal. A small nation governed by the longest serving family monarchy in the world and financially secure with its oil and gas resources. This independence helps guarantee lifestyle choices and a benevolent provision of public services, education and housing.

With Malay traditions, Islamic religion and an international perspective, Brunei is a unique cultural blend aptly named the Abode of Peace.

Despite a rapid launch into modern technologies and consumer-based commerce, Brunei has chosen to preserve many of its traditional practices in daily lifestyles.

Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
Visit the Brunei Museum, with its impressive Bornean collection and the local Malay martial culture and the Islamic influence.

Call in at the impressive Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, an Islamic architectural gem (closed all day Thursday and until 16.30 hrs Friday), as well as the Palaces of both the current and previous Sultans.

The Royal Regalia Centre, housing the royal ceremonial costumes gives an insight to the wealth of this oil rich and ancient sultanate.

Lunch is included at a local restaurant, and a visit to the Tamu (market) and the water village, where more than thirty thousand people live on their ancestral sites.

This water village has all the modern amenities, including schools, clinics, police station and a fire brigade. See the variety of housing styles and the busy water taxi activity as people return home from work and school.

You will be served afternoon tea with local cakes at a house in the water village.

Sultan's Palace Sultan's Palace


Late afternoon transfer to the airport for your flight to Kota Kinabalu. You will be met at KK airport and transferred to Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort. Check in at hotel. Remainder of day at leisure.

Day 12


 
Local Tamu near the base of Mt. Kinabalu

A full day trip to Kinabalu National Park and Poring Hot Springs. Enjoy the vista of the jungle covered mountains and valleys as you proceed up to the base of South-East Asia's highest mountain - you will be driven on the two hour trip across padi fields and Dusun villages over the ridges of the Crocker Range to the foothills of South-East Asia's highest mountain Mt Kinabalu at 1500 metres (Mt Kinabalu is 4098 m high) to the Park Headquarters at Kundusang, and on to Poring Springs where you will be able to take a "canopy walk" through the canopy of a rainforest. If time permits, you may be able to enjoy a soak in one of the hot baths built by the Japanese around the Sulphur Pools. Return to Kinabalu National Park, enjoy a guided walk through the botanical gardens, home to some of the 26 species of flowering rhododendrons, 9 species of carnivorous pitcher plants, 1000 species of orchids, ferns, 40 species of oak trees and over 300 species of birds.

Return to Tanjung Aru Resort in KK for the night. [Breakfast and Lunch included]

Day 13

North Borneo Railway
A day trip back into time. The trip departs from Tanjung Aru and travels to Papar. A stops will be made along the way to visit an old Chinese Temple at Kinarut.

The trip continues to Papar where you will also have the opportunity to explore the town - the local markets are within easy walking distance of the station.

Morning tea (or late breakfast) is served soon after departure from Kota Kinabalu, and a Tiffin lunch is served as the train departs Papar station for the return journey.

Arrive back in KK shortly before 14.00 hrs. where you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

The Vulcan Steam Locomotive The Vulcan Steam Locomotive


Day 14

Full day trip to the Rafflesia Centre. Pick up from hotel and drive overland across the ridges of the Crocker Range to Tambunan Rafflesia Centre to search for the largest flower in the world. Visit the exhibition hall before proceeding on a nature trek in search of Rafflesia buds on the forest floor. Enjoy the cool mountain air and the natural surroundings of the lowland montane forest before returning to Kota Kinabalu.

Return to Tanjung Aru Resort in the late afternoon

Day 15

Transfer to the airport for your morning flight to Sandakan. After checking into your chalet at Sepilok Nature Resort and perhaps having a bite to eat, you will be taken on a tour of the City which was the capital of North Borneo until the Second World War.

Australian War Memorial - POW Camp Australian War Memorial - POW Camp
Sandakan was also the starting point for the Australian Death March to Ranau towards the end of the War in which only 6 men out of a total of 2400 survived. (Refer to Australians in Borneo During WW II for further information).

In the evening, you will be taken on a tour along the trails in the adjoining Sepilok Forest, in search of nocturnal animals and listen to the Jungle Orchestra. [Breakfast and Dinner included]


Day 16

Sepilok Orang-utan Centre
Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre

Firstly, visit the renown Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre for for an audio visual presentation in the theatrette. Then walk ten minutes through the rainforest on timber boardwalks to witness the feeding of the orang-utans at 10.00hrs. You will have plenty of time to watch the orang-utans until they disappear back into the jungle.


Male Proboscis Monkey Male Proboscis Monkey

Depart Sepilok Orang-utan Centre and proceed to Sandakan, where you will have lunch, then transfer to Sandakan jetty for a 2 hour boat trip to Sukau Rainforest Lodge, along Sabah's longest river, the Kinabatangan River, with opportunity to view birds and wildlife in virgin mangrove, wetland and rainforest habitats.

Check into the lodge on arrival. In the late afternoon, you will be taken on a jungle river tour along a tributary of the Kinabatangan River to see the Proboscis Monkeys readying themselves for the night. If you are lucky, you may even see a herd of elephant, together with a whole range of other animals - including wild orang-utans, and birds.

Return to the Lodge for a solar hot water shower, candle light dinner and a slide show presented by a naturalist. [Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included]

Sukau Rainforest Lodge underwent extensive renovations and rebuilding to upgrade all its facilities in 2010. There are no longer any of the old rooms left. The new Sukau Rainforest Lodge offers guests added facilities which will enhance their jungle experience.

The lodge is currently in the midst of some extension works (December 2016). The works include the construction of a new restaurant/jetty adjacent to our existing restaurant/jetty and also the expansion of the kitchen. The lodge continues to operate normally as the existing restaurant and kitchen are not affected by the work.

Any noise and visual disruption to guests will be kept to a bare minimum wherever possible. It is hoped that the works will be completed by the end of March 2017.

New Accommodation at Sukau Rainforest Lodge - day room New Accommodation at Sukau Rainforest Lodge - day room
New Accommodation at Sukau Rainforest Lodge New Accommodation at Sukau Rainforest Lodge


Day 17

Elephants on the river bank near Sukau Elephants on the river bank near Sukau

Wake up to the calls of gibbons and hornbills. Head off at 06.00hrs for a river cruise up the Kinabatangan River to view more birds and wildlife. Proceed to the Kelenanap ox-bow lake for a short jungle walk (if weather permits). The area is known for its herd of Asian elephants.

Experience the wilderness of Borneo.


Sunset on the Kinabatagan

In the afternoon, proceed on another river cruise in search of more wildlife. Wild Orang-utan are often encountered on this cruise preparing their nests in trees for the night.

Return to Sukau Rainforest Lodge for dinner. After dinner, an optional (at a surcharge) night safari cruise spotting nocturnal animals, crocodiles and birds. [Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included]


Day 18

The Rear of Simud Hitam Cave The Rear of Simud Hitam Cave
Leave Sukau Rainforest Lodge and drive to Lahad Datu. Proceed 27 km overland to Gomantong Caves. Trek 20 minutes through the rainforest to the cave entrance. Your guide will brief you on the cave fauna, including bats, swiftlets and crabs among others creatures, and their contribution to maintaining a balanced ecology and the significance of the caves to the local economy. When in season, witness the collecting of birds' nests by the local people using bamboo ladders and poles. (the nests are made from the saliva of swifts which inhabit the caves, and are the main ingredient in the famous Chinese delicacy - birds nest soup)

Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant in Lahad Datu, before transferring to Borneo Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Conservation Area. The Sultan of Brunei and the King and Queen of Sweden have been recent visitors to Borneo Rainforest Lodge. [Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included]


Day 19

Early Morning at Lookout Point
Early Morning at
Lookout Point

Spend a full day in and around Borneo Rainforest Lodge with local guides who will be able to show you, and explain to you, everything of interest.

Activities of interest include:

  • visit an ancient Dusun burial site complete with belian coffins and ceramic spirit jars - visit the jacuzzi pool on the way down - quite safe for swimming and also leech free. Burial caves have a special place in the myths and legends of the Orang Sungai in Borneo. They believe in the combining powerful spirits of hills and water. In Danum Valley, three burial sites have been discovered, two near the Field Centre and one below the cliff overlooking Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

  • Canopy Walkway at
    Borneo Rainforest Lodge
    Canopy Walkway at Borneo Rainforest Lodge
  • undertake nature walks with experienced naturalists through undisturbed riverine and lowland dipterocarp forest;

  • use the 170 metre long canopy walkway to experience the abundance of bird life in the canopy of the forest;

  • take a night drive in an open jeep in search of wildlife;

  • visit beautiful waterfalls and rivers including Sungai Purut 7-tiered pools which is one of the spectacular waterfalls and pools found in Danum Valley Conservation Area. It is situated on the way to Gunung Danum. This waterfall is about 20 m in height with 7-tiered pools. It takes about 4 hours of jungle trekking from the Field Centre to reach the pool. Visitors can either choose to camp overnight or do a day trip

  • enjoy evening wildlife video and slide presentations by naturalists;

  • take in a jungle wildlife trek along the escarpment with panoramic views over a wild orang-utan habitat;

  • Take a Dip in the Jacuzzi Rock Pool Take a Dip in the Jacuzzi Rock Pool
  • take advantage of the opportunity for extensive wildlife photography.

Overnight at the lodge. [Breakfast, Dinner and Lunch included]


Day 20

Enjoy a morning trek in search of mammals and birds. Return to the Lodge for lunch. Shortly after lunch, you will be driven to Lahad Datu where you will take the afternoon flight back to Kota Kinabalu. You will be met on arrival at the airport and transferred to Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort. [Breakfast, and Lunch included]

Day 21

View to Gaya Island from Signal Hill View to Gaya Island from 
							                           Signal Hill


A morning tour of the sights of Kota Kinabalu. Take in the highlights of the the thriving city of Kota Kinabalu which is now the capital of Sabah.

The tour of the city includes the main city area as well as the Sembulan Water villages in the vicinity of the City. Tour highlights include a trip to the Signal Hill lookout for a picturesque view of the city, off-shore islands and surrounding areas, Kampung Likas, Likas Bay and the Tun Mustapha Tower (former Sabah Foundation Building), Po Toh Tze Buddhist Temple, the Sabah Museum, the State Mosque, and Tanjung Aru Beach and hawker stalls. [Breakfast included]

Note that late check out is not included at your hotel, however, if your flight is much later in the day, we can arrange a late check out for you. Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort provides a special "check out" area where you can freshen up prior to your departure.

Transfer to the airport for your departure flight to your next destination. [Breakfast included]

Prices:

Tour CodeItineraryDurationInclusionsJoining Point1 person2 people3 people
BTS21The Sultanates of Borneo21 days/20 nightsTransfers, Accommodation, internal flights, meals indicatedKuching$10,075 $6,220 $5,860
Prices per person in Australian Dollars and valid 01 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 (E.O.E.) Refer to General Booking Conditions
Accommodation is based on hotels, resorts and lodges indicated in itinerary.

Tour prices based on twin share or triple share (in the case of three people). Single supplement will apply if separate rooms are required.

High Season Rates apply to some accommodation during March, Easter, July/August, September and October, Christmas/New Year and Chinese New Year - please contact us for details. photographs on this page are courtesy of Phil Youdale, Penny Favilla, Albert Teo (Proboscis Monkey and New rooms at Sukau Rainforest Lodge), Empire Hotel and Allan Riches (Brunei), nlpri (Aberdeen, Scotland) (BRL - Lookout Point).