Family travel in Borneo

We decided to add in 2 weeks stopover in Borneo, but I wish we’d had longer.  We were travelling back towards Nepal and India and it was a great diversion before hitting the mountains.  We had a very busy schedule in Borneo so I thought I’d share where we went during our family travel in Borneo. 

Deciding to visit Borneo

Our boys were very excited about this element of our adventure. It was one of their ‘must-see’ destinations. They were keen to see the wildlife and the impacts the palm oil plantations were having on the environment.

As well as the wildlife, Borneo has so many activities for all the family, such as snorkeling, diving, hiking, island hopping, river cruises and rainforests. It’s an outdoor adventure experience so picking the drier season has its benefits.

Sabah region

As we only had 2 weeks, we opted to visit Sabah for the sealife and wildlife! Maybe next time we will visit Sarawak. Here are the places we visited in Sabah:

Kota Kinabalu

Our first stop was Kota Kinabalu.  The city was a great starting point and we immediately warmed to it. We hadn’t realised before arriving that almost everyone spoke English!

The area is part of the commonwealth and as such makes it an easier place to explore, especially after China!

This is a good base for activities around the area.  We had 5 days here and it was a good amount of time.  We had the best time when we went snorkelling in the nearby Islands.

There a fantastic nightly food market near the waterfront. Next door to that, we found indoor clothes and souvenir stalls are in a building that’s similar to a warren! It’s very squished! But you can get anything and everything here!

If you are lucky enough to be in KK on a Sunday then there’s a huge and very busy morning market.  Great place to come and grab a bargain! 

For more information about what we did during our 5 days in KK, click here.


This is where the Orangutan and sun bear sanctuaries are based. Another half an hour away is the probiscis monkey sanctuary too.  We stopped for 2 nights and 1 day which was enough time. It was fabulous to see the orangutans and see the rehabilitation work!

I’ll post a blog shortly about where we stayed and our 7 hour journey across Sabah.

Kinabatagan River area

A 2 hour drive from sepilok, this is the best place to see the local wildlife.  We were looking forward to exploring the rainforest and finding the probiscis monkeys and pygmy elephants! Weren’t disappointed!  You didn’t have to look too hard.

Unfortunately the rainforest had been reduced over the years due to Palm oil plantations. The results of this is that animal habitats (especially orangutans) have been destroyed, meaning a decline in the population.  This is something the boys are aware of and passionate about!

Therefore, we booked to stay with an eco homestay to be involved in conservation with while we were there. I’ll post about what we got up to in my next blog post.

Eating out

How refreshing to be able to read the menus after China! Our main staple items were:

  • Rotis – these are similar to a pancake but there is an option to add items, such as onion or egg etc.. we also tried a roti tisu which was most impressive as a tall volcano and drizzled in honey!
  • Roti cobra – this is a roti as a base with rice and served with a spicy sauce and an egg on top. Very filling meal, but can be on the spicy side.
  • Nasi goreng – a fried rice dish and includes anchovies (which I’m not a fan of!)
  • Murtabak – this is a very filling dish, which looks a little like a fried pie, which is kinda is. It’s 2 rotis with a filling of your choice. I had a minced chicken dish. I could only get through half though as it was very heavy and quite oily!
  • Dosa – a delicious rice package served with a lentil daal and samba (spicy sauce).  If you see a menu item masala dosa, it will come with mild spicy potatoes.. yummy! It’s a popular Southern Indian dish.

Travelling around

There are plenty of bus journeys, although the roads are not in the best conditions and the trip up across to Sepilok/Sandakan from KK is quite windy on the mountain section.


Borneo was very easy to travel around.  There are lots of tours and activities for families, with our favourite being the snorkelling off Sapi Island.  There are plenty more areas to explore and this is definitely a place we will return to.

Read my other blogs to find out a little more detail about what we got up to.

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