Backpacking on Borneo, Malaysia

A travel suggestion for those who have a limited budget but still want to experience Borneo’s highlights, such as orangutans, jungle trekking through lush rainforest, and sun holidays on a tropical island.

Experience Sabah backpackerstyle. You visit the famous Sepilok rehabilitation center for orangutans. Further on a river safari along the Kinabatangan River and to the Danum Valley with lots of wonderful nature experiences. The adventure ends with a few days of relaxation on the beautiful tropical island of Sepanggar Island.

Day 1: Departure from Scandinavia

Your backpacking adventure – whether you travel as a backpacker or glam packer – begins today with a flight to Kota Kinabalu. There are usually two stopovers on the way, depending on which airline you are traveling with.

Day 2: Arrival in Kota Kinabalu

You will be picked up at the airport and driven to your hostel located in central Kota Kinabalu. The rest of the day is spent on your own, so you can unpack and rest.

Day 3: Kota Kinabalu on your own

You can relax and explore the city today. If you want to go on an excursion, we recommend that you book a day trip to Coral Island, where you can relax, swim and enjoy snorkeling in the crystal clear water. ( F )

Day 4: Transfer to Sepilok

Today you will take the bus to Sandakan and from here on to your lodge in Sepilok’s jungle. (Transportation to the bus station in Kota Kinabalu and from Sandakan to Sepilok is at your own expense.) The afternoon is spent on your own, so you can rent a bike, stroll around, or just relax. ( F )

Day 5: Kinabatangan River

You can spend the morning at the Sepilok Orangutan Center, located a few kilometers from your hostel. Take part in the admirable project, which is about rehabilitating the monkeys. Footbridges have been built so that you can see the orangutans in their natural environment. In the middle of the day, transfer to your lodge in Kinabatangan departs. Upon arrival, a cruise awaits on the river, among exciting birds and wildlife. You are back at your lodge just before dusk, when dinner is served. In the evening, a jungle hike is arranged, so you can see nocturnal animals, birds and insects. ( F , M )

Day 6: Cruise on the Kinabatangan River

The day begins early with a morning cruise on the Kinabatangan River, where you can keep an eye out for exciting animals and birds. Once back in your lodge, breakfast is served and then a jungle walk awaits along with a professional guide. You have the chance to see different kinds of monkeys and can see a glimpse of Borneo’s dwarf elephants. After lunch, an extra trip on the river is arranged. ( F , L , M )

Day 7: Transfer to Danum Valley

Wake up to the sound of gibbon monkeys and the song of the rhinoceros birds. At 06.00 it is time for the morning cruise and you can see even more animals. Back in your lodge, have a good breakfast before heading to the Danum Valley. You are welcomed by a representative from the Danum Valley Field Center (DVFC), which is basically a research center, but where you also receive visitors. After you have been accommodated and eaten lunch, you should meet your guide and plan your days here. In the afternoon, there is a walk in the rainforest that is completely buzzing with life. Maybe you get to see a rhinoceros bird or an orangutan that lives in the area. Back at the center, dinner is served before you go on a night hike with your guide. ( F , L , M )

Day 8: Danum Valley

You need to get up early so that you and your guide can experience when the jungle awakens, from the lookout platforms in the trees. If you prefer to see the sunrise during a trip in a car with four-wheel drive, this can also be arranged in advance (you are responsible for the payment). When you get back to the center, it’s time for breakfast and maybe a walk in the local area, or it’s appropriate with a little relaxation. After lunch, take a dip in the Ulu Segama River, before going on a hike that you plan with your guide. You will return in the late afternoon and enjoy a beautiful sunset. After dinner, it is possible to go on a night hike with a guide. ( F , L , M )

Day 9: Danum Valley

You spend a whole day exploring the area with your guide. Go up to the lookout points in the trees and keep an eye out for gibbon monkeys and orangutans. Depending on your physical condition, a longer hike is also offered, but it is up to the local guide to judge. After dinner there is again the opportunity to go on an evening hike. Accommodation at DVFC in dormitory rooms. ( F , L , M )

Day 10: Transfer to Lahad Datu and flight to Kota Kinabalu

After an early morning walk, breakfast is served and you can finish packing before it’s time to check out and drive to the airport. You fly to Kota Kinabalu where you spend the night. ( F )

Day 11-13: Sepanggar Island

You go by boat to Sepanggar Island and can enjoy the next few days on the beach next to the sea. Relax on the wonderful island with white beaches, turquoise waters and snorkeling among the reefs. You can also rent a kayak or go fishing. Two guided snorkeling trips are included. ( F , L , M )

Day 14: Transfer to the airport

The trip ends today with a transfer to the airport and a flight back to Scandinavia. ( F )

Day 15: Arrival in Scandinavia

Overnight stays

Two nights in Kota Kinabalu in a hostel
One night in a hostel in Sepilok in a dormitory room
Two nights in a lodge on the river Kinabatangan n
Three nights in a hostel in Danum Valley
One night in a hostel in Kota Kinabalu
Two nights in a cottage on Sepanggar Island

Backpacking on Borneo