How to Plan Your Trip If You Have a Month in Sabah & Sarawak
If you have a month in Sabah & Sarawak, please refer to my suggested itinerary as follow:
** I assume you will arrive in Kuching first & travel all the way up to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah
Kuching City Center Tour (1 day):
You can visit to Sarawak Museum, Islamic Museum, Chinese Museum, Waterfront Park, Main Bazaar for souvenirs shopping, Fort Margherita (taking a small boat from Waterfront park), Satok Weekend Market (available on weekend only), various old Chinese temples around city center, Sarawak Mosque, India Street, wet fish market (at the end of the waterfront park).
Off-Kuching City Center Tour (1 day):
Visit to Cat Museum, Santubung or Buntal fishing village, Damai Beach & Damai Lagoon Resort, Hiking Mount Santubung, Sarawak cultural village, Buntal village seafood restaurant for dinner before heading back to Kuching. They are all in the same vicinity!
Bako National Park (3 days 2 night):
There’s a lot of hiking trail to trek & at the same time enjoy the flora & fauna. You need to hire a boat to transfer you to the park from Bako village. Please also check with the boatman if you can hire him during the night time to bring you on the river cruise to spot wild crocodiles (I can’t guarantee this, because no one have ever done this to my knowledge but just ask if you want to see the crocodiles in the wild! You need the spot light though). During your stay in Bako National Park, you can get the chance to spot plenty of wildlife. Do not sleep too early at night, do some night jungle hiking & you will be overwhelmed by the wildlife that actively hunting for food at night. You can search for beautiful waterfall too during the day time & also trek to the beautiful beaches, but the trail is challenging though. Food there is cheap & delicious!
Annah Rais Longhouse Adventure Program (3 Days 2 Nights):
This is an old & authentic Bidayuh longhouse. You can do a day trip, or join the longhouse adventure & homestay program to experience the the longhouse’s traditional way of living; mixed around with the local & try out all traditional meals & drinks. Google “Annah Rais Longhouse” for more information about the Homestay Program.
Semenggoh Orangutan wildlife centre, Jong’s crocodile farm & Pitcher plant garden (1 day):
After your trip to Annah Rais longhouse, you can follow with visiting Semenggoh Orangutan Wildlife Centre, crocodile farm & also the pitcher plant garden!
Flying Air Asia to Miri & city center tour (1 or 2 days):
Although you can take bus, but flying with Air Asia will save you time & money, since they have promotion from time to time & can be cheaper than taking a bus that will kill your one whole day of time. In Miri, there’s plenty of local attractions & please refer to Sarawak tourism website for more information.
Mulu National Park (3D/2N or 4D/3N):
This is the best National Park in Sarawak (probably the best in the whole of Borneo Island), you can always refer to their official website for more information. By far, I personally think that this is the best National Park in Sarawak, a lot of things you can see & do there, & simply 3 days 2 nights may not be really enough. So if you have more time, the best is 4 days 3 nights. If you need a little luxury in Mulu N.P., you may opt to stay with Royal Mulu Resort.
Kota Kinabalu – City tour (2 days):
There’s basically a lot of thing you can do in Kota Kinabalu. You can visit to water world theme park, The Waterfront (best at night), Cap Kuda Coffee Factory (I personally think that it’s not worth a visit), city mosque, Sabah State Mosque, North Borneo Railway, Handicraft Market (at Jalan Tun Faud Stephens), Gaya Street Sunday Market (Sunday only), Tamu Penampang (Thursday & Friday only), Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre, Monsopiad Cultural Village & State Museum & Heritage Village.
Diving at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (1 days):
The park is within a short boat ride from K.K. city center. Check out with the local dive operators for diving at the park in Kota Kinabalu. Simply spend a day to dive at the park is good enough, because there will be more diving trips when you are at Sipadan or Mabul Island.
White Water Rafting at Padas (1 or 2 days):
Usually you will book the tour from Kota Kinabalu & the tour will start from Kota Kinabalu. If you are not adventurous enough, you may want to skip this one. This is cool, but it may not be very suitable for kid. It can be quite dangerous if the rapid is too extreme at time, but generally it’s still safe!
Wreck Diving at Labuan Island (3 days):
Labuan itself is great place to visit & many things you can do too. However I would suggest that leave all other things behind first & come to that later if you still have more time to spend after your wreck diving at Labuan. There are several shipwreck site that are very suitable for wreck dive, check out the dive trip with the dive operators in Labuan. You can go to Labuan by ferry from Kota Kinabalu.
Kinabalu National Park (2 days or more):
There are few resorts nearby the park & the only resort that right at the park is Sutera Sanctuary Lodge. If you need to climb the mount Kinabalu, please go with tour operator & book them in advanced. You may need to spend more days at the park if you going to climb the mountain. Make sure that you are physically fit, & equip good hiking shoes, thick jacket, hiking rod & etc. After hiking, you can visit to the hotspring nearby called Poring Hotspring. Visit to dairy farm in Kundasng too, try out their fresh milk (really really fresh…).
Sandakan – Sukau – Kinabatangan River Safari (3 or 4 days):
The river safari at Kinabatangan River is the best way to spot plenty of wildlife around, such as buffalo, monkeys, crocodile, giant monitor lizard & etc. You have many options for the type of tour, but I personally recommend you to go with Uncle Tan, they are specialising in organising such trip at lower Kinabatangan river to spot wildlife. Google “uncle tan” for more information.
Lahad Datu – Danum Valley (2 days):
Danum Valley is a place that really worth a visit & I personally think that you must not miss out such as wonderful place in Sabah. You can spot plenty of endangered species there, includes Sumatran Rhino, Benteng Elephant, Clouded Leopard, Bornean Gibbon, Orangutan, Leaf Monkey & etc. The only place to stay in Danum valley is with Borneo Rainforest Lodge, however they can be very expensive if you are a foreigner. If you are Malaysian, please ask them for Malaysian’s rate. The alternate option is to stay at Danum Valley Field Centre. You can try to ask at their office at Lahad Datu for the overnight stay at their camp site at Danum Valley field centre. Well, they are not there to serve tourist, but please ask politely, & you may get a deal of cheap camp site rental, I do not guarantee they will entertain you though, but no harm trying!
Semporna – Diving at Sipadan Island (3 days):
There are various options for you to choose from if you want to dive at Sipadan Island. If you want a luxury dive trip, you can opt to stay with Sipadan Water Village Resort, Sipadan Mabul Resort, Sipadan Kapalai Resort & Borneo Divers Mabul Resort. For budget travelers, you can consider Seaventures & Uncle Chang. Alternately, you can choose to stay at Semporna with Scuba Junkie & join their Sipadan Diving trip daily departure from Semporna. Apart from all resorts listed above, you can also choose to stay with Mataking The Reef Dive Resort. However, Mataking island is quite a distance from Sipadan Island & they will have an extra surcharge if you want to go to Sipadan for diving during your stay with them.
Tawau – Maliau Basin or fly back to Kuala Lumpur:
Maliau Basin, also known to be the lost world of Sabah, with stunning 7 tiers cascading waterfall. Lot of wildlife to be seen too, however, there’s no public transport and not easily accessible. You have to go with the tour operator & only 4×4 will be able to tackle the route. This trip is very expensive, it cost more than a thousand Malaysian Ringgit per person, so is it worth visiting? Well, you decide for yourself!
You can take a flight back to Kuala Lumpur from Tawau with Air Asia. Hope you have a wonderful trip in Borneo then!