12 days on Borneo need itinerary advice

May 29th, 2013, 12:41 PM
  #1  
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12 days on Borneo need itinerary advice

I will soon be obtaining award tickets to visit Borneo for May of 2014. We will fly on Asiana via ICN, and they only fly to KK. We can leave from Kuching by buying a ticket to SIN and flying OZ to Seoul from there. We can spend up to 12 days on the ground in Malaysian Borneo. I need to return via Seoul as I want to stopover there for 2 nights on the way back to the US. Before I get the award tix I want to have set what cities I will use entering and leaving Borneo.

I'm looking for a do-it-yourself itinerary that takes in KK, Sepilok, a Kinabatangan River lodge for 3D2N, snorkeling, and Kuching. I will fly around versus take buses. Visiting Mulu National Park also interests me.

Is this too much to do in 12 days? This will be a first visit to this part of Malaysia. Would adding Mulu be too much? Is trying to fit Sarawak in too much?

I've looked at sample itineraries offered by tour companies but can't find one that is just right. So I'm asking the SE Asian experts here for advice. We are experienced travelers, not afraid to go without a tour, fit and healthy, late 50' early 60's.
susiesan is offline  
May 29th, 2013, 01:27 PM
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I'd say fly into KK and out of Kuching. You'll likely spend most of your time in Sabah, as you plan to stay at a jungle lodge. As you may remember, I'm partial to the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Are you planning to stay at a beach to get in your snorkeling, or are you fine with a day trip from KK? If the day trip is ok, this makes your plan more realistic. I think it may be hard to fit in Mulu, but you can certainly fit it some time in Kuching.
Kathie is offline  
May 29th, 2013, 05:19 PM
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I haven't been to Mulu. It's something I'd like to do, but the area is hard to get to. The Niah caves, which are about 2 hours outside of Miri, are more easily accessible and worth a visit.
marmot is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 08:35 AM
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Snorkeling as a day trip from KK at the National Park is what I was planning. I don't think we have time to go stay at one of the island resorts.I know you are partial to the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, but it is just sooo expensive. The river lodges are less money and you still get to see wildlife.

Once I decide on which eco lodge to stay at, should I book in advance or wait until I get to KK and go to a local travel agent there?

I did plan to fly into KK and out of Kuching, but we may still have to fly back to KK to catch the OZ flight to Seoul. A lot will depend on the award tix I'm able to get.

Are the Niah caves worth a flight to Miri, overnight stay, and another flight onward? Is there anything else near Miri that might make it worthwhile to spend 2 nights there?
susiesan is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 08:55 AM
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Book your eco lodge ahead of time, as they run pretty full. You wouldn't want to get to KK and find that the lodges you were interested in are full.
Kathie is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 02:57 PM
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The Niah caves were worth it to us because we're interested in caves. At the time getting to Mulu was even more inconvenient, though I believe it may be more convenient now. I can't compare Mulu to Niah but my understanding is that Mulu is larger.

From the dropping off point, it's about 2 mile walk along a plankwalk to the caves through lovely rain forest, with lots of wildlife. We didn't spend the night at the park near the caves but wish we had. At sunset you can watch thousands (millions?) of swiftlets and bats changing position.

I wouldn't recommend Miri as a destination in itself.
marmot is offline  
Jun 1st, 2013, 04:32 AM
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We visited Mulu about 15 years ago after climbing Mt Kinabalu. Getting there involved a flight in a MAS light plane to the airstrip near the Mulu lodge. We go delayed coming back out again because of the rain ( grass strip). Our activities there included a hike of a couple of mile to the caves at dusk (unfortunately the bats did not want to come out that night!). We also kayaked on around the rivers there and did a couple of short jungle treks. We had planned to climb Gunung Mulu ( aka, the pinnacles) but after Kinabalu, or legs weren't up to it!
Personally, with just 12 days, don't think it is worth the trip.

The snorkelling and diving around KK is not bad at all were were staying at the Shangri La who organised a trips to nearby islands. Otherwise, have you thought about an ascent of Kinabalu? It is tiring but does not involve any technical climbing and just needs an overnight stay at a refuge on the mountain.
crellston is offline  
Jun 1st, 2013, 04:53 AM
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We were in Mulu 2 months ago, flying from KK to Miri, then a further flight to Mulu. The caves are large & well worth a visit if you are into caves. As noted by another poster, there is a 2-3 kilometre board walk into the caves, which is not at all difficult. There is also a marvellous tree top canopy walk in the park, which I enjoyed more than the caves. A word on accommodation- we stayed at the Royal Mulu Lodge/Resort. This property is under renovation & likely to remain so for some time. Be wary of any info suggesting that the property will be finished in the near future. The property is OK if you are really interested in the caves, canopy walk & kayaking- otherwise IMHO there are better ways to spend 2-3 days in Borneo.
trotsky is offline  
Jun 1st, 2013, 06:44 AM
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crellston: I don't think we're interested in climbing Mt. Kinabalu. We're not into mountain climbing/hiking.

So what is Bako National Park outside of Kuching like? Is it worth a visit if we are in that area? Is it easily accessible as a day trip?
susiesan is offline  
Jun 1st, 2013, 02:53 PM
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We enjoyed Bako National Park. The trails were well maintained and we saw lots of wildlife -- monkeys, lizards, snakes and for me most wonderfully hornbills in flight. Our guide said it was the first time that he hadn't seen proboscis monkeys, though.
marmot is offline  
Jun 9th, 2013, 11:41 AM
  #11  
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Which is the best airline for the flights within Borneo? There's MH, AirAsia, and MAS Wings.

I hear horrible things about AirAsia-they are always late or cancel flights, you have to pay extra for baggage that eats up any savings of their cheap fares. Are they that unreliable?

Does anyone know of any sort of airpass that would encompass multiple flights within Borneo Malaysia? MH used to have one if you arrived on an int'l flight, but we will arrive on Asiana.

I'm trying to figure out the best routing to take with an arrival into KK at 1:00am and a departure from either Kuching or KK.
susiesan is offline  
Jun 9th, 2013, 12:04 PM
  #12  
 
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Air Asia had problems when they first started. I haven't heard complaints about them recently in regard to flight cancellations or unreliability. They do have a low baggage allowance, and charge extra for that and for advance seating, etc. Sometimes the full-service airline is cheaper. You'll have to run the numbers. We flew Malaysian Air. I don't know of an airpass for this, but we found the prices to be very reasonable.

If you plan to go to Kuching (and I recommend that you do), it makes more sense to fly out of Kuching than to fly to Kuching, then back to KK for your flight home.
Kathie is offline  
Jun 10th, 2013, 08:25 AM
  #13  
 
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AirAsia had problems years ago, but by now they are very reliable and efficient. Always on time. There is something to pay to be allowed to carry 20kg, but it's not much. There is no airpass, but flights are cheap.

Regarding your itinerary:
- Easy to spend a lot of time in Sarawak, because there is so much to see. You could spend a week or more in the Kuching area alone and not run out of things. Therefore you need to prioritise and decide what to see and do. Here is an overview of what Sarawak has to offer:
http://www.molon.de/galleries/Malaysia/Sarawak/

- Regarding the orang utans, instead of Sepilok you could visit Semenggoh near Kuching, because it is more easily accessible.

- Near Sandakan there is Labuk bay, a good place where to see proboscis monkeys:
http://www.molon.de/galleries/Malaysia/Sabah/Labuk/

- Last time I visited the Kinabatangan river area I stayed in a guesthouse in Sukau, paying RM 40/night for a room with fan. Advance booking wasn't necessary. You might check my travelogue for details:
http://www.molon.de/travelogues/Mala...art4.html#2312
More fancy accomodation is available, but this room was adequate. The guesthouse organised boat trips on the river for RM 80 (to be shared among those on the boat).

- You can do the snorkelling near KK or, much better, on the islands off Semporna:
http://www.molon.de/galleries/Malaysia/Sabah/Islands/
Stay in Semporna and do daytrips by boat (RM 100-120 per person) to the islands.
The boat trip to the islands near KK is cheaper, but the snorkelling is better near Semporna.

- The Mulu NP is one of the highlights of Sarawak, not to be missed. Niah is nice, but is just one cave and I would leave it out.

Consider the following itinerary:

Arrival in KK
Option to do snorkelling in KK
Flight KK-Sandakan
Labuk bay and possibly Sepilok as a daytrip from KK, taxi to Sukau (Kinabatangan river) in the evening
Kinabatangan river
Option to drive to Semporna by bus + snorkelling around Semporna, then fly from Tawau to KK
Alternatively fly back to KK, then fly to Mulu via Miri
Mulu NP
Fly to Kuching
Kuching and surroundings
amln is offline  
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