Help with Philippine Islands and Borneo

Oct 14th, 2018, 11:08 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 159
Help with Philippine Islands and Borneo

Hi - My spouse and I would like to visit a couple of the islands of Philippines next year (Palawan or Boracay or combo) and was hoping to visit Borneo to see the Orangutans and other wildlife. Would like recommendations on both. I have done some preliminary research and it looks like a good place to see the amazing creatures is out of Sandakan. I am not seeing an easy way to do this or am I missing something? Where and who do you fly to get from point to point? We will be coming from the USA so just suggestions on where to fly into and out of and between the two is helpful.

Any good books that help with research on these destinations?

Thank you
ccarlson is offline  
Oct 14th, 2018, 12:21 PM
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I can't advise you on the Philippines, but I have been to Borneo. You need to decide if you want to see orangutans in the wild or if you will be satisfied with seeing them in a "rehab center" (in captivity).

Getting from the PI to Borneo is not easy. Your goal is to fly into Lahad Datu In Sabah, Borneo. To catch a flight to Lahad Datu, you will need to get to Kota Kinabalu. There are a number of routings that will work, flying via Kuala Lumpur or Singapore are the two easiest. Still it will take at least full day from the PI to Sandakan. If you want to see orangutans in the wild, I highly recommend the Danum Valley, staying at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Typically, the place you stay will arrange transport for you to/from the airport. At a minimum, I'd plan to stay three nights in the area where you will see orangutans, as that gives you two full days.

BTW, there are lovely beaches on the Island of Borneo both close to Kota Kinabalu and close to Kuching. Given how complicated it is to get from the PI to Borneo, you might want to reconsider where to have your beach time. There are a great many lovely beaches closer to Borneo, including along both coasts of peninsular Malaysia.

Lonely Planet has a good guide the covers Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 14th, 2018, 07:07 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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I would agree with Kathie that getting from either Boracay or Palawan to Lahad Datu would be a logistical nightmare. Even though Palawan is geographically quite close to Sabah, flying from Puerto Princesa to Sandakan (for example) would involve a good deal of backtracking to airport hubs plus overland travel to your final destinations.

You might want to pick one or the other as your first priority, then choose your second destination based on travel realities.

I've been to both Boracay and Palawan and greatly enjoyed my time there, but it was decades ago and both have been extensively developed since then. I don't know if you're aware that Boracay was closed down to tourism for 6 months for "environmental rehabilitation" due to the deteriorated condition of its beaches and communities. It reopened today in fact, so it remains to be seen how effective the overhaul was.

If seeing orangutans is your top priority, then I'd suggest you narrow in on what's attracting you to the Philippines -- e.g., beaches, diving, natural beauty -- and look for alternatives that are more accessible to Sabah. In addition to other parts of Malaysia, you might look at sites in Indonesia. The time of year that you're traveling will also impact your choice.
marmot is offline  
Nov 12th, 2018, 07:59 PM
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Thank you. I have found a compromise. There is a cruise that we can take on Windstar that does the Philippines, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu (both in port from 8a - 10p). Optimally, I would like to spend more time in both but I will take what I can get! What do you recommend? I know there is a lot more to see than just the Orangutangs like monkeys, birds, etc. I really would like to see them in the wild? I am not fond of taking the cruise excursions and can hire a private guide or another company to take me and my spouse. Given that we only have 1 day in each of those locations we want to make the most of both. FYI...The ship comes into Sim Kheng Hong port in Kuching. Also, the cruise is in January. It looks like the Danum Valley is two hours away?
ccarlson is offline  
Nov 13th, 2018, 09:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I doubt you will get to se orangutans in such a brief cruise stopover.

The Danum Valley is an hour's flight and a 4 hour jeep ride away from Kota Kinabalu. You might want to rethink your plans.
Kathie is offline  
Nov 14th, 2018, 05:07 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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There is an orangutan sanctuary at Semenggoh Nature Reserve close to Kuching ( about 30-50 mins from the city centre in a taxi as I recall) . That would be your only option on a day trip.

Kuching itself is a fascinating city so it would be worth spending some of the short t8me you have exploring there. I am sure if you google tours of the city you will likely find some that will incorporate a city and Semenggoh tour and pick you up from the ship.

Kota Kinabalu is not quite so attractive. But there are sights to see. Probably more about getting out to the offshore islands. If you like hiking a trip out to Mount Kinabalu NP is worth considering. There are some wonderful hikes around the base of the mountain which take a couple of hours. It is a two hour drive each way though so would make for a longish day.

Some photos and details of our time in Kuching and KK can be found in our blog @
crellston is offline  
Dec 30th, 2018, 03:54 PM
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 4
From the USA, fly to Manila. Take a hop over flight to Iloilo on Panay Island. Make your way to Aklan Port on the northern shore of Panay Island. Take boat to Boracay. We have been there twice, prior to the renovations, and it was nice and had lots of choices to choose from. Enjoy!

Note: Per my wife (filipina from Iloilo) be sure to reserve a hotel on Boracay prior to leaving. This is required now. since the renovations have been done.
illusiondweller62 is offline  
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