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Please give input for Singapore, Borneo,Bali itinerary

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Aug 12th, 2016, 09:44 AM
  #1
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Please give input for Singapore, Borneo,Bali itinerary

My husband and I are hoping to travel to Singapore, Borneo and Bali in September 2017. We are interested in seeing Singapore, the orangutans and other wildlife in the Sabah area of Borneo, and then the culture of Bali. We would enjoy snorkeling as well.
My rough draft is this (22 days):
Fly SFO to SIN on United using FF miles
Singapore 4 nights
Fly to Sandakan, Borneo
Borneo 7 nights (including travel day)
Fly to Bali
Bali 7 nights (including travel day)
Fly to Hong Kong (2 nights)
Fly home to SFO
My reason for flying to Hong Kong and leaving from there is to use FF miles for a business ticket home on AA and I could not find a flight from Singapore or KL. We have never been to Hong Kong.
We may just have to fly home from Singapore on a different airline, if that makes more sense.

Should I be concerned about smog from burning in the area in September?
Have I allotted my time correctly?
Thank you for any ideas you can give me.
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Aug 12th, 2016, 10:48 AM
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I was in East Malaysia (Borneo) in September, 2015. I found that the haze (as they call it there) was awful in the south (Sarawak), but not in the north (Sabah). The reason is that the Indonesians are the guilty party--the farmers there are illegally burning their fields, and that region is very close to Sarawak. So, if you just stay in Sabah, you should have no problem. I coughed the whole time in the Sarawak, but not in Sabah.

Hong Kong is fun, but expensive. If you are using a one world mileage ticket via AA, then you can do a free 24 hour stop over in Hong Kong, if you can find a flight on Cathay. You can do it for the outbound, return, or both.
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Aug 12th, 2016, 11:07 AM
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Oh I just reread your post, and I have a comment about the award tickets. Dragon Air is a one world partner also. So you can use them to get to many cities in Asia on the same ticket, from Hong Kong. In fact, I flew last year for the outbound:

LAX - HKG on Cathay, then HKG to BKI on Dragon Air, all on the same award

For the return, I got even more devious, all on the same award:

KCH - KUL on Malaysia Air, then 24 hour stop over in Kuala Lumpar, then KUL - HKG on Cathay, then HKG - LAX on Cathay, ALL on the same award.

You just have to be a bit clever. You can combine one world carriers on the same ticket.
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Aug 12th, 2016, 11:13 AM
  #4
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Thank you CaliforniaLady, that is great advice on the airlines!
I am also glad to know that the smoke did not get as far as Sabah. Did you see wildlife there?
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Aug 12th, 2016, 11:16 AM
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We were in Borneo last year and visted a few places including Sandakan for the Oranganutan rehab centre. Kinabalu park, nice rainforest hikes (even if you don't want to summit the mountain) and the tip of Borneo - beautiful beaches but not a lot else. More info an photos on our blog which may provide some ideas. https://accidentalnomads.com/category/malaysia/

A trip down the Kinbangatan river is also easily arranged from Sandakan.

Other great places in Borneo include Kuching, Mulu NP and the Kelabit highlands. As CaliforniaLady points out, smog could be a big issue and not just in Borneo. A lot depends on the prevailing wind direction as to who suffers the most. We were in Asia most of 2015 and met several people who had come from Singapore and KL, I think in August and said that both those cities were badly affected. Some years are much worse than others.
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Aug 12th, 2016, 11:17 AM
  #6
 
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I flew from Hong Kong to Kota Kinabalu several years ago on Air Asia. I see there are flights from KK to HKG in September, non-stop/3 hours, starting at a promotional rate of about $62 US. Hong Kong is such fun and leaving from there for your flight home is a great idea and very cheap to get to. I would certainly do that rather than returning to Singapore.
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Aug 12th, 2016, 11:21 AM
  #7
 
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Now I see you're going in 2017 so "prices may vary" but Air Asia is always a good deal in my experience. My advice remains the same, fly from KK to HKG for a few days and your flight home. http://www.airasia.com
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Aug 12th, 2016, 11:41 AM
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Let me put in a plus for our favorite lodge in Sabah - The Borneo Rainforest Lodge. We saw lots of wildlife there.

Hong Kong has the most expensive hotels of any city in Asia, so figure that into your budget. If you have hotel points, this is a good place to use them.

I think you will want more time on Bali. Do spend most/all of your time staying in the Ubud area.
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Aug 12th, 2016, 02:07 PM
  #9
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Thank you for all your helpful insight. It may make more sense to go to Bali after Singapore. If we went to Borneo after Bali we could fly to HKG from Kota Kinabalu, assuming Air Asia still has the non-stop flight.
Kathie, to spend more time on Bali, would you take the time from Singapore or Borneo?
Crellston, thanks for the link- I look forward to reading!
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Aug 12th, 2016, 02:31 PM
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My inclination would be to choose either Borneo or Bali with a night or 2 added to HK. I don't think a week in either Bali or Borneo is anywhere near enough. Travel in this part of the world, it has always seemed to me, benefits greatly from a leisurely pace, both have an abundance of places to visit that take extra time, as well as opportunities for some of the best relaxing in the world. Consider saving one for another trip.
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Aug 12th, 2016, 02:55 PM
  #11
 
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MmePerdu, I was just thinking the same thing and came back to post about it. This is one of those itineraries that looks like it works on paper, but I think it would be too busy - not enough time in these marvelous places. I agree that you should consider cutting either Bali or Borneo and devoting more time to the one you choose for this trip. Make the other destination another trip.

When we went to Borneo, we found that everything took longer than anticipated. Just to get to the lodge from where we landed (Lahad Datu) was several hours. Bali and Borneo are both special destinations - give them the time they deserve.

Whichever one you choose, this will be a wonderful trip!
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Aug 12th, 2016, 05:19 PM
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oforParis: Your itinerary seems a bit busy to me as well and I'd personally also only pick either Bali or Borneo with a 22-day itinerary . It's S.E. Asia/Asia where it's good to slow down to really absorb the culture unlike some places where one can go and basically check off a lot of sites to see on a list and move through it all quite quickly and effortlessly.

I do 6 weeks in S.E. Asia/Asia and for this upcoming winter trip have added 5 nights in Hong Kong and recently decided to drop my time in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and thus canceled that hotel reservation and have decided to just fly from Penang straight to Singapore, after 5 nights in Penang. Then, after 3 nights in Singapore, it's on to Hong Kong, before returning to Singapore for 6 nights before flying home to L.A. I decided to drop KL as it was starting to feel too rushed. Plus, I've been there several times. So, my KL friends e-mailed and said that they will drive the 3-3.5 hours to meet me in Penang instead.

My 6-week itinerary consists of Bangkok, Penang, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

So, as for your itinerary, and with 22 days, I personally would try to slow down a bit. Plus flights can be canceled. In January 2016, I had a plane ticket on Malaysia Air from Penang to KL, but decided to have my private driver drive me to KL instead. Well, when I got to KL, I figured that I would, 3 days later, fly to Singapore, but Malaysia Air cancelled my flight. So, I bought a ticket on Singapore Air and then got to the airport, in KL and was issued my boarding pass and went through security, to only find out later that my flight had been cancelled and that Singapore Air decided to combine passengers from two flights onto a later flight. So, I flew to Singapore later. Maybe there weren't enough passengers for my flight. Stuff happens and one might need some extra time/leeway if stuff happens.

Have a great trip.

Happy Travels!
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Aug 12th, 2016, 06:56 PM
  #13
kja
 
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I haven't been to Borneo or Hong Kong yet, but wanted just a bit more time in both Singapore (almost 5 days) and Bali (almost 8 days) than this plan allows. I wrote a trip report on it, so you can see how what I saw and did, and my pace, compare to what you want to see and do and your preferred pace -- just click on my name to find it.

Hope that helps!
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Aug 12th, 2016, 09:37 PM
  #14
 
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It sounds like HK is in your itinerary just for logistical/flight reasons. But...imho HK is far more interesting than Singapore, and I'd reverse the number of days in each. For me, a week in HK would be hardly enough (remember it is far more than just the center--many islands around it) whereas Singapore is, as one of the frequent Fodors Asia board folks puts it, the Disneyland version of Asia
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Aug 12th, 2016, 09:43 PM
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I too think you'll be spending too much time in getting from place to place. Maybe you could just transit through Hong Kong and save a real visit for another trip?

September is a nice time to be in Bali -- generally fine weather and not so crowded. Snorkling in the northwest around Menjangan Island can be quite good.
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Aug 12th, 2016, 09:59 PM
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oforParis "My reason for flying to Hong Kong and leaving from there is to use FF miles for a business ticket home on AA and I could not find a flight from Singapore or KL. We have never been to Hong Kong.
We may just have to fly home from Singapore on a different airline, if that makes more sense."

Although I'll be flying to Hong Kong, from Singapore, I'll be flying back to Singapore before flying home to L.A. from Singapore. But, I'll spend the most of my time Singapore time, as I usually do, at the end of my trip as I find it very relaxing to do so and also since Changi Airport is such an easy and stress free airport to fly in and out of. But, I fly Singapore Air.

Happy Travels!
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Aug 13th, 2016, 07:40 AM
  #17
 
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oforparis, to answer your question about wildlife in Borneo, I did see quite a bit. The Sepilok Orangutan Center in Sandakan is a lovely facility, and you can see the young ones playing in the nursery. As did Crellston, I also went to Sukau for river cruises, and I stayed at the excellent Mennangul B and B. There I saw monkeys, birds, pygmy elephants, and one orangutan. There was a post here awhile back where I described in detail my experience, but I was not the OP on that post.

I also wanted to mention that Malaysia Air is a one world partner, so you could fly from Los Angeles to KL, but the flights go every other day. I have found their business class to be sub par compared to Cathay, but it does give you another alternative.
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Aug 16th, 2016, 04:17 PM
  #18
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Thank you all for your input. I will try to make the flight arrangements next month and that will dictate how much time we actually have in the area (I hope to save Hong Kong for another trip, if possible). I know we are trying to see a lot in a short amount of time, but we probably won't be in the region again. It is a hard choice between Bali and Borneo!
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Aug 16th, 2016, 04:49 PM
  #19
 
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In 22 days you should be able to spend time in both Bali and Borneo, but maybe not Bali + several areas of Borneo + Singapore + Hong Kong. If you forego spending time in Singapore and Hong Kong and limit your Borneo focus to a couple targetted destinations (it's a BIG island), then I don't see why you shouldn't be able to include both Borneo and Bali.
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Aug 17th, 2016, 01:38 PM
  #20
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Thanks marmot, I will probably take a day off of Singapore and add to Borneo or Bali. The plan is for only the Sabah region of Borneo (still a lot of area to cover- I really want to see a Slow Loris!).
Thanks also kja, I printed your report about Singapore and Bali.
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