May 6th, 2002, 12:53 PM
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Help - we are planning a trip to Borneo and Panang Island with SmarTours. Has anyone ever taken this trip. Would the weather be better in October vs November. Am concerned about the rainy season. We are stopping in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Kuching. Am wondering about the hotels, cost of independent meals. Any information appreciated.
Nov 24th, 2004, 06:43 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 20
I was wondering if you ever took the trip to Borneo and Panang with Smartours. My husband and I are thinking of taking the same one next year. Any information would be helpful.
ivygirl is offline  
Dec 27th, 2004, 11:08 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 147
Just returned from smarTours South American Odyssey and I, too, am considering their Borneo tour for next year.
JudySue is offline  
Jan 5th, 2006, 05:41 PM
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Posts: 350
jkgourmet is offline  
Jan 5th, 2006, 06:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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jkgourmet, are you considering going to Borneo? If so, read my Borneo Tip Report. Unless you love your groups, there is no reason to take a tour - very easy to arrange yourself.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 6th, 2006, 11:04 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 350
Yes, and thank you for the report - it's a lovely thing to read. One of the reasons for considering Smartours / friendly planet is the savings on airfare.
jkgourmet is offline  
Jan 6th, 2006, 12:32 PM
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Gail, read my trip report, click on my name and scroll down (a lot) to Malaysia Trip Report (I think that's what I named it). I sort of fashioned my trip on the SmarTours trip, but made some changes to the itinerary. the main thing is that SmarTours goes to Batang Ai, which we did as well, and we hated it. I think you will do better on your own.

I first got the idea to go to Borneo because I kept getting SmarTours brochures for it. I'm not sure why as I've never taken one of their trips. It looked interesting so I got some guidebooks and did some research and decided to do it on our own. We stayed in better hotels and we spent less money than we would have taking the tour. I just wish we would have skipped Batang Ai. The guidebooks all raved about it but we found it to be a bore.
laurieco is offline  
Jan 6th, 2006, 12:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,044
Actually, that shouldn't have been addressed to Gail, I see her post is several years old. But my advice still applies to anyone thinking of using SmarTours.
laurieco is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 04:32 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 350
How did you manage to keep your airfare from US to Malaysia down below what Smartours arranges?

Thanks, again.
jkgourmet is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 04:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,044
jkgourmet, the airfare wasn't cheap, we paid $926 per person but that wasn't bad considering I was first seeing prices of $4000+! I used Orbitz for the air. the hotels were very inexpensive though, even though we stayed at the Mandarin Oriental in KL (club floor and worth it), Hilton Kuching (again the club floor) and in Sandakan, we were at the Sabah, which was very inexpensive, and the Hilton Batang Ai you can get for about $25 per night. We had a suite which was $55. I would really caution you not to go to Batang Ai however. Malaysia is a very inexpensive contry to travel in. We flew between cities and the domestic airfare is also cheap.
laurieco is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 04:42 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,044
I forgot to mention that in Penang, we stayed at the E&O, a beautiful hotel that was only about $115 per night for a suite and balcony. Breakfast was included everywhere and food is very reasonable.
laurieco is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 08:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,631
Perhaps I'm too cynical about tour companies, but often they quote low airfares but their land prices are so high, that if you compare the whole package you'll end up paying far less independently than you would through the tour company.
Kathie is offline  
Mar 17th, 2006, 04:09 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 72
For some of us who are traveling entirely alone, tour companies are ideal. I particularly like Smartours because of the very low single supplement and the fact that it gives you a lot of free time as well. For single travelers, tour companies are ways for them to make connections and perhaps make some lasting friendships. I have on several occasions, traveled with friends I met while we were alone on other tours.(Not to mention the possibility of a romantic connection, albeit rare. See another post by me alluding to this experience.)
braidsL is offline  

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