A place I added to my travel itinerary right at the end, just before I started to make my way home, and without sounding all lovey-dovey and overly dramatic.. it stole my heart. From sleeping in the jungle, to waking up early to spot wild orangutans and lazing on beautiful empty beaches with a cold beer in my hand, it was divine. I am desperate to return to explore more, having only traveled part of the Sabah region for a few short weeks.
Kota Kinabalu // Kudat // Sandakan // Sepilok
With Borneo being split between both Malaysia and Indonesia I thought it best to just give it its own page and guide, and with the area becoming more and more accessible and therefore visited, a separate guide should come in handy!
SO WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT TO SPEND THERE? It is pretty cheap here, not that dissimilar to similar areas found in Indonesia and Malayisa, but there are ways to spend big bucks, such as volunteering programs to work with the vast array of wildlife found here, or by having luxury trips on some of the islands and diving spots.
ACCOMMODATION – I stayed in a variety of hostels here, most were pretty outdoorsy and were what I would expect from this part of the world. One of favorites was Howards place, about 30 minutes north of Kudat, where there is a tab system and lot of opportunities to volunteer, or just laze about and explore the local area. For a nicer deluxe room in Sepilok as I paid 60RM, around £12 (we were kicked out of the cheaper dorm – but after our luxury experience I am not complaining!)
FOOD – the food is lovely here, again what you would expect from this part of the world. Lots of rice dishes, curries and roti for breakfast. Road side street food was pretty cheap, usually around 4RM, with restaurants being slightly more expensive.Sometimes out in Borneo you just have to point at something on the cart and hope you like whatever the hell it is.
GETTING AROUND – taxis are generally pretty cheap, although be warned they do sometimes wait for the taxi/van to be completely full before setting off, so this can sometimes take a while. There are pretty simple local buses you can use for getting from one place to another for pretty cheap costs, I paid 4RM to get from Sandakan to Sepilok (the locals paid 2RM), and then 30RM to get from Sandakan to the airport, so it does depend on your journey. There is also a crazy small plane from Kudat to Sandakan which flies over the jungle which is worth checking out if you are up that way (which you should definatley try to be), Or if you feel confident and safe then you can always try hitchhiking like we did in Sepilok…
WHAT SHALL I DO THERE? – snorkel, dive, just get into that beautiful water! See the Orangutans, whether taking your chances to see them in the wild, which cost me around 420RM for a Kinabatangan jungle/river trip, or in one of the sanctuarys built to prepare them back for the wild. The centre in Sepilok cost 40RM + 10RM for camera fees. You can wander cities, climb mountains, eat until you can’t eat anymore or go island hopping up and down the coast.