Borneo Average prices and general advice - Lay them down here!

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Borneo Average prices and general advice - Lay them down here!

Avatar for Rollingcrock
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Good evening gapyear world! I trust you are all well. I’m smashing.

My girlfriend and i are doing some research into a 5/6 week trip to Borneo and after looking at countless forums, websites, active and inactive threads, it is safe to say that my head is truly pickled.

Lots of great information but i’m looking for a solid thread of average prices for tours and day trips and some awesome tips and information.

Basically - it would be nice to have everything in one place instead of bookmarking 101 pages.

What should i be paying to see Orangutans in the wild?

I hear great things about ‘Uncle Tan’s jungle camp. Worth the trip?

How much for a beer?

How much should i be looking to spend for a cabin for the two of us?

You get the drift folks.

Don’t be shy!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy travels and all the best.

Darren.

     
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Yep your right, Uncle Tans was amazing! Really well organised, spending a couple of nights in a jungle camp and activities include going out on a boat to look for orangutans - we saw three when we went! Also get to see the probiscus monkey too! If I remember this was all good value, cant remember exact cost!

There is cheap accomodation, though my advise would be to look on say hostel world or hostel bookers and book accomodation if you’re arriving in kota kinabalu as we just rocked up and nearly all the places were fully booked (this was august) so had to spend first night in a hotel.

If you are going to Mt Kinabalu I recommend Mountain Lodge - does what you need for the price - compared to the more pricey accomodation arranged at the park headquaters. It is a bit of a walk (20min) to the mountain itself, but saves you a fortune and the guy who owns it will let you leave your large rucksack in your room for free whilst you climb the mountain!

Transport - found this very cheap and efficient - was not expecting much but there is a proper bus system to take you to places (and these are coaches!).

If you want to dive at sipidan booking in advance on internet is a must - cant remember the company we used, theres many on the internet, but we found one which was reasonable!

Overnight tour to turtle island - gutted we didnt get to do this as did not know you have to book in advance, I think this was quite pricey, depends if its your thing.

Other things to do - staying on Mabul island - this was a highlight, stayed in a cheap hut on stilts in the sea, plenty of diving, snorkling and relaxing to do! - no need to book in advance, if your heading to semporna there are many places offering this sort of trip.

Hope this helps! Sorry I cant be more exact on costs, but it certainly did not break the bank!  LOL

     
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Oh forgot to add, if you are intending on climbing Mt Kinabalu, you need to book this in advance as accomodation on the moutain itself is limited and you are not allowed to climb without having confirmed accomodation for the 1 night stay needed, don’t bother paying extortionate prices through a tour operator, you can book this direct by contacting the lodge company that owns the lodges on Mt Kinabalu, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges. I think there is an online booking system but when we tried doing this it said fully booked, so contacted them directly by email, you might need to be persistant, they originally said they had none available, but I explained we had flights booked etc and had researched the names of the lodges on the mountain itself, included the non heated ones and said we would be happy with anything!

     
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Yep your right, Uncle Tans was amazing! Really well organised, spending a couple of nights in a jungle camp and activities include going out on a boat to look for orangutans - we saw three when we went! Also get to see the probiscus monkey too! If I remember this was all good value, cant remember exact cost!

I take it you mean proboscis monkeys :razz:

Either way you’re really lucky to have seen one! they are notoriously shy. Must have been an experience!

I saw lots of orang utans there. They are amazing creaures, and in my opinion they are worth the trip to Borneo!

Flights to from KL to KK or Sandakan are cheap with Air Asia!

 

     
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Ha I knew I spelt that wrong! Yeah we managed to see quite a few, that was on a boat trip going down a river, funny things and HUGE!!

     
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Yep your right, Uncle Tans was amazing! Really well organised, spending a couple of nights in a jungle camp and activities include going out on a boat to look for orangutans - we saw three when we went! Also get to see the probiscus monkey too! If I remember this was all good value, cant remember exact cost!

There is cheap accomodation, though my advise would be to look on say hostel world or hostel bookers and book accomodation if you’re arriving in kota kinabalu as we just rocked up and nearly all the places were fully booked (this was august) so had to spend first night in a hotel.

If you are going to Mt Kinabalu I recommend Mountain Lodge - does what you need for the price - compared to the more pricey accomodation arranged at the park headquaters. It is a bit of a walk (20min) to the mountain itself, but saves you a fortune and the guy who owns it will let you leave your large rucksack in your room for free whilst you climb the mountain!

Transport - found this very cheap and efficient - was not expecting much but there is a proper bus system to take you to places (and these are coaches!).

If you want to dive at sipidan booking in advance on internet is a must - cant remember the company we used, theres many on the internet, but we found one which was reasonable!

Overnight tour to turtle island - gutted we didnt get to do this as did not know you have to book in advance, I think this was quite pricey, depends if its your thing.

Other things to do - staying on Mabul island - this was a highlight, stayed in a cheap hut on stilts in the sea, plenty of diving, snorkling and relaxing to do! - no need to book in advance, if your heading to semporna there are many places offering this sort of trip.

Hope this helps! Sorry I cant be more exact on costs, but it certainly did not break the bank!  LOL

Hey now….You’re a star!

I was doing some research into Uncle Tan’s and although it looks fun i’m torn. I’ve heard the rainforest has been fairly depleted around the new site. Bassically - a small strip of trees along the riverbank surrounded by plantations. I’m not sure if i could stomach that. Surely there are more rewarding trips to be had?
Just a thought….

     
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http://boards.gapyear.com//index.php?op=vt&c=9&f=79&t=411566

I wrote this ages ago, check it out.It may help.

DEFINITELY dive Mabul and Sipidan. They are both amazing, unfortunately the prices have rocketed recently though. I loved Malaysian Borneo and Brunei but i didnt get the chance to go to Kalimantan.

     
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I’ve heard the rainforest has been fairly depleted around the new site. Bassically - a small strip of trees along the riverbank surrounded by plantations.

Yeah you are right, its exactly like that and you drive through oil plantations to get to Uncle Tans, kind of ironic! I know there are other places to see orangutans eg properly in the forest, - I can’t remember where we went but we also did a river cruise somewhere which had dense forest either side, we saw one orangutan on this trip, and although more of a foresty feel it was much more difficult to see the orangutan with all of the foliage in the way, and sometimes even more difficult in other forests, for the same reason, you can’t get close enough. Though I guess you have to weigh it up, foresty slim chance, or not so foresty, more chance. Or if your lucky, do both! grin

     
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Hi Darren,

I’ve seen you’ve got some great advice already.

I only travelled around Sabah, but here’s what I’ve got to offer…

Air Asia fly from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore to Borneo. I flew from KL to Kota Kinabalu (KK) very cheaply, around £30/£40 one-way. Try to get the ‘promo’ flights with Air Asia - they’re the cheapest…

There wasn’t too much to do in KK. I just chilled and wandered around the city. There are some great markets to sample and are a few islands to the north, but if you’re diving/looking for beach time then wait until you get to Semporna/Sipidan.

Climbing Mount Kinabalu is an amazing experience, but it can be expensive. You’ll get a lot of conflicting information on Mt Kinabalu. Some people say you can only climb it with a permit, spending a night on the mountain; some say you can climb it without a permit.

I can assure you that you can climb it without a permit (or at least, you could last year - times change - always remember that). You can climb Mt Kinabalu in a day, so as long as you arrive early, haggle for a guide/porter, then you can be up and down 24 hours. It saves A LOT of money; otherwise it can be very, very expensive.

A lot of tourist activities are geared towards the tourist, not the traveller. BEWARE!!! Independent travel can be quite hard… if you’ve got the money and don’t mind spending it then it’s not a problem. Borneo is more expensive than mainland Malaysia, on a par with Indonesia (Bali-ish).

Near Mt. Kinabalu is Ranau and Sandakan. Ranau/Sandakan was the site of the horrendous atrocities of the WWII POW camps. Over a three year period local Indonesians and allied forces (mainly Australians) were forced on ‘death marches’ for no reason, subjected to a number of horrors. Over 6,000 people died; only 6 survived. The area is steeped in history, and a lot of the museums are free to get in. A bit like the killing fields, it’s hard, but it’s history. An absolute must…

In the evening sniff out the sheesha bar/resturant. Yummy…

From Sandakan you can trek into the rainforest and see the Orang-Utans. I went to Sepilok. You can travel to Sepilok by bus very easily from the local bus station (or by taxi), and it’s only about £6 to get in. Sepilok is an Orang-Utan rehabilitation centre, so technically you’re not seeing them in wild, but you are seeing them in their natural habitat. (On a side note, as I was standing in the car park eating an ice-cream when a bright orange Orang-Utan, about three ft high, walked within six ft of me, just strolling through the car park into the jungle - he was so close I could nearly reach out and touch him - a great memory).

Next door to Sepilok is a rainforest you can trek around. They do tours in the night, though I didn’t do it….

A lot of hostels/hotels in Sandakan offer package tours to see the Orang-Utans. I think they throw in the caves too. Again, it’s much cheaper if you do it by yourself, but it depends on what type of traveller you are.

From Sandakan I went to Sakau, in the rainforest, near the river. You can take river cruises to see the wildlife - hornbills and proboscis monkeys are guaranteed, and it’s so so so cheap. There’s an amazing little lodge at the end of the road (there is only one road and it takes you to the end). Sakau is cool, nice to kick back and chill.

From Sakau head to Semporna. Semporna is home of diving. One of the best things I have ever done in my life was diving Semporna/Sipidan. Sipidan is one of the world’s best dive sites. Some people consider it THE best dive site in the world… I certainly do…

Again, lots of conflicting information on diving Sipidan. You DO need a permit, but whether you need to book one online or not remains to be seen. I would suggest you do in peak season (whenever that is) to avoid disappointment. I rocked up and got a permit in five minutes at 1/2 the price I would have got it booking online.

Nine dives in three days for under £200 (I think - man, it was a long time ago…wink. I do know that the two most popular dive companies are Sipidan Divers and Scuba Junkies, and both have websites, so check them out.

Even if you don’t dive, you can snorkel. Don’t go to Borneo without going to Sipidan!

You can fly back to mainland Malaysia from Tawau, or down into Indonesia, or across to Sarawak.

That was a lot longer than I meant it to be, sorry bru. Hope it helps though. No more 101 bookmarked pages!!! Let me know if you need anything else…

Macca

     
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All very helpfull!

I’ll be booking flights very soon.

Nice image of the Orangutan in the car park. Maybe he just fancied a Cornetto also!  8)