Highlights of Sabah

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Malaysia, Borneo

Best time to go: June to September

9 Nights | from £2,130pp

Holiday type: Tailor-made

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  • Swim with dazzling tropical fish in the South China Sea
  • Watch orangutans emerge from the dense rainforest
  • Meet the former headhunters of the Kadazan tribe in Monsopiad Village
  • Cruise snaking rivers watching for proboscis monkeys and crocodiles
  • Relax on pristine beaches at exclusive resorts

Day 1 UK / Kota Kinabalu
Maximise your time on Borneo by taking an overnight flight from the UK to Kota Kinabalu, via Kuala Lumpur.

Day 2 Kota Kinabalu
Welcome to the jungle –well, the edge of the jungle: just outside the city of Kota Kinabalu, Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort &Spa nestles amid lush gardens on its own mini-peninsula. Just steps from your luxurious room (and the pools, spa and range of restaurants), the turquoise South China Sea beckons and, just a short boat ride away, the protected waters of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park lap against five tropical islands. Cool off with a dip, or don a mask and flippers to snorkel or dive among dazzling tropical fish flitting around the coral.
Shangri-La Tanjung Aru | Meals: Breakfast

Day 3 - 5 Kota Kinabalu 
Just as Borneo's wildlife makes the jaw drop, its cultural diversity is astonishing, too. Over the next few days enjoy time at the resort combined with a few tours to explore the area. Here be headhunters! Or, more accurately, ex-headhunters (we hope) –the Kazadan and Dusun peoples no longer decapitate their enemies, but you can gawp at some they made earlier at Monsopiad Cultural Village. Get hands-on with a host of traditional activities –try your hand at blowpipe-shooting and sample lihing (rice wine) –among the village dwellings, and brave the House of Skulls to see the gruesome trophies reputedly harvested by the legendary warrior Monsopiad.

One evening get out and experience the nightlife the ways the locals do –from the back of a vintage Vespa scooter. Ride pillion amid the bright lights and busy streets, observe how sea food and other delicacies are prepared as well as learning about the culture of Sabah.
Shangri-La Tanjung Aru | Meals: Breakfast

Day 6 - 7 Kota Kinabalu / Sandakan 
Time for a last ocean dip before heading to the Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort your home for the next four nights. The following day get a feel for just how wild Borneo is, gaze down from your early morning flight east to Sandakan: beneath you unfolds endless swathes of emerald laced with writhing waterways –but virtually no roads. This forest is the precious habitat of the 'wild man of the forest' whom you'll meet at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Take a short stroll through the dense greenery to the observation deck to watch young apes, learning to survive in the wild, emerge from the jungle to be fed by the rangers. Even the drive back to the airport is an eye-opener: pause to drink in the view across Sandakan from the magnificently adorned hilltop Buddhist temple Puu Jih Shih before boarding your plane for the short hop back to Kota Kinabalu.
Shangri-La's Rasa Ria | Meals: Breakfast

Day 7 Pantai Dalit
The highest mountain in Malaysia looms 4095 metres above its namesake national park: Mt Kinabalu, its craggy peak surrounded by verdant skirts of rainforest. Drive through and over the densely forested escarpment of the Crocker Range to Kinabalu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to trek in the foothills. The forest might look like green, green and more green, but it's packed with a dizzying variety of plants, many unique to Borneo and not all harmless –at least, to insects and small mammals: the carnivorous Nepenthes (pitcher plant) digests small beasts, as you'll discover on a guided walk among rhododendrons and orchids and across a lofty canopy walkway.
Shangri-La's Rasa Ria | Meals: Breakfast

Days 8 - 9 Pantai Dalit
How active are you feeling, on a scale of one to ten? One might be lazing on a secluded beach, six is sailing or kayaking on azure seas, a round of golf or a horseriding session, and 10 is windsurfing. Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort offers a packed menu of sports and experiences – though with a luxurious spa, restaurants dishing up Malay, Japanese, Indian and other cuisines, and that tempting beach there's no need to move a muscle.
Shangri-La's Rasa Ria | Meals: Breakfast

Day 10 Pantai Dalit / Kota Kinabalu / UK
Tear yourself away from your tropical retreat to head to the airport for your flight back to the UK.
Meals: Breakfast

Want to stay longer...? Add on more of Malaysia
If you itch to explore more of this diverse country, it's easy to extend your trip –perhaps relaxing on a tropical island off the coast, discovering the cultural treats of Penang or Malacca, or enjoying more wildlife-watching in Taman Negara National Park.

At A&K all of our journeys are individually tailored to suit your needs and timescale. As a guide, this 10 day suggested holiday will cost from £2,130 per person, based on two sharing, including international flights.

Back to Malaysia & Borneo


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Meet the Orient & Indian Subcontinent Team

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Annie, Brandon, Debbie, Margaret, Vicky Smith, Lynne and Rachel - are experts in designing travel experiences across the region to suit your personal needs, interests and budget.

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Useful info


Fly to

Kuala Lumpur/Langkawi (Malaysian Airlines)

flying time

11 hours 30 minutes non-stop

time difference

GMT +8 hours


Not required for UK passport holders

Health Requirements

Yellow Fever certificate if arriving from an endemic area

Best time to travel

November - April (Peninsula Malaysia)
March - October (Borneo)


Malaysia's climate is tropical and humid, with humidity high in the mornings and lower in the afternoons. A typical day is warm and humid with balmy evenings. The main rainy seasons fall from November to February.

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