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a VirtualTourist member


Four weeks in Borneo on my own

This April/May I'll be travelling to Malaysian Borneo. My plans for now are a bit vague, but here is what I plan to do:
Travel to KK (Stockholm - London - Hong Kong - KK)
Climb Mt Kinabalu
Take open waters certificate
Dive at Sipadan
Go on Uncle Tan's adventure
Visit Danum
Maybe visit Mulu caves and Turtle Island park
Relax on some beach for a while
Fly to Hong Kong for a few days, then back to good old cold Sweden

My main concern is when to book all these things, and with which agency. This is what I've planned right now:
Mt Kinabalu - I've heard you book well in advance, so I plan to do that ASAP. However, it's quite expensive, but since I travel alone I suppose I'll take it. I plan to go with Downbelow.
Diving - Dive Downbelow.
Sipadan - Dive Downbelow or Scuba Junkie. This I've also heard that you should book quite early, but how early is that?
Danum - the Rainforest Lodge, but it's really expensive. Is there any cheaper alternative?
Turtel island park - Crystal Quest. Is this also a place you should book months in advance?
Relaxing at a cosy island - no idea. Sibuan island perhaps, but I don't know how to get there.

Does this seem like a good idea? This is my first time travelling on my own, so I'm quite unexperienced when it comes to planning a trip.

Is there anything else I should do or have in mind while I'm there?

About me and this trip: I'm an 18-year old student from Sweden, on a gap year before starting my university studies. I'm not much for partying; my main goal for this trip is to experience the nature of Borneo, and to simply relax for a while. While I like nature, I also like big cities. My plan is to visit Borneo for about 4 weeks, and my budget is around7000 (with flights). The flights to and from Sweden are about600 for a one way ticket.

On person said that I shouldn't go to Malaysian Borneo, since it's mainly for couples. However, it does look beautiful and easier for tourists than Indonesian Borneo. What do you think?

I'm really grateful for all the help I can get :)

6 Answers

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Province of Ontario

We spent a couple of weeks in Malaysian Borneo a few years back during March and built a custom tour for three of us with Borneo Eco Tours and included a few days in Brunei. I personally would not do my open water certificate there, but would try to do so at home, and then only do the open water dives part of the certification in Borneo, if you can arrange for that. It's a bit late to do the entire certification at home, which is even better; that way you would probably have a more enjoy time in the water because you would have some experience under your belt. We did a bit of diving off Kota Kinubalu on Mamutik Island. It was too soon after the rainy season and things were a bit stirred up; not great diving there. That was the only beach related activity we did, so I could not comment on Sipidan, etc.

Some of the areas are malarial, so see a travel medicine clinic regarding precautions before you leave home. I suggest you might want to visit the orangutan sactuary at Sepilok, just outside of Sandakan.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Europe

wow! 4 weeks in Borneo!! very good also for single!! you've to go
just a warnig, for climbing Mt.Kinabalu and diving at Sipadan you better book in advance to be sure to go there.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Auckland

We've just had four weeks in Borneo. Flying into Kuching we had a great time at Bako National Park - lots of animals - and then up to Miri for Mulu National Park, then bus to BSB in Brunei and a bus from there to KK. We climbed Mt Kinabalu and then went on to Sepilok, the Kinabatangan, Sandakan and then Kudat and the tip of Borneo for a bit of beach. The first thing we booked was the climb up Mt Kinabalu and then fitted everything around that. Higher up the Kinabatangan is an alternative to Danum - we stayed at Nature Lodge Kinabatangan near Bilit which might be cheaper. Getting around Sabah and Sarawak is fairly easy - the coach fares are cheap - and there were lots of single people touring around when we were there in December. You'll easily keep under your7000 budget.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member

GrympyDiver - do you mean doing the theory at home, so to speak? Can this be done online through PADI? I'm no too sure it would be nice to do the dives here as well, since all the lakes and seas here are frozen :)

I'm going to visit my local vaccination center in a couple of weeks. From what I've heard so far I'll be getting vaccine for yellow fever, hepatite A & B and also malaria pills. Thanks for the heads up.

cgf - I'm going to book Kinabalu on Monday, and as soon as I've done that I'll book my flight and Sipadan (just to be sure).

Borisborough - did you go on an organazid trip to Mulu, or did you simply take a bus? I really want to see those caves, but I'm not too sure on how to get there. I'll be flying to Kota Kinabalu, but as far as I know flights between KK and Miri are quite cheap.

Kinabatanang does seem nice, and I'll go with Uncle Tan's there I think. However, Nature lodge looks nice aswell. When it comes to Danum, I'll hopefully get an extra job next week so I might have the money to go there too.

Many thanks to you all for your answers!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Province of Ontario

The weather conditions here in Canada are not unlike what I would expect Swedish lakes to be like at this time of year. Unless you are training in ice diving (which is what I was doing when my profile picture was taken), the open water part of the course cannot be completed until mid to late sprint.

What some people at the PADI dive shop where I did most of my training sometimes have done for their open water certification is to take the classroom and pool sessions here in Canada. They then get a letter / documentation from their instructor and take it with them when they head down south (usually the Caribbean Islands) and complete the open water part of the course there. They do have to demonstrate that they do have the skills in a pool before they are taken out, but they save the time by not having to do the main course work while travelling. Personally, I would rather spend the time diving and enjoying the area rather than sitting in a classromm...

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Auckland

We did the trip to Mulu ourselves - an overninght coach from Kuching to Miri and then a flight from Miri to Mulu. As far as I am aware, the only way to get in and out of Mulu is either by flying or by boat trip. As you say, internal flights in Malaysia aren't too expensive so that should be OK.


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