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Level Contributor
41 posts
44 reviews

I know this has probably been asked before, but I am asking again. I am looking to visit Borneo alone and think an organised tour with a group would be safest as a solo female traveller.

But which company? All fo the above could cater for my actual destination and dates, but which one to use. I have heard good and bad (and I mean brilliant and terrible) for all of the above.

More help required please as I am going to have to make my final decisions of a 3 week break, stranded in Asia, on other peoples comments......so I need as many as I can get.



England, United...
Destination Expert
for Somerset, Solo Travel, Exmoor National Park
Level Contributor
34,993 posts
111 reviews
1. Re: Intrepid/GAP/Imaginative/Geckos/Other

Which part of Borneo? Sabah, Brunei or Sarawak are the usual ones. It makes quite a difference as it is divided between several countries. And what are your dates?

It may be helpful to post on the forum for the country too.

Sabah is relatively safe on your own providing you dress conservitavely but there are some good companies there as well as some British ones.

Level Contributor
41 posts
44 reviews
2. Re: Intrepid/GAP/Imaginative/Geckos/Other

It would be the Malay side - so Sarawak and Sabah.

I think it is more about the actual tour company who would be running the tour as opposed to the region. The area and country would stay the same, but how the trip was run and managed would make or break it.

I love the look of the country and the region, I just need some advice about the actual tour companies....


London, United...
Destination Expert
for Solo Travel
Level Contributor
11,067 posts
28 reviews
3. Re: Intrepid/GAP/Imaginative/Geckos/Other

I am a solo female traveller.

I loved Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo. I spent some time in Kuching, which is a delight, and also some time in the countryside.

It was part of my first solo trip and I loved it. There were lots of organised day trips I could join (for example to an Orangutan refuge and to a national park where we took a small boat across a bay, climbed smallish mountains to see insect eating plants and probiscus monkeys who looked like wooly coated dutchmen).

I stayed at the Hilton (which I don't normally do, but it was relatively cleap and the location was superb with a huge picture window in my eigth floor room over looking the river and Chinatown just behind me) and at the Hilton resort in Batang Ai.

In the evening every one strolls along the riverside park and there are lots of stalls selling food and drink.

All over town, there are stalls selling wonderful pancake-like things with buter and nuts. My mouth waters thinking of it.

People were friendly and it was easy to organise seeing what I wanted to see.

I also spend lots of time wandering about and never felt uneasy. I even went to a fairly downmarket mall to find the Malasian football shirt for my daughter who collects football shirts. (Actualy her collection has taken me on a fair number of adventures)

I did wear loose trousers and loose shirts with sleeves, for coolness as well as modesty. Sarawak is more mixed than most of Malaysia. It is roughly 1/3rd Chinese, 1/3 Malaysian and 1/3rd tribal. The Chinese girls often wore skimpy camisoles and tight jeans, but IMO that would be rude for a tourist and offending 1/3 of your hosts is not the best way to have a great trip. (and jeans would be way too hot!)

I found a "park" where they had a collection of all the sorts of houses different groups have traditionally lived absolutely fascinating. The houses had live-in curators who were from the relevant group who spoke fluent English and were happy to explain how the houses worked and answer my (many) questions.

I think what I am saying is that if you are looking for a group because you don't ike to spend time on your own, then do so, but if you think you need a group to be safe and to see Borneo, that is really not the case.

Edited: 11 August 2011, 21:06
England, United...
Destination Expert
for Somerset, Solo Travel, Exmoor National Park
Level Contributor
34,993 posts
111 reviews
4. Re: Intrepid/GAP/Imaginative/Geckos/Other

my trip was with a group but I did go off on my own a lot. my info a bit outdated but I have been keeping in touch because everyone wanted to go back. You definitely must go, it is a wonderful, friendly place.

We went with www.wildlife-expeditions.com/z-index.php which was excellent but has been getting some bad reviews lately, though how much that is people tend to write more when things don't go as planned.

I think it would be a good idea to post on the Borneo forum for the latest recommendations on tour companies and as you have specific dates a local company would be most accommodating. If necessary have a couple of days on your own before the tour starts. In Sabah, Kota Kinablu is where you'll arive and the museum has huge outdoor area of longhouses, chinese houses etc. The train and the orangutang centre are all easily bookable and safe to go on your own.


Level Contributor
22 posts
38 reviews
5. Re: Intrepid/GAP/Imaginative/Geckos/Other

I could have written the OP's post myself! I am on the verge of booking to go to Borneo (probably Sarawak) via KL for a couple of weeks at the end of September...maybe we ought to get together on this one?!

I have travelled with ImTrav and Gecko's (who are now part of ImTrav anyway these days). Through the course of my investigations into tours I have found they are all working with at least one other company so choice and variety is much more limited than in the past when they were more independent of each other.

I have to say I really enjoyed travelling with ImTrav 3 years ago in China - it made it an easy way to see a lot of what is a large country in a short space of time, with good local guides and pleasant companions. I was travelling with a partner at the time so we always had each other for company too.

I went to Turkey with what turned out to be Gecko's last year (I booked with ImTrav, but that's the way it goes these days...) I was much less impressed. I was travelling alone, and although I'd expected to have to bunk in with another female as I'd not paid a single supplment, I actually found I really didn't enjoy this aspect - mainly because the other person did a lot of whinging when awake and a lot of snoring when asleep... The tour had much less in the way of 'options' and free time as the guide chose to book a minibus for the whole day each day, and once you were on it you were kind of stuck on it for the rest of the day - and if you didn't get on it you'd have to find your own way to the next hotel which kind of made the fact I'd paid for a tour irrelevent.

When I travelled in China most of the group were of a similar age to myself - 20 - 35, but in Turkey they were all a lot older. I felt that over all the quality of service had declined over the 3 years since I did the first trip, although I know there are a lot of factors at play here.

I've no direct experience of GAP, but a good friend of mine did about 6 weeks in South America with them and had no complaints whatsoever.

I am now a more confident solo individual and have decided, on balance, that I will attempt Borneo independently, rather than risk being stuck with a group of people I don't like for two weeks, which is actually quite stressful.

Also, having costed it up, I reckon I can spend less going solo - or at least, make sure the money I spend is on all the things I really want to see and do.

Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
1,480 posts
45 reviews
6. Re: Intrepid/GAP/Imaginative/Geckos/Other

I have travelled with both Intrepid (Vietnam in 2008) and Imaginative Traveler (Egypt in 2005) and really enjoyed them both. Both had very small groups - Intrepid 6 and ImTrav 3 and 7 (I was on two separate tours).

Intrepid had a western tour leader and used local guides where needed. ImTrav, one tour use a local tour leader and local guides where necessary and the other used a western tour leader and local guides where needed.

On the Intrepid tour ages ranged from late 20's to early 40's. The ImTrav, one tour ranged from late 20's to 80ish (this was the tour with 3 people, I fell in the middle) and the other late 20's to early 40's.

I travelled as a solo on all 3 tours and chose not to pay a single supplement so was paired with another traveler to share a room. All of these pairings worked out well and I am still in contact with my roommates. On one of the ImTrav tours I did not have to share a room.

What I liked about Intrepid is that the tour was guaranteed once one person had signed up.

I would recommend either of these companies.

Level Contributor
41 posts
44 reviews
7. Re: Intrepid/GAP/Imaginative/Geckos/Other

Ok, thank you guys -

I think I am going to go to Borneo with Intrepid.

I would do it alone, but I am sure that the time and effort that would go into planning a 14 day trip wiould mroe than offset the cost to Intrepid.

Thank you all for your help and advice

Kelly :-)

8. Re: Intrepid/GAP/Imaginative/Geckos/Other

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