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Two weeks in Bormeo-where to stay-kk or other places?

Two weeks in Bormeo-where to stay-kk or other places?


firstly thanks for taking time to read and hopefully reply to me. Me and a friend are staying two weeks in Borneo (first two weeks of September).We haven't booked a cheap hotel yet,as we're unsure how long to say in KK, where we fly into. We're keen on walking Mount Kinabalu, doing the via ferrata and going surfing. Read there's a surfing spot 45 min drive away from kk that's good for beginners like us. Also keen on snorkeling and going island hopping. I like active holidays, read the boat trip up kinabatangan river is worth the money. But we'll also need days where we can kick back, eat out, see some markets, lazy day at the beach etc So my questions are;

1. How many days do you recommend us booking a hotel in kk for? a week and a week down in the sarawak region`? or can you do easy daytrips from kk to sarawak?

2. except from visiting the rainforest, caves and doing boat trips up the rivers, what else is worth seeing or more importantly doing in the sarawak region?

3. can we also do day trips from kk to north+ north east of the island? is it worth booking accommodation up there? or is the main attraction the orangutan rehabilitation centre and turtle island?

4. is there any areas in kk we should avoid booking a hotel in?

any help is much appreciated-thanks in advance!

3 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for Kota Kinabalu, Wangaratta, Sandakan
Level Contributor
8,551 posts
150 reviews
1. Re: Two weeks in Bormeo-where to stay-kk or other places?

I will address your questions in order.

Firstly go to these forums and have a look at top questions on the right of the page and then the top of the page (Hotels, Things to do etc.)






This will help answer a lot of your questions.

For Mount Kinabalu - daily climbers are limited by restrictions an accommodation availability. You need to stay overnight on the way up the mountain. Via ferrata is not a hike, parts are climbs over rock faces.

To go to Kinabatangan River you will have to fly to Sandakan and then travel either by boat or road, a 2 -3 hour trip, to which ever lodge you decide to use. To get the best out of the River you need to spend at least 2 nights. You could also include Sepilok (Orangutan and Sunbears) and Selingan (Turtle Island) while in the Sandakan area, Selingan Island requires an over night stay as the boats go over one morning a return the next day.

I am not aware of any genuine surfing spot within 45 minutes of KK. The only on I can thing of is at the tip of Borneo and that is a 2 - 3 hour drive.

Day trips from KK to Kuching (Sarawak) are not feasible as it requires a 800 km flight plus time at airports.

There are no areas in KK that you need to avoid when booking a hotel.

Go to this site and see what they are offering to get some idea of what is what.


Edited: 07 August 2018, 04:50
United Kingdom
Destination Expert
for Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan
Level Contributor
1,162 posts
163 reviews
2. Re: Two weeks in Bormeo-where to stay-kk or other places?

1 Bella Abigail S,

"we are keen on walking Gunung Kinabalu" Staying on the lower slopes?

Via ferrata? Have a look on the web/ WW1 Italy campaigns or Wikipedia/ U tube to see what it involves. Have a look at the costs you may change your mind.

Not aware of a surfing spot so close to KK due to the underwater geography it is very shallow only 5m in places or less. The Tip of Borneo as mentioned but it is not mentioned here in the forum so may be do some research of the worlds surfing sites to receive more accurate updates.

Snorkelling etc you can easily do this within the marine park off shore from KK.

bigw has covered the river part which is over by Sandakan on the East coast of Sabah. Kick back days at the beach you won't find at Sandakan unless you pay to visit one of the off shore islands and it is not free.

Ans 1, Your items you have mentioned are all doable in Sabah so no need to visit Sarawak.

In your time frame you will need to have a liner route. You enter at the airport travel in the same direction while seeing what you want to then leave via a airport at the end of your stay, you can apply this to one state or both states. Zig zagging all over the place will make you tired, cost you money and time and you may miss things as your always travelling. simple is best.

You can travel between Sabah and Sarawak with Brunei in the middle something like eight passport checks each way, they are at least 1000km apart. Driving/express bus is available but it takes a day to go one way, to day trip is a waste of time even by fast jet, you would need to visit for several days to make it worth your effort.


Sarawak has a different topography very steep in places, to Sabah, well I would exclude towns/cities which leaves you river trips, national parks, hutan walking, visiting spotting the wildlife or a remote beach location if you have the time.


From KK, tour operators can be booked, to drive you for around £80 plus per day. The easiest within day reach are Kudat, 3hr drive each way. Kota Muruda/Pitas also a 3hr drive each way. Accomodation is available locally and some homestays so have a look online for these. Poring spring and Ranau just south of the Mountain park is also a day trip. Beyond this it is best to stay in the interior for local visits, or fly to the East coast and then visit outwards from Sandakan, Ladah Datu or Tawau. (Check flight details for these)

The East coast for tourists starts in the Sandakan district, the Beluran district you mentioned (North East) is riverine mangrove areas and not catering for tourist.

Kinabatangan Sungai is the reason tourist visit for the wildlife and jungle walks/river rides etc.

Ans 4, as mentioned by bigw you should choose via TA the hostels start at £9 and a double from £11 all in the centre of KK. Try and stick to the following districts as they are inside the city bypass which in places can be dangerous/difficult to cross. Pantai street, Gaya street, Segama, Sinsuran, Kampung Air, Jesselton Point.

There are other districts /areas but they have expensive resorts i.e. Tanjung Aru so you may want to avoid that. The above districts are best if your on foot as you can easily reach Jesellton Point the public jetty for transfers out to the KK marine park.

Repost if you need more.

Level Contributor
58 posts
8 reviews
3. Re: Two weeks in Bormeo-where to stay-kk or other places?

Hi There,

As far as surfing goes..I would not plan on it. Tip of Borneo is beautiful, but not the best place to surf. The waves are certainly soft enough for beginners, but there is just not enough surf for a beginner to learn or for there to be enough options on equipment. Definitely great body surfing though.

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