Roadtrips have become a popular way for travellers to explore Malaysia, and Borneo is an amazing region. While traveling along the highway you’ll encounter cities full of culture, mountainous terrain, tropical rainforests, and relaxing beaches. If you are up for an adventure, read our guide to the ultimate ten-day road trip through Borneo.
Kota Kinabalu City Mosque – Atkinson Clock Tower – Petagas War Memorial – Night Food Market & Sinsuran Night Market
Begin your journey in Sabah by taking a two hour flight to Kota Kinabalu from Mulu Airport, and spend a day there. Explore the majestic Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, which is surrounded by a beautiful lagoon. The mosque has similar features to the Nawi Mosque in Medina, including a blue and gold dome. Take photos of the Atkinson Clock Tower, the oldest structure in Sabah and looking across the city. Visit the historical Petagas War Memorial, commemorating the soldiers who died defending Sabah during World War II.
End your night by savouring street food and seafood at Kota Kinabalu’s Night Food Market and/or Sinsuran Night Market.
Begin your island-hopping adventure at Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, which consists of five islands: Gaya Island, Sapi Island, Manukan Island, Manutik Island, and Sulug Island. Take a ferry from Jesselton Point. You can also book an island tour to explore the islands. Play exciting beach activities or go snorkelling or diving by the sandy beaches and tranquil, crystal clear water. The price for island hopping depends on how many islands you plan to visit, but ranges from RM33 – RM53 (USD 8 – USD13) for adults and RM28 – RM48 (USD 7 – USD 12) for children.
Take an 88.9km drive (about two hours) down to Kinabalu Park, one of Malaysia’s World Heritage Sites, where you will be able to see the Mount Kinabalu from afar. Discover various flora and fauna in the rainforest, including Rafflesia, the biggest and smelliest flower in the world. Stay a few days at Kinabalu Park if you plan to climb Mount Kinabalu. Be well-equipped for hiking the highest mountain in Malaysia.
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre – Gomantong Caves
It is time to visit your orangutan friends at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, a 229km drive (about four hours) from Kinabalu Park. Founded in 1964, Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre supports 60–80 orphaned orangutans. See how these orangutans are taken care with tender love and care in their natural habitat. A boardwalk leads to a viewing gallery and feeding platform, where orangutans are fed with milk and bananas twice a day by the rangers.
Visit the Gomantong Caves to learn how bird nests are harvested by the farmers. You can watch the harvesting at Simud Hitam (Black Cave). Simud Putih (White Cave) has the more valuable bird nests. You are required to make arrangements with the guide to further explore Simud Putih. Swiftlets, bats, serpent eagles, bat eagles, kingfishers, and a few orangutans can be seen at these caves.
Tun Sakaran Marine Park
This is the final day of your roadtrip. Time to celebrate on the calm seas and islands at Tun Sakaran Marine Park. Drive for five hours to Semporna (304km) and take a boat ride to visit the marine park. It consists of eight islands and two reefs, including Bohey Dulang Island and Mantabuan Island. There are plenty of stilt houses and house boats as the nomadic Bajau Laut (Sea Gypsy) community live in the marine park.
Go island hopping to discover each island’s uniqueness. Bohey Dulang Island is great for hiking and bird watching. Visit the Bajau Laut Village to catch a glimpse of their everyday life, and maybe get the chance to chat with the locals.