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The perfect Borneo itinerary for 2 weeks

What’s the best Borneo itinerary for first-time visitors?

Borneo is the world’s third-largest island and is shared by three countries. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.

We traveled for 2 weeks through Malaysia and The Malaysian part of Borneo and discovered beautiful nature, a mix of religions and cultures, and very friendly people.

In this Borneo travel blog post, we share a complete Borneo itinerary with the main attractions and highlights of our trip. Perfect for first-time Borneo visitors.

There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no extra cost to you.

Kuala Lumpur Train Station

A Borneo itinerary for 2 weeks

Day 1-2 Kuala Lumpur (KL)

We started our Borneo 2-week itinerary in Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia and an interesting city to spend a few days.

Although this city is not located in Borneo, it would be a shame not to take the opportunity to discover this city before we continued our journey to Borneo.

How to get from the airport to Kuala Lumpur city center

There are several ways to get from the airport to Kuala Lumpur (and vice versa).

The quickest way probably is the KLIA Express, this train brings you in 28 minutes from the airport to Kuala Lumpur central train station (KL Sentral).

From KL Sentral you can continue your journey to your hotel by metro, bus or taxi. The taxi rates at this station are fixed and you arrange your taxi at the counter.

To get a quote you need to give the name of your hotel and the preferred model of the taxi.

Beware that small cabs have small trunks and your bags may not fit.

The difference in the different taxi models is normally shown at the counter.

They will give you a ticket at the counter.  This ticket also contains the address where you’re going so you just need to show it to the taxi driver and you’ll be taken to your destination.

Another option to get from the airport to Kuala Lumpur is by taxi. It is the most comfortable way to get from the city center to the airport and back as it takes you directly door to door.

Depending on the number of passengers the taxi can be cheaper than the train.

The taxi will take approximately 45 minutes to get to the city.  It all depends on traffic and where your hotel is located.

The taxis use the same ticket system at the airport so you will also need to get a ticket at the ticket counter before you head to the taxi line.

The Cheapest way to travel between the airport and Kuala Lumpur city center is to board one of the buses that drive between the airport and KL Sentral.

Airport Coach is one of them.

They charge around RM18 to bring you to KLIA.

Don’t miss Kuala Lumpur by night during your Borneo itinerary

Places of interest in Kuala Lumpur

You can see the western influence very clearly throughout the city. You might as well be in Singapore or Hong Kong.

You can explore the highlights of this city in three days.

The main highlights are of course the Petronas Tower and Kuala Lumpur Tower – the two landmarks of this city. At 452 meters, the Petronas Towers are still the highest twin towers in the world.

You have a fantastic panoramic view of the city from here.

An absolute must-do when you’re in Kuala Lumpur.

Skip the line and buy your tickets here:
Tickets Petronas Tower

This, however, is the modern Kuala Lumpur.

For a more authentic experience, have a wander around the typical Indian and Chinese areas.

And be sure to have a bite to eat in Jalan Alor, the top destination for tasty street food.

Merdeka Square

Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur

Many of Kuala Lumpur’s major attractions are located in a relatively compact part of the city.

That’s why the hotels we share are all located near the city center of Kuala Lumpur. 

Luxury hotel: JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur
JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

The JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur lies very central, close to all the main tourist attractions. The hotel is a wonderful oasis for those looking for a place to relax in luxury after exploring Kuala Lumpur during the day. Very welcoming staff and excellent service.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:


Premium Comfortable hotel: Impiana KLCC Hotel
Impiana KLCC Hotel Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

The Impiana KLCC Hotel is a very comfortable location for sightseeing. Spacious and well-designed rooms. Very friendly staff. You can see the twin towers while swimming in the pool.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:


Comfortable hotel: Holiday Express Kuala Lumpur City Center
Holiday Inn Express Kuala Lumpur City Centre Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

The Holiday Inn is a good hotel right in the middle of Kuala Lumpur close to the towers. Clean and well-kept rooms. Good value for the price.

They have several room types. Choose The big one with a sofa bed, even if you don’t need the sofa, because the room is much better.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:


Kuching River boat, Malaysia
Kuching river boat

Day 3-4 Kuching

Our first stop in our two weeks Borneo itinerary was Kuching.

Kuching itself is not one of the highlights of Borneo, there is not much to do in the city, but the many side attractions we can do from Kuching will keep us busy for these 2 days.

Macaque in Bako National Park

Points of interest to do in Kuching

We stopped here mainly to visit Bako National Park.

We contemplated spending the night in the park but didn’t in the end as we found too many negative reviews about the accommodation.

It didn’t look too bad once we were there, but it was too late by then.

We had a beautiful hike and our day flew by.

Purchase here your organized day tour to Bako National Park:
Bako Day Tour

Cultural Show – Sarawak Cultural Village

The buildings in the park are beautiful, but we didn’t get a lot of information about them. The staff simply didn’t have enough knowledge of English, and that was a pity.

The cultural show, on the other hand, was definitely worth it.

As animal lovers, one of the highlights was, of course, our visit to the Semenggoh orangutan rehabilitation center.

They tell you about the animals, and you can observe them at a (relatively) close distance when they are fed.


Where to stay in Kuching

There are plenty of options to stay in Kuching. Here we share three of the best hotels.

Luxury hotel: Hilton Kuching hotel

Hilton Kuching is a very centrally located hotel with a beautiful view over the Sarawak river. You can enjoy a delicious breakfast in the morning. After a busy day, you can relax at the wonderful pool.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:



Check prices and availability:

Premium Comfortable hotel: Imperial Hotel Kuching
Imperial Hotel Kuching Borneo Malaysia

The Imperial hotel is a modern hotel with very comfortable rooms and a big bathroom. The staff are super friendly and speak very well English.

It’s a bit out of the center of Kuching, however, it is barely a 10 rm ($3) roundtrip fee for a Grabcar ride and there are always cars available.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:


Comfortable hotel: Harbour View Hotel
Harbour View Hotel Kuching Borneo Malaysia

The Harbour View Hotel is newly renovated and located in the middle of town. Spacious and clean rooms. Comfortable beds. Very helpful and friendly staff.

Book a high floor room that’s facing the Waterfront.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:


Bats flying out at dusk

Day 5-7 Mulu

From Kuching, we continued our two weeks in Borneo to Mulu.

We chose to fly, which is the quickest, and surest option.

Sometimes you can take a boat down the river, but that is not an option if the water is too low.

We flew MASwings, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines. They offered 3 direct flights a week straight from Kuching to Mulu a few years ago but seem to offer daily direct flights at this point.

Check available flights here:

Things to do in Mulu

The reason for us, like many other tourists, to visit Mulu was the Mulu National Park. Historically, the area was very popular for hunting, so a lot of animals can unfortunately no longer be spotted here as they were killed, or have fled.

But there are lots of insects like dragonflies and butterflies, and the real stars of the park are the bats.

A visit to the caves in the park is absolutely worthwhile, and you can watch the bats take flight at dusk.

This was the ultimate highlight of our trip around Borneo.

Where to stay in Mulu

Accommodation in Mulu is very limited.  You basically have three choices.

Accommodation outside the park in rather basic hotels or homestays.  (dorms or very basic rooms with cold showers or no showers at all and electricity available 2 to 4 hours/day) : +/- 20-35MYR/pp

The Mulu national park accommodation is more expensive at 200-250 MYR/night.  The hotel rooms in the park are more luxurious. They offer electricity all day, hot showers and comfortable beds.  We loved our room!

Mulu Marriott
Mulu Marriott Resort and Spa Miri Malaysia

Mulu Marriott is a good option if you are looking for a luxurious treat and want to spoil yourself. The hotel has a swimming pool and a spa. Breakfast and dinner are served buffet style. The hotel is 10 minutes outside the park but has a free shuttle that takes you to the entrance. If we would go back, Mulu Mariott would be our first choice.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:


Check prices and availability:

A monitor lizard in Tunku Adbul Rahman Park

Day 8-10 Kota Kinabalu

We continued our Malaysian Borneo itinerary in Kota Kinabalu.

We were looking forward to snorkeling in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.

This is a collection of five islands, mainly visited for their beautiful underwater world.

We were really looking forward to this after numerous fantastic snorkeling trips in Thailand, but it was very disappointing.

Things to do in Kota Kinabalu

During our 2 weeks in Borneo, we visited two islands In Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Sapi, and Mamutik. On the way there we already sailed through a lot of rubbish (bottles, life jackets…) and the islands were full of rubbish too. A terrible shame really.

The water is shallow, and so a lot of the coral is broken because people damage it while snorkeling.

And because there are so many people, you bump into each other or you don’t see anything because of all the splashing.

We also visited the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park during our 2 weeks in Borneo

The Rafflesia, a giant carnivorous flower with a diameter of up to 106cm, is the symbol of Sabah, the state of which Kota Kinabalu is the capital. Pictures of the flower looked amazing so we decided we had to see this flower while we were here.

I would suggest, however, that you go view it elsewhere if possible.

The flower is nice, but the trip we took into the Tambunan Rafflesia Reserve was quite expensive and felt like a rip-off.

You can also see it in the Gunung Gading National Park or during a climb of Mount Kinabalu, but we couldn’t fit either of those into our itinerary.

Read our detailed Kota Kinabalu post here.

Would you like to discover the exotic flora and fauna of the first UNESCO World Heritage Site of Malaysia, and relax afterward in a nice hot water spring? Book this trip to the Kinabalu National Park, and don’t forget your swimwear.

Where to stay in Kota Kinabalu

Luxury hotel: Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu
Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu Hotel_Kota Kinabalu_Malaysia

Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu lies right opposite the markets and just a short walk away from the riverside promenade. Spacious and Comfortable rooms. Beautiful pool.

Watch the sunset from the pool area.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:


Premium Comfortable hotel: Mercure Kota Kinabalu city centre
Mercure Kota Kinabalu City Centre_ Kota Kinabalu_Malaysia

The Mercure Kota Kinabalu lies in a great location close to the Baywalk area with lots of stores and restaurants. Small but comfortable rooms. The hotel has a small swimming pool on the roof, with a great city and sea view. You can also enjoy a beautiful sunset from here.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:

Comfortable hotel: The Klagan Hotel
The Klagan Hotel_Kota Kinabalu_Malaysia

The Klagan hotel lies in a wonderful location. There are lots of restaurants and shopping within walking distance. Modern and comfortable rooms.Good buffet breakfast.  You can enjoy the sea view while having breakfast.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:


One of many amazing birds that you can spot with a Kinabatangan river cruise

Day 11-14 Kinabatangan

From Kuching, we flew to Sandakan. This flight was once more with Air Asia.

Our Kinabatangan river cruise

The Kinabatangan river is an area with tropical lowland rainforest vegetation and unique ecosystems.

We booked a stay in the Borneo Nature lodge including an extra tour on the way to the lodge, and once again when leaving the lodge.

Our guide was waiting for us at the airport and brought us to the hotel with a stop at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

Compared to Semenggoh, the information was better and more plentiful, so if you only want to visit one center, I would suggest you choose Sepilok.

We took boat trips twice a day, leaving our lodge early in the mornings and again at four in the afternoon.

We spotted lots of animals like orangutans, proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants and of course many beautiful birds.

If you’re like us and get excited seeing animals in their natural habitat, then this is a place you certainly have to put on your Borneo itinerary.

We also did a night cruise, or technically an after-sunset cruise.

The advantage of such a cruise is that you can take beautiful photographs of the animals as you can get much closer. And it is exciting to go canoeing in the dark too.

Kinabatangan River Safari - Night Cruise
An owl is one of the animals you can spot during a night cruise on the river

Here you can read more about our Kinabatangan river cruise.

On the way back from our lodge we visited the Gomatong Caves. This is where they harvest the edible bird’s nests which are a delicacy in China.

Well, after being here, I don’t think I’ll ever try those as the cave was full of cockroaches, beetles, and other bugs, and in the middle was an enormous mountain of bat poo.

We still shudder thinking about it.

We finished our trip with lunch in the English Tea House, a colonial-style building from where we had beautiful views over the sea and could forget the horrors of the Gomantong Caves.

Kinabatangan riverside lodges

The price of your Kinabatangan river cruise package depends on many elements.  The level of comfort of the accommodation will make a difference but there will also be differences in what’s included in your package.

Some Kinabatangan river lodges offer all-inclusive packages (typically including all meals and 2 daily Kinabatangan River Cruises) but some only include your accommodation.

We advise taking an all-inclusive package. 

You will have nothing to worry about because your tours and your meals will be included.

As you are in the jungle there are no other restaurants around.

If you are just like us a big nature fan, opt for a 4 days/3 nights package so you can enjoy 3 full days in the Malaysian wilderness.

You will have more chances to see the orangutans and pygmy elephants. We saw different animals on each river cruise.

There’re many Kinabatangan river accommodations. Remember that you are in the jungle and that these river accommodations may not offer all the amenities that you are used to.

Here we share 3 comfortable hotels with air conditioning that offer all-inclusive packages.

Borneo nature lodge

We stayed in the Borneo Nature Lodge one of the more comfortable Kinabatangan riverside lodges. It’s the only lodge in Kinabatangan rated 2 stars.  The manager took really good care of us and we were treated to delicious meals after every river safari.  We comfortably enjoyed the pleasures of the jungle :-).

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:

kinabatangan nature lodge borneo

The Nature Lodge Kinabatangan offers basic clean rooms with air conditioning.  Incredibly friendly staff. The tours are good and the group sizes are considerably smaller than other tours.

The Bilit Rainforest Lodge

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:


Bilit Rainforest Lodge Kinabatangan Borneo

The Bilit Rainforest lodge offers spacious rooms with air conditioning.  They offer a reasonable selection of well-prepared food, Very friendly and helpful staff. The river safaris are excellent and the guides are good at spotting wildlife.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:


Sunset over the Kinabatangan river

Borneo essentials

Here we answer the most frequent FAQ’s for Borneo.

What’s the best time to visit Borneo

The average temperature in Borneo lies between 27 and 32 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Borneo has a fairly humid climate, and it rains regularly.

The best time to visit Borneo is between April and September. The busiest months are from May to September.

We visited Borneo in July, and it was mostly dry, apart from the occasional shower.

Going independent or joining an organized tour

We found it easy and straightforward to create our own travel itinerary.  It was also fairly easy to travel through Borneo independently.

We traveled with our suitcases but Borneo is also a great backpacker’s destination. Here you will find a complete list of the best backpacking gear when you are planning on backpacking in Borneo.

But if you want the company of a group, don’t have the time to create your own itinerary, or just don’t want to go independent, you could also join an organized tour. TourRadar is a trustworthy company where you can book an organized tour to Japan to make it easy on yourself.

Here you can find all organized tours to Borneo:
Organized Tours Borneo

How to get to Borneo

Wondering how to get to Borneo? Since there are almost no international flights directly to Borneo our journey started with a flight to Kuala Lumpur before taking our Air Asia flight to Kuching, a route many other travelers use.

How to find cheap tickets to Kuala Lumpur

If you want to score cheap flights to Kuala Lumpur we advise you to have a look at Momondo and Skyscanner. 

Momondo and Skyscanner are both very good at finding good deals, of the two, Momondo is probably the one with the most intuitive user interface.

A Proboscis monkey in Bako National Park

Those who are always on the lookout for the best deals should join the Dollar Flight Club. 

Joining is free and once you’ve joined you will get alerts in your mailbox whenever cheap flights out of your home airport have been found.

I recently joined the club and already saw some incredible deals.  Joining is free and it can literally save you thousands of dollars.

How to get from Kuala Lumpur to Borneo

Air Asia is a low-cost airline, and as with all budget airlines, it means they are very strict when it comes to luggage and you have to pay for all extras.

Those are things I would rather avoid but if we ignore those typical low-cost aspects I must say their service was good and we had an enjoyable flight.

We had an hour’s delay on this flight and were spontaneously handed a discount voucher for a future flight. I still prefer to fly with the major carriers, but would consider Air Asia for another flight.

Air Asia operates 9 flights daily. Their flight to Kuching leaves from the low-cost terminal of KL airport.  (LCCT) Note that the low-cost terminal is far apart from the regular terminal. The low-cost terminal can be reached by taxi.

Another way is by KLIA Transit. There is a stop at Salak Tinggi station where special busses depart to LCCT.

There are also buses that transport passengers between the two terminals; though they are very cheap it also takes quite some time.

If you rather don’t fly with Air Asia you can choose Malaysia airlines. Malaysia Airlines offer more than 10 flights a day.

The flight time from Kuala Lumpur to Borneo is around 1h40 minutes.

Flights from Kuala Lumpur to Borneo are often very cheap.  The prices fluctuate depending on seasons but with four entry-point options, you can always get into Borneo somewhere for under $50.

You can also see pygmy elephants during a river cruise on the Kinabatangan river

Do I need travel insurance for Borneo?

We do not recommend traveling without travel insurance. Besides medical expenses, it covers lots more.

You can turn to your travel insurance if your camera, notebook, or smartphone gets damaged or stolen. Travel insurance will reimburse you if you can’t leave on your trip because of an emergency at home or if you need to end your trip early.

Drawing up a travel insurance policy may seem expensive at first but it can potentially save you a significant sum, significantly more than the small insurance fee.

Good travel insurance, such as the one from World Nomads, covers the things we mentioned above and even more.


We think this is a fairly complete 2-week itinerary for  Borneo.

But as always, you have to make choices, and that’s what we did for this Borneo itinerary.

As nature lovers, we loved Mulu and our Kinabatangan river cruise the most.

This was absolutely the highlight of our Borneo itinerary.

If you have less time and aren’t going to climb Mount Kinabalu, we would suggest skipping Kota Kinabalu.

If you are looking for a 10 days Borneo itinerary and like snorkeling or diving,  we would advise adding Lankayan Island. It’s easy to reach with a private boat transfer from Sandakan. We didn’t do it ourselves because we went to the Perhentians. But we heard from other people that it is an amazing island.

If you are convinced of Borneo but are looking for a tropical destination, our Kerala in India might be something for you.

If you are wondering what to pack for Borneo, check out this Borneo packing list.

If you want to stay online while you are in Malaysia, check out this post about the best Malaysia tourist SIM card. 

Have you visited Malaysian Borneo, what were the highlights for you?  Would you change something in our itinerary?


Tuesday 9th of July 2019

"Well, after being here, I don’t think I’ll ever try those as the cave was full of cockroaches, beetles, and other bugs, and in the middle was an enormous mountain of bat poo."

"If you are just like us a big nature fan"

Clearly ;) Bat poo in the cave, who would've expected...


Tuesday 9th of July 2019

This was absolutely the most disgusting cave we ever visited. Can you imagine people are staying here for the night...

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